Here’s my journey:
On paper, I lived the American dream: two healthy, academically achieving sons, an executive husband, a lovely home in the suburbs of Seattle, a vacation home on Cape Cod, a condo on Kauai. But I had a dirty little secret: I had to be seriously medicated to do it. I numbed the pain of loneliness and lack of emotional connection with anti-depressants and sleeping pills. For twenty years I lived like this and it worked because I didn’t have to feel those bad feelings. Being numb was a pretty good gig.
For the first fifty years of my life I listened to the well meaning voices that admonished “You are too sensitive” “Stop being so emotional” “You shouldn’t wear your heart on your sleeve”. For the first fifty years I tried to integrate with a head driven world that I didn’t understand and I worked to shut off the heart centered being that was at my core.
I lived by the rules, by the “should’s” and “supposed to”s. I tried to meet all the expectations of good girl, good daughter, good wife, and good mother. Of course there were wins, but when I failed I blamed myself for not being enough. And I would try even harder to fit the mold.
I had followed the prescribed formula for happiness: I went to college, majored in economics, moved west, married an engineer, bought a house in the suburbs, had 2 kids, drove a minivan, joined the PTSA and dyed my hair blonde. I remember being at a party, looking around friends and neighbors, and knowing that I was living the Life of Riley. And I was truly grateful. But in spite of all the trappings, I knew something was missing. I just didn’t know what.
You know that watershed moment where EVERYTHING changes, right?
My father’s death in January of 2010 was that pivotal event in my life. In a profound state of grief, I somehow realized I no longer had anyone’s expectations to meet. I saw the truth of my facade and knew I needed some BIG changes.
I switched medications and began to feel again. In six short months, by July of 2010 I had left my 26 year marriage. My journey to self awareness had begun. Three years later, when both of my sons had gone off to San Diego and University, I moved back “home” to New England. To my roots. To find myself. I wish I could tell you the Path has been Easy, but I am done with pretenses.
The open welcoming arms of my New England family and friends did not appear. Somehow in the thirty years that I had been away, their lives had gone on. (Imagine that?) It was in the isolation of Cape Cod that my true spiritual journey began. Long days, spent sitting in silence. Personal empowerment books. Therapy. Life coaching. Journaling. Webinars. Digging deep. Uncovering painful truths. Taking ownership of the reality that I had created: One where I would strive to meet your every expectation, if only you would love me.
The need for love had pushed me to give up my true self.
Digging deeper. Searching for meaning. Looking for my purpose. Feeling deep sadness for time and relationships lost. Punishing myself. Admonishing myself. Hating myself. Quite frankly, some days simply not wanting to go on. Dark, dark days (and nights) of the soul. Without end. Peeling back layers and layers of CRAP, of social conditioning, masks and suits of armored protection.
Feeling buoyed by the beauty of discovery, only to find another layer beneath. Diving deeper. Fucking exhausting. So much letting go…
I cannot honesty say what kept me going. Or when my soul began to emerge from the darkness. I remember feeling like I was trying to climb of out a dark well, only to slide back down, over and over again. My hands bloodied, my nails broken from trying to claw my way up, out of the darkness. Dramatic, right? But the visual is vivid in my mind.
Then, one day my head simply was above the watermark.
And the thought occurred: I am going to make it through. Better yet, I WANT to make it through. And soon my shoulders were out. And then my elbows were resting on solid ground. I could see the world again. And I wanted to be a part of it. I am still peeling back layers. This process of self-awareness, it seems, is never ending.
Just yesterday I realized that my willingness to meet other’s expectations in order to be loved extends to my children. Yet in my awakened state, I have learned to love myself. And can see the folly of turning into someone else in order to receive love.
They say your pain is your purpose.
Mine stands before me, excavated like the statue Michelangelo uncovered from a block of marble. My emotions, freed from their prison, are my superpower. My ability to feel the pain of separation and isolation and the destruction they are causing in our world.
My gift is one of connection. I can see the relatedness, the inter-connectivity of all sentient beings. I am a bridge builder. My purpose is to remind you of the truth of our commonality and to introduce you to your tribe so that you will know you are never alone.
11 Ways to Know Me Better
~ I have a large brown birthmark on my right ankle. I was 8 before I realized that not all ankles looked like mine.
~ When I eat M&Ms I line them up by color and proceed to eat some of each until there is an equal number of each color. I have been doing this since I was a kid. It has led to some fascinating conversations.
~ I eat the reds of any candy first and try to stick to eating only the reds…cuts down on calorie consumption that way.
~ It makes me truly happy to introduce strangers and watch them develop into friends. Being a connector is my coolest superpower.
~ I never truly leave someone behind, I am the sum of all the people that I have ever known and I think that is sooo cool.
~ I believe that we are all connected to each other in ways that we don’t and probably won’t ever understand.
~ My sister and my mother died of separate, incurable diseases. As a result I do not have much patience for people who whine about their every ache and pain.
~ Patience is the lesson I am supposed to learn during this lifetime and the universe constantly reminds me of this when I choose a line at the grocery store.
~ I have two amazing sons, Greg, 26 and Connor, 22 who continue to be my greatest teachers. I am deeply grateful the Universe gave us one another.
~ I garden in bare feet, without gloves. There’s something amazing about the feel of soil (worms, slugs and all) that feeds my soul.
~ It took me more than 50 years to find my passion and my purpose. There’s no turning back now!