Emancipating One’s Self Takes Patience, Grace and a Level of Brutality In Order to Hack Away at That Which Doesn’t Serve In Growth
I had been a free-spirited artist who put my dreams, passions and convictions aside to adopt a life that I thought was necessary in order for me to ‘grow up’ and ground myself. You know…to live the American Dream. I became a wife to a safe man who took care of me financially, while taming me into ordinary. I was part of a relationship of comfort, convenience and normalcy.
Then I woke up.
2013 was when I purposely and methodically butchered away my life, my Self, the heavy skin from 10 years of marital and personal discord, as well as sever the restraints of that which I had grown to know as my cage. I shattered every assigned and self-imposed label and cut away the fat of my judgement, perspective and clouded vision. I invited the aspects that resonated with my core to stay, and I then granted myself the grace to shed the rest.
I was left in pieces—hacked, chopped, bloody and raw. I had taken myself down to the bare bones of my foundation, naked and prostrate…questioning every move, every choice, every thought.
That was the most challenging and painful set of events in my entire life thus far. And in the words of Lao Tzu, “New beginnings are often described as painful endings.”
Now divorced, I am living with my three happy little boys, supporting myself and kids with my art and dating an incredible man, a fellow artist who nourishes my soul and loves me as I am, pure and raw, whom I wholeheartedly believe to by my soulmate…and I am becoming reacquainted with the being that I had previously convinced myself wasn’t adequate.
As the dust has begun to settle around broken debris of framework, I can now more clearly see the crystal blue sky and the seemingly infinite space around me. A space where I can begin to rebuild my life with my children using my own tools and material…in my time.
It feels critically important to me to pass along some fragments of wisdom that I gained through this atomic bomb of a life change, just in case anyone else finds themselves in a massive crossroads of sorts. (And if you haven’t been to a place like that, remember that comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.)
1. Rational thinking is overrated.
Let’s face it—we can’t truly predict the future outcome from any one decision. When it comes to matters of the heart, the soul, and passion, rational thinking will only conjure up the fear associated with following an intangible…an abstract. Sometimes we need to leap and trust that the net will appear without thinking too hard on the results. One of my favorite Zen proverbs is ‘Let go or be dragged’. Sometimes, it takes just releasing the stronghold of the perceived control that one has on their life, trust in the heart’s ability to lead the way, and enjoy the scenery along the journey.
After all, control is all just an illusion.
2. This illusion which we call life is all in what we make of it—our perspective and where we invest our energy.
After this experience, I have come to realize that I have the mental and emotional capacity to truly roll with the punches, to rest in the beauty of the unknown, and to openly process lessons in life as either that which brings me peace or that which aids me in my practice.
3. Faith that we do our very best with the tools and information that we have at our disposal at that time.
That’s all that we can do. No one, including ourselves, can expect any more of us. We need to grant ourselves the grace to take the chance of making a mistake and then anticipate the opportunity to learn from it.
4. One’s idea of the way life should be greatly impedes on the way life really is.
Without even realizing it, we tend to place subconscious expectations and perimeters upon ourselves and our lives. Whether trying to live up to a certain societal standard or trying to somehow recreate how one was raised, we inadvertently set ourselves up for disappointment. I found that actively working at being aware of the expectations that I have laid out for myself helps free me from those sneaky constraints that tend to limit so much of my life.
5. This is your life, not anyone else’s.
At the end of the day, we answer to no one but ourselves. Only we know what is the best path for us and what makes us happy. Those people who truly love us need to let go of any judgment and/or their personal projections of what they believe our lives to be, and just be happy that we are happy.
After this dramatic life event, I found that many of my friends judged before even knowing the truth behind the situation, while others were ‘disappointed’ in me for not living out the life that they thought I should in their minds.
Only a small portion of my friends even asked me if I was happy, and even fewer were totally and completely content, without needing to know anything else, after hearing my answer ‘yes—I am happier than I’ve ever been’.
While my metamorphosis was painful and terrifying, as I can imagine any massive change would be, I am a stronger, more awake person following my own path to joy.
It is so very easy to lose sight and stray along whatever we endeavor, however, it is always within our power to change the course and rebuild.
I wish you all clarity along your path and the strength, when you stray, to butcher away that which keeps you from attaining awareness and awakening with the least amount of suffering and apathy…and thrive.
Bonus! Sometimes, we just need need to get out of a funk:
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: courtesy of the author