It was one of those days when I woke up in a deep funk. I remember it so well. Is this what they mean by “life happens?” My divorce hit me hard, twice.
Everyone thought I had the perfect marriage, but it wasn’t perfect at all. I denied it for years. I told friends and family that I was fine. I wasn’t. The truth was I did NOT want to be one of those women whose second marriage ended in divorce, too. Not a great reason to stay in an abusive relationship, I know.
But, I decided to work my tail off to make it right this time. I even agreed to renew our wedding vows again. Early on, we decided to celebrate our marriage with a renewal every five years. The first one was great. By the second one, I felt a bit dishonest. When it came time for the third one, I just couldn’t do it. I realized that I wasn’t being true to myself. I was working really hard to fix something that was beyond my power to fix.
Although the circumstances around the ending of my first marriage were quite different, how I was feeling inside was quite the same. I felt numb — afraid to feel much of anything. Then, I felt a lot of anger. The fear set in next. Then the panic. I was immobilized. I felt isolated.
How am I going to get out of this? Why is this happening again? Can I make it?
Hold on. I started to notice …
There was something different this time around. After soul searching (and reaching out for help), I began to realize I had some tools in my toolbox from my first breakup that I could apply here.
That first experience of my marriage ending could be used to inform, motivate and guide me. As I started to use a few of the lessons I learned, I noticed they got me moving faster than before. They helped me feel less like a victim and more like the powerful woman I am.
The fog — and the fear — started to lift.
Many of those same lessons have helped me manage other times when “life happened” — changing careers, moving across country, the loss of my parents, being laid off, to name a few. The first time, when life hit me hard—turned me upside down—I didn’t know what to do or where to start. Now that I’m an ole’ pro at this, I’m more confident in the knowledge that I can handle anything.
It occurs to me that life may be happening to you so I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned. I hope they help.
Remember that you’re not alone
Life happens to everyone at some time or another. Some can struggle through, while others let it roll right off their back. Some are in denial while others face it head on.
You can choose which way you want to handle your upside-down moments. There are so many resources available to us. We can find them through research, support groups and coaching. Reach out. As you speak with people going through similar experiences, you’ll feel comforted that you are not alone in this.
Take small steps
Baby steps help to build confidence. They also help to ensure you are heading in the right direction. Taking a wrong turn from a baby step forward is an easy correction.
Reach out to people you trust
A strong support network of family, friends and resources who support you in a positive way is essential at a time when life is changing dramatically. These are people who want to help, have your back, are a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on and play devil’s advocate. They offer positive reinforcement, encouragement and constructive feedback to keep you on a track that feels right to you.
Don’t be afraid to brainstorm different ideas. Engage someone you trust and toss those ideas around. Put your imagination to work. This kind of brainstorming helps to open your creative mind to explore all the possibilities before you select the one that suits you. After considering many options, it’s very likely that the one you do choose will FEEL right.
Don’t let your past situation define you
“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” ~~~Nido Qubein
Think about where you are today in the most positive terms. I’m here and I made it. I am fine. I’m feeling good. I’m ready for my next move. The sky is the limit. Only you can hold yourself back now. Look forward. Lean forward. Step forward.
And, when life happens, again…
The fact that you have choices can be both comforting and confusing. By following these few simple strategies—remember you’re not alone, take small steps, surround yourself with positive people, explore options and start from where you are today—your direction forward will become clear.
The fog will lift. The fear will fuel you. You will feel more empowered to make great decisions that set you on the right path.
And, since we know life happens to the best of us—and, sometimes when we least expect it—the next time life turns your world upside down, say “I’ve learned this lesson before and I know just what to do this time!”
Step Onto Your Bridge
When life-changing moments flip your world upside down, I create a bridge so you can turn chaos into calm. You build resilience and learn to live a life guided by your own values and vision. Are you ready to take the first step onto your bridge? Do you want to explore how change can impact you? Would you like to learn how to move through it with more dignity and grace? I’m here to help. Get my free ebook From Darkness to Light: Learning to Adapt to Change and Move Through Transition.