This morning I volunteered at Inn From The Cold. The Inn is a church based program that houses homeless families every night. Approximately 75 city churches participate with any one of 3 churches housing from 15 to 25 people a night.
It is not an easy go for families. Small children sleep in different beds every night. Single women, husbands and wives cart their family belongings with them every day to a different church, a different quadrant of the city, a different bed. While buses take them to their night's destination and return them to the downtown in the morning, their children never have stability, consistency, a place to call home.
It's not an easy go.
Volunteering at The Inn is good for my soul. It reminds me that I am fortunate, blessed, lucky. I have a roof over my head. A job I love. Friends and family. Stability.
It wasn't always so.
When I was with the abuser, I wound up homeless. Everything I owned was lost. My pride, my sense of purpose, my belief in me decimated. Next Monday, May 21 will mark 4 years since his arrest and my release from the 'valley of the walking dead'. What a difference time makes.
On that morning of my release I sat on the bed in our rented room and cried. I was catatonic. Hysterical. Lost and alone. I didn't know what to do, who to call, where to go. I had no money, no direction, no prospects.
I called my sister who lived an hour away. Like my daughters and friends, my sisters and mother did not know where I was for those final 3 months of that journey. They only knew I'd disappeared with 'my lover'. For the few months before I vanished with him, they had watched in silent horror as I emotionally erased myself from their lives. It was a horrendous experience for everyone.
Yet, 4 years later we are together again. My life is richer, more fulfilling, more complete. Not because of that experience, but rather, because of the steps I took after it ended. That experience, however, was the catalyst for my growth today.
Years ago a friend jokingly said, "Louise, you're an experiential learner. You've got to do to learn."
Shortly after my release from that relationship, I asked my therapist why I had put myself through it.
She asked me, "Are you unhappy with where you are today?"
"No," I replied. "I love my life today. It's where I chose to be. It may not be perfect but it's mine."
It was far from perfect! I was living 1,000 miles away from my daughters. I had not yet journeyed back to this city where it had all begun. I still didn't have a home of my own and I still had lots of triggers and issues around the abuser who was still in prison. Nonetheless, I felt my life was perfect for me. I was healing, doing the work I needed to do to rebuild -- and I was treating myself with tender loving care.
My therapist replied. "There were a thousand routes you could have taken to get where you are today. It isn't the route you took to get here that's making the difference in your life, it's what you're doing on your path today."
I am an experiential learner -- using my gifts, talents, wisdom to create the life of my dreams so that I no longer have to live the nightmare of sleep walking through my days.
Life is filled with ups and downs. Highs and lows. Backwards and forwards. Ins and outs.
Life is a journey. Regardless of how dark the night, how stormy the weather, how treachorous the road, I determine my journey. I determine the tempo of my steps, the lightness of my footprints.
I also determine what I drag with me on my path.
Letting go of the horror of that journey into abuse, and tapping into my spirit has given me the courage and the strength to step freely into today. I believe that in today I am my best me when I ardently and passionately embrace all there is about me as I surrender and fall in love.
In my history I have often faced into the wind and screamed at the fates, fortunes, destiny. I have often bemoaned what was happening 'to me' and not accepted responsibility for what I was doing.
That journey enlightened me. I was a passive voyageur in my own life. Quietly blaming life for my circumstances rather than taking responsibility for my life.
Today, I am an active participant. Eagerly and passionately squeezing every ounce of joy out of the moment, draining every day of all my life has to offer.
Where are you? Passionate in your desire to step fearlessly into the void, willingly surrendering ego to fall in love?
You determine the tempo of your journey. Be spirited. Be active. Be committed to passionately embrace who you are in this moment, and let your wings unfurl so that you can fly freely into this moment of being all that you are meant to be.