Upheaval: A Personal Story - Christine Kane

The Pop-Quiz scenario that I described two posts ago actually happened to me. (The name of the country was changed to protect its identity.)

I sometimes hesitate to write about this event because it can seem like I’m reveling in its unparalleled drama. I feel the same way about describing my past with bulimia. I am very clear, however, that I’m not using these stories to further my identity as the victim or the tormented artist type.

This airport story marked the beginning of a major life shift for me. It had all the makings of an event that could’ve knocked me (and my pride) on my ass for years. But didn’t. (To appease all the commentators from the pop quiz – I did, in fact, decide to stay the three weeks – and I had enough adventure and fun to last a lifetime. As well as some long lingering bouts of tears.)

And now, as I write about upheaval and personal growth, this event is important – for many reasons.

As a story, it kind of cracks me up. I got mileage out of it for years as a stage story in between songs. I find it pretty funny — not in a mocking or harsh way to my former self. But rather in a loving compassionate way. Not unlike when I watch my cat stick his head in a paper bag and sit up with the bag still on his head. I’ll take care of him and pull it off and then hug him – but it still cracks me up.

As a break up, I learned how easy it is to label two people as bad guy / good guy. This is the lazy way out. I learned how easy it is to play the role of the “victim” and milk it for all it’s worth. People around me almost seemed to love me more. They rallied around me. I could’ve gotten used to that kind of attention. I could’ve continued indefinitely to see myself as helpless and sad. And when I say it’s “easy” I don’t mean that the feelings weren’t painful. I mean that victimhood could have become an actual career path. I rather enjoyed the pity. One of the commentators on the Pop Quiz post mentioned feeling the brunt of someone who hated her for being the breaker upper. I’ve been on both sides of a break up – and I now have compassion for both people. I see both people as powerful players in the relationship. This applies equally to job situations, and all life situations too.

As an upheaval, it was a giant catalyst. It was fundamental to me taking my life into my own hands and creating it into something completely different. From that perspective, I feel like I should get down on my knees and thank my old flame profusely.

Of course I went through all of the turmoil and self-doubt and hurt pride – that stuff lasted over a year. But I kept moving forward. And I started changing everything about my old life after I returned to the states.

Every single thing I wrote about upheaval in the last post applies to this situation and how I got to a place of gratitude about it.

But one thing stands out…

What have you been praying?

This is one of the five questions I posed in the last post. This was the question #1 because for me, it uncovered an answer about my huge upheaval. I didn’t discover this answer until years later after I had released two CD’s, and I was blissfully ensconced in a whole new life as a touring performer.

One day, I asked myself the question “What had you been praying?” about this particular event in my life. As I reflected on the months before I took the fated trip to see my boyfriend overseas, I remembered my old journals. I went and dug them out. When I read them, I found what I had been praying for.

I had just graduated from college, and in a desperate attempt to figure out my life, I had begun writing letters to God. Every night, each journal entry began “Dear God.” It was in these pages that I admitted wanting a whole different life than was expected for me. It was here that I admitted my desire to write creatively and be a songwriter and get healthy. I actually wrote the words: “Bring it on.”

I had no idea how powerful that intention was. In fact, I didn’t even know what intention meant. I certainly never thought I was praying.

Here’s what it felt like: It felt like my angels read these entries and said, “Okay. Got it. Now the first thing that has to go is this dude you’ve been dating. He’s simply not right for this life you want to build. It’ll look like he dumped you, and it’ll be very dramatic (after all you’re fluent in drama). But really, it will be orchestrated by your intent. Then you’ll come home from that trip with nothing. When you have nothing, you’ll have nothing to lose. This is when you’ll actually start on the work you want to do.”

And that’s exactly what happened. It was bumpy. I cried a lot. The first year I was home, my friends and family thought I had lost my mind in grief. But I was writing songs, and I was taking music theory, and I was taking action towards my intent – even with my sad little heart trying to convince me I was a reject. And I did not go out with anyone for about three years.

Once I really got that I created this event in such a profound way, I was able to answer the other questions from the last post and ultimately see myself as powerful. I lost faith along the way, for sure. But in retrospect, it all seems so clear.

So that’s why I bring this up. As I facilitate retreats and lead the January e-Seminar, I’m witnessing a few people go through different levels of upheaval. It might seem clear to me as the observer. But I know that it’s not yet clear to them! So, I can use the events of my life to encourage people to move through the events of theirs. I know for sure that not every point I’ve made about upheaval will apply to each person who reads this. But I do know that it’s good to hear that someone else made it through and used upheaval to change a life for the better.

  • stephanie

    I noticed something missing from your blog … I don’t see any mention of THE decision – whether or not to have children. I don’t know your age, so perhaps you are just too young to worry about such things. But I’d love to hear your perspective on what seems to be the biggest decision a person can make.

  • Emily Jolie

    Dear Christine,

    Thank you for sharing your story! I related to a lot in it. You wrote about the good guy/bad guy phenomenon and about having been both the heart-breaker and the heart-broken one. A few years ago, I found myself being both at once, as I was in a marriage, fell madly in love with another man, he supposedly felt the same way, and, yet, was unwilling/unable to leave his marriage and move forward. I broke my husband’s heart and had my own heart broken all at the same time, and it certainly felt like I lost my mind in grief (as well as guilt). Incidentally, that’s when I turned to bulimia.

    Though I was rather confident, even then, that the universe worked in mysterious, yet perfect ways, my heart felt shattered, and I was in a deep dark pit.

    Almost 4 years later, looking back, the picture continues to become clearer and clearer, and my perspective is much less tainted by the emotion I was so caught up in at the time.

    Though I rationally could see the lesson in it at the time, I really wasn’t able to appreciate it until now that my emotions have cooled.

    Time really is an undeniable healing factor, and it helps to have faith in the perfection of the universe and feel your angels’ guidance along the way!

    with love to you,


  • Katie Baird

    That kind of upheaval feels very close to grief . I have had opportunities for some great soul-baring talks with my adult kids on related subjects and didn’t realize until they were having their own upheavals just how much I had learned from my own. I just wish it didn’t take so long! Watching one of my son’s life be interrupted for more than two years was very painful as a mom/human!

    Thank you for this topic.

    On a fluffier note, and as one who admires your blog a lot, I have tagged you for a meme over at Loosely Speaking (blog.looseends.net)

  • ChickiePam

    Then there’s that country song, “Thank God for unanswered prayers”. I’ve found that for me they aren’t unanswered at all. It’s just that I sometimes consciously ask for something that my soul doesn’t intend.

    Example: I want my marriage to work vs I want to know what my soul path is for this life and then live it. They were not compatible things at all! Finding out what it is that I am here to do in this life is the thing that took priority. I’m grateful for that.

    That’s the power of journals for me. The ability to go back and find out what was REALLY going on at the time.

  • Christine Kane

    deb – thanks for your humor!

    lisa – yes, indeed he does. it’s very cute (and pathetic!)

  • Lisa Call

    Does your cat also back across the room with the bag on it’s head if you don’t rescue it soon enough? Mine do that and it’s excellent.

    I’ve had that image in my head all day and it makes me smile.

  • Deb

    Hi Christine. I hadn’t thought to look at the prayers as a possible instigator in the current upheaval; probably because I wasn’t thinking about it being upheaval. Okay, I’m a tad dense when I’m sleep-deprived.

    Maybe I should actually read Nouwen instead of just noting what everybody else says he says.

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks to all for such affirming thoughts and insights. Mags – it was indeed south africa, and it was indeed JUST before the upheaval there! (and yes, I’ve written about it in songs and in my blog too!)

  • Joy Gardner

    It takes a heckuva lot of courage and humility to get through, Christine, and your example IS indeed a lighthouse beacon for so many. We don’t always see all the chess pieces, much less the board. I have been through a similar experience, except Asheville (ironically) was Singapore, and while at the time I did not have supportive friends, (they too all thought I had lost my mind in grief, maybe I did for a while), I grabbed myself by the scruff of the neck (you know how that goes) and got myself a really good therapist. I didn’t want to “FEEL” better. I wanted to GET better. That difference, has made all the difference, and I’ve learned so much. I’m still learning. No, you are not a victim. You are, as Henri Nouwen wrote so eloquently of, a “wounded healer”. The best kind!

  • Diane

    Thank you Christine for being so very open about your life. Touching even one life for the better is a wonderful intent and desire. You’ve touched many more and like Oprah says “All we can hope for is to make this world a better place for the future generation” Thanks again for all you do!

  • Debi


    I always look forward to seeing your new posts, they always bring me a smile and often much more. Sometimes it feels like you’ve peeked into my brain.

    Your “What Were You Praying For” comment is very applicable in my life over the last two years. As my fiance and I continue to combine our households, he showed me a letter I wrote to him almost two years ago. Reading it was like reading a prophesy of the life we now share.

    Continue spreading the joy!

  • Sheila

    “…it will be orchestrated by your intent. Then you’ll come home from that trip with nothing. When you have nothing, you’ll have nothing to lose. This is when you’ll actually start on the work you want to do.”

    Thank you for the reminder.

  • Elaine

    …Thank you for ‘making it through’ and for sharing your experience, growth and wisdom with us. It really does make a difference 🙂

  • Mags

    Hi Christine
    You know, I feel like we all “should get down on [our] knees and thank [your] old flame profusely” – the experience clearly had a profound effect on your life, and it’s continuing to help others to this day!
    Although you haven’t mentioned the real name of the country in this series of posts, you have done so before in others. I’m not sure exactly what year you would have travelled in the country, but I’m guessing either just before or just after transition to democracy? It strikes me that there’s some universal humour going on, with the angels sending you to a country experiencing change and upheaval itself to work through your own life change?!
    All the best, Mags

  • LaVeda H. Mason

    This Upheaval series is eye-opening… you really have thrown a spotlight onto the difference between growing from an experience and wallowing in it.

    The other thing that I noticed about this series is that you speak of not getting caught up in the excitement of the drama (my paraphrase)… it is so easy to do, in this culture that encourages the victim mentality. It can be a VERY addictive ‘drug’. Kudos to anyone who breaks that addiction!!