My friend, fellow change-maker, and colleague, Summer Howard, is guest posting this week. She’s gone through some big changes in her life and, boy, does she have some wisdom to share!
So you’ve had an epiphany. Now what?
Easter Sunday I had a come to Jesus moment. And it wasn’t about the resurrection, per se.
It was about rolling away the stone. My very liberal Unity minister spoke to us about the symbolism of the resurrection. When we are staring out of the opened tomb, being pulled to uplevel our spiritual journey through tough decisions and action. You know, when the Big U rolls away the stone, and says, “HEY! You are ready to live your highest calling. Let’s go!”
And when we refuse the opportunity, scared and trembling choosing, instead, to roll the stone shut and stay in the comfort of the tomb.
Yes, even people on the spiritual path grow deaf when great things are calling, whispering to our souls. So there it was, my epiphany wrapped in a tomb metaphor.
I sat there stunned, as I realized what my tomb was. I was ignoring the inner whisper to stop drinking alcohol.
It’s a little inner conversation that I’d been having for about a year before the Easter Day Epiphany. Ironically, the day before Easter I woke up and said to my husband, “I just don’t want to drink for a week. I want to ease up.” , as if it were the next Home Depot house project for us to tackle.
He nodded, and a few hours later said “Hey, a bunch of friends are going to the Micro-Brewfest for the Environment, so I got us tickets.” Ummmm. OK. I like the environment. I can drink for a cause. I can have fun with friends. I can pretend like this doesn’t hang up the phone on this internal convo I’ve got going with god. I can.
So, that night was fun and I drank and I danced. Yet, at the end of the night as I navigated paying the sitter and shuttling my husband into our spare bedroom, so he wouldn’t disturb the kids, I found myself catapulted back to my 16-year old self. Here I was 20+ years later, lifetimes from being in my alcoholic father’s house and I’m STILL drinking for emotional reasons. To prove something?
To prove…I have control.
Sunday comes, I’m slightly hung over and singing in the church choir. Here it is. The stone has been rolled away. I have the opportunity to embark on the journey of resurrection, if I only to walked through the opening.
And so I did. I walked through.
These big epiphanies are glorious. Glorious with the promise of a better, more magical life.
But right now I’m in the space before the magic.
The space of questioning “Why Me?” Angrily crying about at all who wronged me and really, really angry at myself.
I’m not detoxing from alcohol, because frankly I wasn’t a drunk. I’m detoxing from old behaviors and boy do they die HARD.
If you, too, are stepping out into unknown territory after an epiphany, but are still stuck in the “darkness before the dawn” phase, I have these little nuggets of insight from past epiphanies to help you get to the magical side.
1. Find support.
Support outside of your friends and family. Just being totally honest with this one. You need a third party (coach/therapist) and an established group to help you through the changes. When you are establishing a new normal, you will feel like an alien in what used to be your home planet. It is essential to get together with people who will listen without judgment, who speak your new language.
2. Be kind to yourself.
This doesn’t mean quit doing the hard work or going back to the same old ways. This means being kind to yourself in new ways. Like take a walk when you typically want to do that extra hour of work. Let someone else cook dinner when it’s a trigger for your old behavior (#thatsme #justsayin)
Pema Chodron writes “Some of us can accept others right where they are a lot more easily than we can accept ourselves. We feel that compassion is reserved for someone else, and it never occurs to us to feel it for ourselves.” Pema suggests, being honest and kind to ourselves without any other agenda. It is through this gentleness that we open up to take responsibility for “being here in this unpredictable world, in this unique moment, in this precious human body.”
3. Write a simple vision statement.
Why put more detail to the epiphany? Because, without fail, once you focus on the putting your divinely inspired plan in place, eventually your mind goes here:
“This shit is hard. Why are we doing this again?”
Then you look up to the heavens (or to the whiteboard) and say, “Oh, right! Because I want that…OK, got it.”
And as strange as it may seem, seeing your vision in black and white helps infuse energy back into the grinding task at hand.
A vision statement is your north star. While weathering the storms of letting go of an ‘old’ you, it’s normal to question every decision you’ve ever made in your life, every person you’ve ever trusted. So, now, more than ever, YOU NEED to have a clear vision of what you want. And when you revisit your simple vision, you can breathe it in and say, “Yes, this is why and this is what I want and will have.”
Here’s how to create your powerful Vision Statement in 3 Easy Steps:
1. Think of why you have made this big decision to let go of the old ways.
2. Think of a few experiences you want within 6 months, and the feelings you want in your life.
3. Now paint these things into a sentence or two to create a vivid picture and statement of your life 6 months from now.
Tip: Write in present-tense and make sure you can feel the emotion in your vision.
So there you go, that’s all I’ve got for you, kid. I am doing all of these and it seems to soothe my raw soul as I gain my sea legs into a life with new rules.
I could give you a list with 10 more things to do but wouldn’t that be counter productive? My hunch is that your epiphany, like mine, has to do more with “BEing” and less with “DOing”.
And take heart. As we walk into the magnetic opening of our epiphany, pulling us into the unknown, I truly believe we will experience our magical selves, resurrected.
After 15 years in the environmental planning field, Summer Howard, is dedicating her life arming women with the tools to make powerful decisions about relationships and life. In addition to being a Certified Divorce Coach and Child and Family Investigator for the State of Colorado, Summer founded BridgeToBliss.com, an online resource for women dealing with all stages of divorce or separation. Summer can be found with her deliciously blended family in Boulder, CO.