Can you really go from a woman who said "yes" to a marriage because she was afraid to say "no," who stayed in a marriage that was long over because she was afraid to go, who went into and stayed in a profession because someone told her to do so, to a woman who has a marriage that's alive with intimacy and mutuality, a career by design, and a self-love and respect? Hell, yeah! I did it. And I am no different from anyone else.
I grew up thinking there were Eleven Commandments. I thought right after thou shalt not covet what is my neighbor's was, "Thou shalt always be very careful, lock the doors, and avoid driving at night." Looking back, I took No. 11 a little too literally. And what an effect those three little statements had on me. I actually ran my life in a way that totally supported being careful, locking, and avoiding.
From a very early age, I made sure to "lock" the doors on any part of me that fell under the general category of femininity. Revealing leadership skills, brains, humor, athleticism, kindness and generosity was perfectly acceptable. Better to keep femininity and sexuality dead-bolted behind doors of steel so self-esteem and body issues would not be revealed.
I was "careful" not to risk in my professional life. Kept the same career for decades even when it no longer brought the fulfillment and joy, never wanting to risk learning something new and making a change. Better to be careful and safe with what I knew than to risk the myriad of terrible things that could happen in the unknown.
In my marriage, I made sure to "avoid" any and all relationship issues by sweeping them under the rug in hopes they would disappear, and just focus on children, tasks, and the lifestyle. Better to avoid doing or saying anything that might change the status quo.
When I reflect back on my thinking, at no time did I ever entertain the idea that maybe if I took the risk, the outcomes could actually be better. And then it hit me like the weight of that enormous tablet upon which my Eleventh Commandment was written. If I'm being careful, rather than fully showing up, locking emotional doors, and avoiding relationship issues, what effect is that going to have on my own children? The answer was obvious. They would very likely model the same behavior in their lives. And that was the last thing I wanted to hand down from one generation to the next.
It became time to re-etch the stone where that Eleventh Commandment had lived within me for far too long. But it could not happen until I challenged what I believed, I was open to other ways to think, and was willing to make choices that supported me mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Slowly and steadily scraping away and sanding my stone back to its smooth, raw, beautiful surface one letter at a time, I replaced my Eleventh Commandment with, "Thou shalt live my Full Yes!" And the rest is ancient history.
Living my Full Yes! means I no longer hide nor settle in my relationships, career, and as a mother. I make choices for myself and agreements with others that I can fully support on all four levels that reflect who I truly am and what I stand for. This shows up in every aspect of my life with incredible results. My marriage has depth, intimacy, and mutuality. My career is one of choice that brings out the best in me. And my children have a mother with whom they freely, openly, and lovingly share their lives.
As for my old Eleventh Commandment, I now can see and appreciate that those three statements were never intended to be guidelines for life, love, and career, but merely my mother's loving and caring way to keep me safe from strangers in the dark.
Is it time to begin living your Full Yes! and rewriting your Eleventh Commandment?
MARLA GORLICK, CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL COACH
CREATOR OF FULL YES! LIVING