“You need to convince your mind that it has to let go, because your heart already knows how to heal.” – Nikita Gill
Six weeks, I’ve spent wrestling with this post. Its been an exhausting and hard six weeks of honest reflection into my own heart, habits, actions and hurts and I feel like I’m just scratching the surface. I’ve been evaluating WHY this has been so hard for me to write (and more importantly post) and the bottom line is that I didn’t want to write it, and I wasn’t prepared for how it would work on my own heart. I wasn’t prepared to reconcile that I was and am, the designer of my own catastrophe.
When I started this series, I wanted to use my experiences to teach and to twist all the negative situations into positives, but the truth is, that’s not always possible. While I know there is no doubt my negatives have had positive outcomes, it doesn’t make my heart, actions or behaviors positive. It’s been easy for me to pinpoint all the loud failing points of my life, but the evaluation of the little things, digging into the deep dark corners of my memories and the hidden parts of my heart; that’s the terrifying part.
I, at my deepest roots, believe that in order to understand someone’s perspective, you also have to understand the context and/or the environment in which they grew, which is why I so freely tell my stories. I’ve mentioned before the chaos I ensued as a child, most of which I couldn’t control; primarily watching repetitive cycles of addiction and failed relationships but, I don’t often mention how incredible it was too. Outside of typical childhood memories, the thing that I can come back to is how hard we love. We don’t care who you are, where you from, what you do (cue Backstreet Boys), we love you and we welcome you. But what I continue to realize is that were missing the grace and forgiveness part, and even I am guilty of that. We continue to be professional grudge holders, self-pitty-ers and we also make sure everyone remembers their failures.
I only say all this because as I’ve recounted where my heart has been over the past few years, it’s much easier to see why I did and have continued to do the things I do, however; it doesn’t make it okay. My history is not an excuse for continued toxic behaviors. It doesn’t mean I’m allowed to hurt people, be cold and hateful or judgmental. I can’t continue to blame my circumstances for my behaviors, because I oversee my destiny and I own my thoughts and actions; nobody makes me do or feel anything.
I believe it’s important that I mention that, because I believe successful individuals (however success is defined individually) are often placed on a pedestal and even idolized, but the reality is, every single person I know, all of the grace-filled, forgiving, loving humans in my life that have come out on top, scratched, clawed and fought to get where they are. Their PEACE and SUCCESS was not given.
For transparency sake, it’s important that I show you exactly what I mean by sharing the content of my heart over the course of that last eight years, because I feel like I need to prove my success has been fought for and is still being fought for.
If you know me, does this list surprise you?
I’d venture to say, if you aren’t in my immediate circle, the answer is yes. It’s not often that people notice my negative heart strings because it’s been easy for me to hide them. But I think its only fair that I don’t just tell you the words. I need to talk about them, to describe to you how each of these has shaped my expectations and my experience, and how they’ve impacted those around me. Let’s get started, shall we?
Discontentment might look different for each of us, but for me, I can physically feel it. I get antsy, I get anxious, I get grumpy and exhausted. It shows up as this constant yearning and wanting and always needing something more. I’m constantly pining for something that is just out of reach.
Looking back my discontentment has robbed me of enjoying the moments I’m in, robbed me of appreciating the things I had, instead worrying about what I’m missing out on. That insatiable need for more scares me, especially now that I’m taking ownership of the discontent I’ve breed throughout my life, and frankly I’m only just beginning to own it because it smacked me in the face. As painful as it is to accept, my girls are often an honest reflection of myself and I can see the discontentment so very clearly in my oldest daughter. The discontent heart I fear in her has been fully present in my own day-to-day life. It physically pains me to admit that most of her life, too many times to even count, I found myself getting caught in the pursuit of wanting something new. Caught in the trap of thinking that THERE must be better than HERE. If I had a bigger house, if we didn’t have to stay in Bartlesville, of telling myself the reason I’m not satisfied is that I don’t weigh 150 pounds and haven’t started making six figures yet.
“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have” – Socrates
The problem with me finding contentment is that it’s an active hour-by-hour choice that I must make, to be content where I am at. If I don’t work at it, those thoughts creep back in repeatedly. Defeating those lies is a conscious decision, and it requires daily effort, persistence and a ton of grace. Its a battle I have to fight for and win ON PURPOSE.
I’m certain I am not alone in this. We are constantly bombarded with the idea that the thing we need to be happy or successful is just at the next left turn. I believe that as a community and as individuals, we must begin fighting the idea that there is a smarter, sexier, more helpful or driven spouse, that there is a better diet or better brand. We must fight the idea that there is a BETTER LIFE. We need to start shouting from the rooftops that what we have and who we are is enough! We need to evaluate our real priorities and set perfectly clear boundaries for ourselves and others. We need to know, in the deepest parts of our core, what the most important things in our lives are, because without that, it’s easy to be persuaded by anything that comes our way. Without deep roots to keep us grounded in those priorities, it becomes unbearable to fight the inkling that something new is going to be better than what we already have.
I spent the better part of my life and especially marriage wanting more and expecting more. In fact, my discontentment is what drove the hammer into the coffin for our second separation. It makes me hurt, it makes me weep, it makes my stomach turn to admit that it was ME.
I’ve spent so many years of my marriage and motherhood with my heart discontent, my soul disconnected, and, oh how I’ve been ungrateful. The acceptance of my discontentment is what drives me headfirst as a champion of serenity. If you get nothing else out of this, please hear me: the grass is not greener, the sky is not bluer, the drink doesn’t taste better, the candy isn’t sweeter. Find peace in your spirit, find satisfaction, combat restlessness, stop comparing your reality, fight and claw to pave your own road.
It’s almost impossible to be satisfied in your own life, if you’re constantly looking at what someone else has.”
The ungrateful part of my life and marriage has been rooted in selfishness, and its repulsive, how selfish I have been. I have literally uprooted my family and wrecked others with this destructive trait. Not only does my selfishness tend to breed an ungrateful heart, it breeds self-pity, insecurity, impatience, hatred and worst of all it breeds loneliness. When it creeps in, I find myself doing things that make me feel good. I find myself comfortable and justifying. I stop respecting my husband, co-workers, kids and friends, and not as a blatant disregard, it’s sneakier. It lets me hype up my good qualities and ignore my shortcomings. I begin yearning for others validation and I play into the comparison game, turning into a wrecking ball of those around me. The purpose of the validation and comparison is only to make myself feel better. It shows up in impatience and a lack of grace, and it shows up in my ego. The thing that I’ve learned about my selfish spirit is that I often disguise it as strength, and I’m willing to bet I am not alone in that either. Let me say it again, Selfishness is often disguised as strength, and what I’ve learned about it, is that it takes absolutely no skill, self-control or determination to sacrifice those around me to fuel my ego. It shows up in the “No one can do it better than me, so I have to do it all, and, I’m perfect at it” Sarah. When its loud, I don’t need anyone to provide me physical and/or mental support to get through “it”, because I want to use it as ammo later, when I bring out the firing squad, because nobody came to my rescue. For those of you that believe you’re selfless, look at your actions and evaluate if they are truly selfless or if you’re doing it for your ego.
“Practice being selfless. You end up getting more than you anticipate when your soul is giving.”
The loud, hurt, hateful, angry parts of my heart led to complete chaos and wandering. I have been a bulldozer. I stopped caring about my people and I ran over them without any regard for their being. I was loud and desperate for attention; attention I thought I had been so deprived of. I chased and manipulated people and things that historically had never been a part of who I was, and it was easy to do, I’m young, attractive and successful. It didn’t take much for me to manipulate and fit people into the molds I wanted them to be in, because people are drawn to me. I turned into the manipulative, destructive, deceitful and harmful person I had always stood staunchly against, and It disgusts me how easy I fell into that role.
I’m just starting to process and truly wrestle with the hurt I have caused directly and indirectly to those around me, in the wake of my destructive behavior: the list is long and trying to put my apologies and sorrows into words is proving quite difficult, and I’m struggling to process why I continue to be so blessed when I have been so spiteful and cruel.
I’m thankful I had the people who I had around me, because without their truths I probably wouldn’t have made it out of the hole I was digging myself in. I’m grateful I had life speaking, truth bombers constantly feeding me and even when I didn’t want to listen, they stood by my side, and never let me wander too far. I’m thankful they let me sink far enough under the surface to be starved of air, but only far enough that I could still see the light.
The deep, dark truth is that nobody truly knows what was going on in my heart, my mind, and my life at that time. I kept it all in silos and still do to some extent and for the first time, I’m facing the people and the things that I hurt, and the destruction I orchestrated myself that only exacerbated my existing pain. The last six weeks made me acutely aware that I had improved my hearts conditions, but I haven’t finished healing them.
“Until you heal the wounds of your past, you are going to continue to bleed…” – Iyania Vanazant
It would be easy for me to use circumstance as an excuse in which I kept a cold and reckless heart, and the truth is, I did. I allowed my circumstances to harden my heart for far too long. I let it become so heavy with discontent, selfish, loud, hateful and chaotic behaviors I couldn’t stand up, and I mean this literally. I can pinpoint, almost to the minute when I fully understood where my heart had turned cold, and it’s the same moment I realized I wanted differently for myself.
When I say I literally couldn’t stand up, I mean it. The month had been chaotic and emotional, and I was truly running on empty, but I was in my “new” house, with my three girls. In my mind I finally had what I wanted: out. It was the end of one of the early weeks in the house and the four of us still a little nervous. I was tired, my emotional tank at zero and we were one sleep away from the girls heading to their dads for the week. We all went to bed a little sad, but with no real issues.
At some point in the middle of the night I could here my littlest crying, but I couldn’t get to her. I was calling out to her to come to me, because I physically couldn’t see, I could barely walk and I was unfamiliar with the house. I was in total darkness, hearing her cries with no way to get to her. I have never felt more terrified and helpless. I started vomiting without any real underlying cause, and moments later had the worst pain I had ever felt shooting through my forehead and neck. I called out to my oldest daughter, and knew in that moment, the only person I needed was Robbie. I begged her to call her dad. She dialed his number as she laid on my chest, trying to calm me down, while the other two panicked in my bed. He answered the phone on the second ring, and sobbing, I begged him to come help me.
He didn’t have to answer that call, and frankly I don’t know why he did; we were weeks away from a finalized divorce, but he did. That was the moment I knew, I had hardened to him, to our marriage, to our family, and the heaviness of the last two years had become too much for me to carry.
“I do not at all understand the mystery of Grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” Annie Lamott
What I’ve learned while exploring this is that I can’t keep my catastrophes in the dark if I expect to ever see the light. I am becoming more aware of my heart’s truest desires; and more importantly allowing my roots to deepen. My hope is that as I work through my darkest moments, those roots take hold, like a giant oak tree; and that now more than ever, I can let love and grace flow freely from my heart, and that I can shine like a light of forgiveness, joy and growth.
As I finally wrap up my first series, my advice is this; Don’t be afraid to deal with your irritable, restless hurting heart. Evaluate yourself. If you find you’re constantly offended, evaluate why. If you’re constantly negative, evaluate why. If you don’t take ownership of your own heart, you will be forever unhappy. You will forever point the blame at others and find discontentment. Know that you are not your circumstances. You are not your family cycles. You are not a mess and this isn’t how it has to be. Find comfort in knowing that you are in control of your fate, that YOU oversee your behaviors. Take ownership of your own heart and start to heal. Come to peace with that fact that you, like I, are the designer of your own catastrophe and begin seeking comfort in YOURSELF. Stop the comparison, build your foundation, put up your walls and infrastructure, guard your heart and you’ll begin to build the happiest of homes.