"Breaking Up is Hard to Do" - Neil Sedaka
The last time I broke up with someone was more than 14 years ago and, let me tell you, it still sucks.
Literally, it felt like the breath had been sucked out of me.
I have never been comfortable being the dump-er. Acting on my own behalf for my own best interests, taking my power back, always felt overwhelming and like I was the bad guy. It’s so uncomfortable for me that I have even cried handing in my two weeks notice for jobs I can’t wait to leave. It felt like I was giving up.
Could I have done more?
Could I have given more?
Was I not enough?
What could I have done differently because I was feeling like a huge failure?
Knowing that the music industry wasn’t a true fit anymore didn’t make the decision any easier. Being a singer had been part of my identity for so long that ending that part of my life had me in tears - sobs actually. I loved being identified as a professional singer and how that made me feel. Singing on stage felt like the one place where who I am made sense, where I felt I belonged, where I felt safe, and I was reluctant to let that go. If I gave up that part of my life up for good, then who am I? What do I do? How do I express myself? How do I show up in the world?
The realization that it was finally over was staggering and had me reeling for a few weeks. I say finally over because I had been dragging this on for a few years already, almost like a trial separation. In 2016, I announced on social media that I was retiring from being a professional singer. But I still held on, accepting the odd small gig here and there, then setting up an e-commerce page on my website to sell my CD’s, and eventually promoting those CD’s on social media.
Even though I could feel that my path was shifting me away from my old life, I was still trying to fuse the two parts together, but I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile them. Trying to repurpose or revive parts of me that I loved from my past was’t helping me to figure out how to love who I was now.
So I let go.
I removed all of the links and cd pages, and felt relieved. I will always be a singer but it was time to break up with the industry for good. Really, all I want to do is show up and sing, feel good about my singing, and hope that it resonates with others. That’s it. That’s all I want for my singing. Singing is a calling for me and it shaped who I am but it is not who I am.
So who am I? And what do I do now?
Putting pause on my life for a few hours every day , I sat on the couch and got quiet, free from distraction, settling into my body to allow myself to feel everything I was feeling.
I wanted to bolt and multi task and distract the hell out of myself, but I had to remember that the gold is in the process not the outcome, and I slowly let those feelings wash over and through me and let them become a beacon for guidance. (Please don’t believe that this was an easy “kumbaya” process - there was a lot of cursing and crying and EFT/tapping involved.)
Sitting there, I felt like I was 19 again, back when my first love broke up with me. I felt discarded, alone, unloveable, untethered, insignificant, and restless. Back then, I didn’t want to sit still, I wanted to escape! Jump on a plane to get away from my real life, lick my wounds, and process in private, away from anyone who knew me. Somewhere where no-one would know me or my story and I got to decide how I wanted to show up every day. Where I could write the next chapter free from concerned looks, questions, and advice about how I should be doing or feeling.
But I didn't.
I chickened out and ignored my gut and kept moving forward instead. I wish I had a present day, older and wiser me in my life back then to shake that girl’s shoulders and tell her to get on a plane and live in Paris for a year. Take the chance to get a new perspective on your life and see how it unfolds for you (uh…us). You have nothing to lose!
This time I wasn’t going to let an opportunity for significant growth and change pass me by. This time I was going to go for it. I was following my gut.
I was taking a sabbatical