This was going to be a book; a short story of how I changed everything in my life, almost exactly five years ago now, in pursuit of new dreams and goals. But once I was in the new place, I didn’t have much of a desire to re-hash it. But now, as I launch Bang it Out coaching, I realize that maybe others need to hear this-
Back when I lived in Connecticut (because that’s really where this story begins) my relationship with my ex-partner was bad. It had been bad for a while, really bad for a few years. And it was bad longer than I admitted it to anyone, even myself. You see, he was an alcoholic and while it wasn’t always difficult living with him, it became that way. But I was way too busy to deal with it. It’s a scarily deceptive place to find yourself in…that island of internal dishonesty. But I was starting grad school, coaching clients, working part-time and running my own business. I didn’t feel like I could tackle anything else. My relationship took a back seat because I put it there, away where I didn’t have to face it, until I couldn’t avoid it or anything else.
That day arrived. School was finished and I was ready to make a move. I had been a coach long enough to know that I needed help. Not only was I desperate to get out but I was in serious debt and not sure how I could manage alone. I found it in an unlikely place: my parents. Unlikely because I hadn’t been close to them in years, partially because of the many miles between us but also in part because my parents never liked my partner. At twenty years older than me, he was practically their age. But I called them and told them my story. At least I had a plan, if not the resources or tools to carry it all out. I wanted to: move away from bitter cold Connecticut, leave my partner, be closer to family and find meaningful work. I also needed to take our dogs with me; all 5 of them. Would they help me? Yes. My dad flew up, rented a van, moved me and the dogs out and away. Down to a new life in North Carolina….just as the roof was caving in on the economy.
Despite my best efforts, though, nothing seemed to go my way. The house on which I’d put a substantial deposit down became “unavailable”. Severely damaged by the previous tenants, the owner decided not rent to anyone with pets…after my POD was already delivered. In the interim, I lived with my parents. Which felt comforting on one hand (at least I had a place to live) but embarassing on the other. I was 35, without a job, living with my parents. It was a low point. And, I couldn’t find meaningful work. No surprise given the state of the economy but now I needed financial help from my parents because I had spent what little savings I had on my move. Finally through serious networking, I did find a house to rent. But the part-time retail job that I had found wasn’t enough to cover my rent so my parents paid it for me.
Suddenly in Spring of 2009, after I had been in North Carolina for almost five months, my hard work paid off. I found meaningful work that I felt good about at a small non-profit that worked with victims of domestic violence. Quitting retail, I started a 9-5 job (well, it was closer than I had been to 9-5 in almost ten years) which I threw myself into. I was able to pay my own bills again and that felt so good! I negotiated a payment plan that wouldn’t damage my credit with the two credit card companies that I was in debt to and they were satisfied. [I had been avoiding the credit card companies for months, unable to pay them but when I called them and explained my situation and promised to pay them when I found a job and sold the land that I owned, they were understanding. It was scary calling them but it turned out okay and I slept better.]
Then in September 2009, a stroke of luck came my way. My property in Connecticut finally sold. There had been renewed interest that summer but each time the people backed out. It was a terrible economy, remember, and few folks were able to get the financing to construct a house on expensive land in a wealthy part of Connecticut. So I kept waiting. I cried at work the day my attorney called me and told me that the sale went through. I looked at my bank account 20 times that afternoon just to confirm that the proceeds were there. A mega wire transfer was sent to my old friends at Citibank and suddenly, I was in the black for the first time in years. The dark cloud that had been hanging over me, a scarlet letter “D” for “debt”, was finally gone. I also paid back my parents and that felt great. I didn’t have to feel ashamed anymore.
A year later, I met my husband through an online dating site. One year later, we were married. And nine months after that, our daughter was born. It would have been safer to ignore the idea of finding a new partner. Why put myself through all of “that” again? Being vulnerable, getting disappointed, feeling hurt. But I hadn’t given up earlier. I was also honest in sharing with him that I wanted to have children. Easier to say something later on (read: maybe not at all) or just wish he read my mind but I chose to speak up instead, knowing that my voice is important and needs to be heard, come what may. I’d been silent enough in my past relationships; I vowed that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes. In my late 30’s, the news that I did want children might not have been well-received. Turns out he felt the same! Now we have a beautiful baby girl. Another leap which turned out fine.
Let’s count: I ended a long-term relationship, closed my business, moved 6 states south, changed careers and cut my hair pixie short. 5 changes in 5 months. I get having a goal that you desperately want but lack the momentum to achieve. Sometimes a coach adds that momentum, sometimes it’s family or circumstances. But we need that momentum to make big changes. I’ve also learned that sometimes when you point yourself in the right direction (right for you, I mean), luck shines your way. First you need to do the pointing! Without the support that I received, the daring to conceive of a new dream-a different life- and a little luck, I might still be in Connecticut. Today, I feel greater peace, success and love than I ever thought possible.