Seems a good day to write about this. It's Easter Sunday, the day when Christians round the world are celebrating the fact that Jesus was resurrected three days after being crucified and stuck in a cave as his tomb.
One of the messages that all of us can take away from that story, whatever our spiritual beliefs, is that we have the capacity to resurrect ourselves. We have the ability to lift ourselves out of the worst circumstances, leaving one life behind us and creating a completely new one. No matter how bad it gets, there is always a way to move away from the darkness of sorrow, disappointment and fear, and live in the light of peace, love and true joy. There is always a way to heal your life.
Am I suggesting it is easy? Not necessarily. It depends upon your situation, of course. It might take a lot of time, planning and several major changes to get from where you are to where you want to be. And it might just be as simple as finding a new perspective and changing your attitude.
In either case, or any of the ones in between, great change requires just one simple act. All you have to do is make the choice. Whatever is going on in your life, if you want it to be better or different, the only way you will get there is by choosing to make it happen. Whether it's small change or big change, as long as you have the ability to read these words then you also have the ability to decide what you want and need for your life. And to make it happen.
I know because I've done it. I've resurrected myself from some pretty horrific situations. Re-invented myself many times. Started fresh. Changed so much about myself and my life, I find it difficult to recognise who I used to be.
And that's a good thing. It proves just how far I've come. Looking back over a few decades, it is astonishing to think of certain situations in which I did not stand up for myself, allowing myself to be abused, verbally trampled, emotionally battered. Choking on self-loathing and a massive lack of self-respect, I tolerated intolerable situations because I did not believe I deserved anything better.
From my earliest days as a young woman dating, any time I brought home someone "nice" to meet my parents, my mother would always say, "What would someone like that see in someone like you?" Until the day she died, this is how she spoke to me.
I remember leaving a partner because of abuse. My mother said that I had no right to do that. She sang his praises because he changed nappies and helped with meals. I said, "But he was abusing us."
My mother looked me in the eye and said, "You and your kids deserved all that abuse. You're pretty hard to take."
I defended my children, believing that they did not deserve it. But I did not defend myself because I agreed with her when it came to me.
I think about how that belief permeated every cell in my body, every part of my soul and it drove me to make countless self-destructive and self-sabotaging choices. Like staying with a man who chased me through the house with raised fists until I found safety on the other side of a locked door, a man who took my life in his hands on more than one occasion.
There's not a chance in hell I would run from him now. I would stand my ground, stay in my power, confront him and throw him out after the first such incident without batting an eye.
But back then, I did not value myself enough to do any of that, and even worse I accepted what he offered as "love" in between the frightening episodes of violence. Thank heaven I did not have any children with him. Thank heaven I could sever my ties with him and move on.
I continued to chip away at healing the damage my mother did. But whilst I was doing that, I continued to put myself in unbearably unhealthy situations, despite my best efforts to the contrary. (To view my "Healing and Empowering" Meditation CD on iTunes, click here)
Still, there were times my spirit rose above my damaged human ego, allowing me to progress, to make some changes, to connect with my highest self and lift my life out of the darkness. In the name of leaving the darkness and searching for peace and light, time and time again I've resurrected myself. I have changed jobs, changed partners, changed houses, continents and religions.
It was very much a "two steps forward, one step back" sort of effort. And at times, I took several giant steps backward, always to do with putting the needs of someone else above my own, to my detriment.
That was my biggest undoing.
But in the last five years, I have vastly changed myself and my life. I hit rock bottom in 2009. It was undeniably the worst year of my exceptionally challenging life. I was forced to make some of the hardest and most painful decisions ever. I couldn't have been any more physically or emotionally ill, nor could I have been more spiritually lost, empty and disconnected. I was as dead as I could be, while still drawing breath.
I have been to hell and back since then, many times and in many ways, but ultimately, all of it was for my benefit because I was forced to see that I have to stop hurting myself so someone else can be happy. I was forced to value myself as much as I value others, and to see my own worth. My boundaries were challenged in new ways, and with some very painful lessons. It is as though I have been in that cave tomb, hidden away in a dark and uncomfortable place but there has been great learning and healing going on and now it is time for me to be resurrected, once again.
This time is different from all the others. This time I have reached a completely new kind of turning point, an exciting crossroads that requires me to make brave choices and decisions.
Today I am creating an entirely new life, one that will be bigger and better than anything I ever believed possible. Today I am taking several more steps down a new and fulfilling path in ways I had not imagined I could ever do.
Today I am resurrected. Hallelujah.