I lived in the shadows for years.
I call it my “former life.”
Sounds weird, so let me share a deeper perspective .. Where it all began.
Several years ago, I suffered through the infidelity of a partner in my former marriage. That marriage (and courtship) was tumultuous and abusive, both emotionally and physically. Shortly after the infidelity, while trying to make the relationship “work,” I miscarried our unborn child. Within several months, I made the difficult decision to abandon my marriage and leave my first husband; I finally realized that the relationship was incredibly poisonous and dangerous to my own health.
I packed a bag hastily one night, enduring his shrieks about suing for spousal support, and left.
My life became transient for a few months; I never returned to the home we jointly owned, staying with friends when possible and moving in temporarily with the broker/owner of my real estate company.
So desperately seeking to be out of the relationship, I allowed myself to get hosed in the divorce. I no longer regret the decision to comply with his demands, but it certainly affected my life, both in the short- and long-term.
I finally rented an apartment, which carried its own pain, as I sold (and still sell) real estate for a living. It was shameful to me that I didn’t practice what I preached.
That apartment became my “healing place.”
Those walls witnessed more tears than can be imagined. My tears weren’t about my ex-husband; rather, I grieved the loss of what I had dreamed for my life. All of the plans I had made .. The family I had wanted .. The friends we had made as a couple .. All washed away the moment I stood up for myself. Gone, in an instant.
How had this happened to me? What had I done to deserve all this?
In the strength I found to walk away, I lost everything.
And I continued to lose everything.
Rheumatoid arthritis became a reality, and my life changed again. Despair descended upon me; I felt incomplete, battered and broken by the hand life had dealt me.
As my brain hungered for information, I researched and researched. There was such a shroud of depression, despair and unhappiness in all of the writing about RA.
But I haven’t even lived!
It was as if there was no hope.
Little did I know, God and the universe were busy at work, honing my pain and transforming my life, bit by bit and moment by moment .. All of these events conspired, redressing and designing me to be the strong, buoyant, courageous and hopeful woman I am today.
And I am forever grateful for every moment of “tough learning” I’ve ever experienced.
Until recently, I was at battle with my past. I existed in the shadows.
“How could this happen to me?”
“I can’t believe I was betrayed.”
“I am angry.”
“I can’t let go.”
“I will hold this with me so I’m never hurt again.”
That was the old me.
If you walk away from this blog with one lesson, one morsel that I believe will help you more in life than any other, it’s this:
You survived your past. Now, do more than simply “let it go” .. Develop a fondness for the past, a deep, genuine sense of gratitude. For it was your history that inspires you raise your hand in hope today.
Just as an ocean’s waves crash on the shore of a beach, feel them wash away the depth of your hurt, diffusing your pain. Feel the warmth of gratitude and a new-found sense of nostalgia for your past; allow these to overtake your despair.
Step out of the shadows, just as I did. Exist in gratitude. Trust me on this one…
Pull out your Gratitude Journal and write down what you’re most grateful for today. [action item]
Here’s my list, as I wrote them, from that day that I let go of my pain and burdens many months ago:
I am most grateful for:
* my divorce
* learning about myself and having to stand on my own
* meeting my husband and biggest fan, Jake, who inspires me each day
* learning to live, learning that I can make a difference
* being at the bottom and knowing I climbed up and can still climb
* finding my joy again
* knowing deep-down that there’s something even bigger for me out there
* not allowing myself to feel sorry for myself
Now, who deserves more gratefulness from you? Write them down in your Journal. [action item]
Here’s my list, as written those months ago:
Who deserves more gratefulness from me?
* Jake (my husband) – for his patience and love, for always believing in me and seeing more in me than I saw in myself.
* My Mom and Dad – for their never-ending love and for always being there for me. For raising me to be strong.
When I wrote these in my Gratitude Journal, my life was irrevocably changed. When I felt the ocean’s waves carrying out my pain, I truly let it all go. I developed a fondness for everything that has ever happened to me, for everything that’s been a part of my life’s walk – both good and bad.
I changed my mindset, decided to exist in gratitude and I stepped out of the shadows.
It was my ah-ha! moment.
And I’ve never looked back. (and you’ll never want to, either)
Step out of the shadows, set yourself free and live the life you’ve always dreamed.
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