“Strike me down and I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine…” ~ Obi-Wan Kenobi
I remember posting this quote on my Facebook page about a year ago.
In the midst of my hurt, humiliation and devastation over my marriage unexpectedly ending, I was at one of the lowest points in my life. But I knew with every fiber of my being I was going to build myself back stronger than ever.
“Rising Strong” is what Brené Brown calls it. I am rising strong. It’s been a year since I posted that quote and I can feel my own power. How I’ve taken it back. How I’ve clawed my way up through the dark, seedy trenches for it. How I’ve continued to pick myself up like a prize fighter in the ring every time I was knocked down by hurtful words and actions, wiping the blood off my face even though it hurt like hell.
Because those knock down drag out moments…they fueled me. They fueled my determination and grit and will to keep fighting strong so I could rise stronger. Nobody was going to break me. Nobody. This single event in my life, it would not define me.
Through a long painful journey of self-exploration and looking at things I should have seen—but chose to ignore so I could live the fantasy every girl dreams of: the big house with the white picket fence and the man of her dreams with the two kids—I realized that the reason said fantasy blew up in my face was due to my unwillingness to see what was so plainly in front of me.
My journey inward, into myself and my life-long patterns of making myself “not enough” in every area of my life has involved falling completely apart as so many of us do when something tragic and unexpected happens in our lives, and then being broken open and exposed for all to see so that I could rebuild parts of myself that were messy and imperfect and unhealed.
Yes, I’m messy and imperfect. There is so much power in owning that now. I was a hypocrite in many ways. Judging others when I, myself, committed actions that were not always honorable or filled with integrity or lashing out when I was hurt at the people who were just trying to help. Saying things that weren’t fair or were exaggerated…a reaction to my own wounds that I was not yet willing to take full responsibility for.
I sat smugly atop my high horse making myself the victim of my circumstances when I was never really a victim. Maybe an unfortunate chess piece that got outplayed by its opponent but certainly a worthy competitor on the board.
Rising strong for me has involved owning it. Owning my part in every circumstance and event that led to my life falling apart. It’s involved taking 100 percent responsibility for how I was going to turn this most recent and perhaps most devastating setback and loss in my life and turn it into my most triumphant moment to date.
The truth is, when our lives are going well and everything is as we think it should be, we find no reason to rock the boat. There is no good reason to get down and dirty with ourselves, to change the behaviors and unhealthy thought patterns we know aren’t working for us anymore. No reason to do anything outside of our comfort zone. Nothing prodding us to explore uncharted parts of our psyches or delve into hidden parts of ourselves that are in desperate need of healing.
But that’s where falling apart is one of the most magnificent things that can happen to us. Our lives as we know it get blown to smithereens and in that horrifying moment when the ashes are falling down around our dazed and confused bodies, there is actually amazing opportunity.
An opportunity to recreate yourself. To show other people what you’re made of. To prove to yourself how strong and powerful you can be in the face of adversity. Perhaps it’s the very thing that unmasks the real you…to reveal who you truly are but have kept hidden from the world because of family expectations, society’s expectations or your own expectations of yourself.
You don’t ever truly know who you are, who anyone is, until you have watched yourself face adversity in your life.
If you can look at the “falling apart” of things as a gift from the Universe, a dare, a challenge, a call to action to see if you can rise up to it, conquer it and come out the other side, you’ll see the gifts. There are always gifts.
I humbly share this very personal story so that you can be certain that your life falling apart can bring gifts.
Two years ago, I was in a fetal position on the floor of my living room (the one with the imaginary white picket fence), seven months pregnant with my beautiful daughter, sobbing and unable to breathe, believing with my whole heart that I would never survive what was happening to me.
I was a victim in my story. In that moment…a real victim. My life was falling apart and everything as I knew it was crumbling around me.
But I wasn’t a victim. I was the receiver of an unexpected gift. Many gifts that I didn’t know at the time I wanted or needed.
If I shared the details of what happened, you might say to me, “Oh My God. You poor thing. I’m so sorry that happened to you.”
My life falling apart became the foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
One that is better. Filled with truth and integrity and joy and outrageous opportunities I never dreamed I’d ever have.
It’s one where I finally let go of my stories; the ones that weighed me down, crushed my soul, kept me hidden from the world and didn’t serve me or my two young children anymore. Those children needed a mother who believed in herself. Who knew at the core of her very being that she was not just competent and capable of doing this life thing on her own, but was soaring to new heights, transcending what she thought at one time in this whole journey was impossible and bringing both of them with her. Rising strong…together.
All because her life fell apart.
Author: Dina Strada
Apprentice Editor: Taija Jackson/Editor: Travis May
Image: Daniela Brown/Flickr