I decided not to run on my treadmill the other night and ventured outside for a nice run after dusk. I like running after the sun has gone down and just before twilight -- it's so peaceful yet full of energy. I ran in the housing development across the street from where I live and I got more than a physical workout.
As I ran, I first started admiring the landscaping or the architecture of the houses or the nice automobiles parked in the driveways. As I began my second loop around I began looking past the obvious and started pondering whether or not the people that lived in these homes were as well put together as the outside of their domains. Are their lives as charmed? Do they capture the same beauty and peace? Does everything fit and belong; is it harmonious? Are they one big happy family that loves and supports one another?
Seeing My Life from the Outside
On my third loop around I was consumed with emotion and couldn't continue my run. I literally broke down and cried. Why did I cry? My thoughts were hitting very close to home. It's not like I wasn't aware that I had lived that image, and in fact strived to have that image, so no one would want to look beyond the picture-perfect life. I cried because I was seeing my life from the outside -- like the character Scrooge in the Christmas Carol.
I stopped in front of one house and just stood there breathing. There was enormous feeling and memories washing over me. I realized I never consciously had chosen to create the mirage that I had it all; it just sort of happened. I guess I had the basic ingredients and embellished on them.
There's danger in doing that. I lost who I was and what I wanted from life. I lost the ability to stand firm on what I truly wanted my life to be. I was an actress living out my role, but with a script not intended for me. I had the inner-struggle of knowing I wasn't happy with my life but public perception of my life was "it doesn't get any better than this". I was seeking what I thought would give me the life I wanted in every place but the right one -- in me.
Being Hard on Ourselves for Failing
Failure isn't something I enjoy -- not that anyone really does -- but some of us are very hard on ourselves when it comes to failure, while some shrug their shoulders and go on. I valued public perception over my inner peace and individual needs. And that truly hurt me. Did it scar me? No, for I learned a very important lesson in life. You can't fake happy and really feel it. I was definitely caught in the trap of "fake it 'til you make it".
The only problem was I couldn't make it. I couldn't do it myself. It's ironic too, because the more unhappy and depressed I became, the better my life looked to everyone else. It snowballed out of control. It just escalated to the point where I couldn't take it anymore. I was going to either have the life everyone thought I had, or I was going to make changes that would foster the kind of happiness I wanted.
So the question you want an answer to is "did I get the life everyone thought I had"? Not exactly. I did the horrific and declared my life a mess and started all over. I got divorced; still a taboo even though it seems widespread. And I basically threw out public perception and declared my life my own. Was it an easy feat? Not for me. I'm not one to rock the boat and I certainly don't like to disappoint people. But I couldn't let myself down any longer. Being a conformist isn't an easy attribute to discard.
But I did it. And I'm so much better off for having the courage to do what I knew I had to do. I needed to scrap and start over. It's been just over a year and I'm surviving. Heck I'm better than surviving -- I'm succeeding. I have control of my life, my thoughts, and my emotions. I no longer put what people think ahead of what I know is truly important to me. And most importantly, I am no longer creating a mirage to hide behind.
Being True to Yourself
My life is harmonious, my home is shared lovingly with my two wonderful daughters, and public perception that I am looking and doing great is now a reality. So I no longer live a white picket fence life. I live my life. The life I know God intended for me to live. As I walked home a sense of inner peace and joy washed over me for I knew I was finally being true to myself.
Inner Architect: How to Build the Life You Were Designed to Live
by Susan Hanshaw.
Inner Architect is a proven recipe for building a new life. Key components include: 1. Steps: Providing the foundation for growth. 2. Exercises: Enabling you to get clarity and necessary steps for moving forward. 3. Keys to Evaluate: Provided or checking in on doubts and deeper obstacles.
About the Author
- O s Little Guide to Starting Over
Publisher: Flatiron Books
List Price: $17.99