In February 2006 at 43 years old I started over with two children, two months of outstanding mortgage payments, an empty refrigerator, and $120.00. At that time, my marriage was officially over and I was on the road to divorce. The purpose of this article is not to dissect my marriage and why it failed. Rather, I would like to share my journey from a place of brokenness towards healing and wholeheartedness.
At the beginning, I believed that I would come roaring back. I thought that starting over would be easy because I graduated from Spelman College and law school. I possessed all of the requisite educational and professional credentials. So I jumped on my proverbial bike and started pedaling as fast and furiously as possible on what I believed would be a short journey towards rebuilding a new life for my children and myself. However, I quickly realized that I had completely lost touch with who I was. I could no longer hear the inner voice that was always my touchstone. What I had yet to understand was that I was in a valley.
Valleys are sometimes viewed with fear and trepidation. But I have learned that each valley experience has a different purpose. My valley was deep and wide with smooth sloping sides like a soup bowl. The floor was littered with winding and broken paths going in different directions. These broken paths mirrored my own broken spirit. Initially, I saw my valley as a NASCAR pit stop: roll in, refuel, and keep going. Because of that, I kept trying to climb up the smooth sloping sides only to slide back down onto the broken, winding paths. It was only after sliding backward multiple times that I finally accepted the fact that I had to find another way out. Eventually I realized that my valley was designed to provide a sacred and protective space for my healing. I understood that I had to travel the broken, winding paths to receive the healing I needed to leave this particular valley experience.
The first step I took towards leaving the valley was to stop confusing my brokenness with being a victim. Secondly, I recognized that I was wearing layer upon layer of pain, depression and feelings of unworthiness that had to be cut away and surgically removed. The roots of my depression run long and deep. I also had to honestly admit to using food to numb my pain and weight to hide my sense of unworthiness. Today I am still on the journey. I am learning to lean into and fully confront the depression and feelings of unworthiness that have controlled my life for many, many years. I am working to leave the lies that I have told myself about myself in the valley. Part of my work includes the following daily affirmation: "I am a unique creation filled with wonder and awe walking boldly towards the life that is destined for me."
As always, be encouraged and empowered
This article was originally published in The Shriver Report and based upon my TedxColumbus2013 Talk.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.