I recently read an amazing book titled “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Melton. The premise of the book is about her journey overcoming bulimia and abusing alcohol in her twenties and now she is bringing her readers through her journey of heartbreak when she learns her husband has been unfaithful throughout their entire marriage.
I related so deeply to her story because it was much like my own. Her and her husband lacked true intimacy and connectedness partly due to his addiction to pornography and the secrets he carried with a compulsive need to sleep with other women. Yet, he was completely in love with his wife and did whatever it took to piece their marriage back together. These lines from the book when she was struggling to make the decision to leave her husband really resonated with me…
“Day after day, the still, small voice insists that the next right thing is to stay away. I do not want this to be true. I want the voice to let us off the hook. But when I am quiet, my deepest wisdom insists that leaving him means staying with God and truth and light. Going back to him—using the security of our relationship to avoid my fear and loneliness—would be abandoning my-self. Self-betrayal is allowing fear to overrule the still, small voice of truth.
I remember so vividly feeling this way. I remember how frightening the thought of leaving my twenty-year marriage was, but I also remember how staying with him and losing a part of my soul was even more frightening. I knew he was saying everything I wanted to hear, but that little voice kept taping me on the shoulder reminding me that he would never change…the damage was done. There was no going back.
I think we all have heard that little voice. Some call it our conscious, telling us what’s right and wrong. Some call it guilt or fear. No matter how you define it, that little voice is “truth”. No matter how hard our situation is, no matter how hard we try to cover it up with drinking, or shopping, or sex…or whatever your vice of choice may be…that voice is always there telling us what we need to hear.
The story of this woman’s journey taught me a lot. It made me understand my own choices and have compassion for choices that are not my own. Everyone’s journey is different. Everyone’s pain is their own cross to bear. We can’t stand in judgement and try to fix another person’s pain. We can’t help them fast forward through the hard parts. We can’t get them to the place of realization where they see their vices are a way to cover up the pain. They have to walk their own path. They have to make their own long journey down that road in order to come out of the darkness themselves. No one can do that for you. The lessons we have to learn along the way are uniquely ours. They are the parts of us that are broken and the lies about ourselves that we have been led to believe. The truth will reveal itself when you are ready to hear it and not a moment sooner.
Some people have to play the victim for a while longer. Some people have to justify their own actions even when it feels wrong. Some people have to build a protective wall around themselves in order to feel safe. Others may live in complete denial and try to move on as if nothing has happened. How ever you deal with heartbreak and pain is neither right nor wrong. It is simply your own journey to teach you the lessons you needed to learn. The real tragedy is if you never listen to them.
I’ve given out a lot of advice in this area and now I realize that I need to shut the hell up. The only advice I will ever give to a person dealing with pain, is to be still and listen to that little voice. It will always tell you the truth. It will never steer you wrong. It never judges you, but it will tell you the truth. It always wants what is best for you because that voice is pure love. Whatever you want to call it, faith, God, the universe, Jesus, consciousness, inner voice…whatever you use to label it…it is truth and love. It is the message you need to hear in order to heal those wounds. All you have to do is listen. Once you hear it, it’s hard to ignore. We may continue to make the same mistakes or sabotage our happiness, but we will be reminded of the truth over and over again until we get it.
I’ve had many vices over the course of my journey. I’m still battling some of them. No one goes through this shit perfectly. No one. It’s difficult, confusing, painful, sensitive, shameful, destructive and enlightening all at the same time. I just had to figure out that all of these self-destructive behaviors were only contributing to my pain. I had to get real with myself and follow the path to my real happiness and not be seduced by the temporary happiness that wine, sex and a new pair of shoes gave me. Those things only made me happy for less than a day…sometimes less than an hour.
I had to dig deep and understand what will make me happier in the long term. Loving myself is the biggest one. Not letting my shitty circumstances define my entire life and look at them as a training camp for gaining strength. Not allowing things I can’t control make me a victim or a negative person. Not letting men use me and not using men to fill a lonely night. Not using alcohol as a way to escape. Letting down the wall I’ve built up around myself to protect myself from pain. You name it, I’ve done it. We all have in some form or another because it’s part of the personal journey we must take in order to get to the other side. Just be sure to listen to that little voice along the way. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go organize all these damn shoes that I’ve bought! 😉