One of my most potent dreams for humanity is that we become a culture of people who think dealing with ourselves is sexy. That’s why I’ve given myself the job to keep sharing stories of dealing with myself and personal evolution. If we enter more and more such stories into our common culture, we can change how we think, feel, perceive and act.
Like Mastin says, the things that upset you the most are your greatest teachers. We have to learn to look at and process what angers or upsets us in a new way so that we can learn the right lessons and be who we really want to be.
From the annals of my life, here’s one of my stories:
Owning a townhouse in New York City was a dream I’d had for a long time. Will and I were so happy to have found you in our search for contractors, because you were so reputable, so thoughtful and smart, and so willing to renovate for us quickly and so affordably. When the first few snafus happened, I understood. I know timetables change; I know unexpected costs come up. I know you had other jobs and significant personal issues in your life. When my husband pre-paid you so many thousands of dollars, I did go ballistic. I felt we had lost any leverage with you in terms of finishing the renovation on schedule. I mostly raged at him over this. In fact, it got so bad we nearly got a divorce. I was so mad at him for not being able to control you and the finances of this huge risky investment we decided to make. I was just really so scared. So scared it would never get finished, that we’d spend our entire savings and never recover. I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I did a lot of blaming of my husband.
When you disappeared (extradited to Hong Kong? Really? It’s almost believable since we truly could not find you anywhere) I began hating you in addition to my husband. I felt totally abandoned and betrayed. We had two children under the age of four. We’d borrowed from everyone. We were carrying two mortgages now and we were already spending way more than we planned. Now, my husband had to take over being the contractor if we were ever going to have a hope of moving into our townhouse. We had to pay our own money now to the workers, beyond the cost you had estimated, and do everything ourselves, never knowing what you had done with any of our money or how much we’d need to get the project finished. We ended up moving into a shell of a home that was a disaster (since we had to move immediately when we sold our old apartment). We had to live in a construction zone: the heat didn’t work, the stove didn’t work, so many things were ruined out of negligence. Our businesses were put on hold, the kids lived in chaos and our marriage and finances hung by a thread.
We wrote you mean letters, left countless messages, looked for you where you live and cursed you endlessly. I saw red when I thought of you. I played out conversations with you until my head throbbed. My husband bought me a punching bag; I thought of you. To me, this was the worst stress I could imagine and had ever experienced in my life. To be living in such a mess, such uncertainty and to feel robbed of tens of thousands of dollars and what you promised us just seemed so cruel and unfair.
And yet, now, some years later I can’t find my rage for you anymore. Do you know why? Because what you did and didn’t do turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. And now I want to tell you why and thank you.
First of all, the uncertainty and fear that I experienced when you disappeared with our money, was incredibly instructive. If I had not been pushed to an edge, I would not have been so terrible to my husband. If I had not been so terrible, he would not have finally gotten fed up. If he had not gotten fed up, I would never have listened to him and realized I had to CHANGE to be the kind of wife he and I both needed me to be. This change in me is my proudest accomplishment. Because of this trial, this series of major emotional and physical challenges, I had to learn to be my husband’s partner, his teammate. Up until then I must confess, I treated him like he worked for me (and not like a respected employee either) or like he was a competitor from whom I had to protect myself. Needless to say, that was not a sustainable model for a marriage.
Thank you for forcing me to grow up. Thank you for forcing me to be the kind of wife I always wanted to be: one who takes care of my own happiness, one who is a team player and roots for my own husband as much as I root for myself. Thank you for forcing me to learn how to hear, appreciate and support my husband. Blaming him really didn’t feel good. Even blaming you didn’t feel good and that’s why I am so relieved it’s over.
Let me also tell you a crazy realization I had. When all was said and done and the dust had literally settled, the renovation cost was close to the highest bid we had gotten. You low-balled us. I was naive then. I believed what I wanted to believe. I get it now. It’s not uncommon to low-ball to get a job. Perhaps I should have wondered about the discrepancy between your bid and the other reputable contractor, but I didn’t. Why? Because if I had contemplated the true cost of this adventure, I would have chickened out and I didn’t want to chicken out; I wanted my dream house! I had been manifesting it for years and I was attached. I was also attached to not spending our entire savings and so I had to find someone to tell me we could afford it. You were part of my manifestation exactly. Thank you for showing up and lying to us, so I could take the risk and ultimately have my house.
It is amazing to me that I could go from 100% blame and victim mode to 100% ownership of the entire journey that led to me living in my house. I only wish I had gone through the stages faster because a lot of people had to withstand a lot of drama that enrapt me. For a long time, I daydreamed about reaming you when I next saw you, but now I wish you well and daydream about thanking you. I am positive I got so much more out of the experience than you did. I experience the benefits every day: enjoying my roof garden, backyard, spacious sun-filled rooms and sturdier than ever marriage.
The best part is, when I coach people who are in the midst of the biggest trials of their lives, I can positively guarantee them the lesson of their lifetime and undeniable benefits. We go looking for them quickly, too. Thank you for helping me so I can help people transform pain into triumph.
Best wishes to you and yours,
Pssst! Wanna find the twist in your life story that gives you all your power back and gets you more of what you want? Come to the Life Coaching Crash Course.
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Laurie Gerber is President of Handel Group® Life Coaching, an international coaching company, which specializes in teaching individuals to take focused and powerful action in every area of their lives. You can connect with Laurie on Facebook at HG Life Coaching.