Forged by fire

This weekend. I’m doing two things, and two things only: writing and preparing.

Writing: I’m dedicating one full day — 8-10 hours — to writing my next short story in my series. I’m going to publish it on Amazon Kindle sometime this month, and I’ve already plotted it out. Now, the fun really begins. I can’t wait to spend more time with my characters and send them on the next leg of their journey.

Preparing: Monday is the first official day of Marie Forleo’s B-School. Already, I’ve learned so much from going through the pre-course materials, it’s rather mind boggling. I’ve been sick this whole week and have had nothing to do but work on all this (fun) stuff. Today, after probably 60 hours spent this week on working through everything, I finally honed in on what it is that I can offer to people as a business. We’ll see if it holds up to B-School scrutiny. This weekend, I’m going to review all my pages and pages of notes one more time.

I’ll share more in the weeks to come re B-School. As freaked out and intimidated as I am about being in this crowd of (mostly) women entrepreneurs, I will keep going. What makes it difficult for me is knowing that if all of this stuff didn’t happen to me, I might have been one of them at age 30. Or I might have been a professor of English, or a big-time author, or a really fantastic mom, or all three of those things. It’s hard not to be sad and wish I could go back in time, start again, have my life: my real life.

glass blowingI remember getting a close-up demonstration by a master glass blower in Murano, Italy, a couple of years ago. He took a blob of glass and shaped it into a vessel that will probably last for centuries, unless someone drops it on the floor.

I feel like that sometimes. I’m a 51-year-old woman who is trying to recycle the pieces of a broken life into someone whole, forged by fire … but still fragile.

Feeling deaf & intimidated but pushing forward

In a recent post, I talked about enrolling in a fantastic entrepreneurship program by Marie Forleo, which starts officially this coming Monday. Even before then, however, Ms. Forleo provides a lot of “bonuses” that can help people make sure they’re starting, or have started, the right business. These materials are really, really good. So good, in fact, that I have a much clearer idea of what I want to do as an entrepreneur.

Sounds perfect, right? It is, except for one thing.

I’m totally intimidated by the other people in this class. By far, most of them are waaaaay younger than I am. And most of those younger women (they’re almost all female) have businesses that already look successful, if a website is any indication.

Yesterday, I read a blog post by someone who did the class two years ago. She’s in her late 20s, and she admitted that she was intimidated, too. I wish I could find the link to share with you, but in essence she said, “Right from the beginning, there’s a tendency of women in the class to start comparing themselves with everyone else. Some of the other students almost like to flaunt their success.”

I have nothing to flaunt, but I’m certainly doing the first part of that: comparing myself to other people and, frankly, feeling old, unaccomplished, inadequate, and like I should just give up. That’s the brutal truth. I have a better sense of what I could do as an entrepreneur,  yes. I know I have skills that people would pay for, yes. In the end, though, I also feel like I’ve missed my chance.

The only thing that’s keeping me going is that I know that this sense of defeat stems from the trauma I experienced. It’s not the real “me” talking. That “real me” has a voice, and I’m desperately trying to listen to that woman’s voice right now. She is very, very far away, though. In fact, the more work I do on establishing my own business, the more I feel like I’m falling into darkness. All I can hear in my head are those terrible, negative messages that were pounded into me by my ex-husband — who was an extremely successful entrepreneur.

Somehow I have to ignore what everyone else is — or at least seems to be — achieving and focus on myself. I’ll interact with others in the class, but I must continue to find my own sense of self and my own direction.

And most of all, I have to tune in to my own voice: the one that says, “I love you, Lucy. I believe in you. You’ve accomplished a lot already, and establishing your own business is the next step toward creating a more fulfilling life. You not only can do this, but you will do it.”

Took a big step forward this week

As you may have read in my recent post about workplace bullying, I’m having a difficult time in my current job. It’s sad because the rest of my life is really starting to turn around. Or should I say, I am really starting to turn my life around.

I finished the trauma therapy almost a year ago, completing about 14-15 months of the hardest emotional work I have ever done (and hope I ever will do). In the past year, I’ve experienced everything from separating from my husband, to having the biggest argument of our lives with my daughter, to watching my daughter go far away to grad school (and missing her terribly), to giving my husband an ultimatum about our marriage.

But since January, aside from my job, my life has really been changing for the positive. Shall I count the ways?

  1. My dear husband (who moved back in a few months ago) decided to get professional help for depression, and it’s making a difference. I continue to monitor my own feelings about the relationship, rather than focusing on his feelings so much.
  2. I have published more short fiction (under another pen name) — I’m up to 5 books so far — and am working on the next one now.
  3. I have been doing some serious work on trying to calm my mind in order to cope better with my PTSD symptoms, and it’s helping.
  4. My relationship with my daughter is repaired.
  5. And … I took a big step forward this week and enrolled in Marie Forleo’s B-School, an online course for entrepreneurs who want to create a successful, sustainable online business. It wasn’t cheap, but I know the investment will pay off. I’m sure of it. That was my biggest step forward yet — making this investment in myself.

That last step was a direct result of the bullying at work. I’ve had enough, I really have. I can no longer work in that environment, and I want to return to having control over my work life. In years past, I did work for myself. But since 2007, I’ve worked full time in the same institution (3 different positions now) and can’t find professional fulfillment there.

This week, I accepted that reality and stepped up my self-control, if you will. While I can’t quit my job just yet, I’m now moving toward doing so, methodically and positively.

Looking back on the trauma therapy, I see how it pushed me over a cliff into the darkness that was ME. I didn’t know myself very well at all, because the abuse had taught me to be focused completely on other people: their moods, their moves, everything. As a result, I had no idea what I really thought, what I felt, what I wanted.

Now, I’m discovering that I actually do have something inside of me that people like and respect. And what I don’t have inside of me now, I’ll create as I go along.

That thought process alone is a big step forward for me: realizing that I can be someone with agency over my life, and I can create something. I’m late to this realization because of what happened to me, and I know I can never have the life I should have had. I can, however, create something else — something good. And that starts now.

P.S. The Violence Against Women Act was passed by Congress. Couldn’t be happier about that, except I wish it didn’t have to exist at all.