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.