You are going along day by day and feel like things are really great. You can honestly look at yourself and say that this has been the best week of your life since the divorce. I mean, you really feel like you are getting it. All that reading, personal growth, and yoga has really been paying off. This must be it…this must be what it feels like to finally be free of the awful emotional burden of divorce. You are smiling, you are joyful, and believe it or not, you are actually feeling hopeful. Maybe your life is actually about to be normal, maybe even great. You are ready to scream it from the mountaintops and then….. BAM!!! One unexpected interaction with your ex and you are suddenly spiraling down a black hole into the abyss of heartache again.
You feel disheartened and immediately question what the heck is wrong with you. How many times can you actually let this happen, and you reason that you will never move past this pain in your life. All that joy and hope quickly turns to despair and you question all that work you have been doing… the reading, personal growth, and yoga doesn’t work at all. What’s the point of doing any of it when you end up right back in this awful pit of pain anyway? Life is not normal, and certainly is never going to be great.
Does this cycle sound familiar? Is this a pattern you tend to repeat over and over? And do you wonder if it is ever going to end?
Well… you may not like what I am going to tell you here, but I am going to tell you anyway…
One of the things I remember most from the years after my divorce was this sense of feeling stuck. When my marriage ended, I truly found myself on a mission. I was in pain, overwhelmed by more feelings than I can count, heartbroken beyond all measure AND I was determined to get through all of this in a way that would allow me to grow and expand. So, I jumped into the most intense personal growth journey I had ever been on.
Sounds great, right? I mean, isn’t this exactly what you are supposed to do? Not jump into a new relationship, not just shut down and close off, and not numb your pain in any possible way. Instead I was doing yoga, meditating, journaling, reading, going to therapy. I was doing chakra cleanses, energy work of every kind, and I even did a ceremonial burning of certain memorabilia from my marriage as a way to cleanse my heart.
I was doing all the “right” things, so why the heck was I not healing? Why the heck did I continue to feel so stuck?
How many of you feel this way? You follow all the advice you are given, read the books, have the therapist and yet you still spend each day feeling completely stuck and unable to pull yourself out to get where you want to be. And what’s worse, the more time goes by, the more stuck you seem to get. That tightness around your heart, weighing you down and pulling you backwards is there, even in your happiest of moments every day.
If you are anything like I was, you are beating yourself up about this now as well. Wondering what the heck is wrong with you and why you can’t just move on. Your inner critic is having a field day and confirming every single doubt you have ever had about yourself. How the heck can you be doing all of this work and still not be moving on?
Because deep down inside you are choosing to be stuck, and here is why…
There are so many reasons that people choose to make health and fitness a defining factor in their lives. Each and every person has their own story for starting, and their own reasons for continuing. The common thread that unites us all though is that health and fitness in some ways propels us toward being a higher version of ourselves.
Almost three years ago I suffered the loss of my father. He became sick unexpectedly and then after a very strong fight, he passed away two months later. Absolutely nothing in my life prepared me for this moment. I was quite honestly devastated and paralyzed with grief; the guilt, anger, and sadness almost too much to bear. The days following found me laying in my bed, oscillating between sobbing, staring blankly at the ceiling, and sleeping. The chasm in my heart felt an ocean wide and I wasn’t sure how I was ever going to fill that space again. Other than being present for my son, nothing else mattered enough for me to even try.
After approximately two months of this, I managed to listen to a voice inside telling me that I needed to get up and move. If nothing else, I could head down to the gym and then go right back to sleep. I begrudgingly pulled myself out of bed, put on some workout clothes, got myself out of my home and through the doors of the gym. I’m pretty sure that process took a record breaking hour to accomplish. I managed to make myself move, doing some weights and some cardio. Exhausted, I trudged back up to my home and straight into my bed. It wasn’t much, but I had left my bed and done something for me. I fell asleep with a small sense of accomplishment in my heart.
After coming out of relationships, one of the many things that I hear from women is that they don’t love themselves. I know for me, when my marriage ended, I didn’t even like myself. Scratch that, I was a stranger to myself, so I didn’t even know who I was to even like what I saw. What I did know was that I needed to go on a journey to falling in love with me.
Falling in love with yourself is a beautiful journey that involves a process of discovery, growth, healing, and forgiveness. There are moments that are painful and moments that are joyous, and all are necessary to bring you home to yourself.
After a divorce or breakup, there is a natural period of grief and mourning that I believe everyone must go through in some shape or form. It is a time when you feel stuck, when it seem impossible to live life, and doing even the simplest of things can feel like climbing Mt. Everest. The process looks different for everyone, but in my opinion, this period of mourning is fair game and well, you do what you need to do in order to get through the pain.
There comes a point though when you begin to see slivers of normalcy returning to your life and you start to realize that it’s time to pick yourself back up and move forward. Except, you have no idea how. You can feel this pull within you, this subtle knowing that there’s so much more for you up ahead, but you simply have no idea what that is or how you’re supposed to get there. You find yourself caught between the grief of the past and the uncertainty of the future. You find yourself stuck.
For anyone who has felt stuck before, you know exactly the feeling I’m talking about. It’s like you’re trapped under this huge weight and every step you take, that weight becomes heavier and heavier. Your mind gets clouded, your heart grows confused, and finding your way seems close to impossible. Time ticks away and nothing seems to change. If you are being honest, the more time goes by the more stuck you seem to become. You wonder why you feel this way and can’t seem to move forward and leave the past behind.
It is often said that experiencing a divorce is similar to experiencing the death of a loved one. I can tell you from my own experience that this is exactly true. Although, I sometimes think that it was even worse, because with divorce you have to continue to watch the other person living life separate from you. As a result, you question so many things about yourself and about your own abilities to function in the future. I remember questioning my worth, whether or not I was ever loved, and if I would ever be lovable again, wondering if I was good enough, debating fault and if my actions had been the cause of the break up, and feeling unsure how I would ever figure out how to survive.
I didn’t know how to answer these questions and had no idea of a path that would lead me toward healing and freedom. So, I tried anything and everything I could, just hoping and praying that somehow one of these methods would eventually make me feel better. I spent a ton of unnecessary time, money, pain searching and struggling through these unchartered waters. I spent years taking one step forward and three steps backward, a dance that I definitely did not enjoy doing and don’t plan to ever do so again.
Through my own long and painful journey, I learned great lessons and as a result, have a clear vision of my purpose and my path. One of the many lessons I learned and now subscribe to in every area of my life is coaching. No matter what endeavor I choose to take on, I now know the value of finding an expert in that area to show me the way and to impart their hard-earned wisdom on me so I can avoid the unnecessary pieces on my way toward my goals. What my coaches have provided me has been invaluable, and I am filled with gratitude when I think about how much they have served me and altered my life. Among the many reasons, this is why I’ve chosen to coach others and love what I do.
Perhaps you are experiencing the end of a relationship, or maybe the death of someone you love, or possibly some other injustice in your life. Whatever the experience, I wonder how many times have you wanted to scream from the top of your lungs “IT’S NOT FAIR!!” That this is absolutely not what was supposed to happen, that you don’t deserve this, that you did everything right. How many of you want to scream out “WHY?!?!?? Why is this happening to me?!?!?!?”
If you are anything like I was at the end of my marriage and when my father passed away, you have felt this way or are feeling this way now. It is almost like your inner two- year-old wants to kick and scream and throw a complete tantrum on the floor. The anger and resentment threaten to boil over and you have to hold yourself together with everything you have.
Does this sound familiar???
First… Life is not fair.
I know you have heard this statement a million times and it may even be one of the most frustrating truths you have to listen to, but it is unfortunately the truth. Life is not fair. It is a sentence I repeat to my son over and over again, attempting to instill within him the lesson that “Life is not fair. The sooner you make peace with that, the happier you will be.”
Confusion is defined by Dictionary.com as disorder; upheaval; tumult; chaos, lack of clearness or distinctness, perplexity, bewilderment.
My guess is that you have experienced confusion at least once in your life. Perhaps you were confused about a relationship, your career, or even your life purpose. When you think about it, did being confused felt good for you? Or did it felt icky and frustrating, maybe even exhausting? Looking at the definition of confusion, I see words that automatically trigger negative feelings and a belief that confusion is not a good thing and should be avoided.
When you buy into this negative belief, you end up finding yourself stuck in it. Feeling things like chaos, lack of clarity, and bewilderment do not feel good and can leave you too exhausted to even begin to find your way through to the other side. The weight of confusion is enough to keep you immobile and indecisive for years on end and before you know it, you have actually made an involuntary decision to sit in discomfort for longer than necessary.
I actually find this to be a brilliant way in which we as humans avoid having to face things we are afraid to face and look within ourselves to do the work that we fear. Confusion becomes a technique we actually use to keep us in the comfort of what we know, even if what we know is uncomfortable or even painful, to avoid having to risk the journey into the unknown. After all, if we don’t know then we can’t move forward, right? And if we don’t know, then we don’t have to make decisions which may be incorrect and cause us to fail.
It’s a new year and that means it is the season for resolutions and intentions. You get so excited to make these changes and promises to yourself, sure that you will follow through this time, confident that nothing will get in your way. This is going to be your year, the year everything changes.
And then… life happens. Maybe you’ll get sick or stay out late one night. Maybe you’ll suffer a devastating loss or become faced with financial hardship. Perhaps, the world falls apart around you, or perhaps you just slowly give up. But either way you lose sight of your resolution, your intention, and inevitably, you are back in your same old patterns and nothing has changed.
Even worse, you failed yourself once again, confirming that things will never change for you and this must just be the life you are meant to live. You have gathered further evidence of the things you “can-not” do and have learned to trust yourself a little bit less. This fear driven life pattern is controlling your world and without realizing it, you are letting yourself be guided by the part of you that wants you to play it small and avoid being seen.
When my son was very young, I learned rather quickly that whenever he seemed unsettled, cranky, or just not himself, he was most likely on the verge of learning something new. He would experience a contraction before expanding into a new and heightened level of growth within himself. As I witnessed this in my son as he learned to talk, walk, and even read, I realized that this is something we all do. Whenever we are on the verge of something new, of expanding into some deeper part of ourselves, we will first experience a contraction. I have since learned that this is our minds attempt at protecting us and keeping us safe. Seems pretty silly when you think about it, but we tend to prefer to stay comfortable, avoiding change and the unknown.
We also experience contraction when we go through those times in our lives that can only be defined as difficult. We tend to experience a contraction of our bodies away from life in general. We may feel the need to protect ourselves by isolating, becoming fearful, or holding ourselves back. We may experience confusion, sadness, or worry. No matter what the experience or feeling, it is usually not comfortable and therefore will cause some discontent and unsettling. Basically, it just doesn’t feel good at all!
I have heard the term, dark night of the soul, used to define these periods and I feel like it provides the perfect image for what these phases of life are like. These dark nights can last a day or two or they can last years. They come and go throughout our lives and no matter how hard we may try, we have no control over their appearance. Difficult times are simply a part of life and it is a waste of energy to try to control our lives with the intention of avoiding them. Continue reading