Yvette E. McDonald, LCSW-QS
When you feel like giving up and don’t think there’s hope for a better and brighter tomorrow.
I frequently get asked “How did you pick up the pieces of your life when it all fell apart?" In addition to “How did you start over?” In order to answer that question let me take you back 10 years and give you some background when everything was falling apart or at least that’s how I was experiencing it when my marriage abruptly ended and life as I knew it and planned it to be was no more. In the midst of all the confusion, pain and just a mix of emotions and thoughts, a wise woman told me I needed to make a choice and she laid out 2 options for me.
Option 1: I can choose to put my head in the sand and pretend like everything was just all a bad dream and it wasn’t happening, but at some point I’d have to face the music and take a breath and at that point life may be more complex and bigger than I’d ever imagined.
Option 2: Or I could take the road less traveled the road marked with difficulty and hardwork.
I chose the latter of the two and from there started my journey of growth, healing, and a new beginning. And life has never been the same. When I look in the mirror now the reflection is different, but I love that! As I’ve come to fall in love with myself and the life I live. Life is exactly how it is supposed to be and turning out the way it should: Crazy-Beautiful. Adventurous. Perfectly Imperfect. Challenging. Changing. And these are some of the steps I took as I began to write my new chapter in life.
Journaling. Oh, did I journal. Journaling was my safe place to let it all hang out. I didn’t have to sensor, explain, or excuse any of my thoughts and feelings. I could just let it all hang out in order to purge myself of all the toxicity and pain. I liken it to throwing up but in an emotional sense. Everyday I threw up my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I processed what I was feeling and thinking and other times it was therapeutic in and of itself to just get it out.
Reading. I fell in love with books and reading. Books allowed me to find understanding, courage, strength, support and comfort in my situation as I read of others that went through difficult things and overcame victoriously. Books reassured me I was not alone and that I can get through this. Some of the books that started the journey were A Jewel In His Crown by Priscilla Shirer and Stronger by Jim Daly.
Memory Maker. I created new traditions with a passion to create lasting memories with the ones I love. Determining to not live a life with regret and missed opportunities. And, oh the memories we created. We began a chapter in our life filled with adventure (both scary and fun) and discovery, I'll have to tell you about our 24 mile, 3-day primitive canoeing/camping trip with a 6 and 5 year old and little 14 pound dog. We also ventured into mountain bike trail riding, exploring Florida springs and canoeing. It has never been a dull moment since having started this chapter, with new memories being created each year.
Mindset shift. With everything that happened and that was happening I processed life changed. I started to both see and experience life as a gift that one that had me and still has me saying "I don't have to, I get to". This perspective changed everything and changed me down to my very core as it had me experience my boys, my life, my family and my clients in a transformative way that had me counting blessings in the smallest of things. I also started to see life as a treausre hunt. A treasure hunt of lessons and that behind each trail or difficulty was a lesson I was to grow and learn from (my clients laugh with me about this now, as I help them unpack situations the same way. They will often start explaining a senario with, "I know there's a lesson to learn Mrs. Yvette").
Music. Oh, how I loved and continue to love music! I'm definitly an emotional listener as I find music that speaks to my emotion in the moment. I also listen and create playlist that speaks to my soul in the form of worship music. I created the most amazing playlists as I was always keeping my ears open to new songs that put an unexplainable balm on my pain. We (my boys and I) would blast the music and just lose ourselves to it. Dancing. Singing. And just finding peace, refuge, escape in and from the storm.
Wall of Encouragement. I wish I would have taken a picture of my bathroom wall then. It’s one of those 'If I knew now moments'. But, what I did was created a mural of uplifting and inspirational quotes and verses that spoke to me, lifted me up, gave me breathe and strengthened me to fight another day at the same time calming me. It was both amazing and life giving surrounding myself in love and encouragement every time I went to the bathroom.
Faith. For me my faith was pivotal in my healing. I know for some that is not the case and no judgment here if it is or is not part of your healing story, but for me it was a non negotiable. In order to experience true and lasting love and not get lost in the chaos of life I had a regular time sitting at Yahweh's feet before starting my day and on the really bad days I would do study twice. This time alone with him allowed me to take my head knowledge of who He was and have a heart knowledge. I came into a deeper, unexplainable relationship with Him like I never had before. Our time together allowed me to offload the pain of the day and renew my strength in order to take on another day with strength, courage and perservence. In addition to my daily times with him I did women studies from a local church and also found an online bible study from Proverbs 31 ministries (which I continue to participate to this day).
Life has never been the same and honestly fast forward to now I’m glad it’s not! The life I experience now is richer, more intentional, more exciting, more life-giving and more blessed. I'm a better and wiser person, a better and wiser mom, a better and wiser daughter, a better and wiser wife (I got remarried to an amazing husband) and better and wiser counselor because of it all. Your journey may not be the same as mine. Your end of me moment or end of me circumstances may be different then mine and that’s okay. We all come to the end of self differently and journey through the process of change uniquely as it’s a state of becoming and doing little steps that keep us going in the direction of imperfect progress. Don’t look at my story and think it just somehow ended up great, it wasn’t unicorns and gumdrops. There was a process to get where I’m at. Things I had to identify, learn and grow through along the way. Hard work that had to be done. But having gotten to this part of my life was worth it all as I continue to grow and transform into the best version of myself daily and fall more in love with life, myself and my God. But this experience isn't unique to me, as I have enjoyed my travels alongside others as they’ve experienced a renewing of self and of life. And if your ready for the adventure as well I'd love to come alongside you!
We are a work in progress! I am still a work in progress, as I feel that change is constant. I know that I have quite the adventure to continue to live as do you and it’s more than either of us could imagine. Believe the best days are yet to come and that the sun will always rise in the morning, giving birth to a better and brighter tomorrow and a chance to do and experience life differently.
Yvette E. McDonald is the owner and counselor at Traveling Light Counseling, a practice for individuals helping them discover the person they were always meant to be as they become the best version of self in their roles and relationships in the Port Saint Lucie and Martin County area. I'm passionate about helping individuals write a new chapter in their journey of life. If you're in the Saint Lucie or Martin County Area and life isn't quite what you expected it to be at this point in your journey, please give me a call at 772-361-8448 for a free, 15-minute phone consultation.