Back when I was dating (a decade ago!) I would date The Wrong Guy.
Every time I dated The Wrong Guy, at some point long before I sounded the initial “It’s time to break up” alarms, there was always some moment where it was crystal clear to me that this guy was not happening for me. I was “just not that into” him. He was all wrong for me.
And yet, even with that clarity, I would stay.
I would stay because I was lonely. I would stay because I was hoping he’d change. I would stay because I was hoping that somehow, things would turn around and it would all work out.
Mostly, I would stay because I was hoping to avoid the feelings of life being difficult, which were easier to ignore when I was distracted by the endless, oh-so-fascinating drama that dating some guy who was a commitment-phobe or a cheater or a whatever, would bring.
The thing is, we all pretty much do this, somewhere in our lives.
Perhaps you don’t have difficult conversations where you stand up for yourself.
Perhaps you don’t leave the job that’s sucking you dry even though you know that if someone told you that you wouldn’t be alive in a year, you’d for damned sure decide that life is too short and figure out how to work through alllll the challenges that currently keep you from leaving.
Perhaps you don’t forgive, or release control, or frolic and have fun, because you don’t want to be vulnerable.
Perhaps it’s as basic as feeling anxious about changing up your schedule to make room for the yoga class that you know would be so good for you.
In other words, you don’t want life to get harder, before it gets better.
But sometimes, that’s what it takes.
But Of Course You Know
Joy? Yes! Joy is, 99.9% of the time, the overlooked option. The myth that life must always be hard is a Story.
And sometimes, things are difficult.
We tell ourselves that we “don’t know what” to do.
Hogwash. C’mon, now. In your heart of hearts, you know what you want to do. You know what you’d choose. You know.
If you’d asked me why I was staying, when dating Mr. WrongGuy, I’d probably have said something like, “Well, I just don’t know what to do.”
I would have been lying to you, and to myself. A more honest statement would have been something like, “I really don’t want to be alone, and staying with him and betting on him changing feels easier than being alone.”
Honesty: Best Policy
What’s the most honest statement that you can make about any life problem–right now?
If I tell her the truth about how I feel, she might not forgive me, and that terrifies me.
If I quit my job right now, I don’t know how I’d support my family, and they’d look at me differently, and I don’t know how I’d handle money, and that terrifies me.
If I forgave her, I’m afraid she’d just hurt me again, and it was so painful the first time, and that terrifies me.
If I changed my schedule so that I actually went to yoga, I’d have these new feelings of being in charge of my life, and I don’t have much experience with feeling in charge of my life, and that terrifies me.
When we get honest, we admit to our fears.
When we get honest, something else happens–all of that energy of trying not to feel the truth of what you feel, gets freed up.
You might find yourself realizing that you don’t want to live half a life, not telling the truth, not feeling feelings, not waking up each day feeling whole. You might find yourself thinking that it’s not worth it to you to live in fear.
There’s More For You
This path of admitting to your fears? Trust me when I say that likely, life will feel harder before it feels better.
Admitting to your fear feels raw, tender, and it’s easier in the short-term–no doubt about it–to just keep on keeping on, tell yourself that things aren’t so bad anyway, and…well, that’s that.
But there’s more for you.
There’s waking up in the morning to your own internal clock, feeling rested (for once!) and excited about the day ahead.
There is a home that bears your signature in every mark; color, fabrics, the smell of your favorite foods.
There is the satisfaction of knowing that you helped someone else get a hand up and a hand out and a hand of praise and any other hands and help that your generous spirit wishes to give. When you aren’t fighting yourself, you have energy to fight for those who haven’t got any fight left in them. No more feeling guilty for “not doing enough.”
There’s belly laughter and the most fantastic glass of wine and friends you can tell anything to.
There’s creative expression, unleashed. Dipping a brush into a jar; tapping away at the keys; a leather-bound journal; singing arias; musical theatre.
There is having time. Wide, grand expanses of time. When you aren’t lost in the fear, you aren’t lost in feeling rushed, overwhelmed, or hurried. You’re just here. You become a curator of time, artfully arranging your life just so, all in ways that make you say YES to life.
Yes, when short cuts are available, take them. When mentors are able to tell you how to avoid potential mis-steps, believe them. If someone says, “Let me write you a check to house-sit for my mansion that I only use for a month out of the year,” then for the love of mansions–take them up on it!
Life can cut you some quirky breaks like that.
Just have the discernment to understand that there will be plenty more times when life will be harder before it will be better, and the short-cut won’t be available.
If you choose not to go down the path at all, you do get to skip the discomfort of changing things up–and you also lose out on all of the loveliness that awaits you.