You never know when light will shine into your life and alter your course.
I can remember being in my early twenties, living in the city and coming home after another long night out. An afternoon bike ride had turned into meeting friends for dinner, which turned into stopping by our favorite neighborhood bar, which turned into…………coming home at 6am.
This was just one in a series of indulgent nights.
My boyfriend had suggested we “take a break,” and I reacted by entering a familiar frenzy of partying and obsessing over my looks.
Two main agendas ran everything I did: 1) Win back my boyfriend’s attention and try to reverse the inevitable decline of another failed relationship, or 2) Catch the interest of someone new who could sweep me off my miserable feet.
As though in a trance, I was running from one beautification ritual to another (gym, shopping mall, shower), and then off I’d go to the next social event.
It was in the middle of this whirlwind, desperately trying to run away from my pain, that I came home one particular morning and something unusual happened.
I opened the door to my condo and just like every other time I came home, my two dogs were eagerly waiting for me.
But on this day, something was different.
I looked at one of my dogs, Miles. And somehow, I saw him – truly saw him, beyond the cute, furry face.
He was completely stressed out!
He was worried. He was hungry. He hadn’t been let out to use the bathroom in way too long.
His days (and nights) were totally unpredictable and chaotic.
And you know what? Mine were too! This crazy behavior of mine was a pattern.
The recent years had been filled with heartbreak. And I acted the same way every time: late nights out, spending money I didn’t have on clothes and drinks, obsessing over what my latest ex was doing, and not being present for my own life – not even showing up responsibly for the simple everyday needs of my sweet dogs.
So on this day, when Miles looked up at me with stress and panic all over his face, I could see how I’d been abandoning not only him and his sister, but so much that truly mattered to me.
I kept trying to get other people to stay with me, yet I wasn’t even willing to stay with myself.
It was ironic, really. The extent to which I tried to avoid feeling unwanted, rejected, and unlovable was similar to how I dismissed, rejected and withheld love from myself.
This was a turning point.
I decided to shift my focus away from men who obviously didn’t want to be with me and from “friends” who only wanted someone to party with, and I began pouring my presence into my own life.
It wasn’t easy. There were plenty of messes waiting for me – emotional wounds, financial problems, and so on.
But I met them and dealt with each one. And it was worth it.
It’s still worth it.
Planting my two feet firmly in the middle of my own life has become my single most radical and important act of self-care.
One of my mentors referred to such a practice as, “staying home.”
She meant that when we “stay home,” we consciously withdraw from trying to manage the world outside us – and instead, we listen deeply and attend to what’s happening inside.
As we embark on this new calendar year together, I have an invitation for you:
In any given moment, check in with yourself and take the information you receive seriously.
What is your tender heart telling you? What is your physical body telling you? What is your home reflecting? What do you see when you really look at the beings who are most precious to you?
If you’re not there to notice, you’ll never know what truly warrants your attention.
We all leave ourselves occasionally, but each time we do, we’ll have a sense of being off-balance and living at the whim of other people’s agendas (which is what winds up happening).
The more our own presence flows through our world, the more we’ll see reflections of stability, love, abundance and peace looking back.
I’d love to hear your stories too! Have you gone through a time when you’ve been totally disconnected from yourself? How did you, and how do you continue to, rebuild that connection? Leave me a comment and share!