Note from WhoseApple: It was an honor to be spotlighted by Chelsea Leigh Trescott in her #BreakUpward empowerment series. Chealsea is a Columnist and Breakup Coach. Read about her at the end of this re-post. Her article begins now . . .
So much of our fear stems from or is perpetuated by the stories we hear and the stories we tell ourselves. Breakup stories are some of the worst and most damaging. Seldom do we hear of a breakup that makes us think, “Wow! If only heartbreak had motivated me in that direction, then, I would have let go sooner and feared less for myself.” The reality is, these stories are out there. You just have to ask for them.
For this Q&A series, that is exactly what I did. Over the following weeks, various creatives will get honest with themselves and the Mogul community about how their breakups landed them on top.
You’ll be hearing from women who attribute their professional success to heartbreak and credit their breakup for being the catalyst for personal transformation and professional reinvention.
My hope is that these stories will encourage new thinking and even comfort you, that they will help you fear less and love greater. And perhaps most importantly, my hope is that they will help you #BreakUpward and focus on all that is possible for yourself.
LINDA F. WILLIAMS, MSW
Founder of Whose Apple Dynamic Coaching & Consulting Services
Author of Whose Apple is it, Anyway: Empowering Purpose to Achieve Your God-Ordained Destiny and Too True to Tell (Why What We Don’t Say is Leading Us Down the Path of Stolen Vision), Certified Personal and Professional Life Coach and Keynote Speaker, Linda F. Williams, 60, of Grand Rapids, MI has a Masters of Social Work, Certification in Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling, and that’s not all.
She’s the Chief Operating Officer and Founder of Whose Apple Dynamic Coaching & Consulting and creator of The Whose Apple Dynamic. Fortunate for us, she opens up next about how she navigated the minefields left by pain and trauma and truly broke upward post heartbreak.
Do you think your success is a product of something you already had inside of yourself but relationship priorities either delayed or distracted you from going after or do you think solitude and loss themselves drove you to want more for yourself?
This is a profound question. Success is a relative term, indeed. I firmly believe that everybody breathing has a purpose and destiny. That means, it is what it is and nothing can change it. True success brings deep and perpetual fulfillment and joy because it emanates from those two things—purpose and destiny.
Now, while our reason for being is eternal, whether we realize it is another matter. I fell into a repetitive pattern of wrong choices and wrong relationships. My whole persona was morphed and my perspective was twisted by constantly stuffing and denying a painful past. One toxic relationship after another and I was a hot mess. My life epitomized trauma and a seething anger kept me in the grip of some god-forsaken black hole of a vortex, and I was clueless!
So, yes. Success is in indeed a product of my reason for being. The solitude and loss, if leveraged toward healing only empower that destiny. However, it took way too long for me to recognize the difference between solitude for the sake of contemplation and solitude for fear of moving on. From that standpoint, it was a distraction. I had to choose between victim and victor. I would remain a victim as long as I failed to recognize that the only vengeance I get on the past is to make it count.
How did you adjust your mindset after your breakup so, instead of focusing on what was lost, you focused on what you could gain?
Please! I wish that epiphany had come that easily! These kinds of truths, for me, came more as a matter of process than any one moment in which I finally got a clue. No, indeed. My second marriage was an emotional and spiritual boot camp and it was no easy win. There were way too many shut up, suck it up, and listen up opportunities replete with pearl-clutching, furniture gripping, anger-laced moments of facing down some pretty ugly stuff. I’m not talking about just what he did; I’m talking about facing myself as I wrestled through deep seated anger, bitterness, distrust, fear, and hopelessness.
I got free while writing a book that turned out to be a 7-year 6-day journey along which I shed layers of trauma. That book moved along at the pace of my healing. Every time I experienced writer’s block, without fail, it didn’t lift until I shed another layer of trauma. One time I wound up in the throes of a major posttraumatic moment that found me, in the here-and-now, experiencing the same paralyzing fear I had endured decades prior.
Then there was the time I finally told someone the full account of a rape I endured. Until that moment, I was unaware that, for 30 years I was still in that rapist’s unrelenting grip, as I believed the lie that it was my fault and I deserved it. By revealing that story, I shed crippling shame and self-loathing.
If every person that comes into our lives is truly an opportunity for us to learn and grow, what do you believe your ex was there to teach you?
I learned to trust my instincts. I learned never to subjugate intuition to anything anyone says. I learned that personal responsibility empowers right choices. Most importantly, I learned not to blame myself for the choices of others.
How did you grow up and grow into yourself because of the relationship?
As I shed layers of trauma, I came into myself. I had stuffed so much pain that I didn’t recognize how I had turned my back on my true self. As I learned to forgive and walked through what felt like a boot camp of healing, I found that my greatest power was realized in the truth of who I am.
One of the most popular sayings is, time heals all wounds. What did you discover over time that helped you heal your wounds most?
I had to acknowledge the little girl I left behind in the interest of protecting myself from hurt. The day I realized that in turning my back on her I had turned my back on myself, I was free to heal. See, who I was as a little girl is who I needed to be in order to function in my purpose. Failure to embrace that little girl, bring her along for life’s ride, resulted in my stuffing the pain and trauma of rape and domestic violence. All of that denial resulted in a 16-year marriage to a man who was later convicted as a sexual predator and a rapist.
When I went back and reintroduced myself to “Little Linda,” I realized that I was always more than enough without subjugating who I am to please others.
Coming out of your breakup, is there anything you could have done that would have gotten you to where you are now, only more quickly? If so, what would that have been?
Yeah. I am sure there was; but I was not ready. As long as I was running, ducking, and hiding from my own past, I would never catch the vision that opened my eyes to purpose. More than that, I was ill prepared to walk anybody else through the same type of pain. I’m convinced that the healing with which my path of purpose was paved, as long and winding as it was, was the right path at just the right time, and at the perfect pace to empower the truth of who I am. No regrets.
What would you tell someone who was in need of finding the silver lining in their breakup?
After a reasonable period of wound licking, make it count. What lessons did you learn about yourself and the relationship? As long as you leverage that going forward, none of it was a waste. Nothing that leads to a breakup is ever fully one person’s fault. Honestly recognize your part and never take on responsibility, guilt, or shame for the other person’s choices or behaviors.
For my part, I had to recognize that not everybody recognizes, appreciates, or is capable of reciprocating my values or capacity for love. That was the truth on which I based the decision never to expect of others that of which they are not capable. To do so becomes my bad decision. I started trusting my intuition, recognizing that every time I ignored it, trouble, disappointment, and heartache followed.
Know what is important to you. Consider your principles and values as life’s GPS. Once a GPS is programmed, it doesn’t matter how many wrong turns we make, it gets you to the destination – if you follow the prompts.
If you could say or ask one last thing to your ex, what would you rather do? And what would the statement or question be?
Actually, I am in touch with both my ex-husbands. In fact, my first husband married a dear and remarkable woman with whom I am friends to this day. We call each other “sister wives!” This woman’s heart is so dear and she so purely loves that she has become the hub of the family wheel. Shout out to Gracie! Because of Grace, I have had that heart-to-heart sitting right there at their dining room, table. I have also been in touch with my second husband, who is in prison. Because I passed that grueling boot camp, I left the marriage without bitterness or grudges. To both of these men I chose this statement: “I forgive you.” “I love you.” Straight from the heart.
In your opinion, what does it mean to breakupward? What would that look like to you?
It looks like choosing better over bitter, forgiveness over fear, victory over victimization. It looks like pit bull determination to live the life you were born, and deserve, to live; no matter what. It looks like laser focus on the end game and sticking to a values-driven playbook because you know it will never let you down – even when people do.
A lifetime of change is empowered by a single act of courage. Remember that your greatest power lies in the truth of who you are. Be courageous.
Connect with Linda yourself on LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, Instagram, YouTube. For her coaching and consulting services and everything else you could ever want to know, please visit her website whoseapple.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Chelsea Leigh Trescott
An Advice Columnist and Breakup Coach trained and certified in Solution-Focused Life Coaching, Chelsea Leigh Trescott helps her clients turn their sob stories into silver lining breakups. For a chance to be featured in her HuffPo advice column or Mogul Q&A series write Chelsea@breakupward.com.
Visit Breakupward.com for coaching services.
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