When Michele sent me a new post to read this weekend, she was so excited to be coming back to the blog. Over the last year or more, she has transformed her life – new job, new status, new path. I am so proud of her.
I wasn’t so sure, though, that I wanted to jump back in. We both write for a living and started Women Overboard because we wanted to throw off our corporate masters and write about what mattered to us. But by this time a year ago, I felt that I was just repeating myself. Since I felt trapped in my life, this made sense: despite my vows that things would change – that I would change them – I never did. I started to feel, frankly, like a bit of a fraud.
But I have a competitive streak. The thought of handing the blog over to Michele, as much as I love her, has been gnawing at me for the last couple of days. It’s our blog. And it wasn’t that I had nothing new to say: My life, too, has taken a 180. From the outside, you’d never know it: I’m still at the same job, at the same company, in the same house, and yes, I’m still single.
So what’s different? I am standing in the same place, but I live in an entirely new landscape. Whereas before I saw nothing but walls, now I see footholds. I have rekindled my dormant creativity. I am increasingly living my own life, instead of someone else’s. Most important, after living for decades in the reflection of women who found me wanting, I finally believe that I am enough just as I am: worthy of success, worthy of praise, worthy of love.
I’ve got a 10-year post-divorce head start on Michele, and I’ve certainly had help. At work, a new boss and new leaders have been champions who offered their full-throated support while challenging me to do more. I’ve had a couple of wonderful therapists, and my friends are amazing. But I’ve done a lot of hard work on my own, and as my childhood scars and years of failed relationships and professional bullying have slowly dissipated, they have re-formed into something completely new: a growing confidence, first attempts to set boundaries, and a slow shedding of the fears that hobbled my everyday existence and kept me from living up to my potential. I’m still a work in progress, and I hope there’s always room for growth.
Years ago, a fellow traveler in a therapy group stopped me one day as we were leaving a meeting. “I don’t get it,” she said. “I keep telling my husband that there’s this woman in our group who’s funny, confident, smart and seems so together that I can’t figure out why she’s in therapy.” It took a few moments to realize that she was talking about me. It took 25 more years to understand her confusion. It remains to be seen whether I can keep finding something new to write about.