“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” ~ Paulo Coelho
It felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff with nothing but blackness before me. My only choices were to turn around and go back or leap forward into whatever laid beyond.
Having the Courage to Leave When There Is Nothing Left to Hold on to
I took the leap hoping against hope there would either be something to catch me if I fell or that the best thing would happen and I’d sprout wings and fly. It was the summer of 2008 and I was sitting in my first meditation workshop when the teacher started talking about leaps of faith. I realized I was in the midst of one, but the timeliness of the teaching served only to reinforce what I had to do.
You see when 2008 began, I realized that while on the outside my life looked content on the inside I felt like a shell of the person just doing the motions of life. I got up at 4:30 am every morning to grab the commuter train into Washington, DC.
I had a stable job doing something I loved (one thing I was grateful for). I’d come home to a house we owned for almost a year. I had a beautiful son (another thing I was grateful for), and a marriage that translated into a 15-year relationship with one person. However, what gradually built up over those 15 years were compromises that resulted in me changing my expectations and myself.
I realized this was at the heart of my emptiness. In trying to save the relationship by changing myself to fix the things that were wrong, I lost sight of who I was.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~ Lao Tzu
When I realized I wanted to live life instead of just being a passenger, I decided the first thing I had to do was build my sense of self-worth again. I focused on my strengths and the things I valued about myself. Most importantly, I promised I would always stay true to myself. Over the next several months, the depression that had started to pull at me receded. Life was brighter.
I felt confident as I started to feel like my old self again. I thought that this newfound confidence would help me pretend my marriage was okay until my son graduated from high school. Then, I could get a divorce. My parents divorced when I was 12 and I had vowed I would never get a divorce, especially when there were children in the house.
And then one day, I came home to my 3-year-old having one of his regular meltdowns. I looked at his crying face and realized, “If I stay in this relationship, this unhappy little boy could have 15 more years of unhappiness ahead of him. In addition, what kind of relationship would I be modeling for him?”
In that moment, I decided a divorce really was the only answer.
It took me a month to get up the courage to tell my then-husband I wanted a divorce. Then, it took other several months to move out. In those months before moving out, I would find myself gripped with sheer terror. Should I backtrack and continue the life I was living because that was familiar? My instincts told me that I was making the right decision even though it went against societal norms of marriage; it went against the promise I made to myself long ago, and it made me feel vulnerable and utterly alone.
Because I embraced my strengths, I was able to be true to myself. I found the courage to follow through with my decision to start a new life despite the fear. In believing in myself, making the hard decisions, and taking that leap of faith, I sprouted my wings and flew.
My life transformed before my eyes. I started a new life where I found my soul mate. A year later, I was promoted to a new position where I worked in the highest office of the agency. And now I’m traveling the world with my family and helping women of all ages build self-esteem and confidence.
Sometimes, the answer is to follow your instincts when they tell you to make the difficult decision, even if it means your world will be turned upside down for a little bit. No matter what, embrace your strengths, stay true to yourself and take that leap of faith…and soar.