This began back in 2011, pre-baby, pre-divorce, when I discovered a cupboard of shoes I'd forgotten I had. (Read that post first HERE.)
That little discovery sent me on a life-transforming journey of epic proportions.
I didn't know this at the time. I had no idea what was coming. All I did was respond to a little prick of conscience that told me, "Hey -- this life you're living... it's not quite right. It's not what you want. It's not lining up with your values and who you really are. You need to do something about this."
And all I knew to do right then was stop buying clothes for a while. This wasn't even really that big a deal. I didn't buy that many clothes anyway. And over the year I planned to do the no-buying experiment, I was pregnant and not wanting to shop anyway.
As far as grand experiments go, it was a bit of a fizzler.
But a couple of years on, I reflected on that time and realised that what was changing had not as much to do with my wardrobe as with my whole philosophy of life and how I wanted to live.
And now... a couple of years on again... well, I cried a little bit re-reading my own article. It felt like a letter from my past self to my present self. And somehow my past self knew just what I needed to hear.
"If you’re actually doing something right, everything might just feel like it’s all falling apart for a little while. Just let it be. The destruction has to come before the reconstruction. The demolition before the rebuild. Sometimes you have to take something apart to put it back together the right way."
And everything in my life did need to be taken apart. Every time I broke down another layer, I found there was more to go. I thought I was looking for myself underneath the layers of what everyone else had put on me over the years. Turns out that wasn't quite true -- I was there all along. Just in the wrong configuration. I had all the pieces of the life that I wanted, they just weren't in the right place.
So when I finally deconstructed everything, I wasn't left with the 'real me' as much as I expected. For a moment or two I realised I was staring at nothing at all. Just a bunch of pieces, and no Ikea instruction manual to go with it.
Once upon a time, this would have been terrifying to me. The mere thought of getting to this place of nothingness, of being totally stripped bare, in the past has sent me to bed or to the biscuit barrel or to the bottle or into someone else's bed.
But not this time. I think I had finally absorbed my own advice, it had finally sunk in from my head to my very being.
"You just have to be willing to live one moment to the next.And be open. Just be open. Be open to the little promptings and signpost in your life, one step at a time. The things that need to come to the surface, will – in their own time. In their own way.......Little did I know I was following a thread that would lead to the unravelling and reworking of my entire philosophy of life and existence. (Several times over.)"
And several times over again since then. Little did I know -- in 2011. But then in 2014, I did know. Just a little bit better, even if I still didn't know where it would lead.
It may seem like a massive leap, from finding forgotten shoes to a divorce and redefinition of motherhood. And more.
It would be easy to get caught up wishing that I could have foreseen this outcome way back then, and done things differently. Not a different outcome, but a more expedient one. A less painful one. One that didn't mess with the fabric of so many people's lives in the meantime.
"But that was the way it was meant to be. I wasn’t ready then to think about everything I’m navigating now. I was ready to not buy clothes for a while. And the next step and the next, and the next, followed naturally at the right time. Like peeling an onion layer by layer. (With just as many tears.)"
I still believe those words I wrote. Each prompting I responded to, each signpost I followed, it led me here. I give myself grace for the way I handled it all.
There are plenty of people who would like to condemn me or at least scold me for not doing better, for doing things in a way that they believe was dishonest or leading people on. I wish that they could see how I was only ever doing what I knew how to do. Each moment, I was doing my best.
I believe that is all any of us are ever doing. I'll choose to believe that for you. And I'll choose to believe that for me.
Each step of the way, all we can ever do is follow what seems to align with our souls. Respond to the calling that seems to echo back to us from a future we cannot yet see.
It's messier that way. Things ebb and flow and it doesn't always feel secure. But we have to trust that even in the mess, it is not actually random chaos.
"Cause and effect isn’t as simple as we think it is."
At this point the fear that accompanies my days is this: that this is just how life will be for me, constant unraveling, constant redefining, constant breaking apart.
It makes me scared of starting anything new, of committing to things, of building anything. Because even though I've learned that everything that has happened has had beautiful purpose in the end, it has still be painful. It has still been exhausting.
No matter how necessary, that destruction is never easy.
But I am seeing the other side. The turning point from breaking apart to putting back together.
It's not that someone has given me the instruction manual for all these pieces lying on the floor, it's that I realise that these pieces are me. I know them intimately. They have always been me.
I just have to pick them up one by one, relearn the feel of them, and then put them into their proper places. When I let myself do this, give myself the space and time and freedom to sit with each part of myself, it becomes crystal clear where each piece fits, naturally, as if nothing else was ever possible other than being who I truly am.
Because indeed, nothing else is. No matter how the pieces of our lives lie, our souls are constant and unchanging.
And in a way, that breaking down - as painful as it is - is such freedom. You get to do it how you really want this time, create the life that really comes from your heart and soul instead of other people's expectations.
That is what I believe calls to us, through the murkiness, through the mess, through the pain, through the disillusionment, the sickness, the broken relationships, the abandoned plans... Our souls, the constant call, the constant guide to putting ourselves back together in the way were designed always designed to go.
It's never too late for this.