Nine months ago, I was standing in a doughnut shop in Georgetown, Texas, at four in the morning.
I was bagging doughnut holes for the day and thinking to myself, I have three degrees and I am bagging doughnut holes just to get the income amount needed to get this overpriced shoe-box apartment.
Was I just a bit resentful? Sure…we will agree I was just a tad bit resentful of this new lot life had dealt me.
However, I was also grateful at the same time in an odd, peculiar, and contradictory sort of way. I had just left everything I had known in Illinois behind and decided to make a new home for myself in Texas. There is a saying, “You can’t heal in the same environment that got you sick.” This could not have been more true! Living in Illinois had run its course, and there was simply nothing more I could do to make things work.
Texas saved my soul and my family. This was not an overnight miracle. However, the avalanche of healing that took place began with a critical decision I made for myself while bagging doughnut holes at four in the morning just to get my overpriced shoe-box apartment.
I decided in that moment that I am a worthwhile person.
The series of events that would take place were triggered by this one critical decision that I made about myself. Imagine a thin rope holding a mountain-sized pile of boulders on the edge of a cliff. Then suddenly, that rope snaps and all of those boulders come crashing down into the ravine below. That decision I made was the knife that cut that rope. The events were the boulders that came crashing down.
It has not been an easy nine months. I had to endure an intense toxic stress hormone withdrawal, which was emotionally, mentally, and physically painful to handle. I had to release emotional baggage, and we are not talking about the nice little carry-on case of emotional baggage—we are talking about the FedEx freight boxes they use to deliver medical supplies to other countries type of emotional baggage.
I also had to make difficult and painful decisions regarding the people who should stay or go in my life. I had to forgive people who I knew would never extend the olive branch back to me, establish strict boundaries, speak up for myself, and, at times, demand respect, and even acknowledge that while I may love people, they will never love me. There were a lot of devastating truths that I had to acknowledge. This was one of the darkest depressions I have ever faced in my life. To be honest, I almost did not make it out.
In the midst of the pain, this one decision helped me make more positive decisions about myself. I also decided that I am worth protecting. So, for a hot minute I joined a Viking reenactment group and learned about how to actually fight like a shield maiden! I was trained by some really awesome Army vets and fighters who showed me what strength is supposed to look like and how it should be expressed.
Then I decided I am fun, beautiful, and lovable. That fun decision led me to the world of Rockabilly where I did an incredible photo shoot set up by three amazing women who helped me express beauty and femininity. I also decided that I have a strong voice. That decision transformed into me writing for Elephant Journal and I started writing my first pulp fiction novel based off of my Rockabilly photo shoot!
The final decision I made for myself was that I bring the fun, joy, and hope to wherever I go. (Can I be controversial and challenge the system? Yes…but only when necessary.) This decision catapulted me back into the world of ballroom dancing where I teach now. I found a studio that is run by two amazing people who have been showing me what support, love, family, and community can truly be.
One decision is all it took to change my life. It did not hurt to make it either. In fact, it was liberating.
What holds a lot of people back from making life-changing decisions is that fear of allowing ourselves to be changed. This fear is a monster in my life, no doubt! We tend to wrap our identities in our traumas and that is normal. When trauma runs so deeply in our veins, it is all we know. Change can be triggering for us because the last time things changed for us, it did not end well. Our minds and bodies remember well.
We also get hung up on whether or not we have the courage to allow that change to take place. George Clooney, in the movie, “Three Kings,” gives a powerful perspective on courage when he says to a soldier before a mission: “The way it works is, you do the thing you’re scared sh*tless of, and you get the courage after you do it, not before you do it.”
Courage is a by-product of doing the thing you are so sure you cannot do. Had I not gotten into that bear-pit for the first time scared out of my mind, I would not have built the courage, resiliency, confidence, and fortitude I have today. You have to do it afraid.
You do not have to make huge, sweeping changes in order to transform. Those of us who are going through our process will tell you that it is in the small, incremental changes that create a strong foundation, and you do not see the changes right away. Each decision triggered a new decision that kept leading me to better, healthier situations.
Everything is connected. It is amazing how this one decision, this one singular decision, changed the entire trajectory of my life.
Has the healing been easy? No. Healing never is.
But when you break through to the other side, life really does have a lot to offer!
You’re only one decision away.