A year and a half ago I left everything I knew and traveled halfway across the continent in a U-Haul to start a new life in Maine. I’d never even bought a plane ticket for myself before. I’d never taken a road trip. I’d never lived anywhere but Colorado. I’d never been to Maine. I rented my little house, which I’d never intended to leave, and I’d never been a landlady before. I had very little money, and in fact had to borrow money to accomplish the transition (which I’ve since paid back).
I was 51 years old.
As you can probably imagine, this decision was not met with enthusiastic support from all sides.
How this impacted my relationships will be a subject for future posts. Today I want to answer the question no one quite asked, but everyone wanted to.
It’s complicated, of course. It always is. The short version is that I slowly realized I was living a life that didn’t feel like my own. Nothing fit right. It was as though I’d been wearing clothes and shoes from someone else’s closet. My life was a tiny room that got a centimeter smaller every day. I lost a relationship, the neighborhood diner and my dearest companion. I woke every morning knowing I would fail, no matter how hard I worked at…everything. I felt like a character in a play someone else had written and I began to drop my lines.
The most remarkable thing about that time wasn’t that I was having an unusual experience. I’m certain many of you reading this can relate to my experience. No, what’s remarkable is that few people knew how it really was with me, which was exactly how I wanted it.
I had a beautiful little house that everyone loved. I had friends. I had a garden. I lived in a lovely place that had been home for nearly twenty years. I was financially independent — as long as nothing unexpected happened. I had my music, my movies, my books, my early morning walks, my comfortable bed, my dance group, my small luxuries. I had a good life, and I wasn’t happy. I was deeply ashamed. I was also unbelievably, unbearably, terminally lonely.
I began to write more, not with any plan or hope, but because I had to. Because it was the only thing I really enjoyed. It was the only time I felt real. For various reasons I felt unable to seek support for my writing locally, so I went online and connected with other writers. One of the writers I connected with was a life coach who teaches emotional intelligence.
I decided to work with him, and that’s when it all began to change.
I’m not going to try to sell you on life coaching. You’re online right now — research for yourself. There are lots of articles and sites to look at. I’ll let the coaches sell themselves. What I want to do is give you reasons not to do it, because if you hire a well-trained, certified, experienced coach and you’re serious about the work your life is going to transform, and an exhausting, bloody, terrifying experience it is. Creating new life is damned hard work. Ask any mother.
So here we go. Don’t do life coaching if:
- You don’t want things to change, both internally and externally (good luck with not wanting things to change, by the way!).
- You’re not really willing to invest time and money in yourself.
- You’re looking for a therapist or prescription medications, or you’re struggling with serious mental illness.
- You don’t want to take responsibility for your power, life and choices.
- You don’t want to deal with your feelings.
- You’re perfectly happy with your current role of victim, martyr, addict, people pleaser, passive aggressive, etc. (But in that case you might recommend life coaching to someone you’re in relationship with. Perhaps they could use it!)
- You don’t want your creative life to blossom.
- You don’t want to be honest.
- You don’t want to learn new language, strategies, coping mechanisms and communication skills.
- You don’t want your relationships at work, in your family and with your friends to become healthier, more honest and more effective.
- You don’t want to become a more effective and loving parent.
- You don’t want to cut out of your life the habits, relationships, behaviors and beliefs that are holding you back.
And so how, you ask, has it worked out so far? The coaching, the move, the new life?
Guess what? It’s not perfect. I miss parts of my old life. But I live with meaning, learning, creativity, humor, curiosity, joy, love and companionship. I recognize myself. I like myself. I feel useful and successful. I’m learning to be more honest.
The coaching, the move, the new life?
Best thing I ever did.
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