It fascinates me how long I walked through life blind, and also, to what I now see!
I had an awakening of self and spirituality when I was 46, after wandering through life just bouncing off all the events in my life. The best analogy for that way of life would be living in a pin ball machine. Picture me, the ball, getting launched and hurtling toward various points of collision. The ball is stuck in a pattern of being reactive and not proactive. As it turns out, that is a very confusing and unsettling way to live, however when you’re in the pinball machine, you never seem to realize it, because you are just too busy reacting.
Most of my life I lived to try to fit the mold I thought others had for me, which proved to be impossible. A person must learn how to cope with the constant gap between expectations and realities in a pinball life. My coping skill was codependency. I was codependent to my parents, my husband, my children, my friends, my co-workers, pretty much everyone. I would study everyone’s reactions to things I did, things I said, and opinions I had, to a point that I had lost my true self. So there I was, lost and bouncing around the pinball machine, all the time thinking, oh well, this is my life. I might as well live with it.
Finding my way out of the pinball machine was a long, grueling process. Years of marathons trying to “measure up” left me with a lot of self doubt and in a tremendous fatigue. There were times I just longed to be with Jesus, because the process was so difficult and I felt hopeless. What saved me? Who saved me? The answer resides in layers of God-filled moments that my eyes slowly began to see.
My awakening began with a few people who challenged me to engage in my faith at a deeper level. Their challenges seemed scary and over the top at first. I backed away, scared, thinking they were holy roller Jesus freaks, and that wasn’t for me. The biggest help in finding my own way into relationship with God came after a challenge from a Christian therapist. I told him I read a devotional sometimes when I was exercising on my elliptical. He challenged me to make time every day to feed myself spiritually, and told me that it seemed I had a very casual relationship with God. Of course at first I took offense to what he said, and wanting to prove him wrong, I started to make time daily. That was a game changer! Things in my life really started to change. The same therapist recommended I read a book called “Codependant No More”. So, I read it, and began to see myself through the pages. In hindsight though, I was only skimming the surface of awareness to it.
I began a quest for knowledge and insight by reading all kinds of spiritual and self help books, including the “Bible” itself. I was hungry for information that would help me find a healthier and more peaceful Amy. I know I wouldn’t have made it through the transition without my faith. My daily morning discipline of reading God’s word and meditating,was like a warm hug. There was always a message in the things I read that seemed very timely, and specific for me.
Fast forward four years and I’ve gained a new perspective regarding my life. I still struggle not to fall into old habits of codependency, but I can see how far I have come. I’m not afraid anymore and my growth brings me great hope. I have hope in myself, hope for the future, and trust in God to be my guide. I have witnessed positive changes in every relationship I have, and am finding peace with myself. I am grateful for my faith, and for the people who encouraged me and held me up when all I wanted to do was crumble in a heap of despair.
To be awake is to feel alive. I am so fortunate and blessed that, at the age of 46, I was awakened, and upon my eyes being opened, I began to see.
How does your calm express itself – in the form of story, art, music, food, etc.?
My calm is probably best expressed in my sharing with others that they are not alone in their struggles, thoughts, or feelings.
Describe a time when you quieted the external noise and pressures and chose to align with your inner voice.
When I was 46 and going through a very rough patch in my marriage, it took a bit of what people would call selfishness on my part. I became my priority. My spiritual, and emotional health needed almost all of my attention. When it’s a marriage situation, some would say you need to work together on that but I needed to find Amy again first.
Did your calm include leaping out of your comfort zone into your learning and growth zones? If so, share more about that experience.
Yes. I listened to the few trusted voices in my life, tried new things and listened for the holy spirit’s direction I read many books, learning more and more about myself and about the direction my life and my thoughts should be going in. I shifted a lot of my old habits and hang ups so that they were no longer tripping me up and keeping me from a more peaceful existence.
How has your language (with self and others) shifted to support the calm you are creating in your life?
My language used to have a real sharp edge to it. I was condescending, trying to lift myself up. I wanted so despair people to see me, to see that I was important, smart, worthy. Now I live every day just trying to be as healthy as I can be, spiritually , emotionally, and physically, so that I can be at my very best for others. When I meet my daily needs with morning prayer, reading, reflection and exercise, I am more at peace. Because of that peace I am better able to listen to others, empathize with them, and reassure them they are not alone. I think it is critical to meet people where they are at and let them know they are worthy and loved!
All my relationships have grown for the better due to the changes that only I made. It really does start with ourselves because as I learned with much difficulty, we are only in control of ourselves and our actions and reactions, no one else’s!
How have your senses offered clues that drew you into your calm?
Over time it was like a veil was lifted from my vision. It really is true that you can see things in a new light. Things and situations I never saw before came into a focus I couldn’t ignore. I really started listening to the little voice in my head, which I truly believe is Gods Holy Spirit. This direction and help I was getting gave me a peaceful calm, I was never meant to do this life alone and all the while I was trying, I was blind and deaf to the one meant to help me.
If your calm was thrust upon you, what did it take to rewrite your story and create a positive experience?
All good calm takes time! Sometimes more time than you think it should. Don’t give up on yourself! You are worth your time!
How does play, celebration, and joy take form within your calm?
Before the calm of my life, celebrating might bring worry of measuring up to the standards and ideas of others. After my calm, I am not concerned with how I may be perceived as much as being concerned how I can be present to the people I am with in the celebration. Being tuned in and present to others can be difficult to achieve, but when it is, what a great gift it is!
What are the benefits of living your calm?
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.
Stories of Midlife Calm
Through sharing, we get to learn from one another and create a new way that supports us.