Thirty years ago, I left the corporate world and broke up with my boyfriend at the same time. Both the career and the relationship started with so much possibility and hope. Having worked 60-hour work weeks for 3 years, I was emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted. My boyfriend was dating other women on the side.
For 25 years I consistently worked for all the things that I believed would lead to a happy life: an education, a career, a marriage and motherhood.
On that bleak evening thirty years ago, I found myself sitting at the Spaghetti Factory with a friend telling her I lost my purpose in life. Suicide was not an option. I had a daughter who was 22 years old, and I couldn’t do that to her, despite the depth of my despair. I had to change. I didn’t know where to begin.
I didn’t know I denied my grief when my husband was killed in action in Vietnam. Mom told me to be strong. I had an unborn baby to consider. When my daughter was born two months after his funeral, I made her the purpose of my life. Every job, every man, every friend had to accept her as well as me.
After the funeral, I got busy creating a future for the two of us. I was a nomad, traveling around in search of the right city, the right man and the right career, dragging my daughter with me without much regard for how the frequent moves were affecting her.
Once I admitted defeat, the path slowly appeared before me, but just one tiny step at a time. I started long-term therapy and joined a 12-step group for addictions. At my top weight of 200 lb. I couldn’t stop eating. My sponsor in my 12 Step program asked me to start writing as a way to work the 12 Steps of Recovery.
Grief Cracked Open
I started meditating and sitting still. In the meditation hall after sitting quietly for 40 minutes, the tears came. The teacher encouraged me to let them flow. I did. Once I stopped overeating, the denied grief cracked open and the thaw began. One thing led to another and the writings I did in my 12 Step Recovery work became a book.
First Book by a Vietnam Widow
That was the beginning of a new life. I received book orders, letters of appreciation, opportunities to speak publicly about my process of coming to terms with my denied grief.
My readers thanked me for breaking the silence. My story helped them with their denied grief about the war and the country that abandoned them and blamed them for the war’s tragic ending.
I imagined a life where I could honor my values and do satisfying work where I deeply connected with others.
Five Years Later
Five years later, I completed my studies and became certified through The Coaches Training Institute. I hung up my shingle as a Certified Life Coach specializing in grief. It took me awhile to discover that my greatest wound was the gift I had to offer.
“Everything has a crack in it.
That’s how the light gets in”Lennard Cohen
Perhaps you have a loss that is unresolved?
If you’d like to explore, feel free to request a free, safe and confidential 20-minute consultation call to see if working together is a good fit. I welcome the opportunity to speak with you.