Earlier this month I blogged about the gift that is sometimes waiting inside a difficult experience or inside our pain—and how our hurts might be transformed into something positive.
This week I was drawn to an old journal of mine, one from the year 2010, just after I'd lost my job of 22 years. I often follow my instincts, and this one was fairly strong: Pick up that journal and read a few pages. I've said before in my blogs that occasionally I find real value in "harvesting my journals" to see where I was and what I was thinking and feeling at some point in my past. It's often instructive to my present and future.
In that journal, I'd written about my grief at being Reduced In Force and how my confidence was sapped by the experience. I'm an Eight on the Enneagram, for any of you familiar with that personality scale; and Eights like to appear strong. However, one of the points of Enneagram work is to move toward the true essence of self. I had learned as a child to be strong and responsible. And after my divorce, I needed to be strong. In my workplace, which was fairly hierarchical, my strength took on even more of a "tough woman" stance. I needed that. Strong always meant decisive, making my own choices and increasingly through the years, tough!
So what is strength anyway?
One of my 2010 journal entries included this: "Strength can be seen in many ways other than being tough. Perhaps this time, when it feels like I'm being broken down, I'm actually being built up—but in a new way that's congruent with my true essence." A few weeks later my entries began to talk more about letting life flow, not fighting it, being open to whatever came, acceptance and even enjoying what was (rather than what I thought should be).
Now, three years later, I have a career I absolutely love and I am (finally!) learning to let life flow, to drop some of my attachment to outcomes, and to be more vulnerable—sharing not just the positives in my life but also those times when I struggled or even fell on my face. I think that's closer to the true essence of my Enneagram "Eight-ness." Discovering it has been and is the gift waiting in some of my pain and struggles. And I know there'll be more struggles ... and more gifts waiting.
What gifts are waiting for you?