Thanks to a faulty switchbox in Space Shuttle Endeavour that scrubbed Friday’s launch, I had a work-free day in Florida where I was able to get in another round of reflection; this time on Mother Nature’s front porch of Cocoa Beach overlooking the ocean.
So in a rare moment of complete alone time I sat on the beach and began my self-evaluation. I found that being surrounded by the sounds of the ocean waves, children playing, even the festive Spanish music coming from a family’s boom-box nearby was the perfect setting to reflect.
As I looked at the calm sea with it shallow waves, I knew that given the right conditions that can change. Those innocent waves can become one of the most powerful forms of destruction on this planet, in fact scars and remnants from past hurricanes can still be seen when you look around this area. I thought about past storms that have hit the country with deadly results, such as Katrina, and I wondered why some people chose not to heed the warnings.
I started making a mental list of maybe why some people did not flee when they had the chance. Maybe they were too proud, they thought they were wiser than those predicting the storm, or they felt they could protect themselves. They might have been physically unable, didn’t feel they had anywhere to go, they chose not to listen to their instincts or even worst they were afraid. I could not imagine the justification when it is dealing with your life – or can I?
Like a swelling wave I turned those judgments inward, why do I struggle with listening to my instincts – one of my biggest faults. There have been so many occasions in my life when I presented similar rational as I was making major life decisions – I can overcome, it’s not that bad, I don’t need to run, I am smarter than those who have informed me of the potential dangers, I am the one in charge.
The problem is when I do not listen and override those instincts with justifications, I get hurt and I now have the potential of also hurting three little hearts who do not deserve that pain. Like hurricane scars on the coastline, those storms have the potential to do permanent damage, although it may not be noticeable to the novice. The hardest scars to heal are ones you can’t see or worst the ones we try to hide.
I know I am not alone in this painful self-wounding process of ignoring what needs to be done versus what is we know is right. I have many friends who struggle down the same path only to watch them succumb to becoming a victim of their choices. Unfortunately this happens often with women; we guide our choices by our heart and are often willing to overlook our instincts in hopes of finding that happy ending we all seek.
These beautiful bright women make choices to be with people just to fill a void. Some enable themselves to be at the mercy and control of another out of pure fear, while I know some dear friends trade their happiness for not wanting to hurt another. These women, like me at one time, hide in the shadows, afraid others may see their failures and learn they are truly broken.
During the one of darkest time in my divorce last summer, when I could no longer hide what was happening in my house, a major thunderstorm hit. My sister and I were woken by the sounds of the wind, rain, lighting and resulting thunder. We watched out the window trying what to decide to do, when we saw it – the tree in my front yard had been broke in half from the fierceness of the storm.
The next morning when the sun rose and I surveyed damage, the tree was so broken, I thought it was a total loss – the tears fell. Because of the turmoil I was going through, I felt like that tree was a reflection of myself and I questioned if I would emotional survive the storm – I was broken and had almost lost all hope.
A few weeks later I noticed the tiny thin limb growing from the tall brown stump with buds of leaves, and by the last fall five or six branches and leaves adorned the scared tree – hope started to fill my soul. Now every time I sit on my front porch and looked at the tree it is a reminder of that I can overcome.
I am learning to listen to my instincts, to listen those friends and family who see the storm approaching and to learn how to control fear instead of letting it control me. I have made decisions I knew were right; and felt empowered when later they were later validated, but I still have a long way to go.
So although I know I am broken and I cannot hide it; I also know I can overcome and be stronger – even if it means growing one small branch at a time.