Recently I have been reading the book, “Welcome to Your Crisis”. I bought it when I went through my divorce, but actually just started reading it about a year ago (I know, it's been a long process getting through it), but only halfway through it, I have learned so much about how important crisis are to us and shaping who we are.
A few hours before I found out that my marriage was truly over, I went for a run in Carlsbad. There are some cliffs that have a breathtaking view of the beach and the ocean and I had ran by that spot many times. Something made me stop and stand to look out over the cliffs. It was February and it was unusually warm. There was a song that was hugely popular at that time called “Unwritten” by Natasha Bettingfield. It happened to be playing on my ipod at that moment. As I listened to the lyrics and looked out at the vast Pacific ocean in front of me, taking in the breeze and the warm sun on my face I couldn't help but think these words were meant for me:
“I am unwritten
Can't read my mind, I'm undefined
I'm just beginning
The pen's in my hand, ending unplanned”
There was so much uncertainty for me at that time, for the first time in 13 years I was really uncertain as to which direction I was going to go in. For months I had been struggling whether or not to stay in my marriage. But for some reason, I knew that no matter what, no matter how long the journey ahead of me was going to be, no matter how much of an uphill battle it was, I was going to be okay. Standing there looking out ahead of me, knowing that I had so much more to look forward to in my life. I was lucky enough to be re-born. I outgrew my old life, it was time for me to move on to something better. The moment didn't last long.
A few hours later my whole life changed. A single phone call made the decision that for months I had been struggling to make. Now, I won't sit here and tell you that I just skipped off smiling to the tune of my favorite song and all was well. No, far be it from that. My whole comfortable world was not just turned upside down, it was taken away. Within minutes I was a different person not only to myself, but to others as well.
It's only been 2 years since this event. Sometimes I feel like it's been much longer, I've come so far and that time seems like a distant memory. Then other times I feel like it's still fresh. For a while I tried to pretend that that painful part of my life was all over, and it had no effect on me whatsoever. It was the past, period. But, truthfully, I can't deny that it shaped who I am today, typing these words. There is no question that I have become a better person because of this. I have learned so much and for me, it just happened to be a very dramatic way to figure all these things out. Apparently, a dramatic end was what it took for me to move on. Sometimes I wish that it didn't have to be so painful, but in reality, I'm glad it happened to me. 2 years ago I would have never said that, I literally thought I could die from the pain I was in. But that crisis allowed me to start over, to be reborn as whatever I wanted to be. I had complete control of the new person I was about to become. After a few months of shock, grieving, confusion and resistance to change, I finally realized that I couldn't move on unless I really looked at this experience as a blessing. I was given a gift. Sure, it wasn't wrapped up with a pretty bow, but it was a gift nonetheless. One of significant value for my future self. Yes, I was terrified having to start all over at 30 years old, but lucky for me, I was only 30 years old!
On a side note: It's funny….when I first decided to be a life coach in 2003 I remember thinking, “Gosh, I don't know if I would be able to relate to some people that are going through rough times in their life. I don't have that kind of life experience” Be careful what you wish for! Perhaps that was a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts.
Laura Day, author of the book, talks about crisis leading to rebirth and compares it to a baby growing in a womb. The baby grows and grows in it's comfortable environment, then there comes a time when the baby has outgrown it's home, needs to be born for it's own survival into a new environment. I look at my experience as such. I grew as a person and needed to move on to be who I was meant to be. Maybe that's why babies cry when they're born, because they are upset about leaving their comfortable place they have grown to love and maybe it hurts a little to be born. They eventually get used to their new place and really don't even remember that old place anymore. Crisis is the same way. So the next time you are facing a crisis right in the eyes, maybe even for a moment look at it like a blank page in front of you, and you have the pen in your hand. Start writing!