If your life has been a roller coaster ride in the past 8 weeks or so (since mid-January?) I want to tell you: you’re not alone. Swear to goddess there is something in the water! Me, several friends, a colleague, more than a few clients, and many others have experienced shifts in our lives lately.
These shifts have not been small.
They have often imploded or exploded their lives at many levels.
When I say ‘imploded,’ I mean these women’s lives have been shifted by someone or something else pulling the rug out from under them. News of infidelity, declarations for divorce, illness, the collapse of one’s work- these are the issues women in mid-life often see implode their life.
When I talk about ‘exploded,’ I mean when a woman knows she must blow up her life in some way so she does not die inside herself. This may also include a declaration of divorce, the decision to have an affair, setting boundaries around the time she spends care-taking, or leaving a job abruptly.
A colleague has watched her coaching practice shift drastically- not in ways she necessarily wanted. A client (okay, many) told her husband to make the X, Y, Z changes or she was gone; she’d had absolutely enough and was ready to blow it all up. A gal pal was asked for a divorce after a family day out.
Can you feel the bomb-like energy of those things?
When this happens, the life you knew is shattered. And this shattering may be one of the most painful things you’ve ever gone through.
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Whether we choose to blow our life up or have it blown open by someone else, the result is often the same: huge upheaval and uncertainty. Even if we wanted the change, there is often anger at the outcomes. Sometimes guilt and shame join the party. Massive crying, yelling, and tiredness are also pretty much par for the course.
Basically: it sucks.
Here is the interesting thing, though: you can use this situation, this shattering of your life, to build something new. In the midst of your tears and frustration, you begin to glimpse who you might become.
I am a ‘sometimes believer’ that Life gives us signals about changes we need to make. First it taps us on the shoulder. Then it pushes us from behind. Then Life kicks us in the ass. Finally, we get hit over the head with a plank. (This is not always true, but it often is.)
Or our Life gets blown to bits.
And when it does, it is time to listen to the signals we have been ignoring. Life has laid us low to get our attention.
When Life finally has our attention, we often know which shattered pieces of our life need to be left behind. We see where our wounds live and can ask for healing. We finally find the courage to confront the pain inside ourselves and go through it.
We may cry out, “I don’t fucking understand this!” or “Why me?” or “What else could go wrong?” or (my personal fave) “Fuck you, Universe!”
It is in this crying out that we recognize: we have no control and it’s time to do the work on our emotions, psyche, or spirit so that we can grow into something new.
This process is called surrender.
And it is the first step in building your new life.
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Everyone I know who has surrendered to their life being blown up has come out the other side stronger. They are stronger because they let themselves be changed by the process- they did not try to pick up the pieces of their old life and re-create it.
Instead, they picked up what was most valuable to them – their values, some memories, their children/family/job (depending on what got blown up) – and began to build something new.
They went to therapy. They screamed into the woods. They felt all the pain and let themselves be broken. They discovered a deeper understanding of themselves. They let go of who they were – the old identity – and became a healthier, stronger, and more authentic version of themselves.
They healed in such a way that the effects of the explosion were not open wounds for the rest of their life. They unfurled into something new.
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Having your life implode or explode is one of the most painful things that can happen. But it does not have to be the end of your life. In fact, it can be a clearing away of what was no longer serving you. And it can lead you to becoming more of who you really are.
[Resource: if your marriage is on the brink, or just back from it, please check out my friend, Michele Lisenbury Christensen and her work, here. She is excellent at helping couples find their next version of their marriage. Pay the money, do the work. The rewards will arrive.]