The Four Words That Changed Everything
October 5, 2018
Ever had one of those moments when you just knew life would never be the same again? Cuz something had changed?
Something about the way you saw yourself or someone else or the world was different now? And you couldn't undo what you heard, or saw or felt?
Well, this is one of those moments.
It's an ordinary day as I make the drive to my counsellor's office. And I'm feeling especially eager because Lisa (not her real name) is helping me find a meaningful focus in my life. You know, the "what am I gonna do with my life?" kinda stuff.
You see, for as long as I can remember I've yearned to feel passionate about something. To be good at something. And to share that something with others.
You know, pass it on. Be of service. Leave a legacy. But I'm not one of those people who was born knowing their passion, knowing what I LOVE to do.
Now, I enjoy doing various activities as much as the next gal. But the thing is, the joy never sticks. Nothing ever stamps itself on my forehead and says "this is it!"
And it's not like I've never tried a bunch of stuff. I have. But my interest always fizzles out. Every time. Like I start something and then don't wanna do it anymore. Almost like I'm bored with it.
I can't count the number of times I've started learning to play the piano. I even went as far as taking a few lessons. Then I stopped. Guitar? Stopped. Pottery? Stopped. Drawing? Painting? Stopped. Stopped. I could go on but you get the picture.
So Lisa and I pick up where we left off—with my difficulties on following through with projects. But this time is different because Lisa's approach is unlike anything I've tried before.
Here's what I USUALLY do:
- Drill myself for ideas.
- Try to figure it all out in my head by thinking my way through it.
- After much exasperation, come up with an idea.
- Get all pumped up about this potential new direction.
- Plunge into my newfound passion.
- Lose my zing a couple days or weeks into it.
- Feel discouraged, hopeless, and just plain bad about myself.
- Realize I've just gone in a gigantic circle and I'm back at the start AGAIN.
- Rinse and repeat.
AUGH! HATE THAT!
Instead, Lisa has me considering ideas while looking to my body for cues. Like watching for subtle changes in my energy. Looking for tiny hints of emotion. Because every little cue is another breadcrumb edging me closer to understanding what really lights me up.
And it's all guided by how I feel inside.
Now, how cool is that?
Fast forward to our discussions of writing, personal growth, and spirituality. And it's not long before the idea of a personal blog pops up. And I start to sweat.
"What fears come up for you when you think about starting up a personal blog?" Lisa gently inquires.
"Well, to have a successful blog, especially a personal growth blog, I'd have to be very open in terms of my personal experiences. I'd need to be candid. And transparent. And revealing." I answer.
Lisa continues, "What do you notice in your body?"
I suddenly realize I can't swallow. Like, not at all. And I'm barely breathing. It's like fear snuck up on me, threw a sac over my head, and grabbed the steering wheel.
And now it's piloting this vessel called "me". And I've been demoted to ship hand.
Aye aye Cap'n.
I try several hard swallows to regain control. But my efforts are futile. Any composure I felt walking into Lisa's office is now melting faster than a toddler's ice cream cone on a hot summer's day.
My body is under-seize. And I feel a hint of panic over not being able to swallow. It's as if there's something wanting to escape so badly it's refusing to make the return trip back down my throat.
So I do the only thing I feel able to do. I open my mouth and succumb to its wishes:
"If I write a blog then people will see who I really am".
I sit, dumbfounded. Bewildered. Astounded. With a sprinkling of shame.
Where'd that come from? I wondered. Whose speaking?
But there's no rest for the weary. Still whirling, I'm immediately struck by another wave of truth.
"This is what I've been doing my whole life...I've been hiding."
And I do the only thing I can do. I just sit there.
And the words just hang in the air.
Like a confession.
Followed by a movie reel.
Spilling out how I orchestrated all the events in my life to serve one purpose—keep the real me hidden. Where I felt safe. Where I could stay tiny.
Where I could sit in the back of the room and observe life going on in front of me. This is what I've been doing my entire life—staying out of sight, out of view, out of the way.
I feel in awe over the enormity of it all. All my decisions, my choices, thoughts, and preferences. All coordinated, all screened, to ensure my objective of staying hidden remained satisfied.
Lisa looks at me, honest sweetness filling her eyes. She offers, "Maybe that's what you need to write about."
[That's me...still whirling.]
"Write about what?" I ask, feeling completely brain-dead.
"Coming out of hiding."
And there it is. One little four-word sentence, in all its glory. Holding the trajectory of my life—where I've been and where I'm headed.
All wrapped up in one tiny package.
Like a candy wrapper.
The four words that changed everything.
The floodgates come crashing open. My eyes fill. My throat closes even tighter. My head is spinning. And I feel waves of energy moving through my body.
My world feels BIG and I feel very, very tiny. Like a cricket. Or a mosquito, even.
A veil has been lifted and now I see my lived life from above, in its entirety. As if I now have the perspective of a twinkling star from above.
I swallow hard with a mouth so parched it feels like I've been guzzling red wine all night.
Unable to speak, I search Lisa's eyes.
Do you know what's happening to me? Can you see what's going on? my eyes plead, praying she can hear me.
As my eyes meet hers, I know she knows. Lisa's eyes are glistening along with mine and we exchange an emotional smile.
After a long pause, my mouth clumsily forms a few words.
"I have to come out of hiding," I say.
"Yes", she gently acknowledges, nodding, "You do."
I can hardly believe I'm having this conversation. But I know I am.
"Yup. It's time", I say.
My emotions are swirling, alternating between delight and sorrow. Excitement and despair. Joy and sadness. I feel so incredibly blessed for the light now shining across my face. And I also feel waves of sadness for a lifetime lived in the dark.
Lisa softly interrupts my thoughts, "If you can, imagine your mouth opening and one word squeezing its way out. What would that word be?"
Before I can even engage my thinking mind, a word jumps from my lips.
Who said that?I query to myself. It's that voice again.
It's like my words have a life of their own. Messages with tiny legs, sprinting past my mind's interface and dashing for the exit.
Is it Intuition? Spirit? God? Energy? Truth? The Universe? I don't know what to call it. I don't care.
What matters is if ever there was a time something greater, bigger, and wiser was speaking through me, this is it. This IS that time. I know it like I know how to breathe.
And the message?
Suddenly, it feels as if there's this little teeny weeny being deep inside me. The Vicki I've shoved down, pushed aside, ignored, discounted, disrespected, and judged. For a lifetime.
And here she is, asking me for one thing. One thing.
She wants my help. To come out. To come alive. To Play. Be. Exist. Have a space in my life. Be free.
OMG. What am I gonna do now?
How can I possibly say 'no'?
After a lifetime of treating her like doggy doo-doo, how can I possibly deny her now?
She's been locked away, playing in the background like a child taught to do as she's told. Ordered to keep quiet and out of sight. Punished for wanting to do what comes naturally.
I don't have the heart to tell her no. Even though a part of me desperately wants to.
I don't have the heart to tell her I'm too afraid. Even though I am.
I don't have the heart to tell her just wait a little while longer. Cuz half a century is long enough.
And I don't have the heart to tell her I don't know if I can do it. Even though I'm filled with doubt.
She's suffered enough. I've suffered enough. And this is our moment.
She finally has my attention and I can't turn my back on her now.
I finish up with Lisa, walk outside and feel the breeze caress my face. The world looks and feels different now. It even sounds different. Everything seems so clear and right.
I'm reminded of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, when the Grinch had an epiphany over the true meaning of Christmas. And his heart grew three times its original size.
For me, it feels like my eyeballs are triple in size and I had cataract surgery! I finally see the world as it's meant to be seen. As it's always been.
Something inside me is now profoundly changed. Because truth paid me a visit. It knocked on my door and then shot me right between the eyebrows.
It's as if I unknowingly walked through an invisible curtain and a gate closed behind me. And like it or not, I'm now standing on this side of the gate.
In a new world. A new reality. Alone. Not knowing what to do or how to do it. But knowing the choice to un-know what I now know is no longer an option.
There's no undoing. No un-seeing. No un-feeling. I stand at a crossroads where a decision looms. And it's MY decision.
I can march forward into the vast, exciting, terrifying unknown. Or I can attempt to return to my ole familiar life. But the deepest part of me knows if I choose the latter, I'll be choosing a path of struggle, dis-ease, and unhappiness.
Yet, even knowing this, I find myself bargaining with my new reality in the weeks to follow.
I really want to write about personal growth but maybe it doesn't need to be a personal blog. Maybe it can be...
But each time I come up with a safer idea, my initial excitement morphs into melancholy. And like a slow bleed, the life drains outta me again. And I'm unable to resuscitate it with hidden agendas or grand ideas.
I can't weasel my way outta this one.
After several weeks of this, I grow tired.
And it dawns on me.
I can either be me or not me. There's no in-between. There's no half-way point.
The deepest part of me wants out—fully and completely. And there just ain't no substitutions. Because truth feeds joy like oxygen feeds the body. And there's no oxygen in counterfeit imitations. Or workarounds.
Joy insists on the real deal. And that's being 100% me. The true, real, raw me.
I might not like it but if I want joy to show up in my life, I have to play by its rules.
So here's what I decide to do.
- I make the decision to come out of hiding. I don't know exactly what it looks like or how I'm gonna do it but I make the decision anyways.
- I accept I'm gonna feel awkward, scared, and vulnerable. But these feelings no longer mean "stop". They simply mean "take a breath and keep going".
- I take my venture public. I do so for many reasons but the biggest is to simply be seen. And your Purple Swanis born.
- I make joy my new compass. From now on, everything's gotta pass the joy test before it gets a nod from me.
In hindsight, it's no wonder I never figured out my life purpose. Cuz up to this juncture, hiding was my purpose. Like an invisible intention that directed and controlled every aspect of my life.
Well, it's a new day. And I'm replacing hiding with a new purpose—being seen from the inside out. Dropping walls. Renovating.
Cuz one thing I know for sure is sticking with what's safe, known, and familiar hasn't led me to a joyful life. So, it's time to try something radically different and refreshingly new. Being me.
Ya, I know Rome wasn't built in a day. And that's okay. Cuz I've picked up my hammer and begun chipping away at the camouflage I no longer need. Or want.
And I'm ready for a fun, inspiring, passionate, and outright freaking amazing life.
How 'bout you? You comin'?
Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and I’m not a mental health professional. Obviously. I can’t possibly know your full situation so please consult a professional before acting upon information from yourpurpleswan.com. Should you decide to act of your own accord, you do so at your own risk. Kinda like skydiving.
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