I have a friend I’ve know for quite some time who is an executive coach. This man makes a living coaching top executives at companies to improve outcomes (and I imagine this means profits) for the organization. He makes more money in one gig than I make in several years. He’s probably made and lost more money over the years than I will see in several lifetimes. As I type this, he is involved in putting together a deal that will allow him to quadruple his income and expand his business. He’s doing this at a time in his life when he should be (or most people are considering being) retired. He doesn’t punch a time clock. His office is in his home or in a coffee shop or cigar shop nearby. He lives in a tower and drives an Audi. He controls his time, his life and mostly his levels of stress. He does what he wants, when he wants with no demands imposed on his life other than those he chooses for himself. It’s a pretty good gig for supposedly being retired. But it hasn’t always been this way for him. He’s had some pretty rough moments along the way.
Earlier this summer, I met up with him at place I like to go where outside seating is plentiful and during the evenings, they light a bonfire. People sit around the bonfire and smoke and drink and talk. Sometimes one of the locals brings a guitar and sings. Coach has been a good friend for many years. We met through the blogosphere and then eventually met in real time. There’s no romantic interest, but this man’s business savvy and complete lack of fear or insecurity (two things I’m riddled with when it comes to trying consider being an entrepreneur) amaze me. It’s always fun to listen to him just talk about dealing with challenges, taking risks, and trusting the universe.
My marriage had just begun to implode when we met up this time. It was a beautiful sunny day. The kind of spring day that the Pacific Northwest has that no one realizes we have. Skies of the bluest blue, large white puffy clouds that in a day or two will band together to dump enough rain to keep the ducks happy and the trees green. But on this day, it was warm and we had fans going. I met him out at the fire. He had his requisite Jamison neat and a cigar. I was sipping wine while my world collapsed into silence around me. At this point, I think I knew in my heart of hearts that the marriage was over. I also, if I’m honest, was feeling somewhat relieved that it was over, but there were also so many conflicting emotions going on. One of the biggest emotions I was dealing with was fear of what the future had to hold. I was, at this point, completely and financially dependent upon my husband. I was in a situation no woman should ever allow herself to get these days. I was completely dependent financially. I was completely aware that at any moment he could cut me off and I’d be penniless and without any way to purchase food to eat let alone a car or place to live.
Clearly, things worked out for me, but there were several months of deep anxiety and stress as I worked to reverse this situation, find a satisfactory position that paid me enough to support myself in this new and more expensive location, and a place to live. But on this particular evening, none of that had transpired. I was just now dealing with the realization that my marriage was almost certainly (yes, I still had hope that we could work things out) over. I sat on the rustic wood bench facing the fire and I listened to Coach tell me about the process of Bounce.
He shared some stories from his own life when he’d hit rock bottom. At one point, things were so bad for him he could not buy food. He had to borrow from friends. I won’t share all the details of how bad it got for him, but he was in a pretty bad place, certainly far more devastating and frightening than the place I was in, which was pretty damn scary. He told me, “The reality is this: When you hit bottom, you never stay there. You bounce. Your job right now, while you are on the way down, is to figure out how you are going to manage that bounce. You now have the opportunity to realize some dreams you’ve always wanted to achieve. You can decide where you want to live, what you want to do, how you want to do it, and who you want to do it with. You can completely re-invent yourself and your life. You can take this opportunity to bounce up to where you want to be.”
Of course, at that time, I only half heard what he was saying because half my brain and all of my heart was resisting the fact that the marriage was over. I have never forgotten these words. We met together several other times over the summer and he always told me, at times when I was most anxious, “Remember the bounce.” Months later, after I landed a really wonderful position with a company in the city, making enough to offset the difference in the cost of living increases and after I found some nice digs in what has turned out to be a perfect location for me, I remembered these words. You never stay down, you bounce.
I think I finally, truly hit bottom several weeks ago when it dawned on me how utterly alone and lonely I was feeling. I had to grapple with all the anger I was feeling toward my husband for determining for me a future alone. A future I did not want. I had to deal honestly with myself and look at what I’d done to ignore the flags that signaled the inevitable from almost the beginning. I had to try to give up plaguing myself with the unending narrative of asking myself “What the hell happened?”and then wondering why it happened and what I could have done to prevent it, as though I had any control over it. I had to let it go…or try to let it all go. I had to place myself squarely in the position of facing reality. I had to look my present situation in the face and acknowledge it. I had to see my future and acknowledge that it was now going to be very, very different. I had to hate that and feel all the feels. In so doing, I got myself to the bounce.
Prior to this point, I was doing what I needed to do to exist. I wasn’t being proactive. I wasn’t taking charge of my own reinvention. I was just existing. Surviving. Going through the motions. I was exemplary at work and collapsing every night at home. And I finally hit bottom.
I hit hard. I let go of my grip on what I’d wanted my future with my husband to be. I faced the reality of the future that it will be. It’s a future where he will move on and never.ever.think.of.me. I take up no space in his life emotionally or physically at all. I had to face the fact that I was disposable to him. I meant nothing and I am nothing to him. I was a liability in his life. An inconvenience. I was a real human being with needs for love, companionship, and respect and he was unwilling to reciprocate. I also had to realize that his ability to be emotionally available is not my fault or my responsibility, but I had to own my own responsibility for not taking the time up front to sleuth all that out.
Once I did this, I could put that stuff aside and think about the present and I could see my future a little more clearly and hopefully. I could see that I’d been smart about choosing the location for my bounce. I could see that just because my husband didn’t want to travel any further with me, this did not mean my travels were over. It only meant that they’d happen differently. And I got to the place where I was grateful for all that had transpired…or most of it.
I’m already making plans to travel overseas again (destination unknown, but I have several ideas) and working on recreating my life. It’s going to look very different than it has been to date and I’m confident that though it will be very different than I envisioned it two years ago, it will be so much better. I’m bouncing and like a cat, I’ll land on my feet.
Posted on November 28, 2016, in Overcoming Challenges and tagged divorce recovery, divorce survival, healing, healing over, hope, life, opportunities, overcoming adversity, personal, personal growth, reinventing life, self-discovery. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.