Choosing Joy after Surviving Trauma
I'm on the other side of the podcast microphone this week! My lovely friend and mentor Lisa Wynn invited me to be on The Legacy Creation Podcast talking all about moving through traumatic situations and where we can go once we're on the other side. One of the questions she asked me (spoiler alert) was about the moments that helped me start making changes in my life. I thought I'd elaborate on that story a bit more for you lovely people here...
Every time you hit a certain point of pain, it’s a beginning. Anything less and it’s bearable, but then there’s a specific moment when you just think “I can’t do this anymore” and you change. That moment of choice - choosing to make big shifts in my life - was mostly prompted by Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and a very complicated sci-fi film. If you haven’t seen Arrival, don't worry! It’s pretty much one of those "aliens arrive, Amy Adams does something awesome, tension builds and endings happen" kinda films. The plot isn’t the important part in terms of this story.
Towards the end of the film, Amy Adams turned to me and asked me the most important question of my life. (Strictly speaking, she asked Jeremy Renner, but I'm pretty sure she was talking directly to me!) She said: “if you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?”
And here’s the thing. I could see my life from start to right then in that movie theatre in 2016. I thought to myself, I’m not changing anything - that would be exceptionally painful and really, things are already pretty shitty! I’ll keep silent and keep taking life one (rubbish) day at a time. Question answered.
Only Jeremy Renner had an answer of his own: “Maybe I’d say what I feel more often”. Terrible idea Jeremy! Was he not listening to me about the pain that would result? Put your head in the sand, mate - it’s safer in there.
Amy Adams, incomparable badass that she is, did the one thing I had been avoiding doing for about three years. She looked into the future. She saw unimaginably difficult and painful things in store, but she also saw the shining moments of wonder and joy. She saw what it would mean to live, not just exist. And she made a decision.
I came out of that cinema in a bit of a daze. It felt I left some version of me behind in the darkness and was emerging into a whole new reality that was full of potential. Whether the filmmakers intended this or not, I had a brand new understanding of life. I knew then that to get to the moments of joy, you absolutely have to step towards the transformation, no matter how huge it seems. It might hurt like hell (and equally, it might not...) but it will be so worth it.
Five days later, I asked my husband for a divorce.
Five years later, I am living a life of freedom and joy.
I had no idea what those five years would look like. Frankly, if anyone had tried to tell me what was in store for the world, let alone for me, I'd have laughed them out of the room. A global pandemic?! Nonsense!
Except, that's what we've all lived through. Pretty much everyone I know has been affected emotionally by the last nineteen months - the losses, stresses, grief, frustration and changes have left their mark on us. As Lisa says in the podcast, it's been a form of trauma in and of itself. The world is opening up again, and a lot of us are wondering what comes next.
When I set up my Facebook group 'Port in the Storm' on the 17th of March in 2020 - just a few weeks into the pandemic - I wanted to provide somewhere safe for women and nonbinary people to find support, shelter and a community based on love. I'm incredibly proud of what the group has come to stand for, and the support that has been willingly shared by all involved. We held the space for each other and have survived some pretty unthinkable times together. Go us!
Now, I think the time is coming for us to move on from seeking shelter and focus on finding our path to joy.
I shared Lauren Krouse's incredible article about survivor joy on my socials the other day - partly because I shared one of my stories for the piece, but mostly because it needs to be spotlighted. As Amy Adams knew, the path onwards takes us to joy, in both little moments and in large achievements. It's what makes the difference between existing and living. Between surviving and shining.
That's the space I want to spend my time in now. You lovely people have proven yourselves - survivors of 100% of the storms life has thrown at you - and I believe that it's time for you to find some joy. I'm going to be rolling out a series of new programmes, posts, and online offerings over the upcoming weeks and months, all focused on creating the joyful, shiny lives you deserve. I'm even going to be opening up my list for some new one-to-one coaching clients.
What about me?
Are you are reading this and thinking "I would LOVE more joy, but I don't have a bloody clue how to get it"? You might know what you want to change, or just know that life could be more joyful than where you're at now. You might not have any idea where to even start looking, just a deep longing. Wherever you're at right now is the perfect place to start.
The great thing about this journey is that we can create the path together. Because that thing that needs to change - the thing that will open up your path to joy - is not set in stone. Your future is yours to write. The shining moments of wonder and joy are waiting...