For so many years of my adult life, I felt like a fake—a phony. I was one person when I stood at the front of the class in my yoga studio, guiding others toward their fullest expression, and a completely different person at home—stressed out, frustrated, and resentful toward myself for not living up to some arbitrary definition of "a good mom," as well as at my children and husband for "keeping me" from the freedom and fulfillment I craved.
I felt like I was not living an authentic life. I was a mommy zombie most days, just going through the motions. And I did everything to numb the pain—I shopped, I drank, I smoked pot, I planned exotic vacations, I fantasized about running away, and I spent an inordinate amount of money on all kinds of healers, therapists, and retreats, hoping they'd actually make me feel better.
My avoidance techniques took away the pain for a short time, but it always returned. The truth was, I pretty much hated my life because deep down, I hated myself.
When the shit finally hit the fan (as it inevitably does in midlife when we are not living our truth) and my husband of a decade asked for a divorce, I was faced with overwhelming fear about my future as a single, 40-year-old mother of three. How would I support myself? Would I ever find love again? How was I going to survive as a single mom?
I fell apart. And eventually, I found enough clarity to see that I had two choices: to live as a victim of my circumstances, spend my life running from pain, and put my energy into finding another "secure" situation that would deprive me of oxygen, or to truly step into the messiness that I had made of my life and embrace the most important—and terrifying—journey. That journey was moving from a fear-based mindset to a love-based mindset and becoming responsible for my own happiness and well-being.
I knew that I was capable of peace, happiness, contentedness. We all are. I felt those things after taking a yoga class or spending time in nature. I felt those things emanating from my students as they left my yoga or meditation classes. It's expressed as a transcendent aura of clarity and strength.
My impending divorce became a revelatory experience for me. It showed me that the freedom I'd craved—and blamed my family for keeping from me—wasn't something I would find if I abandoned my life, my responsibilities, and traveled the world. The potential for that freedom had existed within me all the while. It was, in fact, my unwillingness to relinquish control that kept me in a prison of fear.