Five years ago, I gingerly tip-toed stocking footed into my garage in the early afternoon on a warm mid-October Saturday; I slowly slid onto the cool, dark grey leather driver’s seat of my 2009 VW Jetta. Nothing seemed out of order or unusual; there were no fights, no yelling, no crying, and no hives. No one stomped off in a fit of rage. There weren’t any threats of divorce nor the typical retreating need to go deep within to calm my soul from the hate I had grown accustomed to absorbing. Nope, none of that. My spouse and youngest daughter were casually raking the front yard. I announced I was leaving and began to back out of our massive, baby blue, heated and cooled, four car garages. My car was packed to the ceiling with exactly 6 medium blue plastic tubs (with lids) and I had approximately 200 dollars in my bank account. I simply opened the door, got in with zero fanfare and drove away from the life I had known for the last thirty years. To be frightened would have meant I was of sound mental health. I couldn’t even call up fear because gross fatigue had permeated my body. This kind of fatigue is what happens after anxiety and depression stop sending the warning signals. Beyond numb I just ordered my limbs through the motions of driving a stick shift car for ten solid hours, straight to stay with my brother. It wasn’t the stress of selling the 4500 sq ft home and single-handedly packing it by myself, nor was it the fact that I had quit both my jobs simultaneously just a few months before in May. It wasn’t even the idea of starting a new and demanding position for which I really had zero experience to perform. Think walking dead, think zombie, because after nearly three decades of complete lost I knew I couldn’t take it even one more second. Our home was sold, and I had spent the last 6 months thinning through all the stuff middle class families accumulate over the years like roller blades, bikes, toys, keepsakes and oodles and I mean oodles of holiday décor. Seven Christmas trees in my festive forest; oops, my bad. That’s why it wasn’t dramatic. That’s why I didn’t give hugs, rather just a casual wave goodbye. I waved goodbye to a dysfunctional marriage and a daughter that I could not please. At that moment, it seemed a lifetime of good intentions were misunderstood, and I knew with certainty that my parenting skills had become cracked to the core. As I drove away from what I thought was my dream home (but nightmare life) I knew I was driving away forever. I know myself. When its broken like that, there can be no return with steel-beam strength super glue to repair it. I know myself, I’m decisive and I know it can be co-mingled with impulsive, but THIS wasn’t THAT! I quickly put on my favorite music and sang at the top of my lungs all the way to Des Moines Iowa. The singing was spaced intermittently with tears. Not tears of sadness, nor of regret; no, I was already all out of salt from years and years of unhappy. The tears were more of the Shawshank redemption type, because I knew at that very moment, I understood what it was like to be let out of jail after serving for 3 decades, a crime I did not commit. Five years ago, and after hundreds of hours of therapy, books, one to one girlfriend chats and self-help CD’s, I told myself, ‘you got this.’ Looking back, I can’t believe I waited so long. I can’t believe that a person like me could get caught in ‘the’ trap. I was nimble and I could pivot, and I was attractive, educated, outgoing and persuasive. How did a person like me (not exactly a rule follower) get so deeply entangled in the program to please? Why did I allow the imagined and fictional grip of cumulative cultural shame keep me from being me? I’ve spent the last five years unraveling the why and like a long irritating string you try to pull from your new blouse, it keeps coming, it just doesn’t stop coming. This is a self-help book in the truest definition. Self. Help. I had to let go of it all – the good, the bad, the ugly to begin the journey to me. The stories here are real, they are my recall from memories of the last four decades of my life; they are told through my lens and my perspective. Pull your safety bar down and strap on your seat belt because it’s about to get bumpy up in here!
When you come into awareness that your life is not one story, but rather a series of stories (think episodes) you can completely design the ‘who’ you want to show up as in each one. Wouldn’t it be annoying if the exact same character showed up in every episode even when the story has evolved beyond them? There was a time when I thought of my life as broken and I set out to fix it; until I realized that a life lived is just a story of mindset. What is happening right now in your life is simply the universe holding up a mirror to reveal the truth to you. I disagree with the notion of repairing the broken, instead, set aside the broken and begin to build something new. Once a vase is broken and reglued, it can never fully hold water again – and so it is with your life, you must focus on identifying (and then building) your strengths and less time trying to repair your weaknesses (picking scabs) because true healing can only begin to happen when you reframe your mindset and build out your purpose. The difference between living in reaction and living in creation is the difference of looking into a mirror and expecting to see through a window.