Twenty years ago I was a wife of ten years and a mother to three kids under four-and-a-half. I felt restless, frustrated, and angry, but I would not allow myself enough space, time, or energy to figure out why I felt so miserable because I'd made my bed, so I was to lie in it...no matter how awful my lumpy and smelly bed felt.
So I stayed, and so did my unhappiness. Then one normal Monday evening, my world collapsed when my seemingly faithful husband let it slip that he'd been having an affair. By the end of that week, the real truth came out: that he'd been having affairs for the length of our marriage.
Yeah, as you can imagine, I unraveled quickly. Everything I thought I'd known to be true was a big fat lie, and my life felt like a sham.
The pain of that lie was detailed in dozens of scraps of paper and notebooks where I stored the ugly truth of my life in writing, which later became a book. And in that book I succinctly explained the reason I believed I'd hooked up with a sex addict: because I'd been molested as a toddler.
My seemingly loving and supportive large family quietly retreated from my life as a result of that explanation, and yes, as you can imagine, I had to slowly and painfully grieve the loss of my tribe.
It happened just as I was falling in love again, too. I moved cross-country to be with someone I'd known since I developed a crush on him at eleven years old. I was ecstatic, trusting, and happy...until I wasn't, because that seemingly “healthy and different” relationship had been crumbling almost since the day we started courting.
Yep, I was pissed, especially since I was in the middle of dealing with the PTSD symptoms (from the molestation I hadn't yet healed) that kept interrupting me in the middle of my life.
As you can imagine, I was a mess...again.
But please understand...this isn't the theme of this letter.
Because shit happens to everyone—some worse than others—and it's our responsibility to step up and face it, then heal. Our job is to accept the healing, and let it do its job, just as the shit did its job of shattering our thoughts, or marriage, or denial.
But healing doesn't just happen. It's allowed. When the grief wants to gurgle to the surface, let it. When the anger bursts through, welcome it. When the tears begin to flow, foster them (I like to put in the juiciest, saddest movie and go with it!). When you are being called upon to change, do it with all the guts and energy you can muster.
Because while I remember the grief and heartache and sadness and losses with each event, what I feeeel is deep and unwavering gratitude for having gone through the whole damn mess to begin with. Because at the end of each awful, mind-numbing moment, I was eventually graced with healing.
That's the point. It's my point.
Lean into healing. You don't even have to do anything. You don't have to direct it because it will just show up, unannounced, and direct you. It will shake you to your core and take you to your knees. But if you let it, it will eventually leave.
And once it has had its way with you, you will be left standing—no longer on our knees—in the sunlight. But if you choose to be on your knees, it will be out of gratitude. You will feel and act differently.
It's when we don't allow healing to take up residence in our lives, that we fight it: we binge eat or drink; we gamble and shop to excess; we work much too hard for far too long. In short, we abuse ourselves because we think it is easier than allowing a healing.
But we know better. And we begin to feel better once we listen to that knowing.
Cave early. Dive often into the unknown. And let the current of life take you where you need to go without a struggle. Because when you are alive and feeling, shit will happen. Guaranteed.
But don't let the struggle win, because it's not meant to win.
The struggle exists for the sole purpose of waking you up, so that you don't stay asleep and miss your life.