There is a road I travelled daily for years, an old back road, worn by consistent use and rough Maine winters. Seemed like every day a new pothole would open up that threatened to blow my tires and send me careening off the road. It had beautiful moments though, becoming tree lined with a canopy of green leaves for about a mile, and when the sun shined through the leaves, one could almost forget about how rough and bumpy the ride was. That was until you drove straight into the next pothole which snapped you back to reality pretty effectively.
Over the years it had been patched here and there, minor repairs to get it through a little longer. No real work had been done to it though and thus, it got worse and worse. Then, a particularly bad storm rendered it completely impassable. It had to be taken care of because it had become completely and utterly broken.
Ever heard the one about the road of life? I think this one was mine.
I remember driving down this road and thinking to myself how clearly it reflected my life. Sudden painful potholes and rough driving, broken up by too short stretches of peaceful beauty. Back then, I never knew on any given day what I would find in my life or on that road. It was stressful. It was painful. Like the road, the only repairs I willingly made to me or my life were only surface deep. Just enough to make it through the day, the moment, the crisis of the day - without completely losing my mind or shattering into a million pieces.
Then - like the road - everything fell apart and I was forced to do the work.
Driving the completed road for the first time, no longer having to navigate the multitude of potholes, I saw what I had been missing for all those years – there was way more beautiful parts than I had ever noticed. The new construction hadn’t changed the landscape but it had alleviated the need to focus on all the rough patches, thus, giving me a chance to look around and actually see things as they had been all along. Beautiful.
Life is like that.
For so long we have to focus on the broken, on the hurt and pain we are going through – we fail to see any beauty in our lives. When it all falls apart and we find ourselves at the crossroads of - do we rebuild or do we just give it all up – we lack the strength to see our world for how it is, focusing only on how it was and how bad we feel inside. We only see the ugly.
We need time to heal. We need time to rebuild. We need time to shift our perspective. We dig deep and slowly begin the process of making new roads to where we want to be. If you’re like me – you had no idea where the new road would lead, knowing only that it needed to be built and built right – no shortcuts. One lesson many of us will not appreciate at first, so focused what we need to do, is that our healing is taking place throughout all of it. We get caught up in the seemingly insurmountable task ahead of us and when we don’t get to see immediate, tangible results – we begin to feel like we are just going in circles and not getting any further ahead. The effects of your work are there though, only most fail to recognize the changes within as they begin to unfold.
I’ve gotten so used to handling the new construction of my life – I failed to see it come to completion. It was only recently I started to notice the subtle changes inside my soul. I was seeing beauty in new places, feeling love and openness like never before, laughing and being silly for no apparent reason. But the biggest, most profound change - I felt settled inside of myself. This sudden knowledge is what got through to me. I was no longer faking confident – I was confident. I wasn’t holding any part of myself back any longer. I was all in and no longer cared about those who couldn’t deal with it. I never even realized how much I held back, not only from the world, but from myself, as well. It took an out-of-the-blue inner flash of self-insight to realize that my new road of life has been finished for a while and now I needed to see where it would lead me to. What new adventure would I take with this new found freedom I felt? Finally being free of the past, of all the shit that has happened, is liberating.
The timing of the road and my life falling irrevocable apart was uncanny. I would drive by construction workers removing huge chunks of broken pavement, as I was removing huge chunks of what was broken in my world and found myself wondering what we would find underneath it all. Was it even savable? Was it worth it? There are millions of roads in the world, why fix this one?
But I, as those workers, continued on each day. Removing the broken, finding the solid ground underneath and working it until it was ready to rebuild on. It was back breaking, soul shaking and earth shattering work. Their arms and my heart ached at the end of every single day. Yet we continued, wearily making slow progress. Days would come when we seemed to making zero progress and so we began to question ourselves. Would the changes we were making hold? Would they be strong enough to handle everything? Would the improvements help? Would we ever complete the work? As time stretched on, day after day, it seemed like we were no further ahead than the day we started.
It was slow going, for me and the road. It became routine. I often wished that I could see the same tangible results of my hard work that the construction workers could when each stage of their work was completed. They knew they were making progress because the results were right in front of them. Me, not so much. I thought I was doing okay. Hoped I was. I was doing what I needed to. I was facing it all. I just wished I would see the results of all I had done.
It went on like this for a long, long time.
Then one morning - I came around the corner leading to the road and there wasn't a traffic cone, construction worker or bright orange sign to be seen. It was done - just like that. No fanfare, no congratulations or big announcements. Just complete, whole again. A carefully reconstructed road that could now take me anywhere I wanted to go. A starting point to any direction in life I chose to take.
I highly recommend it.
Don’t get so caught up in healing, you fail to see your progress. Feel better because you are doing better. Just because there wasn't a monumental celebration, doesn’t mean you aren’t there. These celebrations are inside of our soul. No one else can see them. It’s looking at your reflection and seeing that spark fire. It’s not reacting the same old way when something that used to trigger you- suddenly doesn’t any more. It is feeling in your gut the last tethers to the past break free and what held you down for so long is now a part of the new pavement on the road to the next stage of your life.
It’s all of a sudden turning a random corner and seeing yourself, you newly reconstruction and healed self, for the first time. It’s like being reborn. You stretch your muscles, stretch your soul and you just feel it inside. Something is different. The scenery hasn’t changed. You have.
The road of life may always be under construction but, then again, so are we. Only this time we are building on a brand new, solid foundation that we made happen by doing what we had to do in order to heal. Feel that power inside your belly. You made this happen. You got yourself to here. Your starting point. Now get out there and see where you road takes you.
Be brave. Be adventurous. Be ALL in.
The road of life may always be under construction but, then again, so are we. Only this time we are building on a brand new, solid foundation that we made happen by doing what we had to do in order to heal.
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