After my divorce I was a shattered person. I remember telling my therapist that it was like not just my life but ME, myself, my person was in a million tiny bits and I couldn’t put them back together. No matter how hard I tried, the pieces of what I thought my life was supposed to be and who I thought I was simply no longer fit into a cohesive whole. The best thing I could do was metaphorically scoop up the scraps and throw them in my emotional backpack and slug it along until. . .I didn’t know. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with those shards of a former person and her former dreams. My life no longer made sense and it seemed hopeless to even try to build my life back up.
What I finally realized was that I *couldn’t* put my old life back together because I *wasn’t supposed to* have my old life. Of course those pieces of my life could only be schlepped around in my emotional carry-on because, and this was an important realization, when I left that marriage I threw out the glue that held those pieces together. It was my willingness to be in that marriage and life that made it possible.
Leaving my marriage was a good thing to do. It was the right thing to do. It was, truly, what God asked me to do. (I’ll have to blog about that another day.) But once I had done it, once I was good and divorced and single with four little kids and trying to figure out how to get a decent job and a place to live, I began to doubt myself. A LOT. It seemed that there were so many NOs everywhere I looked. I encountered so many people who refused to rent to me because I was a single mom. There were so many jobs I wasn’t qualified for because I had been out of the workforce for so long and could only take jobs that would work with my kids’ school and care schedules.
This was the hardest thing though: the NOs for my kids. There were so many things they simply weren’t going to be able to do any more because I no longer had the time or the money to support them doing it. That wasn’t the life I wanted for them.
I needed a YES and I needed it badly.
Little by little I figured things out. I did find a rental. . .but it was in a different city. I did find a job. . .but it required a long commute and the pay was minuscule. I did figure out ways for my kids to have some activities. . .but they weren’t the ones they hoped for.
I spent so much time looking for a YES from other people, I felt like my life was completely out of my control. It was scary. It was defeating. It was victimizing.
The breakthrough finally came when I was tired. I was tired of everything being a no and I was tired of being so scared and I was tired of not feeling in control of my own life.
So I decided to give myself a YES. Every time an opportunity came up to try something I had never done before I would say YES, no matter how silly it was. If someone invited me to do something I hadn’t done since high school I had to say YES. If I was scared of it then it was an automatic YES.
Everything turned around after I gave myself that YES. I did so many things and grew in so many ways! I learned muay thai kickboxing and even how to hit actual people. I learned country swing. I went on dates. I played Ultimate with a bunch of college kids I didn’t know. I learned how to do a back flip on a trampoline and off a diving board. I climbed mountains. I ran over 100 miles in races and even got second place in one! I went skydiving!! I got a job teaching elementary school and LOVED it. I eventually met my now-husband. I played and sang and danced with my kids.
Sure, some of the YESes I gave myself led to mistakes and even some heartache, but even then mistakes and heartache were something I could say YES to and survive. Every single YES was something I could learn from and something that, even if took awhile, gave me the confidence I needed to become a whole human again.
The YES I always needed could only come from one place: ME.
So, here I am now, six years out from my divorce with a completely different life than I imagined back when I was young and married the first time. It’s a good life. I like it. A lot. But I’m getting restless and sometimes frustrated. I can feel myself slipping sometimes back into the old habit of believing my life is not in my control and that I can’t build it the way I want it. I’m finding myself looking for YESes from other people, again, hoping to stumble on to what I want.
I need to give myself another BIG YES but this time it isn’t in opportunities that come my way. I’m already in the habit of saying yes to opportunities. I said YES the other day to an impromptu dance party at a neighborhood barbecue and made it a truly memorable (and amusing night) for my family and strengthened friendships.
The YES I need is in my ideas. I spent a few days a week or so ago monitoring my own thought patterns and realized that I tell myself NO dozens of times a day in some very subtle ways. The NOs I gave myself sounded like:
- I don’t have time.
- That costs too much money.
- I don’t know how.
- I might fail.
- It would upset *fill in the blank with any name of any person I know*
- I’m not smart enough to figure that out.
- I’m too tired
- It’s too hard.
- People will think I’m crazy.
- People will think I’m dumb.
- I don’t have enough experience.
- No one will believe me or listen to me.
Any of those NOs sound familiar? I didn’t realize that these were all NOs until I looked at how effective they were at stopping me. The most effective NO comes from inside ourselves.
So that’s my new YES goal. Every single day I’m listening to my own ideas and before I can say NO I write the idea down and agree with myself to evaluate it later. If it’s an idea that is persistent or one that lights me up inside, then I give that idea the green light. I say yes and, even if it is only in a small way, I take one action to make that idea a reality. –
True story: I’ve got an idea that is BIG and SCARY and LIFE-CHANGING and will push me in a million ways. But it’s PERSISTENT and it’s EXCITING and when I talk to God about it I feel like He’s SMILING on me. So, this one is a YES and I’m not looking back.
Because the really big, awesome, life-changing YES can only come from me.
For really reals,