About 3 years ago, I began losing my way.
Even as I was finally finding it.
It was summer 2015, and my blog was exploding. Three million people would visit my website in just 3 days while I finished writing my 2nd book in a mountain cabin nestled at the edge of a meadow in middle Idaho. My email list and my social media doubled, quadrupled … blew up. My coaching practice – and my income – jumped exponentially within a few weeks.
I was finally able to afford an exclusive, expensive retreat in the Australian Outback with my own life coach at that time. I could finally afford to study in person with David Deida, the man whose work changed how I see not just relationships, but the world entire.
The professional success I’d dreamed of was finally coalescing around me.
Silvy came to me that summer, too. I found her in a Facebook message while I was at that mountain cabin. In fact, the very night before we first chatted, I sat alone in a steamy hottub sipping champagne, celebrating what was now unfolding. I looked up to the stars and spoke aloud into a crisp night sky my desire – and my readiness – to share this magical life with someone extraordinary. I vowed this would be my last solo adventure without a beloved to share it.
Two months later, Silvy and I finally met in a cafe in Los Angeles, and I was immediately slayed.
Everything I’d ached decades for was coming to me fast.
Soon after, it all began to fall apart.
Just 6 months later, Silvy would break up with me and insist I let her go.
At precisely the same time, the coach I paid over $40,000 to work with – we were also partnering in business and writing a book together – was betraying my trust and abusing my boundaries, repeatedly, in devastating ways. And then she fired me as her client in a bizarre public fit of facebook fury after I failed to perfectly follow some vague guidance she believed she’d given me precisely.
But I was finally realizing how much I’d given my power over to this coach, and how gladly and mercilessly she’d taken it (I can’t tell you how much this painful lesson has informed how I coach my own clients). So I breathed and began letting her go, too.
My life was unraveling as quickly as it had come together.
Here’s the worst part:
During this time, I stopped writing.
I stopped creating.
Even as Silvy and I got back together a few weeks later and our relationship took on an exciting new dimension, which would fuel a new world of insight that could serve my writing and creativity, I was shaken to my core.
I was loathe to ever hurt Silvy (again). She’s far more private than I, and my provocative, tell-all style, which it seemed had brought me so much success, made it challenging to write in ways that would thrill and fulfill me, yet still honor her boundaries. You can’t even imagine what she’s been through to create healthy boundaries for herself; but do so she must, for without ‘em she takes on the whole world’s pain.
So it’s been essential I learn how to honor her boundaries, of course in ways that honor mine, too. (this was a major source of inspiration for our online program, “Boundaries: Relationships Suck Without ‘Em!”)
Also – and I didn’t realize this then – but the success that had suddenly overtaken me in that mountain cabin was also paralyzing me.
The demands of an exploding coaching practice and readership were overwhelming me. I felt enslaved to the insatiable appetite of the social media beast, which my previous business team had created without my permission (because I never wanted it).
I had also become more fearful about writing what my newfound fans wouldn’t want to read. Like every blogger who hunts the sacred white whale of massive readership, I didn’t want to see my swollen email list or bloated social media losing weight, though the weight of it all was crushing my creative spirit.
So I mostly just stopped writing.
I certainly stopped writing what I really wanted to write about.
I stopped doing the art I most loved; giving the gift that had made me so successful, and so deeply fulfilled, in fear of losing fame, fortune, family.
Yet despite having most everything I wanted, I would often feel painfully diminished inside.
My trip to west Ireland in early 2018 was an attempt to get that creative spark back. But like a flaccid garden hose that hasn’t been turned on for some time, I could only sputter and spit out mostly undrinkable brown filth.
But I am finding my groove again.
The universe has been sending me reminders, both subtle and blaring, that I’ve got to focus again on what deeply moves my spirit.
The richness of my life depends on it.
I love Silvy. I love coaching people.
But when I don’t write, I die inside. I may as well put myself back in the military, bound by duty to shut down the uniqueness of my wild spirit.
Shut down, I’m no good to anyone.
Not my family. Not my friends. Not my readers nor my clients, who come to me for support to live powerfully in their own lives and relationships, too.
Certainly not Silvy.
Silvy needs (wants) a man lit up and courageous, not scared and shut down, even if that man by his nature is confronting to her own comfort zone.
So I’m committed to writing again.
Not for social media. Not for business. Not to please some (imagined) “fanbase.” Not for Silvy’s approval, either, though I am now always mindful of her boundaries, and I do my best to make sincere repairs when I inevitably violate them.
I write because it is my art, my joy, and because I love serving to awaken and inspire any who read my words, in my unattached hope that they/you will get something profound – some insight, lesson, new practice – that can forever change your life for the massive better.
I commit to writing again because I find a simple, genuine bliss in clicking “publish” after an intense labor of hours, days – sometimes weeks even months – spent crafting carefully chosen words into sentences, paragraphs, pages that tell my stories, spill my secrets, reveal my maps to others, perhaps you, may then move through life with a bit more courage and confidence no matter how ugly or uncertain things may appear, because through my art, your eyes, your heart, are now more keenly attuned to the immense beauty always surrounding you.
Truth: It never matters to me whether 1 or 1 million people read what I write.
Oh, perhaps it matters to my bank account. But it never matters to my bones.
I find I can always die well at the end of any day I committed to writing out my heart, knowing I gave my gift to the world, regardless what she does with it.
Thus, day by day, I courageously find my way, coming ever more alive in the finding of it.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
~ Ernest Hemingway~
What is the gift you know in your bones you must give, regardless what the world does with it?
What happens for you when you don’t give it?
What happens when you do?
Please share your experience in the comments below. (I read ’em all)