It was 1 am and I was smack dab in the middle of nowhere, except for the fact that I was sitting in front of my momma's house. No one was home, unusual given she loves being at home. Everything I owned was in my car.
Looking out the window, I felt nothing but panic. I grew up running around in fields and the woods out in the dark with nothing but fireflies lighting my way. But this time, I couldn't breathe. Not because it was dark, but because it was so empty.
I transported myself out of some misguided sense of direction some 1300 miles away from Boston, where I'd spent 4 months of my life making strides in business and meeting people who made me think. Then I left. There were numerous reasons including a life altering decision that seemed like the best choice given all my options.
Most of my life I've faced one challenge or another. Nothing special, plenty of people have faced darker roads. But mine kept leading me back to those small towns that I desperately hated.
A smattering of small depressed towns just trying to keep the lights on. I grew up with a hearing disability that kept me from hearing my teachers, parents, friends and family a lot of the time. I loved mathematics and reading, because equations didn't have emotions and the books did.
I had a child just after I turned 17, married and then left 10 months later when it turned abusive. I've worked in a law office (where I quit after finding out we were defending a child molester), in more than one factory, and owned steel toe boots. My last job before starting my own business was working a temp job at Teleflora during Mother's Day. I processed credit card numbers by hand for 6 hours a day.
I had to make a choice that led me to that moment at 1 am. Life happened. When life happens, you learn quickly (well, some of us do) that it's important to cut yourself some slack, turn painful experiences into valuable lessons, and use them to help you grow. It's difficult but a worthy journey to make.
A handful of lessons from change that I can share with you: Learning acceptance is a valuable tool. Rolling with the punches will save your sanity more often than not. You will need kind, loyal, and "punch you in the face with the truth" friends to keep you straight.
When faced with scary next chapter type choices, we often argue with ourselves what's right and how we'll make everything work. The idea of destroying everything we have in the moment for an inkling of what we want for our future feels scary and maybe a little wrong. We hope that we're making the right choice to make ourselves (eventually) happy. The key to being okay with making such choices is about being okay in each moment. (Not the moment three months from now.)
Then there are painful "choices". The ones that hurt and rub our skin raw. Losing someone we love through death or by their own choices. These painful choices that we have some control over, yet no control over - the only control being walking away from pain.
Sometimes we realize there isn't a way to have the things we never knew we wanted until we did know in that moment. And then like the wind the chance disappears leaving us grasping for what we've lost. Offering everything, but giving nothing and suddenly we know it's time to walk away. The pieces of heartbreak make us feel as if someone has shattered our sense of courage and we just can't handle much more without flying into the most vicious rage.
But then the grace makes a return appearance. Things get melded slightly differently and we have an understanding of all the pieces and what they mean to us and those around us.
We will still hurt.
We will carry over pieces of those hurts over. The hurts that eventually add up to more strength than we knew we were capable of. We grow and shift with each change. In the end, the sum of all parts can be strength, courage, fearlessness. A hard won warrior's strength to face anything and make the best of what life asks.
All from moments in the dark.