A dear friend wrote on her blog today about transformation, and the differences it is making in her life. Older than I, she has, once and for all, made a critical decision to undergo a transformation that will allow her to live her life on her own terms, rather than always trying to meet the often unrealistic expectations of others. I applaud her choice to live an authentic, happy life in which she follows her own path of peace and goodness and happiness.
About 14 years ago, I found myself up against a wall, mentally, emotionally and physically. I was depressed and drained, not functioning very well, and experiencing a lot of physical pain from conditions exacerbated by stress. Trouble is, I didn’t *know* it. I knew something wasn’t right, had not been for a long time. Life for many years overwhelmed me, beginning with my first divorce in 1988. My mother died unexpected in 1990, my beloved brother died the following year at age 40, my father nearly passed in 1992 and died a year later in 1993. I had a painfully botched hysterectomy in 1991, 7 months before remarrying.
A few months after my father’s death, my then-11-year-old attempted suicide, as a result of which he was misdiagnosed and heavily over-medicated. His mental illness mystified my second husband, and the boys’ father was barely in the picture. He disappeared for good in March of 1995. By 1996, I was on the verge of divorce, went to counseling and attempted to work things out. My husband had a stroke in 1997 due to a completely clogged artery, and in 1988, once he had recovered, we split up amicably. All the while, I was working three jobs, trying to be everything to everyone, to fill my children’s needs, emotional and financial, and dealing with the results of my son’s horribly mismanaged mental health care. That’s an entirely different blog post.
In 2000, I did something completely out of character, leaving the boys to join a close friend’s family for Thanksgiving, while I flew out to visit an old friend I hadn’t seen since he’d moved away in 1987. This wonderful human has the calmest, most peaceful demeanor of anyone I’ve ever met, and though I didn’t know why I was so miserable, I did know that I wanted what he had. In a life-changing moment, he introduced me to a course of transformation training*, upon which, after overcoming my initial natural skepticism, I embarked in January 2001 and then followed up a month later. In just three days in January and four in February, I was a very different person. I had left my huge pile of baggage at the station (an entire trainload), and I was genuinely happy and at peace for the first time since my pre-teen years. Life was suddenly full of possibilities I had never even dreamed.
So, here are some of the things I learned about transformation, based solely on my own experience.
- It takes a lot of courage to examine yourself so intensely.
- I learned, after a life that taught me otherwise, that it was okay to cry.
- Lots of possibilities you never knew existed present themselves along the way to reclaiming your true, authentic self.
- Some people will think you selfish as you realize that you are not responsible for their issues and you learn not to become involved in their drama.
- It takes a thorough examination of your way of being, everything you know, and the insight to understand what does and doesn’t work for you.
- A lot of what you *know* to be true is simply information someone else passed on to you, and unfortunately, much of what you think you know is wrong.
- Transformation is hard work because it goes against the grain of all the stuff that’s in your head, but not necessarily true. Transforming doesn’t *feel* wrong (but it can engender a nice ration of guilt, if that’s part of your value system).
- Guilt is a destructive feeling. To avoid it, you must do the right thing, even if it sometimes has unfortunate consequences (mostly from people who think you should do otherwise or be a certain way).
- Transformation is liberating. Nothing feels as good in my head or in my heart as being true to myself, my values, my convictions and the way I choose to live my life; being my authentic self.
- You’re probably fdoing it right if it upsets the apple cart.
- Transformation brings about what some call miracles, but I call them the fulfillment of possibilities of which I never even dreamed.
- Transformation takes a conscious effort, not just one day or two days, but every day.
- Happiness is a choice and it requires a concerted effort to transform the mindset that it depends upon someone or something else, or some special set of circumstances. Happiness is an inside job.
- In the end, transformation teaches you to take full responsibility for your life and your choices; to stop blaming your parents, your family, your friends (or [fr]enemies). You have the power to choose how you want to live.
There is so much more I could add: that my relationships with nearly everyone still living have been greatly improved; that despite tough medical issues, I can still choose happiness; that I have learned to forgive myself for not being perfect; and that forgiveness of others is a choice we make to help us move on and live our lives in peace and harmony. I learned that drama is neither required, productive, nor a good use of my energy. And I’ve learned to love and accept myself exactly as I am. That does not, however, preclude self-improvement. I learned that I had the power to manage stress (less is more), most of which is self-induced, as a way of improving my health.Several of my medical issues improved measurably after the training. Though I’d been married twice, I had never fallen in love (I truly believed that there was something seriously *missing* in me.) Transformation opened up the possibility of *falling in love* and when I did, it was a wonderful gift. The ability to feel so deeply about another human being, besides my children, was there all the time, but I had closed myself off too deeply to understand it.
I now live an amazing, happy, satisfying life. My younger son calls me an *under-responder*. A universe of possibilities await me, and I embrace them fully, but this may be the most amazing gift of my transformation—peace in my heart and mind. And I am eternally grateful to my dear friend for opening up the possibility of transformation.
*The transformation education was provided by Landmark Education.
The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, also made a big impact on me.