What Losing Myself Looks Like is a two-part series on depression and what it looked like for me. To start at the beginning, head to Part 1 right now.
Depression is a serious topic and affects way too many of us, often way too young. My intention here is that each and every word written here has a positive impact for you or someone you know.
- CONTINUED FROM What Losing Myself Looked Like -
I was told we’d failed…
And I made a choice to shrink, to hide, to stop being me.
The me I was born to be.
The me who IS Education Lady, loves kids, loves to write, gets off on helping others and really has something meaningful, possibly impactful, to say.
The me I was BEING was
Which led to:
And a focus on if it isn't perfect isn’t going to be perfect and I’m just going to fail anyway, I ain't gonna do it!
(Insert visual of me stomping of my size 7 flip-flop here.)
I had a chat with a friend who’s a pretty insightful human being. A man I met after already education both my son’s teenage children and seeing them head one-by-one back to their mother. This was a call I had with him when I was already lost, depleted and full of doubt but putting on a brave face, or so I thought.
He said he had a vision of me as a little girl huddled in a dark cave, in my pajamas, with a flashlight in one hand, a coloring book on my lap and a pencil in the other hand.
I said, “Right on. Just swap coloring book for a pad of paper or a journal and you hit the nail on the head.”
I went into retreat retreat retreat mode. Not because of that call but because of me and not having the tools (yet) to deal with this loss of me.
It’s as if someone yelled ‘Fall Back!’ and like a good little soldier, I retreated to a version of myself I didn’t even recognize nor like.
Now, my husband, bless him, as he is a good man and loves me to pieces, tried to fix it. And what I heard, felt and saw was in trying to fix it, he was trying to fix me and therefore, I was broken.
I was B.R.O.K.E.N.
But when you’re broken, the last thing you want to hear is a non-broken person telling you 1) you’re broken and 2) how to fix yourself.
I mean, come on!
So, I pushed against him. I resisted his help at every turn and for years, we played this tug-o-war.
And as I look back now, at the start of this new year, I can see that he did the logical things.
He saw my health decline so he found a solution. A business model that requires little work, not much stress (to him) and provided a semi life-of-leisure.
Now for some, a life of leisure might have you sitting up in your chair, perky-eared and perky-eyed all of a sudden.
Well, it didn’t happen overnight but we did work together, even prior to our marriage, on a business together that allotted us, years later, a lot of freedom.
He, in his logical mind, found a solution for me in that.
I didn’t have to work. I didn’t have to do anything. I could basically chill and rest and get healthy.
Yet, I’d always been a worker. Maybe too much so.
But working and creating and doing was part of my identity.
Had always been at the core of my being.
Doing next-to-nothing, well, that just felt wrong.
And without a purpose or a passion for, well, anything, I felt even more lost.
So, with his brand of freedom, I became even more miserable.
I felt I had to ask permission for every little thing I wanted to do, purchase or experience. I didn’t but that’s how I felt, so I didn’t buy anything.
I didn’t go anywhere.
I didn’t do anything.
I didn’t learn nor grow which had always been a staple in my life.
I tried but it was like someone had turned off my light switch. The brain fog, the lack of focus, the sadness was all-consuming.
I didn’t work (much) which had always been the backbone of my existence.
I didn’t create which meant I was slowly dying each and every day.
I didn’t help anyone, and when I tried to help people - like tenants in our business - I got too involved and typically got burned, disappointed and that created a cycle of yuck.
I was depressed.
I was miserable.
I felt like a failure.
I felt like everything I’d ever believed in was a lie.
My family’s love and support seemed suddenly conditional on asking permission for living my life.
My marriage seemed wrought with ‘you’re broken, let me fix you.’
My stint as a stepmom, twice over, resulted in the failure of the Education Lady - me.
My entire identity was shattered.
And I lost myself.
My husband understood my unhappiness as he’d once had seasonal depression and recognized it for what it was, then fixed it by heading to a tropical location. He knew to never stay too long again in the gray, cold, locked-in environment that caused his depressed state.
So, while on one hand, he understood that what I was feeling was real and he’d been there on his own level, he didn’t understand how I did not know how to elevate myself out of it.
How to find a solution.
And he was shattered that I rejected each and every solution he put before me.
But I had to find myself again.
I had to find my way back.
I had to be my own solution.
And today, after the length of time it takes to have a baby of just being present with myself, I feel again like I am in my own skin.
Yes, it took me 9-months and a baby goat to get back to me. And yeah, there’s a story there.
For my husband, it took him one trip to an island and sunshine. Hello, disconnect as my fix was not instantaneous by a long shot.
And I see why…
and I’m still learning why…
I had lost my vision.
I had listened to others, even my husband, over myself.
I had no purpose.
I had no energy for passion.
I had stopped seeing students.
I had ended my time with my tutoring center.
I had stopped writing.
I had let EducationLady.com drift.
And hadn’t released my classes, programs or helped anyone.
That last was vital for me… I hadn’t helped anyone.
And my very body was literally depleted, making me susceptible to every cold, flu, virus, and the breakdown of my body’s supportive systems.
I had gone adrift...from my purpose, the what makes me me. Serving others. Impacting children. Writing words with purpose.
I was so focused on me, and my issues, my unhappy, my constant drained state, I couldn’t see the bigger picture. And it took hearing the words
WHO ARE YOU TO KEEP WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN,
WHAT YOU HAVE TO SHARE,
FROM THOSE WHO NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU?
That was a kick in the ass, big time.
(Tearing up here, friend, so if you are too, I feel ya.)
Plus, I had time to reflect, time to think about what I wanted and then time to pick up a pen.
And that was both a blessing and a curse. Time.
But what I learned, from years of going down this rabbit hole of losing myself...
I was in the hole for years but literally, it took just days to truly climb out.
Now, some could argue with me and say, ‘No, you’ve been doing the self-work for months and years and so on.’
Well, sure, but I was just thinking, analyzing, judging and reading.
I wasn’t DOING anything.
I wasn’t BEING anyone different.
The moment I picked up my pen and put it to paper, a little shift happened.
The moment I stopped thinking about well, what do I even want to write, what is my voice, what do I have to say, and just sat down with an open document and started to type, the words flowed out of me, a little shift happened.
The moment I found someone saying something positive that resonated deeply within me, I signed up to be coached by him, a little shift happened.
The moment I started walking and taking 30-second dance parties around my cottage, a little shift happened.
The moment my assistant yelled at me via an email in ALL CAPS and said DO THIS OR ELSE, it was on.
I guess I needed that directness and to not be coddled.
I guess I needed to take action.
But really I needed to start thinking some new thoughts.
And in the action of those new thoughts, and in taking action, literally, my life has shifted from
Okay, I can do a Netflix marathon of something I’ve already seen as something new would take too much effort’ and thinking thoughts of ‘OMG, I have another 40 years of this living thing to do.’
To, ‘Oh My God, I’m so excited to write, to share, to step out there. So excited in fact, I jumped out of bed at 4:35 AM this morning because I was raring to go! To write!’
I no longer worry about hiding away and retreating into that cave.
I no longer worry about well, I’ll be on camera after I get my hair the right color. (Grey streak at 25 people!)
I no longer think about who will come out of the woodwork in my life to call me a liar or a fraud or whatever horrible thing my mind has come up with if I step out into the spotlight of my own life.
I no longer worry.
I am BEING me.
I am BEING a better version of me. (Cue singer Fiona Apple!)
And what’s fabulous is I get to define the ME I AM BEING each and every day.
And, friend, so do you.
And it starts with a thought.
If you take nothing else away from this epic post, take that nugget and apply it. Who are you BEING today?
I was being the same repetitive thoughts 100, 200, 500 times a day. I was stuck and until I started to think differently nothing in my life changed.
It was through new thoughts that I found me again. A new me. A better me. A growing me. A living-in-this-moment me.
Oh if that lesson could be taught to little kids, so much self-doubt, self-esteem, self-sabotage, self-mutilation, self-hatred, and depression could be avoided.
If that lesson could be taught, that ‘You Are Good Enough’ could be the first thing children learn, what a different world we’d live in.
I now know that the homeschooling and parenting I did with my husband’s two kids was not a failure at all.
I now know that I was not a failure.
I now know that nobody, not my husband, therapist, nor coach could fix me.
I now know that I do not need to be fixed.
I now see that my life is about seeking permission first from inside me to know what’s right and what’s not.
I now know that my life is not about going externally for answers but understanding all that I need is within me.
Now it’s a fun game of figuring out how to get to those puzzle pieces and put it all together so I get my answers.
Imagine if we taught our children to do this early in their life.
I tell you what. Start doing life this way for yourself and, if you have kids in the classroom or at home, they will model what you do.
And I’ll devote time to developing something fabulous around how you can easily teach the concept of:
You have all the answers you need within and never have to lose yourself in order to find yourself. (Note: Jessica, get that IDEA up on my Trello Project Board, please!)
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for being you.
Just thank you.
Have something you want to share too or a comment about what you read?
Drop your thoughts down below because opening a dialogue is where the action and change begins!
And I’d love to know if my words impacted you in some way.
And if this place I describe sounds like where you are at the moment, there is hope, there is help and there is a way out. I am living proof of that like so many others.
PS - If you’re wondering who Jessica is, she’s my Rocking-Awesome Executive Assistant, Keep-Jill-In-Line powerhouse of a woman and new mama of two. You’ll get to know her more, I’m sure.
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