Please share your story….what was your leap?
My leap was to break from the world I knew to rebuild the life I wanted. I aspired to the quote from William James:
To change one’s life: 1. Start immediately. 2. Do it flamboyantly. 3. No exceptions.
For me, it was about having the courage to leave a long-standing but highly toxic and emotionally abusive relationship, sell my home, quit my high paying executive level job, take a few months off work altogether and move from the community where my family and I had lived for 20 years.
My goal was to give myself time to heal. To create a fresh perspective, to recapture joy and happiness and give back to the world. To regain my self-esteem and rebuild my love of self. And to have the humility to admit to myself that I, a strong, successful, educated and intelligent woman, had allowed herself to be manipulated and abused for years by another human being. That I had given away my light, my joy, my power to someone else who chose to use it for destruction instead of good.
It’s funny, I used to hear stories about women who were abused and somewhere a tiny part of me would think, “If it’s that bad, leave.” At the same time, I know it’s never easy to understand someone else’s truth and things are never as simple as they appear to be on the surface. In fact, ending the abusive relationship I was in was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. Our relationship was like an addiction. Even after my “leap”, I kept allowing it back into my life. It’s only in the last six months that I have been able to truly be clear of it and cut off all contact.
What inspired you to take this leap?
My youngest of two children started university. My relationship with my “partner” was sucking my soul energy and had created huge distance in my relationships with my closest friends and children. Although I had a wonderful job with a six figure salary, amazing co-workers and an incredibly supportive boss, my stress levels were off the charts from the toll the relationship was taking on me. I started coming down with one illness after another, including spending five days in the hospital to treat a severe and potentially life-threatening infection. I also have had fibromyalgia for many years and my chronic, daily pain levels had become barely tolerable with multiple medications.
The worst part about the relationship was that, despite the parts of it that were good, fantastic even, the bad parts were incredibly destructive. My self-esteem was at an all-time low….personally and professionally. I doubted everything I thought, did and felt. I suffered serious self-loathing ….from things as seemingly insignificant as how I dressed, to the color of my nail polish, how my hair looked and the way I drove, to bigger pieces around decisions I made, the ways I interacted with people, the work I produced, etc. etc. Somehow I took every insult my “partner” dished out to heart. If I had drawn a picture of myself at the time, I would have been a tiny child, curled up in a ball in the corner.
What is it that made this a leap for you?
It was a leap because I let go of a world that, as painful to me as it was, was also familiar. It was the devil I knew. It was also at a time when my self-esteem was at an all time low. I have also spent most of my life defining myself by my career. To let go of that without having anything certain lined up on the other side of my summer off was a big personal and financial risk for me, even though it also felt exciting and opened the door to new possibilities. It was all the more challenging because I am it. I’m the sole breadwinner and there is no one for me to fall back on.
How long would you say you thought about taking this leap before you did it?
About six months in terms of really working it but overall it was probably about two years of rehearsing different aspects of it in my head.
If you thought about it for a while first, what changed that allowed you to take action?
The fact that my body started screaming at me (with illness after illness and severe pain) to pay attention to what was going on in my life. I knew that if I didn’t make some kind of serious change, my body would just shut down until I listened.
What was the hardest part before you took the leap? Was anything challenging after you did it?
The hardest part was juggling my demanding job, managing my health and chronic pain issues, trying to maintain a sense of sanity in spite of my relationship, fixing up my house to list it for sale and downsizing from a 4 bedroom household and all the trappings to a household for 1….all over a six month period. My naturopath, who I also did a fair amount of emotional work with, told me that the stress I had been through in the previous years would literally have killed some people.
How did you keep yourself motivated to stick with the change as it was happening?
I journaled. A lot. Sometimes I wrote and other times I just drew. I tried to be open to everything. I worked with an amazing counsellor who helped me see things more clearly and through a different lens. I kept very focused on the outcome I wanted: the need to get my head, my health and my sanity back on track. I am a big believer in the power of positive affirmations and making this a daily practice also helped me stay focused.
My greatest motivator of all, however, was to free myself from the toxic relationship so that I could begin to rebuild my relationships with my children (we had been very close prior to all this). Both children had distanced themselves from me significantly as a result of their dislike for my partner. One of my children refused to speak to me for two and a half years. The other moved out of my home and in with my ex-husband and had very little interaction with me.
What was the best part of the experience?
Honestly, it was right after the moving truck packed up and left my house. I got in my car and followed them over the bridge toward Vancouver.
As I neared the apex, I realized that I was literally (and figuratively) crossing the bridge to a renewed life. I let out the loudest, longest, biggest yahoo of my life! Even now, when I want to call up a time when I felt excited and renewed by possibility this is the moment I think of.
Looking back at the leap you made, is there anything you’d do differently if you were doing it again?
I would have done it sooner. Yet, I also know that I was not strong enough emotionally to do it more quickly than I did. In an ideal world, I would have stood more firmly in my truth and been stronger in fighting for what I believed in and how I wanted my life to go. I would have had the confidence to walk away from the bullying and emotional abuse that were dished out on an almost daily basis.
What did you learn about yourself from taking this leap? About the world around you, if anything?
I have learned so much. About boundaries, relationships, ego, honesty and humility. About the patterns that have presented in my life time and again and the lessons the universe provides if we are willing to listen. One of the most pivotal pieces, was to really “get” that there is only one person we can be responsible for in this life, and that is ourselves. That everything we need is within and that we need to believe in our own individual strength. It is always easy to deflect, to point fingers at other people and lay blame elsewhere. I learned though, that as hard as it can sometimes be, the first person we need to look at is ourselves.
My counsellor also told me something a few years ago that resonated for me throughout the “leap” process and still does today. She said, “that which we allow will continue.” Each of us has the power to change a thought, a belief, a perception. No matter how small, every little change in our thinking truly does makes a difference. Even if we feel trapped at the time, there are always options. There are always other ways through and past any situation or circumstance in life…..even if we don’t see them at the time. Keep looking. Keep trying.
If you had to describe what making this leap has done for you in one sentence, what would you say?
It has helped me to become more centered, confident, honest with myself and open so that I live for myself instead of needing external validation of my worth.
I will say though, that it’s a constant work in progress!