Your mission, should you choose to accept it
People keep asking me questions about changing your life. I'm honestly honored that they even seek my words at all, especially words that teach them how to make a change. Sometimes the questions are technical, like how to move to another country or steps involved in the process for this-and-such. Other times it's more along the lines of, "How do you get up the guts?"
So, listen. Your only job is to not roll over and die inside.
I am not an expert, but here is what I know to be true: If you are waiting for someone to give you permission to change and guarantee that everything will turn out wonderfully, that will never happen. You're not going to get that guarantee.
I also know this to be true: I did it anyway and it was worth it.
Nobody asked you to be a martyr. In fact, if you sacrifice your life to be miserable in the name of things like... I honestly don't even know how to put this into word without resorting to a bunch of cliches like, "You made your bed now you can lie in it," or, "God hates divorce," or whatever it is that makes people believe that they have to sit in a situation that doesn't serve their highest good because they think that keeping everyone else comfortable is their highest calling.
I got news for y'all.
You don't have the right to be happy, you have the responsibility to be happy.
You think you're doing your fellow humans a favor by living a double life, the life your body is living and the life your heart is living? You're not. You're actually holding all of us back when you hold yourself back. If you hurt yourself, you hurt me, you hurt your kids, you hurt your spouse (who is probably just as miserable as you are but also just as terrified to admit it), you hurt your neighbor, you hurt a butterfly taxonomist tagging wings in a distant jungle somewhere. We are all connected.
So your mom really wants you to get married before she dies.
No disrespect to any mothers out there, but so what?
My ex-husband's grandmother wanted him to be settled and happy before she passed away. And he did get married. To me. *waving* Hiii! He was settled and happy when she passed away.
We are divorced now.
It took years of lonely hell on earth to get there.
Do I think she's relieved that we are split up now, up in heaven? Honestly, yes. After she crossed over, she probably looked down with her newfound angel's-eye view and thought, "Oh dear, woops, that might not turn out the way I had hoped."
Of course parents and grandparents want you settled and happy. What kind of parents would they be if they didn't? We parents want our babies safe and secure and healthy and happy. That's our whole thing.
I'm losing my train of thought...
I've had people ask me, essentially, how can I go to another country but get the exact same job I have here for the exact same money or better without a shred of discomfort and keeping every single thing the same in my life, only with the social safety net that other developed countries provide?
Allow me to answer that question with a question: Why are you so determined to be stuck?
If you're waiting for your spouse to come up to you and say, "Listen, we had a good run. I can see you're miserable. This isn't exactly what I dreamed my life would be either. Wanna shake on it and I'll just go ahead and get myself an apartment and we'll call it good?" that will, in all likelihood, never happen.
If you're waiting for your boss to say, "Hey, maybe you weren't cut out to be a [whatever your job is]. I can see you're miserable. Why don't I pay you for another year so you can find yourself and get some training, risk-free, and finally go off and become a butterfly taxonomist like you always wanted?" Again, probably never going to happen.
Or if you think your body is going to go, "I'm really tired of carrying around all this weight. I refuse to eat sugar and processed foods anymore no matter how much you enjoy them," you might actually see that happen because that's called adult-onset-diabetes. But is it going to be without any discomfort and change? No! Hell no. Especially not if it gets to that point, diabetes is no joke.
I don't have the answer to what you need to do in order to be happy.
If you're happy with your body living one life and your heart living another, you are free to make that choice.
But admit to yourself that it's a choice. (Uh-oh, she broke out the bold print.)
I do know a handy test to see if it's what you really want, though.
Get in front of a mirror. No, really, do it. Use the bathroom one, the one that's seen you naked and hungover and before you've brushed your teeth.
Look in your own eyes. (Aren't they pretty?)
Say, "I choose to allow my body to [stay married to this person, keep working this job, keep using this drug, keep self-isolating, fill-in-the-blank] while my heart secretly lives the life it really wants. I choose to do this until my body dies. I choose to never live the life I truly desire."
That was hard to even type.
That feels like shit.
My problem is, I can't lie to myself like that. I would try saying that kind of stuff to myself and just end up sobbing on the bathroom floor. Some people call that being a mess. I call it being truthful.
I can't fake things. It's not a very good way to live in our society, where you're supposed to make it comfortable for others to be around you at all costs. (This is the part where creeps, gropers, and predators like to pretend that they are just being true to themselves instead of being disgusting, but I hope you all know that I don't mean them, I mean people who aren't them.)
But I can't be that way. If I'm miserable, I mope and sulk and suck all the air out of the room. If I'm angry, I can't wait until an appropriate time or sit and plot and scheme and bide my time until I'm ready to counter-attack. My face turns red and my eyes blaze fire and I turn around like, "What the fuck?!" If I'm happy I skip around and sing and tell everyone.
And if nothing in the life my body is living matches the life my heart is living, I crumple up into a little wad and start to die.
It makes everyone very uncomfortable.
Nine-ish years ago, I made a bed. I had a lie-down in it. It was pretty good. Pretty okay. Sometimes wonderful. Then the sheets got tangled. The pillow stopped being cool whenever I turned it over. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't rest. I had to get up.
So I did.
That's the choice that I made.
The guts it took didn't feel like guts at all.
I didn't get some spurt of courage. I just couldn't stand dying anymore.
I'm talking specifically about divorce now, because that's my experience, but this can be applied to anything in your life that requires changing.
If you think you're doing anyone a favor by staying the course when the course isn't the one your soul wants for itself, you are dead wrong. All that does is make a ghost out of you. You drift around like you're mostly dead in your life. You self-destruct. When you're a parent, people loooooove to guilt you into staying with the other person who contributed genetic material to create your child's body. Because children love both of their parents (that's true) and they like it when their parents are in the same place most of the time (also typically true) so being with their other parent in a romantic relationship is the best option for the whole family (WRONG).
What you teach your child when you stay in a romantic relationship with their other parent even if that's not what you want to do is:
1. Feelings don't matter. Not yours, not your coparent's, and not your child's.
2. One day people grow up and get married and stop being happy and that is what is right and proper.
3. Settling and pretending is what your child was born to do.
Wow, that was a horrible list to type.
Children also have a tendency to blame themselves for all of our shit, because they are sweet and innocent and caring individuals who are brand new to life. My daughter still feels like it's her job to calm me down or cheer me up whenever I get annoyed or upset. Because for the first four years of her life, I was an emotional wreck who loved her fiercely but hated everything else about being alive. Now I love her fiercely and I love (almost) everything else about being alive, and I am committed to healing her from the trauma I inflicted on her when I stayed married to her father even though I didn't want to be there.
That's right, conservative shit-bags who think divorce is evil. I inflicted trauma on my daughter by staying married. Not by getting divorced.
Now, don't get me wrong, the divorce is uncomfortable for her, too. Living in two houses is confusing and she's very intelligent and very aware, and because we waited this long, she will always have a memory of having once all lived together in one home and then splitting into two. And that will be a painful memory. But I'm learning everything I can and will stop at nothing to make sure that she heals from that trauma before it can turn around and bite her in the bum when she falls in love for the first time.
But I did a lot more harm to her by keeping myself stuck where I didn't want to be. I am working on forgiving myself for that. I did the best I could each step of the way, even when my best was nowhere near good enough.
I was waiting for permission. I was waiting for someone to rescue me and just take care of everything for me. Well, no human can do that. The only one who managed it was God, and even They had Their holy hands full with little old moi.
And to be clear, even though I honestly do give credit to God, that didn't meant that God researched the law and told my ex-husband and our families and friends and looked through apartment listings and booked flights and packed boxes and cried and talked to friends and got scared and felt lonely and felt angry and cried some more and shut down and woke back up and got on the plane and got scared and cried some more and felt very uncomfortable and got a job and lived it all FOR me. I had to live through it myself. But They were there leading me each step of the way. Coaxing like a tiny child learning to walk, "It's okay! Come on! One little step... You can do it... Good! Now another! That's okay, get back up... One more... Keep going... Don't be scared, you're doing it! Good job..." Each step I took in faith got rewarded. Each time I stopped trusting, I felt alone and frightened. Then I turned back to trusting Them and got back up and took the next step.
There's no way to look ahead and see every twist and turn in the path and know exactly how it's going to play out. If there were, nobody would move. We'd all be like, "Fuck that!"
You can't like, try to manipulate the outcome yourself. Even if you're a brilliant genius with a high IQ, you'll just jack it up.
This really is what I do, and this is the actual advice part for people who really do want a step-by-step kind of thing:
(I love lists.)
1. Close your eyes (after you finish reading all the steps, obvi).
2. Turn within (it's only scary the first few times, you'll get used to it).
3. Take three slow, deep breaths. (If the kids bang on the bathroom door yell at them to wait a second and keep going, you don't have to start over).
4. Tell God what's going on. (Fill in whatever word you prefer. I used to say Great Spirit when the word God bothered me but now I'm fine with it.) Just be honest. Don't put on airs. Don't make it difficult for yourself. Something like, "Um, wow, I'm miserable, please help," is totally fine. I talk a lot. I'll be like, "Um, hi it's me again. So I know you already know my heart, but you also seem to prefer when I discuss it with you anyway, so here we go... [rambling for several minutes]... And I honestly don't know what I'm supposed to do with that, so... Also, like, should we get a bunny? Can you help us pick the right one?... Okay and like, what about human trafficking, anyway? How are we going to stop that?..." You get what I'm saying. Just verbally puke it all out without a filter. That's what Great Spirit wants. Big stuff, little stuff, tears, snot, rage, puke it all out verbally to Them. They honestly love that! They'll be like, "There, now was that so hard?" And you'll be like, "Honestly yes, but I do feel a bit better."
5. Ask God/Great Spirit/The One That Is to help you. You can say, "Help." Or, "I don't know what to do, but I'm scared, just please help me in whatever way you think is best." Or, "Please help me, I don't want to die." Or, "Please help me, I want to die." (They won't let you die but they'll know what you're saying.)
6. Listen. The chattering voices accusing you (saying terrible things about you) are NOT God. They're nasties trying to fuck you up. They mix lies with truth and they know the perfect combinations that will take you out and hurt you the most. They used to tell me that I didn't deserve my daughter and that it would really be best for her and everyone else if I were dead. Yeah, they're huge assholes. If you're in that state, call for help. And also, listen deeper. Keep breathing, try to breathe slowly. Float downwards (I guess it's more like falling gently) into the quiet place. You'll probably land in the part of your soul that's kind of behind your heart. Just like, somewhere way down deep in there. You'll know it when you get there.
7. Inside the safe place, call up/out/in to The One. Think Madonna in the first word of "Like A Prayer." I like to say, "What should I do?" You could also try, "Tell me what I need to know," or another question that feels right to you. Sometimes it just comes out of you and it was a different question than the one you thought you needed to ask. I also like to ask for help discerning what comes from The Holy One and what doesn't, and for help knowing what They want me to do next.
8. Wait a few breaths. Sometimes you hear a voice. Sometimes you see a picture. Sometimes you just know. You might hear a voice say, "Get up." So then get up. Then they tell you the next thing. You'd be surprised how often They tell you get something to eat. And then you're like, oh yeah I am pretty hungry, thanks! And just be aware inside that you are being guided. When you get impatient or distracted, stop and focus attention back on the Light. Not on the outcome but just the next baby step they put in front of you.
I think if you look back on the last time a miracle happened in your life, you weren't doing anything to make it happen, you were just going along in your humdrum life, and then a divine hand busted through the veil and stuck something in front of you and went, "Here you go!" Then sat back while your mind was being blown wide open and made a face like this:
|I love when They do that.|
So, listen. Your only job is to not roll over and die inside.
You don't have to figure out every step and then summon herculean amounts of strength to make the life you dream of happen.
I'm scared too, I get scared all the time. Like, really scared. What if I get the thing I want the most and then it sucks and then I'm really all alone and everything I believed in was a lie?
We're too little to do it ourselves. [insert joke about how everyone in Iceland is taller than me and it's starting to kind of freak me out here.] We have to ask for help. Isn't that the worst? It's so uncomfortable!
But here's the thing, you don't have the right to sit back and die. Everything you do matters. That is also kind of the worst. Ask my dead friend who killed himself, he told me. He was like, "I thought it was a way out, I was dead wrong. Get it? DEAD wrong." Sorry about him, he was a Scorpio. But he told me like, you don't go straight to hell, but you don't get a free pass either. You have to watch how it affects everyone who loved you, and you have to see them cry and blame themselves, and you feel like shit. Then you have to do kind of like post-mortem community service where you get assigned people from the life you just ended to help them out. I was one of the people he was assigned to help. And it's really hard work because you're not in a body anymore, you can't just call them up and say hey, how can I help? It's not an escape at all. He said if he had it to do again, he never would have done it. He also said he wishes he hadn't wasted so much time while he was alive. I haven't heard from him in a while, so maybe he's on another assignment now. I don't know.
(He's glad I'm typing this up and posting it, by the way, don't worry.)
You may not be about to put a gun to your head, but you may be thinking strongly about laying down and giving up.
Come on, get up.
You can do it!
Say what's wrong out loud.
Ask for help.
Sit up, honey.
Go to the kitchen and get a little snack.
Look into your own eyes.
They're so pretty.
You don't have to make your mom happy.
You don't have to make me happy.
Just as long as you're healthy, and whole, and happy. In the daylight. In the land of the living. With some meat on your bones. And light in your eyes.
That's all I want for you.
Nothing else matters.
Live your life, really live it.
Ask the Creator to guide you, and keep on asking. Then do what They tell you to do, even if it seems like a stupid little baby step.
You can do it.