Be a Rebel Woman

From The Ashes, There Is Growth. Part Three of Three

Uncategorized Nov 07, 2017

Have you ever experienced a period in your life when survival was the only option?

An existence when your body was fueled by adrenaline, fear, and the unknown. And every breath you took felt like warm cement building walls around your lungs. 

That was my world in the middle part of 2015. 

{It's kind of a significant part of my story, so take a moment to jump back to Shit Hits The Fan. Part Two of Three and get caught up.} 

To say that life was a clusterfuck would be too kind. We were a fucking mess. The kids and I were spiraling down into a deep, dark place and someone needed to save us. It was during one of those nights when we were all sleeping (there was very little sleep) in my bed together, to protect each other from nightmares and drowning in our tears, that I had a moment of clarity, and realized that it was up to me to save us.  

If I wanted to take back power and control, then I was going to need to start taking some action. I made a decision to get certified as a personal development coach. I figured if I was going to spend hours of my day trying to figure my shit out, I might as well learn how to share those lessons and experiences with other women to help them figure their shit out. And it also gave me a sense of structure to be in a learning environment. I feel less chaotic when I have a goal to focus on, so this certification process became my therapy in a way. 

I also found myself looking for places to show up online where I could just be broken and supported without judgment. It would break my heart every time I went on Facebook and see families that my ex and I had grown up with, out living their lives with their beautiful families.

It was hard for me to get past the tape in my head that was repeating: "Why do they get to be happy? Why didn't we get that chance?

So, I gathered a select group of women from my Facebook 'friends' and created my own 'sacred spot'. When I started my private group, I didn't have an agenda, I just knew that I needed an outlet where I could escape the reality of my life, and engage in conversations that took very little mental-space, but filled so much soul-space. Slowly that environment began to take shape. 

In the meantime, my ex was being sentenced to 15-Life, and I would find myself knowing more about the California State prison system than I ever thought I would need to know. 

In October I received my coaching certification, and lost my distraction.

By the end of October I had reached my breaking point and acknowledged that I needed help if I was going to make it through this transition. I was struggling so hard, every single day, to provide for my children on a financial, and emotional level. And I was also feeling this overwhelming responsibility that I was now the sole provider of their childhood memories, and if our current lives were any indication of what the foundation of their childhood was going to look like, it sucked. 

I remember the moment I sat down and called my doctor's office, and made an appointment to get on anti-depressants. I was very clear that I was only looking for a respite from my situation, not to avoid or ignore it.

I needed to quiet my mind, so that my body could catch up. 

After that call, I sat down with the kids and told them that I had to focus on myself for a couple of months, and that I would make sure that every one of their basic needs were taken care of, and if they needed anything, I was of course available, but I had to let go of my own expectations of showing up as though I knew what I was doing. 

They reassured me that no matter how little I had it together, that they would always love me, and they agreed that they wouldn't judge my parenting for the next few months as they ate lentils at every meal, and had to put themselves to bed because I would walk in the door after a 10-hour day, and go straight to sleep. 

I slept. I slept so fucking much. I didn't think. I didn't care. I didn't have expectations, and I didn't make excuses. I fully immersed myself into my darkness. 

A feeling is a feeling. Some are amazing, like love, and hope, and excitement. And some are heavy like sadness, grief, and despair. But feelings show up for us to acknowledge, not to ignore or cover-up. I never allowed myself to become comfortable with my depression, but I didn't add to the weight by faking happiness. 

On December 31, 2015 the kids and I were cuddled on an air mattress on the living room floor, eagerly awaiting the ball to drop signifying the closing of one of the worst years of our lives. I remember watching the time and year change on my phone, and an immediate release of energy from my body. My shoulders felt less burden, and my lungs felt more air. I heard myself speak in a quiet, yet empowered voice, 'I'm back. I've got this.'

The first three days of 2016 were spent purging and cleaning my entire home, yard, and garage. It was like the three months I had spent exerting zero effort, had resulted in this massive amount of stored energy, and once I had switched into this 'empowered' mindset, I was hungry for life again. 

When I went back to work, after a two-week break, I remember sitting at my desk and looking at my computer screen, and knowing that I had to make some major shit happen from that point on. I knew that I was going to have to create a situation that would allow me to provide for my children financially, but also give me the flexibility to be with my children and create childhood memories with them. And I was clear that I was going to need to make sure that I was the only person that I was relying on to make this happen. 

I had a well established online presence from my years of blogging, and an engaged Facebook group of about 500 women, and I had the confidence to learn new online tools, so I knew I had the start of something sustainable. I figured I would use my group as my own 'target market', and just blog around what those women were talking about. I also had my coaching certification, so I figured that gave me a bit of an 'authoritative-voice' when it came to offering advice and support. 

I turned on my computer, logged into Facebook, and posted a post: 

If you know any women who might benefit from our little group, feel free to invite them in. 

Two days after that initial invite went out, the group had grown to 1,200 women. By the end of January, the group was at nearly 2,000 members. Two years later, and we are almost at 10,000 amazing women! And it hasn't stopped growing since.

Now that I had a goal to focus on, building an online business and creating a brand that aligned with my awesome Tribe of badass women, I was legit unstoppable. I wasn't even feeling guilty about the extra hours of work I had to take-on to fund my growth, and the hours and hours I was spending on growing my coaching practice, I was 100% in my flow! 

Annnd... then my Dad went and had surgery on his knee so that he could continue to work as a contractor, ended up totally sepsis, and died.

So. Fucked. Up. 

Because of everything that I had gone through the previous couple of years, and the lessons I had learned, I had created a solid foundation to stand upon when my world was crumbling, and out of my control. I was devastated, and heartbroken, and the type of sad that you feel in your bones, but I was not weak. 

I understood the power of being present, and how to bring myself to that place when I felt life was out of my control. If all I had to focus on was 'these five minutes', then that is where my power was. I remember having my hand on my Dad's heart, feeling a flutter of a beat. And then feeling nothing. And as his heart went quiet, my mind locked onto that mantra: 'Just these five minutes.'

He shouldn't have died. And the feelings of anger and finger-pointing are justified feelings, but I know what it feels like to be powerless over the actions of other's, so I choose gratitude instead. I'm grateful he had his family with him. I'm grateful I got to feel his last heartbeat. I'm grateful I never had to see him grow old, or be weak, or in pain. 

Life is fucking gnarly. It just is. My life is no more, or less, of a story than yours.

I sometimes get into a headspace where I wonder ‘what-if’, or ask myself ‘why me/us?’ and I get sad. I get sad for my kids, and my Dad, and my Mom and my sister, and even my ex. I write the narratives for future chapters that can never exist, and sometimes these thoughts slow me down, or take me in a whole new direction, but they never stop me from taking action and moving forward towards my goals.

I want to be an example to my children of what can come from sadness and loss. I want to show up as an example of what a woman raising children can accomplish, so that other women who are walking in my shoes, can be inspired.

And I want my Dad to be proud of me.

And there might be a small part of me who quotes Frank Sinatra when thinking about my ex:

“The best revenge is massive success.”

 

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