April 12, 2016
"We're not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes." Joseph Campbell
I had been living a life of "should do's." I knew how to keep myself safe by playing roles and keeping my needs to a minimum. So it came as quite a shock, both to me and those around me, when I made the very difficult decision to cancel my 250 person wedding a month before the date. To add to the turmoil, only two months prior, I made the less difficult decision to leave a company after 5 years. I was 30, without a job, a very public breakup and no roadmap.
How did I wind up here?
My life looked like this: Lived in Brooklyn. Worked in Tech. Had a handsome, good man. Disposable income. Weekend getaways. Completely on track.
It felt like this: Straining to control. Isolation at home. Anxiety at night. Disconnection from myself. Bargaining for happiness. Begging for peace.
By canceling the wedding, I had come clean. And so, I got to work. I took this moment in time seriously. I rejected the advice to "find a distraction, sleep with someone, get a job - any job!" My heart would not allow it. Instead, I accepted responsibility for the disruptive confusion in my life and let love and grace lead the way.
I did strange things and I did beautiful things. I felt grief that scared me. I felt guilt that swallowed me whole. But I had moments of clarity that felt like a drug. And days I connected so deeply to my soul that time was erased. I went on a pilgrimage to the land of Anne of Green Gables. I hiked alone in national parks. I took a nap on a rock and lay sleepless in a cabin in the woods. I definitely cried in public and on a yoga mat. I met incredible people who shared their stories and truths. I asked questions. I dressed like a rabbit, and learned about spirit animals. I survived cocktail parties and showed up for friends' weddings. There was humor, humility and the unearthing of deep pain and fears. I felt it all. I accepted it all. I learned to forgive myself.
I stopped trying to be anything but myself. Being your authentic self can be simple and also feel like walking through a tornado. But, I hold this to be true: if you allow yourself to be you, without judgment, you will fall madly in love - with yourself and with life. And those hard to love parts of you? You will nurture them out of their darkness, into the light and learn to love them too. And that outside noise that seems so loud? Do your best to be gracious and then let it fade away. Your soulmates that come in the form of friends and family members will understand you and that will be enough.
This massive, cosmic breakdown in my life landed me in one hell of a disorienting transition, and that transition allowed me to align my life to my truth. I learned to connect, to listen and to trust myself. I found my purpose in helping others and started a coaching practice. I committed to a lifetime of growing through the study of people, cultures and everyday life. I believe in love and feel humbled to have found it with a tender man and his healing heart. I'm still accepting myself and forgiving myself every day. I pray for patience and to trust the process. This is a discipline.
For me, canceling my wedding was the right decision. I feel grateful for the moment in time and for the people that allowed me to break open. If you are facing a difficult choice between your truth and maintaining the "should do's" of life, big or small, give yourself the opportunity to be yourself. Slow down. Be quiet. Nourish your life with activities, people and places that connect you to you. Find your way to play. Writing, exploring and sleeping (seriously, get more sleep-it worked for me.)
My intention in sharing my story is this: Figure out what works for you. And when you find your truth, love it and live it fiercely and fearlessly.
Abigail Henning is a Life Design Coach currently living in Berlin. Find out more at http://www.rosetreenyc.com/