And so…. this is the story I promised I would share with you on Boxing Day (I should have specified that it would be Boxing day, New York time). It’s a long blog post, but one I think is worth reading if you’ve got the time.
To Emma & Aimee and Jordan, I’m telling this story for you …. I want you to know that no mountain is too hard to climb or too high to reach and no matter where you are in life, NEVER be afraid of what you want. If something doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. Getting hurt is not your enemy…. never living the life you want, is.
This is not a story that I have shared in it’s entirety with anybody before and still I will not tell the whole tale now. Some things are meant to be kept to yourself. What I will tell you of this story is enough for you to understand a little bit of my past and a little bit of the domino that set off the events, that ended with me traveling half way across the world. For those of you that are reading this, it is enough of a tale to understand my character and a part of my life that I have barely shared with anyone, even my family.
For those of you that don’t know me so well, there was a time when I wasn’t the strong, happy person I am today. There was a moment (a period of nearly 4 years) in my life where I let myself be made very unhappy. This is the story I want to share with you.
The story began back in 2007 but I will only tell you the beginning of the end of this story so you don’t get bored
I have 4 small tales to tell within this one larger story. The tales of;
When I knew it was over
When I knew I had to tell him it was over
When I knew I would be Ok
When I knew I had done the right thing
I’m hoping my story will influence you to look at parts of your own lives that you are neglecting or unhappiness that you are not acknowledging.
First I have to give you some background into what preceded these 4 tales.
I had been with my partner for 3.5 years before the end of this story. We had met at work and after three years of being together, at Margaret River in March 2010 he asked me to marry him. My granddad was dying of cancer at the time and as soon as my partner had asked the question, I called my dad to give him the news. When dad picked up the phone he was very upset, as he had just got word that my granddad had caught phnemonia, had been taken to hospital and wouldn’t likely ever recover. I was very upset for my dad and for myself, as my grandparents meant a lot to me and my granddad would never know his first grandchild had got engaged. A few days later after I had returned to Perth, we received news that granddad would be OK and would survive to fight another day. Eventually I called him to tell him I was engaged and all he really said to me was “As long as I was happy, that’s all that mattered”
My granddad died only a few short weeks after this.
But his words stuck with me. Little did I know at the time, they would change my perception on life by the end of the year.
When I knew it was over
Things had been difficult between my partner & I for a few months previous. I had asked him in September if we could hold off on the wedding (it was organised for August 2011) because I wasn’t sure I wanted to get married at all. For many months now, even before we got engaged, I had been questioning whether a relationship was meant to be the way ours was. Always fighting and disagreeing with each other. We had nothing in common, we were complete opposites, even down to the way we wanted to raise children. I had also started to question whether this life I had, was all I deserved. I had been unhappy for a LONG time, but my stubborn nature told me that things would work out, he would fulfil the endless promises he made me and become the man I wanted him to be.
It was October 2010, a Monday, and my partner worked away. I was in the fast track lane at the airport, picking him up from another 3 week stint away. I was driving up to where he was waiting for me and I had sudden realisation that when he got in the car he would want to kiss me hello and the thought of that made me sick. Made me want to throw up and that’s when I knew it was over between us. I however, didn’t say anything to him when he got in the car or for two days afterwards. I was so unsure of myself, that I didn’t say anything straight away. The next couple of days were spent in almost complete silence when we were around each other. He knew something was wrong and I fought with myself as I didn’t think I had the courage to tell him it was over.
When I knew I had to tell him it was over
On Wednesday I went to Bikram Yoga with my friend Steph. She had been the only person I had spoken to about how I was feeling and as we exercised in the yoga room I couldn’t bring myself to do any of the moves. I was totally immobile by lack of sleep, guilt, weakness, fear, sadness…. so many things, that I spent most of the class laying the floor trying not to fall apart. After the class, we walked to our cars and I just broke down in tears, the kind of tears that make you feel like your heart is bleeding with pain. Steph and I looked at each other and I knew I had to tell him it was over. I couldn’t keep punishing myself and I couldn’t live in this endless unhappiness. I was exhausted trying to keep up the facade that everything was Ok (and I wasn’t doing a good job anyway), so I drove home, trying to think of what I would say to him when I got there.
When I walked in the door, he was laying on the couch, he looked at me and I thought “It’s now or never”. He started off saying that he knew that things weren’t good between us at the moment, so he had decided to move out and give me some space (I had built my first house that year and he had moved in with me) as he thought we weren’t getting on because we had never lived with each other before. After that I basically came right out and said that it wouldn’t be enough. It was over for me and that I didn’t want to marry him at all. He was quite shocked, he was never very perceptive and thought getting out of my hair for while would be enough to salvage our relationship. It wasn’t. After many tears and many harsh words he asked me if I was sure. That there was no guarantee that I would ever find someone else to love me and wouldn’t it better for me if I stayed with somebody that cared about me than face a lifetime alone.
These words more than anything he said me that night, made me realise how little he knew me after this all this time. I may have originally lacked the courage to tell him it was over, but what I’ve never lacked is independence and stubbornness. His words only made me more determined to leave him. Because at the end of the day I had never been afraid of being alone and faced with prospect of being alone forever or spending eternity unhappily with him, there was contest. His words only made me fierce and determined to find myself a better and happier life.
When I knew I would be Ok
It was Thursday when he moved out. We had bought a few things together for the house and he took half of those items with him. His two friends helped him move and my dad stood beside me the whole time. I cried most the morning. Dad kept asking me if I was sure this is what I wanted, not realising the tears had nothing to do with regret over my decision. It was relief, mixed with sadness that something that lasted so long was over and whole lot more emotions that I couldn’t describe or tell you today. After he moved out, dad stayed with me for a while making sure I was Ok. After dad left, I walked around house not thinking anything much in particular and after a while I gravitated towards the back of the house where my painting room was. Before I knew it I had my painting brushes, paints and canvas out and was painting away. It had been over a year since I had painted last and every emotion that I kept inside during that time came in a flurry of movement. It’s then, while I was painting that I knew I would be Ok, alone or not alone, I would be fine.
When I knew I had done the right thing
A couple of months later, I decided to go to Bikram Yoga again. I hadn’t been since that Wednesday night but I was looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. I went into the room, placed my mat & towel down and started the class. It felt like I’d never left. About half way through the class you lay down on your back and do 40 mins of yoga on the floor. It starts with something they call “dead body pose” where you lie there for 2 mins, breathing, with your eyes open and trying not to think of anything. It was at this moment that I noticed they had stickered quotes to the roof tiles. The quote above me made me smile, almost laugh, for why would I have put my towel under this particular roof tile, if it wasn’t meant for my eyes. The quote is something I’ll never forget “Some people think it’s holding on that makes one strong- Sometimes it’s letting go”
It spoke volumes to me, because in spite of what other people thought of my decision to leave, I felt that to took a heck of a lot of strength to do it, that as much as I held on in the past trying to make it work, it took far more strength to leave. Those words only solidified my belief that I had done the right thing for me. It wasn’t easy, but it was right.
After that day, I chose to get a tattoo on my wrist to make sure I remembered the courage it took to leave that day. I’m sure many of you have seen the tattoo, it’s not a small one (my dad did not want to see it when I got it) but it’s a meaningful one to me. To have it on my wrist there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t see it and therefore it always reminds me of the freedom and happiness that I received from one act of courage.
“The secret of happiness is freedom, the secret of freedom is courage”
It’s easier to understand if you read the sentiment backwards. Through my COURAGE to tell somebody that was over, I received FREEDOM, not just freedom from a person, but freedom to think and feel how I wanted, to do what I wanted and not be suppressed or held back. Through that FREEDOM, I received HAPPINESS. More happiness than I ever thought possible at the time. The courage I used that day is a gift that just keeps on giving.
So why tell you this story? It’s simple…. I’m not here today without this story in my life. That decision made me who I am today. It made me a stronger, happier, more focused, wilder, freer, nicer person, than if I hadn’t made that choice back in 2010. Every decision or choice I have made since that day has led me to where I am now. And courage and strength have been my best friends throughout this whole process.
I’m not telling you this to encourage you all to leave your husbands or wives. I’m telling you this because we all have these moments in life where we don’t know which way to turn, which path is the right one to take. I’m telling you now all you need is a little courage and to trust the voice in your gut because it will guide you where you should be. EVERYONE deserves to be happy & content with the life they have chosen. Not just sometimes happy & content, ALWAYS happy & content. If you don’t have that, search for it, don’t ever stop looking and whatever you do DON’T SETTLE!
My journey from that day hasn’t always been simple. There were many times when I felt alone and beaten, but I never was.
Just before I had ended my relationship I had decided that I was going to go travelling by myself. I had never really done anything for myself before, I had always sacrificed things I wanted, for things other people wanted. But it was time to do something for me.
In August 2011 I decided I was going to sell my house. It wasn’t an easy decision and I thought about it for months prior, but I really wanted to go overseas and the house was standing my way. Some people thought I was a bit mental for selling, but I had built my house in a good spot and I wasn’t going to loose any money if I sold it. I think some people were afraid for me, as I would have to start all over again, but I wasn’t afraid at all. A year ago I had proven to myself that starting over wasn’t as scary as people made it out to be and as long as I was happy, that’s all that mattered. My house sold in the first weekend it was opened and I got more money than I expected.
In August 2012 I decided to resign from my job and start travelling. It was a very good job, paid well, but I wasn’t happy and in spite of many peoples opinions at the time, I wasn’t afraid to start again. I knew it would be OK. Every time I had the courage to do something different, outside of the norm, I would be rewarded ten fold. So there was nothing to be afraid of and nothing to loose.
This is my message to you.
Life can be so spectacularly unexpected sometimes. I have witnessed and learnt so many things while I’ve been on this journey and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think and feel how lucky I am. But I created this life. I’ve made my life this way because this is how I am happy. There’s not a moment in my life I would take back because I have learnt something from all the pain & happiness that I’ve felt.
We are all flawed, but that’s what makes us human. The ability to make our own choices and learn from them, that’s what makes us, us.
There are still many journeys I haven’t undertaken. Many that I’m looking forward to and the knowledge that I will be made a better & happier person because of them, spurs me on. This is the end of one journey in my life and I have truly now shed my old skin. My eyes are fresh, my view is clear.
So don’t be afraid. Fears can conquered, sadness evaded. Just be true to yourself and your needs and everything else will fall into place.
Just believe in you!
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. – Steve Jobs