“All progress begins with a brave decision.”
– Marie Forleo.
When I finally ended my marriage of 12 years, I was expecting the sweet feeling of relief to swoop in and fill up all those huge gaping holes left in my heart.
The opposite happened though – whatever was left of my heart at that point felt like it was torn into tiny little pieces, and I had no idea how on earth I was ever going to put it back together again.
Instead of feeling relief, I felt broken. Instead of feeling proud and virtuous for leaving an unhappy marriage, I felt shame and deep sadness. And this ever so slow-brewing feeling of fear began to settle in.
I had no clue how I was going to manage moving forward. Day to day life felt overwhelming and I was scared. Simple household chores that my husband had always done, like taking out the garbage or cutting the lawn, felt like overwhelming tasks that I didn’t want to face.
I greeted every morning with an uneasy feeling of uncertainty and I curled up with it again every night. I certainly hadn’t envisioned myself ending up alone in my late 30s, with 3 small kids, no career, and having to start all over again. And no matter how much I didn’t want that to be true – it was.
The hardest part was trying to figure out how to begin again – where do I start? And oddly, the biggest obstacle to beginning again was that I didn’t want to have to begin again. I didn’t want to be starting all over. I didn’t want this to be my life.
So I sat in resistance to it. I argued with the unfairness of it. Why did this have to happen to me? What’s wrong with me? Why aren’t I good enough?
And even though I knew our marriage couldn’t continue on the way it had been, I dejectedly held out hope that things would change. I wanted my husband to pick me. I wanted him to want to do what was necessary to make this work.
I spent two years waiting and hoping for him to pick me. I was in so much resistance to the truth, that I couldn’t see the truth –which quite clearly was that he wasn’t willing to do what was necessary to make things work.
While I was waiting for him to decide the fate of my life, this awful realization set in that not only was he not ‘picking me’ – but I wasn’t ‘picking’ me. Every day that I waited for him to take some kind of action that said he cared, ultimately became an exercise in proving to myself just how ‘nothing’ I really was.
My worth had been completely wrapped up in and measured by his choices and actions during our marriage. And now in our separation, I was still caught in the same cycle of being defined by them.
I believed that if he wouldn’t fight for our marriage, it meant hands down that I wasn’t worth fighting for. I was nothing – I was insignificant, unlovable, unworthy, and I’d never matter to anyone.
To say it was crippling is an understatement. And although I scrambled trying to get myself on solid ground, this deep pit of emptiness grew and grew, until it swallowed me whole.
And there I sat, alone in this dark, numb state of nothingness, unsure how to find my way out. The gift of the darkness is that it reveals how desperate we are for Light, and that desperation aroused me from my joyless, numb state of nothingness.
My deep desire for Light – for some happiness, for a reprieve from the endless emptiness – was all that was required for me to begin the journey of crawling up out of that deep dark hole and finding myself.
The road from ‘nothing’ to ‘anywhere that feels better’ was a long and winding one, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I often felt lost along the way.
But that tiny flicker of desire to feel even a little bit better faithfully lit the path for me, and as I followed it, it sparked the most incredible life-giving journey of my life.
The first step I took on my path to ‘anywhere that feels better’ was understanding that his actions had nothing at all to do with me – that anything he did or didn’t do said absolutely nothing about who I was.
What it did say though, was everything about who he was. Knowing that his actions had nothing to do with anything I did or didn’t do, and said nothing about who I was or wasn’t, began to create a shift in me.
It created a crack in what I had believed was true about myself. If I wasn’t the cause of him not loving me, maybe his ‘loving me’ didn’t determine my worth after all? Maybe, just maybe, I am worthy of love. Maybe I am enough.
Considering that I was loveable definitely felt like a stretch, but I decided I was going to let it stretch me. I was ready to expand.
I had spent so much of my life committed to believing in my unworthiness and my unloveableness that to believe anything other than that always felt like a lie. But something inside shifted when I realized that his or anyone else’s actions weren’t a statement about my worthiness.
It became clearer and clearer to me that the only way out was to give myself permission to believe it was possible that I was loveable – flaws and all.
I knew the way forward was to keep following this path to ‘anywhere that feels better.’ And hands down it definitely felt better to consider believing that it was possible that I was worthy of love.
That was the beginning of transformation for me from unlovable to loveable – being willing to believe that its possible that I’m loveable and worthy of love. Make no mistake – I didn’t believe I was yet – I just believed that it could be possible that I was.
Marianne Williamson says, “a miracle is a shift in perception”. That tiny shift in my perception was my miracle. It was the first step on the road to learning to love myself.
And that will be yours too, if you’re willing to follow the path to anywhere that feels better. That is the only small step you need to take today. Decide that you will be willing to believe that it could be possible that you are worthy and deserving of love.
We make the mistake of waiting to first feel that we’re worthy – we think when we feel it, we will know it. But it doesn’t work like that. You have to decide first to believe its possible – and then you will absolutely come to know it.
Remember, you’re not looking for it to ‘feel’ true– you only have to decide that you are willing to believe that it could be true. Start there – with that one small simple step.
Today, I’m so grateful that I have a deep knowing of my own worth. An unshakeable knowing that I am worthy, that I’m loveable, and I’m enough exactly as I am – faults and all.
And I know you are too. And I will know it for you, until you come to know it for yourself.
And if it feels too simple, that’s because it is! If you will take that one small step, I promise you what will happen is that miracle after miracle after miracle will show up for you…one small step at a time.