In December 2014 my life was at one of its lowest points. The company I was working for had closed without warning and without my last paycheck, I was dating a guy who was in and out of jail, and I lived in the Venice Beach version of Animal House. At one point my self-worth was so low, I asked Google how to fix it. I could feel myself circling the drain. Up until this point I tried to control every situation in my life to avoid this pain. But at this low point, I knew none of my usual controlling would fix it. I had read the books about manifesting and thinking positive thoughts and the law of attraction, but I was in a hole so deep I couldn’t even think myself off the floor of it. I pretended though; I knew all the books and had a smile on my face and I wanted a good life, but inside I was in pain. Because I had “tried everything” I had one of two choices: I could stay at the bottom of that dark hole, ignore that little voice inside of me and look to outward people, places, and things to make me “happy” (a band-aid). Or I could give up.
Yes, give up.
I could give up trying to control, scheme, and trick my life into becoming better. I had tried everything to get my life together financially, romantically and mentally but none of it worked – I was broke, alone, and sad. Here is where I’m going to tell you what finally worked for me, but MAY NOT work for you and that’s OK. Also, can you just do me a favor; humor me and read this entire post before you decide I’m crazy and don’t know what I’m talking about. You don’t have to do what I’ve done, but I do challenge you to ask yourself the questions at the end of this post.
I found God. Not Jesus, God. There’s a difference. I am not religious, I am not a Christian, but I am so glad to say I believe in a Higher Power. People hear God and they assume I mean religion, but I don’t. And let me tell you, that’s ok. I also found a safe space where I could share my story with people who are like me. Once I started listening to those peoples’ stories and sharing my own, I began to feel better. I felt like the shameful parts of me were not as repulsive as I thought; the more I told my story, the less it owned me. It was like I was pulling black ick out of my body. And these people didn’t hold my worst things against me. They didn’t use my secrets for ammunition or to have some dirt on me. Oddly, they ended up liking me better. I was beginning to learn vulnerability. I began to share my story and tell my secrets, even though I was scared. That’s courage.
But listen, this post is not about God. IT’S NOT. This post is about checking in with yourself, and asking yourself are you truly happy? Don’t look to everything outward – not your kids, your spouse, your house, car or job. When that voice inside of you speaks, do you listen to it? Or do you push on with the worn-out marriage, the depressed children, and the debt.
This blog is about the work.
I have a friend who’s reading another dating book, dating another unremarkable guy whom she is not crazy about, but in order to feel validated she needs him to like her. I’ve never met him, but it seems like he disappoints her a fair amount. And guess what?
It’s all her fault.
She hasn’t done the work. She is doing some work, she is making steps, but this friend won’t go deep. She won’t untie the knots that her parents made in her youth. So instead of running a comb through her past and her trauma, she expects the world to function based on her dysfunction. She doesn’t know what to do with her life, she is lost, and she is often disappointed.
I have another friend who was in so much intense pain and inner turmoil, he couldn’t tolerate physical contact from anyone. For most of his life he dealt with his pain through sex, drugs, and alcohol – oh, and humor. He finally gave up everything he owned and moved to Hawaii not long after I move to LA. He knew he wanted to be happy but he didn’t know how. He chipped away at himself, each day uncovering a bit more of the man he was truly meant to be. Then one day he went down to Peru and worked with healers. He came back a different man. The guy who didn’t want to be touched, who loved no one, who was always there for me, but unable to empathize or show vulnerability was all of a sudden full of love. I’ve known him for 18 years and the man sent me a message the brought me to tears and my knees.
He did the work.
I have another friend who was regularly beaten and exposed to alcoholism and violence throughout his childhood. No one knew. We saw him on campus at college, I had a few classes with him, he was a star athlete on the football team, we were friends and all that time, I never knew this man was so unhappy he wore a face shield during football games to hide the tears running down his face; he was using the anger he had inside of him on the field. He did find Jesus and in Jesus he found peace, forgiveness, and serenity.
He did the work.
There is no “one right way.” The only wrong ways are the ones that are not working for you. And even if you do the work, everything may stay exactly the same on the outside – same house, same spouse, same kids – but on the inside you will shine like a million rubies. And that changes things. That does not go unnoticed. Relationships start to improve, situations start to improve, bit by bit.
Ask yourself this:
Do you feel a deep sadness and you can’t figure out why?
Do you expect your family to “deal with” your anger issues because that’s just who you are?
Do you blame everyone else for the problems in your life?
Do you feel like you somehow missed out on life? Like you’ve lived it for someone or something else?
Do you feel like you ignored that voice inside of you that said “I want to paint!” “I want to be a chef!” “I want to travel!” “I want to come out with my true sexual orientation!” “I want to leave my marriage!” “I want to get married!”
Why did you ignore it? What are you afraid of? Why do you choose pain and suffering over fulfillment and happiness?
If anyone of these questions trigger you, or make you feel something, make you want to say something, make you mad at me…ask yourself why. Write it down, get it out. Find a group who is similar to you (I guarantee this is not your friend group – it’s different). Start researching, look for books, seminars, workshops, retreats, local groups, journals, anything that will help you wash the dirt off your inner shine. If you don’t know where to start, reach out to me. I can give you some resources or point you in a right direction. Interestingly, I do not recommend talking to your friends or a therapist. If you want to know more about my opinion, email me or leave a comment.
It has been three years since that awful Christmas season. One of the worst in my life. I feel like I’ve just begun working through my stuff, but the little amount I’ve done feels like a new life and a new mentality. I’m no longer broke or sad. I’m still single but my learning curve has sped up exponentially and while I want to be in a relationship, I do not HAVE to be in one. I’m not finished yet, I want more out of this life. But at this moment, I am fulfilled.
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