Once you start changing things in your life, how do you know if you’re headed in the right direction? How do you even begin to change when you know your life is not working?
My advice is to start anywhere you can if you feel hopeless, alone, and like a gigantic failure.
I parlayed my post-divorce depression into a warm, vibrant sun room and then a new career as a writer, but not before I read a life changing book: I Closed My Eyes, by Michele Weldon.
Michele gave the world a great gift when she wrote down her experiences as a strong, highly successful, well-educated victim of domestic abuse.
Up until the time I read this book, I blamed myself for staying too long in an emotionally abusive marriage. I felt I had no excuse for my behavior. I was educated. I had a career. I had options. Why did I stay so long in such a hopeless situation?
Michele also had options, but she realized much later how insidious emotional abuse can be. It wears down your self-esteem bit by bit, until you feel complete despair and hopelessness, craving any simple sign of acceptance or love.
At one point in her book, Michele broke through her despair long enough to paint the walls of her dining room the mellow shades of cantaloupe. This change cheered her up immensely!
This gave me an idea. I had a nasty rundown screened-in porch attached to the south side of my 1960’s ranch. I found it smelly and depressing. What if I slowly transformed it into a bright, sunny space just for me. I didn’t have much money, but I had lots of dedication to this project. It somehow represented my weakened spirit, which so sorely needed a remodel.
At this point, Michele’s words spoke to me like none ever before:
“Deep down in the transmission of my soul, I needed to make a change you could see, something that would last for years, if necessary, and be a reminder of who I really was: a woman who was not always and permanently afraid, a woman who could change. I needed to see for myself something positive that I had done, a move that was not born out of hurt but strength and creativity.”
I remember sitting at lunch with a friend crying as I told her about how revealing this book was to me. It was like holding a mirror up to my soul, and not liking what I saw.
Perhaps if I could transform my physical environment first, that process would help me believe that I could also change my internal beliefs about myself and where I belong in this world. It was worth a try! I knew I needed to change, and I saw no other way out at the time.
So I dug in, and out of sheer stubbornness and determination I made it happen. I created a warm, safe place for me to sit and plan my ultimate escape from my overwhelmingly negative feelings about myself.
This new room in my house gave me a strong, solid foundation where I could look around and see my own power to create something positive, and then begin to build a better future for my damaged soul. It was my temple to create my own alchemy through soul surgery.
All of the exciting changes that came into my life after that: finding true love, discovering right livelihood and a powerful, new sense of self-respect, germinated and came to fruition in that warm, self-generated sun room.
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation I built my future success upon.” – J.K. Rowling
Books by Laura Lee: Midlife Magic: Becoming The Person You Are Inside, The Midife Change Workbook, How To Believe In Love Again: Opening to Forgiveness, Trust and Your Own Inner Wisdom and Find Your Reason To Be Here: The Search For Meaning in Midlife.