The Art of Falling Apart
"Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together" ~ Marilyn Monroe
I think it’s safe to say the majority of us are saying “what the heck just hit us” in 2020 and now we’re battening down the hatches for the Fall Winter rerun! How will we get through these disruptive, uncertain times that are not only challenging but ungluing for the majority of us, and if you’re at all like me, maybe you’ve come a little unglued too! The chaos and disruptions of 2020 have highlighted a big blind spot and fault line of mine.
As I’ve peeled back the layers this year, I’ve realized that I was actively “duct taping” myself together in an effort to seem like I had it all together. I was pretty darn adept at this skillset too, fed I’m sure by limiting beliefs and voices of Judgement and cynicism all advising me the ways to “keep it together” when in reality I was coming unglued. Don’t get me wrong, I was still functioning, even highly functioning, yet at my soul level, I was often asleep at the wheel while driving through the days, weeks and months.
I rang in the 2020 New Year on Stress Leave and just prior to this came down with pneumonia aka “dis-ease” so in hindsight not much of a surprise. Unfortunately, I missed all things Christmas and New Year related. Then like a player on a game board, I soon landed on “unemployed” in the traditional sense, when “whack” Covid-19 hit! No get out of jail free card for me as things I had in the works came to a screeching halt. My new Leadership Coaching contract was put on pause, as were my 60th Birthday celebrations and my Son’s destination wedding in Hawaii. I battened down the hatches, this couldn’t last forever, right? I resumed the auto-pilot motions, duct tape in hand, while life continued to unravel around me.
Come mid-summer a necessary move of residence became clear; a proactive choice allowing me to ride the wave called financial uncertainty. As of writing this, I’m living with a sibling who has been generous of both heart and home and for whom I’m so grateful. A shaky 2+ year romantic relationship came to terms with itself, and then the most heartbreaking was having to find a new home for my fur baby, Bear my 1 year old, now 80 lb. rescue pup from Greece. I know now he and I kind of rescued each other and we shared lots of love and joy in our times together, and I’ve done well by him with his new family.
2020 unfolds as my year of survival and I wasn’t at my fittest!
I’m sharing this journey as what’s now crystal clear to me is that I was not walking my talk as it relates to my overall wellbeing and was embodying a not so palatable archetype of the human journey while blindly on my way to a full meltdown. I was doing life; life was doing me and I was falling apart.
I had surrendered in an “I give up” kind of way to the story of how bad 2020 was, especially when I noticed myself heading to a liquor store to buy that bottle of wine; my trusted companion for the night. Don’t get me wrong, I cared about my life, but my attention wasn’t focused in the right direction and see now how I was misusing alcohol to suppress my feelings and worries.
I had acquiesced, joined the movement or bought into lives being wiped out or put on hold by the pandemic. I couldn’t define which of the two, I just knew I was impacted, and passively surrendering. It was paradoxical really as I knew this way of living didn’t align with my highest future possibility, or the work I was doing with the horses and clients, yet it was how I was behaving when left to my own devices. My personal fault line had developed yet I couldn’t see it clearly though I sensed a falling apart at the seams.
With duct tape and wine in hand, I was keeping the pieces together.
I spent the month of August in workhorse mode as I prepared for my downsizing move, while saying my goodbyes to Bear. My emotional “survival wall” soon thereafter came tumbling down and I found myself for days on end in puddles of tears. Why this, why me again? I was disoriented and disrupted from the inside out and it’s exactly the dismantling I needed. Feeling very alone I leaned into close friends and family sometimes not able to control the emotions as they spilt from me. I was a mess, broken wide open, raw and real, my fault line cracked wide open for all to see. What was I to do now? What way was up? Who was I now?
A turning point finally revealed itself when a dear friend invited me for dinner. She poured the wine while I narrated out my events of the past year, my story, my reality. When I got home, I reflected on how she had been consoling me. Something didn’t sit right with me. I knew her intentions were coming from a place of concern and caring, yet something felt off. With dismay I saw that she was co-narrating and reinforcing a story of how hard my life has been in the past and how unfair 2020 had been to me. She sent me out the door with hugs while wishing “good luck” upon me as of all the people she knew, “I deserved it”. I remember thinking, was that what I needed and deserved, good luck?!
Was I that person, that human archetype deserving of good luck, she was talking about??
I know now she spoke these words with love, but “oh my god”, they were the wake-up call I needed to hear. I soon realized I had resurrected hardships and struggles of the past with the present. I didn’t want to be THAT PERSON yet I was keeping these stories close, almost like a blanket of comfort and what a great blanket to have during these chaotic, disorienting times. You see, I know this blanket well. it’s a survival tapestry woven with sorrow, judgement and despair, from deaths too soon, divorces, goodbyes or endings, losses, cancer and betrayals of the past 15 years, and more; I recognized myself here, it was a familiar landscape.
Something stirred deep within me, a shift, an awakening, a knowing or sensing;
I realized I needed an intervention and it was up to me to intervene!
I don’t have all the answers to my current challenges nor do I know how things will play out. I do know the breakthrough of this self-intervention has resulted in the shift I needed to step back into consciously choosing myself, my wellbeing, one day at a time. I’ve hired a wonderful new therapist who is supporting me in the ways we misuse alcohol, and the highly accepted habitual patterns many of us fall into, as well as my co-dependency to my story of the past. I’ve re-adopted my human archetype as an empowered leader, contributor, change maker and healer in this lifetime. I’ve stepped fully back into my self-authority and self-authorship of my life. And most importantly, I’ve since reframed 2020 as “the year of my Revival”. What’s really changed though is I’ve chosen to slow down and stay connected with my heart. I observe myself through a compassionate and curious lens while actively loosening the reins on the belief that I can control life and it’s outcomes.
I have no control over life, especially during times of crisis and chaos, yet I do have control over who I’m Being & therefore Becoming.
I wouldn’t have my life unfold any differently than it has, it’s rich in joy, gifts, love, struggles, hardships and most importantly learnings. I see where over the years I may have failed to give myself permission to fully process or grieve, to set and adhere to healthy boundaries, and even to disappoint, be it myself or others. The result being suppressed emotions as I’ve attempted to control myself, my life, it’s outcomes and for outward appearances, “to keep it all together”.
Suppressed emotions can only stay suppressed so long before some sort of break down occurs. And with breakdowns come breakthroughs for something new is emerging!
Today I’m playing with a new practice that I’m calling Active Surrendering which I will share more about in my Newsletters this quarter through Equinity Coaching. Active Surrendering is not passive, nor is it to be confused with giving up, submission, and it’s not reactive. It’s surrendering to what is beyond our control, while actively living and choosing with intention and attention. It’s surrendering into what is wanting to emerge versus trying to force outcomes or agendas. From this place I practice making choices devoid of expectations which allows me to invest in the process versus the outcomes while listening deeply beyond the words to the emerging future; this is leadership. It’s not always easy, hence the framing of this being a practice and a skillset needed more than ever in leaders today.
Where in your personal or professional life have you been living in survival mode?
What might be unravelling or coming unglued in you or your world?
What does Active Surrendering look like for you?
What’s possible if you choose this empowered pathway of conscious choice?
I thank you 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic for gifting me with the opportunity to come unglued in this great personal unravelling. I will continue to practice the art of actively surrendering and pay attention to when I’m coming unglued. I do hope my sharing is resonant for others of you struggling to make sense of life and this year and who didn’t see whatever it is that’s hit you coming. To learn more about the work I do and skills related to Active Surrendering you can sign up for my newsletter at www.equinitycoaching.com.