Six months ago, newly arrived in Minneapolis, I found myself in a biz meeting across from a gorgeous finance woman. Her hair was straightened, her makeup made her eyes pop, and her manicure was flawless.
I wondered if this was a mistake. Raw from a breakup and deciding if the Twin Cities was going to be my new home, I simply didn’t have the energy to show up with with my usual happy-go lucky zest. All of my mental, emotional, and physical resources were going to rebuilding a life, showing up powerfully for my clients, and allowing my grief to move through me. I thought perhaps I was still too emotional, too not together to have this meeting.
“So Jess, how did you find yourself in Minneapolis?” she asked cheerfully.
My motor mouth revved up before I could stop it. “Actually, it was due to a breakup. We were living together and it was rather sudden. A dear friend invited me out.” I was horrified. DON’T TELL THE TRUTH WHEN YOU’VE JUST MET PEOPLE, JESSICA!! My shadow-self was in full-throttle.
This glorious woman just looked at me and said, “Oh, Jess. Me, too.” She shared how her life had crumbled, and then she rebuilt and healed her heart.
I was in awe. She made room to be with me, just as I was.
She was the first of many. Each time I shared where I truly was, I was amazed by how much others opened around me and with me. I also met a woman who shared that her 42 year marriage recently dissolved. We talked about grief, loss, resilience, and dating. She asked me how I navigate the online dating world. I told her I ask: When was the last time you cried?
I stopped worrying about people’s reactions and whether they would like me, or worse, pity me. I found that so many people deeply understood. They had walked their own road of confusion and heartache and marched back to aliveness. As someone who’s had to untangle the threads of codependency, this felt like a new level of freedom- to show up, as is.
And yet, sometime this spring, I felt the tide turn. Inevitably, someone would ask, “How did you land in Minneapolis?” When I shared the breakup version, the words felt hollow and my shoulders caved. The story didn’t fit anymore, but the new one had yet to emerge.
I feel like a snake shedding its skin, but I wasn’t out of the old one. Snakes are not like animals who replace cells with regularity. In order to grow, they have to get rid of the ENTIRE old skin so they can fit in their new one. Also, shedding gets rid of the parasites growing on their skin. Snakes in new skins are CLEANER.
We shed old stories about ourselves as we grow into our new selves.This is a process, and it’s not always clear as it’s happening. But often there’s a moment where the old story doesn’t feel good to tell anymore. It’s not cathartic. It’s uncomfortable.
Approximately eight million things have happened since my story shedding began. I spent quality time at my childhood home organizing, packing, and purging belongings I had left behind. I packed up the car, and I drove 1200 miles.
I found myself at a party over the 4th of July. “What brought you to Minneapolis?” a cheery woman in a yellow sundress asked. “A dear friend invited me.” I heard myself say. I felt a smile creep over my face and I giggled, because FINALLY the answer rang true.
The new version: I received an invitation, and I said yes. Later when we were leaving, my friend turned and said, “That’s a different version than the one I first heard.” We looked at each other and smiled.
Danielle LaPorte says, “ You are not obligated to a dream or a belief.” I want to take that one step further. You are not obligated to an old story about yourself, even if you’ve told it a million times. You’ve grown. The story can evolve with you.
A new story is emerging. Go meet it.
What is the story you’ve been telling about yourself and what you desire? Does it fit?