I wrote the following post a couple days ago on the plane ride back from New York City.
When my husband invited me to tag along with him for a business trip to New York, I jumped at the chance, knowing it would do me some good. Rick travels a lot for his job and I’m often left to manage the kids and household for days at a time. By the time he returns home, I usually hit a virtual wall of exhaustion, from which takes me a day or two to recover.
So this time, I welcomed the opportunity to escape with him to NYC, a city I’ve visited several times and grown to appreciate and love.
The plan was this: he would go to his client meetings and I would, well, write. So for a day or so, I envisioned myself working on final edits for Simon & Schuster, the publisher who gave me one of the best rejection letters ever for Little 15:
‘This is a well-written, character-driven narrative that really sucked me in … Ms. Saye is a talented writer and she has done a wonderful job capturing the voice of her teenage protagonist … but I worry that I would be unable to make this stand out on the shelves …” ~December 28, 2008
Forget the last part; I like focusing on “well-written, character-driven narrative that really sucked me in” – and the fact that an executive editorial director from one of the largest publishers in the world, considers me “a talented writer.”
Recalling these words and reminding myself of the writer I am and the writer whom I’ve yet to become, I thumbed through edits on my next novel from my hotel room perched high above the beating heart of Time Square. From time to time, I would look out the window down into the circulatory system of cars, streets and people moving below me – a physical world reality that keeps many of us locked in our own minds and agendas, distracted from the path and learnings that each of our soul’s seek. I recently read in a spiritual psychology book that we are not humans with souls, but souls making our way through a human existence. This makes perfect sense to me, reflecting back on the lessons I’ve experienced in life and the ones I’ve yet to encounter. Each one of the those people walking briskly below me – the bankers, the executives, the police officers, the street vendors, the tourists – is a soul with a divine purpose in life. What is my purpose? To write and encourage other people to write and/or follow their dreams. To inspire clarity and peace in myself and in others – and to remind my children and those around me that each one of us is a beautiful, wonderful child of God.
Before I can serve as a beacon of light for others, I must first serve as one for myself, letting go of any traces of guilt or self-loathing, on this, my journey toward spiritual awareness and fullness of life.
I almost didn’t go on this trip. In fact, just last week, as I sat in my therapist’s office, I ticked off the reasons why I shouldn’t go, on this a mere two-and a half-day getaway with my husband. She cocked her head to the side and looked at me as if I had lost my marbles (ironic, isn’t it?), all the while listening to me trying to justify why now, two months after I committed myself to the trip, I should renege on our plans.
Me: Rick invited me to go with him to New York and now I feel like I shouldn’t go.
Therapist: And explain to me why you wouldn’t want to go with your husband to New York?
Me: Oh, believe me, I definitely want to go. I’m just overwhelmed with everything we have to do for us both to get there. We’ll have to jump through hoops – flaming ones.
Therapist: Ok, Like what?
Me: Well, like having to do three mountains of laundry, get all the kids’ stuff ready and organized for my in-laws, plan meals, pack …
Therapist: But don’t you and Rick always do that stuff together?
Me: Well, yes.
Therapist: OK, so that’s taken care of. Next?
Me: What if something happens to us … I’m worried for our boys. I mean, I know Rick and I’ve traveled alone together multiple times, but this time my fear and guilt are more pronounced for some reason.
Therapist: Guilt of what?
Me: Going off, leaving my kids and enjoying myself.
Therapist: Well, we both know that’s ridiculous. You need to focus on your husband. And it’ll be good for your kids to spend time with their grandparents.
Therapist: Nothing’s going to happen to you, Stephanie.
Me: How can you be so sure?
Therapist: Because God isn’t done with you yet. Why else would He be making you work so hard?
For several years now, my therapist, whom I refer to as my life coach, has helped me work through some pretty heavy emotional baggage from childhood that’s carried over into my adult life. With a family history of depression, alcoholism and codependency, I’ve had my work cut out trying to create healthier patterns for myself and my family – especially for my sons. What I used to consider as heavy crosses I must bear, I now see as opportunities and lessons to grow myself spiritually, for isn’t that why we are all here?
A large part of my therapy work has focused on letting go of guilt and fear – and relying instead on my faith in God’s love and His plans for my life. So let’s drop back in again on last week’s therapy session:
Me: You’re right. I’m not even close to being done. I still have so much to learn and share with others … Are you having that feeling in your gut?
Therapist: *places hand on belly* Oh yes, it’s strong. You ain’t going nowhere.
My therapist’s sixth sense turned out to be right, as it usually always does. Yet deep down I felt it, too. And now as our plane touches down on the tarmac, I feel silly that I ever doubted my return – or felt guilty for even going. If I would have backed out, then I wouldn’t have walked hand in hand with my husband through Central Park, wouldn’t have shared a moment of silence with him at the 911 memorial at Ground Zero, or navigated the subway system as we made our way back uptown to Chelsea, where we stumbled on a quaint Italian restaurant for a romantic dinner for two.
Importantly though, our sons wouldn’t have gotten to see their mommy and daddy taking time out for each other, which is one of the greatest gifts (besides the Lego sets we brought back) that we could give to them – and to ourselves.