For over 50 years, my answer to this question would’ve been chaos. I thought that the more I did, the better life was. I could raise 3 kids, run a business, pick up the dog poop, attend the school carnival, seduce my husband and get the car oil changed every 5,000 miles. And, I almost always had a smile on my face doing all of those important things.
I was proud of my multi-tasking maniac life.
I thought if I did it better, faster and in high heels, then that meant that I was a more competent woman. I was competing with people that didn’t even know I was competing with them. I was looking for approval from people who were never going to give it to me. I was seeking to please people who didn’t know me at all. I was trying to change people who were completely out of my control.
Then, in my mid 40’s, my life crashed and burned. I lost my entire fortune and then some. I was in debt to the tune of $2.4 million (read my other blog http://www.lifeafterdebtlessons.com). My business failed. My Dad died. My Mom sued me and walked out of my life and out of my children’s lives. Everything fell apart. I downsized my house not once but 4 times in 4 years.
My two daughter’s got married just 5 weeks apart in 2007. Totally joyous and totally stressful. Except for the fact that I always discount the stress. Remember, I’m the woman who can do it all.
It took a good few years for me to come to peace with all the loss. There were days I couldn’t get out of bed. I wasn’t depressed, I was devastated. I kept trying to make sense of the fact that I had been trying so hard for so many years to be successful and it had all been a ruse.
The sadness didn’t make sense to me. Wasn’t I the woman who could pick herself up no matter what?
I sought therapy. I hired a coach. I saw my doctor. I talked to my friends incessantly. Each brought some comfort but very little.
It wasn’t until I began to make peace with my own soul that I started really sorting things out. I quit trying to do everything. I quit trying to make things better or easier for other people. I realized that sometimes people don’t belong in your life, even if they’re related to you by blood.
I had to work on slowing down. I had to quit hurrying. It hadn’t taken me anywhere good. I started taking leisurely showers and talking to God in normal everyday language. I quit asking why. I sorted through all the clutter…both mental and physical. I got rid of anything that didn’t mean something to me.
I started eating lunch at home, instead of constantly meeting friends. I made peace with not having a Facebook account even though I get asked why I don’t have one nearly every day.
I started making my bed and tidying my house every night. I gave up my animals who had been a constant source of frustration for me for at least 27 years (farmed them out to the child who originally brought the animal home in the first place, one daughter got two, one daughter got one).
I’m learning to be okay with calm. That just because your childhood was a crisis doesn’t mean every day of your life has to be one. That some days just are. There doesn’t have to be an event or anything terribly exciting happening to call it a good day.
I’m picking back up the pieces of my ruined business and transforming it into something totally new and creative and wonderful. We’ve paid off over 96% of our 2.4 million of debt. Dennis and I still have a good strong marriage after 30 years. We raised 3 happy, successful, amazing kids. (OK, I know I used too many adjectives on that one.)
I’ve said good-bye to my Father who passed away, who knew I loved him more than anything. I’ve said good-bye to my Mother, simply because she didn’t know how to be a Mother and loved her mental illness more than me.
Like the country songs says…we all fall down, lose our way. Now it’s time for me to find my way back.
I’m embracing the calm. The chaos almost buried me. Calm is lovelier than chaos.