Last week I wrote to you about the ring. In it, I shared that often in life we are confused about the noises from the stands and distracted by what is right in front of us. On what matters. I’d like to elaborate on this topic.
Life is messy and beautiful; this we all know to be true. On any given day, week, or year we are surrounded by experiences and people that shape our reality. For me, the messy was almost always the noise from the stands and letting go of what I thought I wanted in exchange for what was true. You see I too drank the kool-aid of fitting in for an extremely long time. An embarrassingly long time actually.
From a young age, I placed my happiness on others. I wanted to be accepted by my family and friends. I wanted to be liked. In order to do this I had to create a life that looked beautiful because I thought it would make me happy. I had written the story of who my life was supposed to be spent with and how it should look before I had lived it. It was a hollow way to live.
This past spring my gut told me my life needed a change. This fall it was delivered to me. As a survivor of domestic violence, I have a terrible time with surrender (even though I know it’s good for me). I was unsure of just about everything yet sure I wanted to find happiness again. Happiness for me and for my sons. So I surrendered. Incredible and hard things began.
The hard things came first. This is why I have written to you many times about walking through pain. As the crowds in the stands got louder I felt increasingly helpless. Yet in my gut I knew I had to stay the course, to sit in the pain, to allow the shift as I committed to my own happiness, safety, and worth. At first, I chose this path for my children. Then, as I became stronger, I chose it for myself. This is when incredible things began to happen.
As I stayed the course of surrendering to myself I let this one truth guide me; “I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be safe. My children deserve this too.” The pain, while present, became muffled and love began to pour in. Love that had always been there as I shed all that did not serve me. Originally, clouded by the noise from the stands, my senses were scattered. Literally. Having PTSD has led to certain noises hurting my ears. Yet as I allowed those who loved me to nurture me I was able to nurture myself. I could say all the things I had been holding onto. I could accept the loss around me and see the gain was greater.
I already knew the idea of what my life would be like based on the opinions of others. Honestly, I can’t remember a family gathering that didn’t press relationships or marriage as a child. I now know part of my extended family’s version of marriage is one where the man is dominant to the woman… no thank you. I thought if I created a beautiful life and my own family I could share them with my extended family. I thought if I gave of my time and heart it would be reciprocated by the family I had.
Living the Life You Need
The reality is that in a true marriage, family, or any other type of relationship, giving time and heart is absolutely necessary. In my case, most of my extended family and my last marriage sat in the stands as I stood in the ring. Realizing that I was spending all my time and love investing in others who did not want to reciprocate was liberating and painful. We are in fact social creatures and saying goodbye to those we convinced ourselves we loved but are not honoring us back is hard. It’s hard and it’s necessary.
As I let go of the life I thought I thought I wanted I’ve been greeted by the life I know I need. It doesn’t look a certain way. You won’t find it in a magazine. When I stopped thinking about what my life should look like and started focusing on what I want to feel like I was able to shift. In this shift, I was also able to look up and clearly see who is standing, sitting, or kneeling in my corner. I bet you have people like that too. I have always deeply loved my family and friends but my energy was split between the stands and the ring. Not anymore. Today and every day in the future I become more focused only on those in the ring.
It’s easy to look at the external world and think if we look or act a certain way we’ll be happy and accepted. But take it from me, it’s not worth it. We are only given this one precious life (as far as we know). While life is uncertain I personally know I will follow my own North Star–my gut feelings. I have built a new life, one built off of self-love, respect, compassion, empathy, and kindness. I have the most incredible people in the ring with me. Truly, I’m honored and grateful every day. I’m happy even as I do hard things.
Shedding a life I thought I wanted has birthed me into a life I know I was meant to live. With my children. With my family and friends. We don’t look a certain way anymore. We look happy.