Owning your story: Reclaiming my True Self after divorce

A couple months ago, I took on a new contract with my former employer. I big Fortune 500, 9-to-5 job I never thought I’d return to.

You see, I left that job a few years ago – along with many other familiar things, people and places – to realign my life to my values. To connect back to my Truth (with a capital T). To live out my hippy dreams!

Yet, there I was, a mix of emotions as I put on my work clothes – the ones I didn’t sacrifice as I declared “yoga pants for life!” – and hopped in the car with my coffee mug for my first day back. But once I walked through the big glass doors, I felt a sense of ease within myself and in my place in life. Once you awaken, you never fall back asleep. This time will be so much better, I thought.

It felt great to be back! Many handshakes and smiles later, I began delving into projects with a sense of excitement. Until I realized: so many of these people only know me by my former married name.

The internal assaults kicked in. “What if people ask if I got married and I have to explain that it was the other way around? What if they think I’m a total loser, someone who can’t be trusted and totally impulsive when they find out?”  

Anxiety took over my consciousness. I thought it best to take charge of all conversations by explaining myself and proving my worthiness before anyone had the chance to question me. As I reconnected with old colleagues, I began over-explaining the last three years of my life as if I had to prove my life to these people.

During one such conversation (well, monologue, really), I noticed what I was doing. I watched myself, like a character on a TV show, over-explaining my personal life and making things way more awkward than they needed to be. Oh god, I internally gulped, “The only person questioning my value, demanding a convincing argument about my own worthiness is me.”

F is for Divorce

Although divorce is more common and perhaps a little more acceptable in society today than in the past, it comes with a lot of stigma. Like one big F on your report card of life. And just like failing out of school, divorce is the kind of train wreck that people love to talk about.  Just take one look at the gossip mags in the grocery store. So much shaming. So many double standards.

Divorce is a very visible, public experience that is simultaneously completely isolating. I was 30 when I separated, and I felt like I didn’t have anyone who could relate to what I was going through. So I delved into the only place I felt like me: yoga. Through my meditation practice (in Sanskrit: Dhyana), my time spent working on self development (svadhyaya) and the physical practice of yoga (asana), I realized that just like any other trial or trauma, divorce is an opportunity for transformation.

When you use your heart as your compass and healing as your intention, divorce can be the stairway through which you rise stronger and more complete than ever before.

Circle up

Life is messy. As much as we like to present the tidy, palatable version of ourselves, we are a product of our experiences – the best case scenarios as well as the best-laid plans that went totally awry. We are shaped by equally complex and wounded people: parents, communities and dominant culture.

I spent years ignoring the instinctual cries within me as I tried my damn hardest to fit in. I did what I thought others wanted me to do. I projected an image of myself that I thought people would like. Turns out, I wasn’t doing anyone any favors, including me.

My life was a collection of cold and isolating boxes.Houses, cars, office buildings, TVs and computers. Physical and energetic walls that kept me separate, fooling myself that I was safer and better protected hiding behind perfectly curated exteriors with sharp angels.

In my divorce, when all the walls crumbled down, I finally embraced a more nurturing and inclusive shape. I stepped into circles of women and learned that when we share our Truth, we give other permission to do the same. We learn that we are not alone. We invite a soul tribe to convene, to heal and to help amplify our voices and the power of love in this world.

As Brene Brown says:

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

Restoring power to your unique process

These circles and acts of healing led me to travel to Bali, to spend time with my grandmother in her final years of life, and to a 50-day Outward Bound Instructor Development in Washington’s backcountry. It also led me to Nicole Quallen, who I connected with during a women’s circle (led by the amazing Nadia Setzer – check out her circle!). Today, we are channeling the experience and knowledge we’ve gained through our own divorces, through our careers (Nicole is an amazing divorce attorney) and our personal experiences of healing, to deliver a first-of-its kind retreat for women in the divorce process.

Release & Restore - Reclaiming your true Self and Rise beyond divorce

Saturday, May 4 10am-4pm

Sfeer Studio, Chapel Hill

Claim your seat today!

Join other brave, passionate women in the divorcing process who are ready to release stigma and negativity around the end of a partnership and begin living a new wholehearted chapter of life.

This workshop-style retreat is designed to acknowledge the not-so-pretty parts of divorce while empowering you to reclaim your truest sense of self.

Whether you were married a year or in a partnership for ten years, this daylong retreat is for you. Whether you initiated the divorce or felt left in the dust with your head spinning, this retreat is for you. Whether you are a couple months into your separation or years post-divorce, this retreat is for you if you seek an outlet to release the negative feelings and stigma surrounding divorce and take ownership to write the next chapter of your beautiful life.

We honor where and how you have walked on your journey until now. We honor all that you will create, share and do. This retreat will provide you with sacred space and some potent tools to help you release what no longer serves you, get clear on what you desire going forward, and turn your dreams into reality.

If you or anyone you know feels called to join us, we sincerely hope you do. Much more to come!



Lindsay Michel