Valentine is a funny day. Don’t you think? It produces so many different emotions; ecstasy when you’re in love, anger or relief when you’ve ended a relationship, sadness and depression when you’re recovering from a break up and sometimes peace when you’re alone. The key to these emotions is how you deal with being alone.
When I first got divorced I was officially alone for the first time in my life. I didn’t realize how scary that was for me. I was unsure if I should throw a party and celebrate or cry from the emptiness I felt. Interestingly enough I had felt alone during my childhood and my whole marriage. I was surrounded by people but felt alone. As I later evolved I pondered that idea. How can one feel so alone surrounded by people and others experience no loneliness when there’s no one else around? I realized that the feeling of loneliness comes from within. As human beings we all need human contact and human connection, but some of us don’t seem to need as much. Does it come from self confidence, security or is it simply a characteristic? From what I’ve learned and experienced I believe it’s a bit of all of the above. Self confidence and security plays a role in how we feel and act around others and when we’re by ourselves. When healing from a divorce many of us experience a drop in our self esteem. This can cause us to act from grief, pain and desperation. We might be acting extremely friendly and warm but the energy that encompasses us is pain and grief. People feel that and we might not realize how our behavior can push people away. I was always flabbergasted with how many people seemed to like me, but very few seemed to want hang out with me. This left me feeling extraordinarily lonely. It wasn’t until I began to reflect on my own behavior that I was able to shift this phenomenon. I realized I was scared of being alone and until I learned to be ok with this the feeling of connection would continue to elude me.
I began to create special “Esther Time” events, whether it was taking myself out to see a play, going to a nice restaurant, taking a hot bath and listening to some music or simply giving myself the attention and love I deserved. When I opened myself up to being ok with being alone I inevitably always met someone amazing who either became a good friend or simply created an entertaining experience. The key to shifting from loneliness to peace in your alone time is enveloping yourself with what you need and want, without searching for it outside of yourself. When you enjoy yourself, just being with yourself and treat yourself how you want to be treated people will show up and help you along the way. It might not show up immediately the way you’d expect but if you keep enjoying yourself, letting go of needing it from the outside that energy alone will surround you with the connection we all want and thrive by.
Life is full of uncertainty, full of stop and do not enter signs, obstacles and anything you can imagine to keep you from climbing toward your goals. When we are in a painful situation, we sometimes can see a stairway, but because we can’t see what on the top of it, we stay where we are. We make up excuses by saying, “but there was a do not enter sign there.”
I never thought in a million years I’d be doing what I’m doing, writing a book,traveling the country to shelters inspiring women to step out of their pain, becoming a keynote speaker for corporations, mental health institutions and producing my own one woman show. The reason why I’m doing all of this is because I chose to climb up the stairs, even though I didn’t see the top. I took the unknown as a thrill. Yes I was scared. In fact there were times I was so scared I thought I was going to die. I still have moments of fear, but I keep going. You see, what I learned is that there will always be things to be scared about. That won’t change. How you handle the fear can change.
One of the amazing things I’ve seen during my visits to the shelters in California is the women I spoke to all understood they were in control of changing their life. They realized that no matter what happened to them, whether they caused themselves to end up in a shelter or circumstances caused it, they knew they can change things by changing themselves. They all seemed very aware of that. I was humbled by their stories, of pain, hope and for many fearlessness. These women are heroes of spirit.
One of the places I visited and spoke at was a hospital mental health program. Most of the audience were men. I at first wondered if I would connect to a mostly male audience, but I climbed the stairs, knowing that what was at the top I couldn’t see. I knew I had to be there and that group needed to hear me. I was amazed at the profound results.
At the end of the talk, many of the boys and men came up to me and shared their stories. They were truly taken by my talk and grateful for my time with them. And yes… They very much related to me and my message because I let go and what needed to be said just came through me that night.
The women in the audience also came over to me. One was crying. It turned out she was going through something similar to what I went through a few years back with my ex husband. She was still recovering from his abuse and was touched to see what I was doing as a result of what I’ve been through. What I learned from that night was by truly letting go and allowing your feelings, of whatever they are to be, whether it’s fear, anger, sadness or whatever come through you and trust that the stairs will take you to somewhere spectacular you will get there and touch a lot of people along the way.