Who is writing your story? The one you are telling yourself about who you are, about the situations you are currently facing and how you are handling them? Are you choosing to stick with this story because it is far more comfortable than the unknown?
Holding onto stories is what keeps us trapped in unhappy, unhealthy relationships and lifestyles. Refusing to let go of those stories is how we convince ourselves to stay in places we have outgrown and how we trick ourselves into believing we are happy even when our most basic emotional needs aren’t being met.
But stories are just that, stories. They are the prose of protection that we fabricate to make sense of our lives. So, if we are the author of our story and we are writing the script that means we can change the narrative and rewrite the story to be one that is completely different and much more fulfilling!
Whenever I have to make a difficult life decision I ask myself one simple question. “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” It's not original, You’ve heard it before but here’s the thing. It works. For me, the answer is always immediate, authentic and obvious.
I got tired of allowing fear to be the author in my life. The stories I was telling myself were all under the guidance of fear. Fear had convinced me that it was safer to stay living in the certainty of a bad situation rather than seek out the uncertainty of a new one. But the biggest problem with letting fear write my story was that it completely stripped me of any freedom. When you live in fear, you aren’t free to make your own decisions and when you make decisions based on fear, most of the time, fear-based decisions don’t look anything like what you’d decide if you truly felt free to decide.
For years I wrestled with the decision to get divorced and despite the truth that my marriage was suffocating my spirit, it was still scary to think about leaving it behind. Even though there had been abuse, deception and other serious issues that just about anyone in their right mind would tell you to walk away from, there was still security in knowing what struggles I was facing and safety in knowing what I could expect. I was afraid of not being able to manage the workload and the kids' needs. I was afraid of what my family and friends would think. I was afraid of how my ex would react. I was afraid of people I don’t even know and who don’t even matter judging me. I was afraid I’d never find love again. But worst of all, I was afraid that my children would never forgive me.
But here’s the funny thing about all those fears, in the end, none of them are actually part of my story. What I discovered is that fear isn’t about what will happen, it's just about what might happen and in most cases, fear is just fiction. What I discovered was that despite how very real my fears felt, none of the worst case scenarios conclusions I have come up with actually became reality. My ex wasn’t thrilled with my choice to walk away but to my surprise my family and friends were beyond supportive and our daughters’, they don’t blame me, in fact, they have told me a number of times that they are proud of me and how I handled it. And those people, the ones I don’t even know, well, let’s just say I finally realized that their opinions don’t matter and even if they are judging me, it has no impact on my life.
And so I just made a decision to do it afraid. There is no crystal ball that would have shown me what my life will look like post-divorce. I just had to make the decision based on faith. Faith that I can make it. Faith that I will figure it out. Faith that the people who care about me will stand by me and the people who love our children will always put them first, no matter what they think of my decision. Faith that I would find a way to forgive myself, to heal myself, to love myself and someday, maybe, with some time, fall in love again. The story I used to tell myself was that getting divorced would mean I had failed. Looking back, I can now see that couldn't possibly be true. How could discovering my courage, resilience and strength be a failure?
I learned to stand up for myself in a way that I could be proud of. I discovered I can hold it together and do something incredibly hard with a well defined strategy, execute with tremendous emotional intelligence and detach with integrity. I found out that I am far more spiritually aligned than I ever imagined. I unearthed my self love and ability to trust myself completely. I learned that there is a fire inside me that can shine on the darkest days and that I can find the tenacity to overcome any obstacle put in my path.
As somebody who identifies as a recovering perfectionist, it took true courage to admit that my marriage wasn’t working. It took tremendous bravery to decide to strike out on my own. It took fortitude to stop believing the stories I was telling myself and a warrior spirit to be willing to write a new one. It has taken some resilience to start over and gain momentum. It took grit and real guts to admit that what I was doing wasn't working and to want something better for myself, my kids, and even my ex. It required authenticity and true vulnerability for me to admit that I was a really big part of the problem and to do the work necessary to become a better version of myself.
Letting go of my marriage required me to get real about my story and in letting go of that story, I gained the opportunity to write a new chapter and what has been the most exciting part of this chapter has been discovering a whole new me that I didn’t even know existed. See, there is nothing easy about choosing divorce but when you can finally admit that your marriage isn’t working and that you’ve done all you can to change that, it can feel liberating, empowering and refreshing to love yourself enough to let go and choose courage to be the author of your next chapter.