The Irony of Isolation

It’s crazy that it took me nearly losing my life to realize how badly I wanted to live it. For years I slept my life away as a way of numbing the pain and not having to deal with the challenges I faced. Yet one day, when I was prepared to end it (only to have the plan to fall through) I realized that’s not what I wanted at all. What I wanted was to do more than just survive my life. I couldn’t understand why I was so unhappy. I had all of the pieces to the puzzle of a happy life but I wasn’t. It took a lot of self-reflection for me to realize that the issues were within. In my case in my mind. A negative place that focused on all that was wrong in the world within and around me. I could find a problem for every solution. I would focus on the dark cloud instead of the silver lining. I could find an excuse to outweigh any reason.

I held onto the pain and baggage of my past almost like a trophy. I had no idea how big my part was in prolonging that pain. It wasn’t until I began the practice of deep self-reflection that I realized how badly I needed to change. The desire for change came from a place of sheer desperation. From the fear of not making it to see 30 if I continued down the path I was on. So I did everything I could to retrain my brain. To reroute my train of thought. To redefine who I was. It was interesting because, after years of making choices based on who I thought I was supposed to be, who others expected me to be, and who society showed me I should be, I had absolutely no idea who I was anymore.

I went back to one of my first loves to try to discover who I was, writing- journaling to be precise. In the safety and comfort of my pages, I was able to be myself. I was able to express myself without a filter. I was able to speak my mind and open my heart. It was through months and years’ worth of journaling that I was able to heal the hurt from the past and forgive myself for my part in prolonging it. While writing did a great deal to help me it was taking the next step of speaking it that had the most profound effect.

By finally having the courage to speak up, shame no longer controlled me. By recognizing my part out loud, I no longer felt helpless. I was able to give myself the time I needed to find myself. By finding myself I was able to repair relationships I’d long damaged. I was able to get rid of the pieces of the mass produced puzzle of a happy life and make my own. I was able to discover who I was and what I wanted in life. It’s not something that happened overnight but over time, I was able to connect with who I was at heart.

It had been a long time since I remembered what it felt like to be myself. I began to tap into old passions, hobbies, and dreams. Some I wasn’t interested in picking up where I’d left off and others I couldn’t imagine how I had ever left them behind to begin with. Life took on a whole new meaning. I had so many things to look forward to. I stopped sleeping my life away and started looking forward to each day. Instead of getting up at the last possible minute, I got up early and went for hikes with my dogs. I started seeking new opportunities to experience life. I stopped focusing on all that was wrong and negative and started focusing on what I could be grateful for and how I could make a difference.

The more things I pursued, the better I got to know myself. The more comfortable I became within myself, the more my life reflected it. I no longer found myself taking things on for the sake of doing so. I ended long-term commitments that no longer held meaning in my life. I stopped saying yes to things I didn’t want or mean. I stopped looking for outside sources of validation. I started paying attention to how I felt about things and going with my gut and following my heart.

Those of you who have been on this journey with me for the past two years know me for the person I’ve grown to be. You know me for who I’ve become after putting myself back together after my breakdown. While that feels like it was another lifetime ago, I never want to forget where I came from. If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that isolation feels like you’re dying a slow death. When I was isolated in my pain I felt misunderstood and unloveable. I think it’s important to share how I got here and not just where I am. The journey here hasn’t been an easy one as I’m sure yours hasn’t been either. My life isn’t perfect and I still have plenty I could choose to complain about but I wasted enough of my life complaining.

If my words are meant to reach anyone, my intention is that they reach the person who needs to read them most in this moment. That person who needs to know they aren’t alone. That no matter what set of circumstances drove us to feel that same pain, don’t get caught up in the details. Don’t let your brain trick you into thinking no one can understand how you feel. The reality is our experience shapes our perception but the feeling of isolation and the suffering negative thinking causes is universal. Isolation makes you feel like your struggle is unique to you but the thing is, you are far from alone.

I’m sharing this because I want you to know that life isn’t hopeless and neither are you. While I don’t wish a breakdown on anyone, ultimately I’m grateful for mine (now that I’ve grown from it). It’s the wake-up call I needed to realize the life I was living was no life at all. I’d rather be misunderstood for who I am than accepted for who I’m not. I’d rather fall while chasing my dreams than spend another day stifled in my comfort zone. I’d rather feel the fear and move forward anyway than be frozen in it forever. I’d rather repel those who don’t care for me than attract them to begin with. I’d rather find myself and make choices in alignment with who I am than live a life conforming to the opinions of others.

I hope you’ve gotten what you needed out of this. If you’ve read it to this point, I can only imagine that it resonated with you on some level. This is the reason why I do what I do. I know what it’s like to rebuild from broken pieces. I know what it’s like to find my way when I was so lost I didn’t know even know who I was. My journey was full of the lessons I needed to learn in order to guide, support, and empower other women who are through similar classes in their lives.

My 4th anniversary of living intentionally has me reflecting back on my journey. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. Did it resonate with you? Did you need to be reminded that you aren’t alone? Feel free to share in the comments.

As always, sending you lots of love and wishing you all that you need to find yourself.
-Niki Meadows


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I’d love to invite you to learn how to lean into self-love instead of self-judgment. To lean into self-compassion instead of self-criticism. To practice kindness in 7 different ways over a 7-week period. To start your guided practice, sign up here!

7 Replies to “The Irony of Isolation”

  1. This echoes the soul searching journey I undertook at age 27 that changed my life entirely. I removed blame and shame and focused only on my thoughts not on what others might be thinking. I lived by taking action not by only reacting. I am now 58 and love my life because I took control of my journey.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Robin

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Robin! How funny that we both embarked on this journey when we were 27. Learning how to take responsibility and accountability has been such an empowering aspect in my life. I can understand completely. It’s so wonderful to connect with you. Sending you lots of love and wishing you all that you need to support you on your journey ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Between the words I could hear a crying heart …bearing the child of joy.

    Words expressed improperly can cage us within. From that within, can emerge other appropriate words capable of setting us free.

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