Most of us know what’s true for us long before we act on it, especially when we’re talking about making huge life shifts. Sometimes we agonize for weeks, months, or even years, because so much hinges on maintaining the status quo. This can happen in our personal and professional lives. People stay in jobs that crush their souls for all kinds of reasons. Some are practical—they need to keep a roof over their heads and food in their refrigerators, or they need health insurance for themselves and their families. Sometimes the reasons have more to do with low self-esteem, or a lack of self-respect. People tell themselves every day that they are not good enough, that they don’t measure up, that they should be thankful for what they have, because who are they to think that things could be different? Who are they to pursue their dreams? There are all kinds of reasons we convince ourselves we’re stuck, and when you’re speaking about the necessities of life, of course those are real. But if you’re in a job that’s sucking the life out of you, I wouldn’t accept that as “the way things have to be.” I’d do everything in your power to seek out another opportunity somewhere, because 80 hours a week is a lot of time to spend feeling like you want to scream.
It happens in relationships, too. Sometimes two people come together, and despite all their best efforts, they grow in different directions. Maybe they came together when they both had healing to do, and attempted to cover their individual pain with a relationship. Maybe there are kids in the mix, and now it’s brutal; staying is painful, and leaving is painful. Sometimes those are your choices. It’s human to agonize when we’re faced with a decision that impacts the people we love, but ultimately, if you’re in a situation that’s crushing you, you’ll never be able to nurture yourself, or anyone else to the best of your ability. Maybe you can get creative. Maybe you can go for radical honesty with your partner, and come up with a way to stay, and not feel like you’re losing yourself, and maybe you can’t, but allowing your light to go out is never the way. Numbing yourself or editing yourself until there’s almost nothing left of you won’t serve anyone. Distracting yourself, running, denying, keeping everything on the surface level will not be sustainable for the long haul.
So what do you do? I think first you get quiet so you can really allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling, and face those realities head on. There’s no point hiding from yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to act on your feelings. It’s just that it’s such a relief to acknowledge them, to lean into them, to accept them, and accept yourself. Then, at least, you’re dealing with your own truth. Getting support from someone objective is also a great idea, and communicating honestly is a must. I don’t believe anyone would thank you for keeping them in the dark, or staying in something out of guilt, shame or pity. Maybe you can resurrect the thing, but the only chance you have of that, is if you start building with blocks of truth. You can’t build anything that lasts on top of lies, bitterness, resentment or rage. You want to be seen, right? You want someone to see you, to understand you, to cherish you for the person you are, but you give no one the opportunity to do that if you repress what’s real for you. Is it scary to start a conversation that may change the course of your life, and the lives of those you love? Absolutely, but it’s less scary than decades of betrayals, emotional or otherwise, and I’m talking about the betrayal of your own heart, as much as anything else here.
If you want to be at peace, you have to allow what is true for you to rise to the surface and spill out of your mouth, kindly, confidently, and with compassion.
Sending you love, and wishing you peace, in the coming year, and always,