I mentioned in a recent newsletter that I wanted to "dare bigger" and that I'm caring less about what people think. I've also publicly shared that "uncomfortable" is one of my 2016 power words. So, in that spirit...here goes.
A few weeks ago I posted about my own discovery of personal values through my first coach training class on Facebook. Good story but no "meat": the trajectory went from awareness of an idea to a completed act. But that's not how stories really happen, is it? The post was "successful, "reaching" hundreds of folks so I "promoted" it into an ad, as a way to tell people about The Pandora Passport, my group coaching program that helps women discover and use their own five personal values. I don't know if that story was "enough" to prompt women to register. What I do know is that the meat of the story was missing. And that matters. Because I'm not being "all in", in Brene Brown's language or in my language, "truly authentic", if I leave the meat out.
So, let me give a personal values story another try-
I went back to school in 2006. Working alone, without mentorship or even colleagues really, led me to Southern Connecticut State University's Masters of Arts program in Women's Studies with no greater goal than credibility for a future book on women and self-esteem. A week into the program, I was being taught to ask "which women?" and that not all "women's experiences" were the same. My book idea suddenly seemed embarrassingly naive.
It was at this time that I recognized that one of my five personal values, "Restorative Home", was operating in the red and had been for a while. I knew what "Restorative Home" was supposed to be and how important it was for me to have a home that at the very minimum felt safe, healthy and stable. But my home hadn't felt like that in years. My long-time partner was an alcoholic whose drinking had gotten worse after a horrible fire in our home. To say he was unreliable is an understatement. And worse, when he drank he was abusive. So my home became a place of anxiety, worry and fear. Home should be calm, where your most meaningful relationships happen, where vulnerabilities are exchanged, where safety is expected. None of those things were true for my home. Things had been good between my partner and I once but five years in, there was nothing restorative about my home, or our relationship.
By May 2008, my program was done and so was I. I swallowed my pride and at age 35, I called my mother to ask for help. And money. She sent both. Along with my dad, I moved from Connecticut to North Carolina Labor Day weekend 2008 with a POD and five greyhounds who everyone had told me to separate or give away. Once there, I lived with my parents after the rental house I had secured fell through. It wasn't my fault but it was still another blow. I felt ashamed to be in another situation of needing help as an adult from my parents. When I finally did find a house, (my first "Restorative Home" of my own!) my parents paid my rent for six months (more embarrassment) while I worked part-time in retail before I found a full-time job.
My mother always said that home has to be safe, a haven. That's "Restorative Home" and so much more today. My husband is calm, kind and very predictable. Bills are paid on time, the house is organized, clean and well-managed. Neighbors are closeby and I love it. When I come home late at night, the front porch light is on. When I started working for myself again, I knew I needed an outside office, in part, so I could keep my home, a truly "Restorative Home".
Brene Brown writes in her new book, Rising Strong, "embracing failure without acknowledging the real hurt or fear that it can cause, or the complex journey that underlies rising strong is gold-plating grit" aka making "failure look fashionable". After reading that last week, I realized that I have been doing this...for years. With some stories more than others, with some people less than others. But still doing it. That stops now. It's at the core of what I believe with Outside The Mom Box: that we must step out of the categories that we are placed in and own our unique story. With my story above, from here on out, the stories I tell will be different. They will include the emotions and the details of that complex journey because I need them to be spoken. For me, it's just a better way. You being here helps. Thank you for that.
PS. Someone I know needs to hear this story now. If you know someone else who does too, would you forward and share it with them? Thanks.