I used to think I had to stay when I was actually miserable.
Anywhere--in a job with people who were mean like middle school bullies, in a relationship that was connection-less, in a friendship that no longer lit me up, in a town where I couldn’t thrive, in a career that didn’t support me.
I used to think I should tough it out, make it work, that the world wasn’t easy or pretty and that believing something better was out there was just fooling myself. For a long time happiness seemed as out of reach as living on Mars.
I was stuck. Stuck like a dirty label on a jar that you scrub endlessly but can’t get off.
I used to think it’d be bad to only choose the good in life. Only choose happiness?--what a fucking pipe dream! Like when I knew in my bones that the man I was with was no good for me, something would always undermine my self-trust. I would think, well, it must be my fault so I am going to keep trying to work it out. I have invested so much. The kids, the dogs, the house, they will all hate me for screwing it up.
I put my true self in a box so as not to offend anyone or rock the boat, crushed my soul until I collapsed. Again and again.
Even though I wanted to be myself, I believed she wasn’t good enough, so I hid her in the closet and tried to fit into the life I had made.
Well, I can tell you that you have to be super lost to do that to yourself, because how could I forget that my identity, my soul, is what made me me after all?
Did you know we can convince ourselves to believe our own lies? I convinced myself for about a decade that I didn’t care at all about sex. (Ask anyone who really knows me and they will tell you I definitely lost my mind because that is not who I am.)
After a giant collapse involving lots of moving, squirming, running and searching, I find myself here to tell you this story.
I had to eliminate to illuminate.
Being lost for a long time meant I had built a life that didn’t really fit or suit me.
That was no one’s fault but my own, and I had to get rid of everything that wasn’t me to find out who I really was.
In order to illuminate my truest life, I needed to eliminate what was getting in the way.
I used to watch the reality show Hoarders with my jaw on the floor...like a horrible accident scene you can’t take your eyes off of. The thing is, I saw myself in those rooms of excess, stacks of newspapers and old toothbrushes. Here I was holding on to all of these things that were ugly or dirty or not useable (not “things” per se but relationships, ways of being, thought patterns) because I didn’t have a vision for anything better.
Because I was so afraid that losing what already suffocated me would leave me alone, I settled. Until it was too painful to continue like that.
So I started. One tiny, used toothbrush at a time. At first it actually was decluttering things. Getting rid of old clothes or bedsheets that never got used. Then it was letting go of commitments I was no longer excited about, bad habits, relationships, jobs, towns...until I started seeing underneath the piles of crap I had built up around me and my authentic self became more and more visible.
Turns out, I am the same person I always was. I just let some things get in the way. And I couldn’t walk across my room without sinking in a pile of shit.
I cleared a lot of junk out. Over the course of years, really. And I found myself again, a little older and a bit worn but just a magical as ever. I found my happiness.
Letting go of what I thought life should look like and what I felt I should be like was actually quite scary. It meant risking not fitting in, admitting I was lost. It meant ending my marriage, moving across the country and starting over.
It also meant making peace with my shadow, and letting the light in.
So now I am letting my light shine.
What do you get to eliminate from your life in order to illuminate the true you? Tell me in the comments.