When life hands you really sour lemons, make lemonade…or create a life on your own terms, reclaiming yourself and marching to the beat of your own drum
Are you marching to the beat of your own drum? Easier said than done sometimes, right?
We may think we are…or we start out all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, inspired by a new idea, ready to take the world by storm…and BOOM, some event rocks everything as it drains the air right out of our life balloon.
That kind of event happened to me 16 years ago.
It’s a day that I silently note and privately celebrate …yes, celebrate (I’ll explain). I don’t post about it in social media. I don’t note it in my calendar. I usually don’t even speak about it.
But there hasn’t been a February 5th that has passed me by since then when I haven’t taken a moment of startling pause, because it was a day where everything fell apart. I didn’t see it coming. I hadn’t prepared — and it was worse than my wildest imaginations — leaving me single, penniless and with a toddler in tow (not exactly the things that dreams are made of).
Loss or trauma dig up every vestige of shame, guilt, unworthiness and fear we’ve ever collected along the way.
It’s almost as if we have our storage facility lined with emotions seemingly tucked away until some event occurs, and suddenly they all convene like a marching band to a parade.
Yet, this parade is your life — and when it’s falling apart around you, chances are, you aren’t seeing things clearly in that moment. You aren’t seeing the sum total of all the things that occurred before it that led to this one. And you certainly aren’t seeing life beyond it.
Our bodies hold anniversaries within our cells for a reason. They remember and they remind us of our loss, our pain, our triumphs…our life’s journey — not to torture us, but rather to heal us on the deepest of levels, and to propel us in the direction of our best selves.
Those aren’t just words. Those are truths…not just mine, yours too.
You can resist them. You can feel sorry for yourself. You can believe the untruths about who you are and what you are capable of. You can think you are stuck. You can deny your participation in all of it. And you can stay there if you choose.
But I promise if you sit quietly, calm your nervous system, shut out the noise of the world and your own head…you will hear your soul calling to you. You may not recognize this voice. You may never have been told to go inward. You may never have been taught to trust yourself or been allowed to feel into any experience. But there’s a reason we are unhappy when we are unhappy…we know we aren’t meant to stay here.
And God, the Universe, the infinite source (whatever you want to call it) will provide you with reminders sprinkled about, that there is more. There is goodness and love and abundance available if you follow the path home to healing. That little boy in the picture (the no-longer-resident teenager, who is now off at college) was one of my reminders. It was because of him that I got up off the sofa of self-pity and rebuilt my life as a single mom, escaping a tsunami of life events.
I’m not here to judge anyone’s circumstances or dramas (God knows I’ve got a full plate of my own) — but I can tell you that hindsight is a beautiful thing, provided you see it — and avail yourself of its wisdom. When you do, you also see the places you abandoned yourself, the times you ignored your gut, the moments you bypassed your feelings — and every second in between where you stayed the course in someone else’s production.
But when we don’t do the healing work, we don’t heal. We tread water. We don’t move forward or backward, we stay immobile. We become complacent…and we forget who we were in the first place.
What happened to those dreams, those visions, those beliefs in possibility?
Some of us withstand enormous life jolts — I can only quantify my own. Mine was a cumulative crescendo of years of self-abandonment. The longer I ignored the stirrings within, the longer the path was home.
In some ways, I’m astounded how quickly 16 years have passed and in other ways, I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember that ‘ME’. But what I remember most was how much I tortured myself along the way, how I prolonged my own agony. I didn’t have tools of self-discovery. I didn’t have resources and I certainly didn’t have any notion of how interconnected it all was; body, mind and spirit. I often speak of how our answers lie within in our questions to self — well, I didn’t even have any questions.
The truth is that having life skills and tools doesn’t make one immune to the human experience, but it does instill faith in one’s resiliency to weather the storms and to sink into deep knowingness, knowing that no matter how crappy things get…you are bigger than all of it. There is a way out.
Life will rattle us all from time to time. Honor it. Acknowledge it and don’t beat yourself up. Find what works for you — what calms you down and centers you. Frankly, I’ve got to call on the troops at times: my books, meditation, prayer, nature, self-care and my soul friends as well.
But at a certain point, one must decide to march to the beat of their own drum.
There will always be those who will impose their ideals upon you of who you should be, what you should think and do. Tell them to get back to their own drum! You’ve got your own symphony waiting to bust-a-move and it’s an original score.
And before you start rolling out the litany of excuses, I’m going to cut you off at the pass. It’s never too late, you are not too old or too ‘anything’. I’m not dismissing or overlooking how daunting it can be to take a leap of faith, but I’ll tell you it’s much scarier to not. That’s a much heavier burden to carry. I also know how counterintuitive it can feel to think ‘happy thoughts’ when the world around you feels oppressive.
But what if for just one second you gave the other a try? What if you focused on how you want to feel instead of how you do feel? Lamenting the pain doesn’t make the pain go away. Focusing on more positive and reaffirming things shifts energy and direction of our spirit.
And had my life not imploded and had I not been mother to that magical young boy — I may not have had the courage to carry on. The road was bumpy at best, but it lead me to greener pastures within myself and within my life and career.
Had I not fallen as low as one can fall, there would be no Best Self Magazine. I would never have owned my voice as a writer. I would never have envisioned a life that I’m in the midst of creating and the person I’m evolving into with the passing of each anniversary.
Yes, February 5th, 2003 is a day to be celebrated. It was the day that I unwittingly agreed to reclaim the pieces of my abandoned self.
Don’t give up on any of that for yourself, ever. As long as you have blood pumping in your veins and air through your lungs — I want you to heal and live and dream (repeat).
So, how can you find your way home?
Go in. Get quiet. Listen…and don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid of what you will become, be afraid of what you won’t. When doors don’t open, choose other ones. When you feel resistance, back off and save your energy. Put it somewhere else…or nowhere until you know which way to turn.
One of my favorite quotes from author and activist, Glennon Doyle from my interview with her — “Don’t ask people for directions to places they’ve never been.”
It is a great superpower to be able to tune in, to trust and to travel to places within yourself you have never been (and don’t need directions to). Seize your drums, best selfers!
Has a life setback, stumble or circumstance made you forget who you are? Are you marching to the beat of someone else’s drum (or expectations)? Please share with us in the comments below.