I remember being a teenager and having a conversation with my mom — we may have had this conversation more than once, or maybe it just resonated with me, because I remember it crisply — she told me that a woman gets into her thirties and she suddenly just wakes up. She looks at her life and evaluates it and cuts out anything that doesn’t fit in search of (or to draw in) what does.
I didn’t understand what she meant and, honestly, I thought she was justifying her divorce and trying to make me feel better about her decisions. But over the last few years, likely because I have been going through my own shifts, this memory keeps speaking to me. I keep trying to wake up.
Do you know that feeling? You’re living, you’re going through all of the motions, you actually exist, but it feels like you don’t. I’ve been trying to understand myself, my belief systems, my internal reasonings that govern my experiences.
I’ve been trying to unlearn.
Trying to reverse notions I have about myself. Trying to find my strength, wondering if there is any to be found. I’m ready, SO VERY READY, for a change. And at the same time, I’m stuck. I’m my own glue trap.
I recently had to send Eliza’s school pictures over to Joe along with the 47 other things you pack to send your kids away from home for any length of time, and I couldn’t find anything to keep the photos rigid. Eventually I came across an old spiral notebook with one of those ziploc style covers (genius, those are, by the way.) And so I tore all of the pages I had written on out of the notebook, threw those pages on my desk, and then used the notebook for the pictures. While the kids were gone, I walked into my office to work and was viscerally annoyed by the clutter, seemingly everywhere, which was really my own fault. So I started to organize these pages of notes and scribbles that I didn’t even remember existed when I came across four pages I had written in April. The title on the page was No More Aprils.
You see, in April of this year, I flew out to Ohio for a Rodan + Fields team training and leadership dinner. At the end of our training, one of my business partners who’s a leader in our company, led off a visualization exercise. As of April, she had been with our company for three years. Her organization is huge. She’s at the top of our company in title. And she had just hit Million Dollar Circle. And to help ignite the vision for what that looks like, she had us write about our lives in three year increments — what was our life like three years ago, what is it like today, what would it look like in three years from now.
Now, to be honest, I knew A LOT of people in the room. But as I started to remember what my life was like before, and where it is today, I choked back hot tears with a sense of frustration and embarrassment. I wasn’t going to ugly cry in front of this room full of strong, empowered women who I know, but don’t know. You know? And because I’m a type-a overthinking overachiever, I wrote out what my life was like every year for the last three years. April 2013, April 2014, April 2015…then I wrote what my life was like in the present, April 2016…then I wrote my vision for April 2017 and April 2018.
And when I sat back and looked at my life — what my life was like up until the present, so much had changed, and so much was exactly the same. Stuck in a giant glue trap.
Married to Joe. We had just moved into Meadowbrook and had started marriage counseling. I started pouring myself more readily into my consulting business in case our marriage didn’t work out. The twins were 26 months old, Lo was 7 months old. We were going through testing, again, with Ryan to see why he was having delays. Joe and I were fighting. Usually about money and his willingness to spend time with our family.
Pregnant with Eliza, filed for separation from Joe. Ryan had just been diagnosed with autism in the fall and had started his special needs preschool in January. Lauren had just been diagnosed with hypotonia in the fall and had started Early Intervention. She still wasn’t walking. I was running my consulting business part-time while trying to sell the Barbie Dream House and trying to find a house I could afford for the kids and me. The twins were three; Lauren was 18 months.
We had just moved from temporary housing into Merchant, and April was the month I finally had a kitchen. No more dishes in the bathtub! I met Eric and things were wonderful. Work had me crazy. I was on a particularly grueling deadline one Friday when Eric came into town to see me. He danced with my baby while making me dinner so I could work, right then I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with him. Joe and I were fighting all the time, mainly over money. He had very little to do with the kids and most days I was drowning. It felt an awful lot like drowning.
Eric and I got engaged in the fall on the birthday trip of a lifetime. We now live together. My kids are 5, 5, 3 and 1. The twins are getting ready for kindergarten — another big transition. Joe and I are still fighting, regularly, over money. His attitude around his contributions the family he created still impacts his willingness to spend time with our kids. I folded my consulting company, which was so freeing, but also came with a ton of worry as to whether I did so too soon. Were the financials okay enough to have taken that step? Single parenting is still hard. I spend a lot of my time worrying about my decisions and the things that I can’t fix (yet) and things just outside of my control.
Always fighting with Joe. Always fighting to financially support myself and the kids. Always worried. Always second guessing my decisions. Always stressed, so stressed and stretched, that it hurts to breathe. Always.
I have this vision for a bigger and better (and, for goodness sakes, easier) tomorrow. And I see how to get there, I know how to get there and that little voice in my head that says, you can’t, you won’t, you never have, you’re not worthy of, the fear — all of it keeps me from getting to the other side.
For my April 2017 and April 2018 entries I wrote about my goals, but what sticks out to me is how the weight of the fear is gone. Sure, I wrote about financial freedom. But it is the emotional freedom that set me free.
What could I accomplish if I could just stop carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders like a two ton anvil? How is it that you can unlearn the patterns of your life — who you have let yourself become, believed yourself to be — to become something entirely new?
How do you just wake up after you’ve cut out all of the things that don’t fit?