Today’s guest contributor is Jennifer Boykin, the Creative Visionary and Chief Rabble Rouser behind the midlife reinvention movement Life After Tampons. She also speaks, teaches, and writes about adversity, triumph, and Women Who Rise and is the author of Breakthrough: How to Get on With It When You Can’t Get Over It (download it free, btw).
I make trouble for a living, and while I love my job very much, I don’t think I was supposed to be so impossibly good at it. In fact, I was raised to be the “good one.” My brother had the opposite role nailed down.
But then, life had its way with me. A bunch of “unfair” stuff happened, including the death of my first child, and all my goody, goody-ness evaporated in a flash. All of a sudden, I was introduced to my beautiful ROAR.
I have a very scary ROAR, as it turns out, and, at first, I didn’t know how to use my roar rightly. I had been the “good one” for too long. I had no ability at all to finesse my new skill.
Here are two horrible examples:
Once, shortly after my daughter died, I was pushing my grocery cart up to the checkout line, and this other lady cut in front of me. I just glared at her and told her she’d better “watch out” because “I was the mother of a dead baby and I wasn’t in very good humor.”
Another time, I’m really ashamed to admit, I was truly unkind. I was waiting patiently like a “good girl” for another driver to leave her parking space so I could take it. Just as the other driver left, someone else swooped in from the opposite direction, looked me straight in the eye, and grabbed the space before me! Oh, I was FURIOUS that time. I sped to the back of the lot, parked my car, and SPRINTED to catch up with the offending woman.
Here’s the part I’m none too proud of: she was a larger woman, and I looked at her and said, “You know, it would have been better exercise if you had parked back there.”
Dear Woman in the Parking Lot, wherever you are, I’m so very sorry.
Anyway, this other woman was much more kinder than I. She looked at me lovingly and said, “You know, you don’t have to get so angry.”
But, you see, I did. After a lifetime of choking back the “bad emotions,” I was suddenly unable to do it anymore. My daughter’s death had killed all of my “edit neurons,” those built-in social inhibitors that keep you from making an ass of yourself.
Eventually, I stumbled my way into a skillset that allowed me to use my beautiful anger in a way that served me and others, but, it took lots of trial and error, along with copious amends.
Years later, I happily make trouble for a living. I work with women who want to change their lives and, almost always, we begin with shaking things up.
There’s something very daunting about a woman whose “not going to take it anymore,” but the truth is, the reason we suffer is because we allow it.
Oh, I know I’ve probably ticked quite a few people off with that statement, but hear me out. I’m not saying you CAUSED every bad thing that ever happened to you. But what I am suggesting is the pain that lingers in your life is there by your own invitation.
In other words, while you’re not responsible for everything that happens in your life, you ARE responsible for everything you allow to STAY.
And, believe me love, you WANT to be responsible for this part.
Here’s why: to the exact extent that you allow yourself to get mired in sorrow, anger, self-pity, and the like – to just that extent, you squander your ability to create anything new or magical or healing or transformative.
Hope abounds in the place hollowed out by the painful spots in your life. You may not see it just now. But trust me, it’s there.
Your beautiful anger is the booster pack that will rocket you out of self-pity.
Don’t worry if it all sounds too much like posies and unicorns. You can love and laugh your beautiful cynical mind into compliance.
Begin with the insurrection. Begin with the fury. But don’t ACT on it. You don’t need to swallow your anger, but you ought not spew it either.
Instead, allow it to fuel your uprising. In this case, the “system” you want to overthrow is the one you created haphazardly to deflect the pain of things that didn’t go your way.
Let go of all that. Put your attention on what is right in your life. Allow that to be the foundation upon which you build this next amazing part of your journey. And look for ways to transform your story of pain and loss and disappointment in a way that serves others.
Each of us has the potential to be a powerful catalyst for good and change in our own lives as well as the lives of countless others. Think I’m wrong about that? Well, this piece began with two 30-second exchanges with complete strangers – both of who taught me something very powerful about myself.
Imagine what you can do with and for the people who “really matter.”
Jennifer Boykin, the Creative Visionary and Chief Rabble Rouser behind the midlife reinvention movement Life After Tampons, happily makes trouble for a living. She also speaks, teaches, and writes about adversity, triumph, and Women Who Rise. Please visit her site to download your copy of Breakthrough: How to Get on With It When You Can’t Get Over It. It’s free. Because you’re priceless.
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