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The Courage To Love Myself Anyway

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

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A guest post from Catherine Just

Last February, I asked my husband for a divorce. From the outside it seemed the craziest thing I could do. He’s loyal, generous, funny, talented, honest, drama and chaos free. We have the same sense of humor, same interests, same lifestyle. He has a great paying, very secure career. He’s an amazing dad to our son Max. Yet even with all of these checks down the list there was a whisper in my being.

This whisper had been there for a while.

Like a little nudge that something was stirring inside of me. There were outward signs of my health deteriorating. I was diagnosed with Lupus, I was having digestive issues almost constantly and lower back pain that at times required a chiropractor three times a week just to be able to walk. I was isolating myself from friends more and more. I had all but stopped leaving the house in the winter due to panic attacks around driving in snow, ice, rain, fog, high winds or the slightest possibility of any of these things.

I was 45 years old and my life was all about managing symptoms. But what were these symptoms of?

There really wasn’t anything wrong on the outside of our marriage, but my being was telling me a very different story.

What I realized was that I picked my husband, but I hadn’t picked myself.

The divorce was final on December 7th.

Now I’m faced, even more profoundly, with this question: How much do I really value myself? Can I make every single decision for my 6 year old son Max (who happens to have Down syndrome), for myself and for my photography career? Can I be in charge of the household, Max’s safety, my next marketing plan and juggle it all? Can I be financially independent and thrive on my own? Can I provide my son with everything he needs to live his best life ever? Will I do everything I can to provide myself with those things as well? Who and where do I turn when I face anxiety, panic or indecision?

I can reach out to my friends when I need them. But what I’m saying here is about my self-confidence in the face of re-building my life. My friends aren’t in this version of life, only I am. So while they can counsel me and support me, ultimately it’s ALL up to me.

Or is it?

This time in my life has forced me to face myself like I did 27 years ago when I checked myself into drug treatment. No, I didn’t relapse. What I mean is, I’m learning how to live in an entirely new way in the world and rely on myself in a way that I hadn’t ever before. I’ve never had to raise a child on my own. (Yes my ex-husband is around, but he lives in another state so the day to day “everythings” are taken care of by me.)

I’m seeing how much courage it takes to go it alone. I’m realizing how important it is to have an entire encyclopedia of tools in my back pocket to make it through the tough days. The courage comes in when I actually take the action to USE those tools.

I can run around and around trying to avoid myself in a variety of ways. The tools are designed to bring me back to myself and to the truth of who I am. I avoid them like the plague until the pain is so great that I’m willing to do almost anything. I used to sit and meditate for 2 hours without moving. Now I’m getting back to a 3 minute meditation practice whenever I can slide that into my day and have avoided the ego in me that loves to suffer.

Picking up the phone and reaching out when I’m feeling a lot of emotions and having a hard day. Allowing myself to be seen in those rough days. Showing up and being devoted to my commitments. Doing contrary actions than I’m used to because the way I was doing something was clearly not working and causing me to suffer. Creating a structure for myself because I thrive with a map and a compass. I have spiritual teachers on speed dial, a stock pile of soothing teas, incense, music, books, magazines that soothe my soul.

I picked a home to move into where Max has room to grow, run and explore. The home is also my sanctuary and I needed it after a rough year of mediation, lawyers and divorce situations that feel more like a movie than real life.

I’m seeing that courage isn’t really about making that one big decision to get a divorce or being a single parent. It’s about the moments of self-doubt and having the courage to love myself anyway.

It’s about the small actions I can take to shift my attention and perception about the situation so that I’m not suffering so much. It’s about celebrating my life and how incredible it is that I get to take care of Max full time and have a creative career that lets me work from home. It’s about listening to the whispers and taking action. It’s about becoming more and more present to this moment in the face of the stuff that feels easier to hide from. But in the long run, it’s not the easy way is it. It’s just a detour that ends up taking you right back to the origin of the issue.

So I get overwhelmed, I get scared, I have a lot of dark emotions I’m processing. I also get excited, inspired, filled with joy and have explosions of love bursting from every pore. Life is like that. External experiences are happening all of the time.

How am I going to face them? And will I have the courage to love myself no matter what I choose to do?

Catherine Just - Marianne ElliottMeet Catherine. 

Catherine Just is an award winning photographer, artist & mentor. She’s been called a Modern day Shaman & a true artist. Her photographs have been published on the cover of National Geographic, Oprah.com, Photo District NewsThe Desire Map by Danielle Laporte, on the websites of Danielle LaporteTara GentileKate NorthrupMiguel Ruiz & dozens of websites & blogs.

She shows her fine art photography in galleries, offers mentoring, online courses, & photographs leaders who respond to her fine art aesthetic.


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One Response to "The Courage To Love Myself Anyway"

  1. Paola says:

    Catherine your words were so inspiring to me! Thank you!

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