It's never too late to Start over.
I had been in a relationship for 7 years with an amazing man. We got along great and he treated me with a lot of love and respect. I had a great job making good money, having a lot of flexibility and building great connections. I was happy and healthy. Yet something inside my gut just did not feel right. I could not explain it, I had no reason to be upset or sad. For the most part I was able to ignore and suppress this feeling. Then one day things were just not ok anymore. I didn't know what was wrong but all I knew was that it didn't feel right. It hurt and it kept getting worse.
At the time I didn't know any better so I blamed it on the job and quit; I blamed it on my partner and walked away. I found reasons to justify that feeling and convinced people around me of my reasoning and choices. I ended up packing my bags, moving, taking a new job and surrounding myself with new friends. Walking away from what I had built for so long was hard but I found great ways to distract myself. That first year was a lot of fun. I was single, free, having the time of my life. I got to live - or so I thought.
While I was having fun going out, being a social butterfly, getting a ton of - unhealthy - attention, traveling, shopping and buying all the pretty things I wanted; that "feeling" was still there. I didn't allow myself to feel the pain. Yes, it was getting bigger but it was very well suppressed with brand new distractions. In fact, I got really good at ignoring it. Even better, I surrounded myself with people that were at a similar point in their journey - I fit in perfectly!
All was great until I started attracting more pain.
You see I don't believe human beings are bad. I believe human beings get stuck sometimes and make choices that can have harmful consequences on themselves and/or others. And that's exactly who I became and surrounded myself with - good people, people that I loved and respected, and who represented what I thought I wanted.
That is not what I wanted but I didn't know it at the time. All I knew is that it felt good to be in this environment, I somehow felt at home. But that was temporary. That good feeling would not last very long. The pain would come back and I kept numbing it in various ways. All unhealthy. I became more dependent than ever on others. To the point where I could not make decisions without others' approval. My self-esteem and self-confidence were low, and it showed. For the life of me I could not say "no" to things I did not want. I made a lot of choices I am not proud of.
Two years later it finally hit me. I remember at one point being so angry with people around me. I felt "used" like an object by many. I was hurt. I remember thinking, "What is wrong with people?" "Why are they being like this?" At that point you would think I'd stop doing what did not work, take different actions. But nope, I kept putting myself in similar situations over and over again, making similar choices. Then I got angry at myself. I got really angry and so disappointed.
How did I let it get this far? What even happened? and why?! "I am 32 and super lost." I was hurt. I just did not get it. By then I couldn't keep my job, I couldn't be around people, I was just done.
A couple days before Christmas, I finally surrendered. I was ready to do something different. I remember thinking: What do I do now? How do I get out of this cycle? How do I learn to love and respect myself again? Can I even forgive my choices? Where do I even start? I had no clue. I was on my knees crying and praying for guidance, for any answers. I prayed and cried for days. I was truly miserable. Then I grabbed a journal, a pen and I started writing. I prayed and prayed and all I heard over and over again was "Walk away from all that you know. Start there and have faith."
So I did. I walked away from the friendships I was most dependent on, from places I used to go, things I used to do. I completely left my comfort zone. At first it was really scary, sad and lonely. People were upset with me and hurt. I understood their upset but at the time I had no explanation to give anyone; I just knew to do it. I knew nothing else. I was on my own. It was hard but it felt right. I finally had taken one action that felt right and that allowed me to sleep peacefully at night.
This time it was different. This time I was ready to stop and check what was going on inside. I was ready to explore that "feeling". I was ready to listen to my heart and trust my gut over what others wanted for me. I was ready to get "unstuck" and find my own voice again. I was ready to do the work! And it was one of the best decisions I ever made. It was the beginning of a beautiful, sometimes tough, but fun journey filled with miracles!
I left town, I took time for myself and disconnected from all I knew for 3 months. I prayed, meditated, read and journaled - a lot. When I was ready for the world again, I came back and slowly reconnected with life. I started volunteering, I started working again, I started reconnecting with my friends.
Then, one day I walked into the Landmark Education center downtown - where I had taken several courses years back which made a tremendous difference for me at the time - and asked them to register me for the first course coming up. I didn't care what it was, all I knew was that I was ready to take action. I was ready to take full responsibility and accountability for where I was and cause complete different results. (Landmark Education offers self-development courses that really focus on helping you get "unstuck")
The course I was registered in was called "Breakthroughs: Living outside the box" - HOW PERFECT!
At the beginning of the course they ask you to make a list of what you want to cause in your life and I remember exactly what mine were:
- Finding what I want to do next with my life
- Healing myself to be ready for partnership and a family
- Let go of my obsession with sugar
- Raising money for a fundraiser I had taken on
It took me time, a ton of hurt and a lot of self work for me to realize: This had nothing to do with others. People dealt with their lives, their challenges in the best way they knew how to. By suppressing the pain, I caused more pain and a ton of challenges. It was all my doing. I treated myself like an object and gave others permission to treat me that way. I allowed all that was happening to me. To be honest, I realized also that being so dependent on others was probably not a great feeling for them either. I imagine they would have felt overwhelmed and probably annoyed or even angry too!
I did this to myself, no one else did.
I did the work. I explored my wounds and I moved forward. Eventually I reconnected with some friends I walked away from and built new, healthy, strong friendships. Things were just different this time; I was at a different place. I had a completely new and healthy relationship with myself, with my past and my values, which caused me to create healthy relationships with others. Now don't get me wrong, I fall back into old habits and sometimes; And now I know it's ok. I get back on my feet and keep going.
Today I can proudly say with a ton of gratitude that I am in a perfect marriage, I am a counsellor doing what I love and I have no addiction to sugar. Oh and I did raise the money to build a home for a family in El Savador that lived in the slums! How amazing!
I gave myself a Second Chance.
Most importantly, that "feeling" in my gut doesn't scare me anymore. I now have healthy tools to use when guilt, anger and sadness show up and I know how to handle them differently. I know not to suppress them or ignore them. I know to feel them and listen to what they are trying to communicate to me.
When I look back, I count my blessings for every experience. The good and the challenging. I am mostly grateful for the friendships. I wouldn't have learnt to search for my truth if it wasn't for them and the way we interacted with each other. In the end they did not "use me", they served me. They are a blessing in disguise.
What sometimes looks like a miserable ending is actually a beautiful beginning.