When I confess that I love my daily life, inevitably I hear from someone deep in the muck that retort with a sarcastic “must be nice.” That it’s easy for me to say the path to happiness is becoming smitten with yourself because my life is easy. That I can write about being enchanted with my life because I don’t have any stress, have a loving and supportive partner, and a successful business.
First of all, kitten, my life is not perfect. Yet, when I explain that, then I hear the buts and the becauses:
“But it’s impossible for me to love my life because… I live in the real world, I hate my job, I’m under a lot of pressure, I’m in a loveless marriage, and I don’t feel like I will ever love anything about my daily life because life is hard and, besides, only (insert more excuses: rich, thin, young, older, successful) people get to do that.”
Oh, darling: if you think the path to creating my current reality has been strewn with roses and lilacs, then let me be clear: I can speak so passionately and intimately about choosing to create a daily life that feels nourishing and supportive because I have been deep in the pit of despair.
Let me share a piece of compassionate wisdom that I didn’t want to believe for a very long time: you have a choice and are always in choice.
You are never too old, too fat, too far gone, or too tied to the fate of your upbringing or circumstances to move forward and change.
Once upon a time, I remember well the days of dreaming of a different life, yet believing that I was forever stuck with how my life was. My marriage was like a desert mirage: it looked good from a distance, but was nothing when you got up close to it. Parenting was harder than I ever imagined, so I believed I was doing it all wrong. And work? Well, to be honest, I recall work being my refuge and one of the places where I felt acknowledged for my hard work.
The underlying belief was that I was stuck in that particular life held me exactly there: I was like one of those science class lab animals in total suspension. I told myself that I had no choice beyond what existed. That this life was my fate and that I had no way to actually change anything.
I felt defeated and stuck. I felt unattractive and boring. Let’s face it, I was a miserable bitch.
Then, there was this period of three days that shook me into what my heart had told me for years.
You see, a girlfriend came to visit for a long weekend. We decided to drive into Dallas for a ladies luncheon at the Zodiac Room (the tea room inside the downtown Neiman Marcus).
I had dressed up for lunch and looked pretty darn good. I can still recall standing in the ladies lounge touching up my make-up and realizing that I didn’t have to be a dowdy, defeated, and unhappy wife to a man who didn’t love me, but wanted to control me. No, darling, I didn’t look defeated, I looked strong. I looked alive. I sparkled.
It was then that I realized I had a choice.
Now, making a choice would mean that the picture of white-picket-fence perfection that I projected to the world would shatter. I imagined long lost high school friends discussing my failures as a wife. I imagined the neighbors lamenting the divorcee in the neighborhood who would fail to keep the lawn up the way it was before. I could actually hear my mother berating me for marrying him in the first place.
Despite the fact that I was so incredibly unhappy, to move into the unknown, even though I knew it would be better, felt like I would crumble from the sheer weight of voices telling me I would fail.
It was not just scary to consider, but terrifying to move towards a life I had dreamed about.
You see, I dreamed of a daily life that felt peaceful, loving and nourishing. I dreamed of a daily life that I could relax into, instead of walking around on eggshells all the time. I dreamed of not being berated when one of the girls had a rough day at school. I dreamed of a life where I was not the victim, but the heroine.
And sure enough, the magnitude of deciding I was no longer going to tolerate being treated like crap caused eggshells I had been walking on to shatter that very weekend. We got into another one of those arguments again and, once again, he threatened me with a divorce. Instead of begging him and telling him we could work it out, I calmly said: OK.
He left for a business trip and my girlfriend sat me down and gave me the wisest advice:
“No matter what happens over the next few months, remember that most of the arguments he’s going to make over this lamp or that sofa are going to be ways to engage you and upset you. Remember that it’s just stuff. It’s just money. And you are more important than that.”
It was the first time, in a very long time, that I was told that I was important.
That I was worth more than the stuff that surrounded me. That I didn’t have to play a role that I had long outgrown. That I could choose to take the reins of my own life. I didn’t have to let life happen to me, I could create it.
It’s been a decade since then. A decade of moving forward and stepping back. A decade of peeling away the layers that I had encased around me. A decade of becoming the shiniest version of myself and allowing myself to heal. Best of all: I am still growing and expanding and becoming.
What I learned, my darling, is that each and every one of us has a choice to create the kind of life we dream about. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it’s easy, but I promise you that the work to become yourself is invaluable.
Maybe, like me, you need to be reminded that you are important. And that you are worth it.
You can choose to begin the healing process. You can choose to slowly pull away the layers that you’ve put up around yourself. You don’t have to define yourself by the way others see you.
You are important. You are worthy of happiness and love and peace. You get to choose.
You get to choose to grab the reins of your own life. All it takes, darling, is that first tiny step towards what you desire. I’m right here, cheering you on.
The daily life you dream of is waiting to become your reality. Isn’t it time you decided to create it?
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