Two years ago, my chest was continually throbbing, as though my heart was beating outside of my chest. The weight of stress and anxiety controlled every aspect of my life.
I was in one of the deepest and darkest moments I have yet to experience.
My wife and I owned a small business. It was a cute boutique nestled in the heart of our uptown area. It was a space where you would often hear music in the park, the sounds of visitors attending an art festival and all the excitement a historical uptown area brings.
Owning a small business was something I’d always been interested in and having a women’s boutique that my wife could call her own was a dream come true for her.
We loved every aspect of what it took to run and operate a retail storefront. The hustle, late nights, early mornings, long buying trips, tedious tasks, mundane to-do lists. The whole gamut from A to Z was something we both thrived on.
We poured blood, sweat and tears into this store. She made it her own; we made it our child. It was our pride and joy.
Then in the summer of 2012, everything changed.
We welcomed our first son into the world. It was a magical moment and an experience I will never forget. To this day, three years later, it’s surreal that I have him.
Knowing that my wife was going to need some time off welcoming our baby boy into our home we had our ducks in a row for her to be away from the business for a while.
It was taken care of.
Until it wasn’t.
Having a child changes everything, for the better. It puts things into perspective. It shifts priorities. It’s a constant reminder of what’s important.
The store was no longer at the top of our priority list. It’s not that both couldn’t be done—it’s being done every single day by countless of successful business owners and parents. However, the early mornings, the long nights and the energy needed for a business to thrive were no longer attractive to us.
We wanted to pour all of our energy into our son and not have to constantly be in two places at once.
The store was slowly put on the back burner.
As we went through the motions of running a business, it began to suffer to the point where the operational expenses were coming from our own pockets. The pockets we worked so hard to deepen.
So we came to a decision to sell the store. A decision that was much needed, but one that would spiral into something I wasn’t expecting.
Upon the sale we found ourselves in a financial hole that will still take years to dig ourselves out of. Debt from owning a small business, student loans and a mortgage were piling faster than we could keep track of.
I would spend my days and nights going over scenarios in my head of what we should have done differently or what the future holds for us. Would we be without a home? Where would we live? How can we pay that next bill?
Patience became nonexistent, over reaction became common from both my wife and my son. There was intense friction between my wife and I. And my family lived on egg shells not wanting to make a wrong move that would suddenly set me off.
I found myself living in the past and dreading the future, rather than paying attention to the present.
I was becoming somebody I didn’t want to have anything to do with— a husband my wife didn’t deserve, a father my son couldn’t look up to.
I knew I had to do something.
Maybe it was the realization that my health was deteriorating from the stress and anxiety, or the effects my actions were having on my relationship with my wife and those I surrounded myself with. Or maybe it was witnessing myself become distant around my son, glossing over the very moments I’ve dreamed about.
All of these things were an awakening.
I knew I owed it to those around me to change, and I owed it to myself. I was drifting further away from who I really was, morphing into someone I didn’t recognize… someone I couldn’t stand.
I knew I had all of this baggage, these dark pockets deep within me that had been festering for weeks, months and years. It got to a point where the voice in my head, the word, was creating the reality in which I lived.
I had to expose the unexposed. I had to release the things I’ve been suppressing for years.
Knowing that I had to do something, but not knowing what, I just began to write.
The more I wrote the lighter I felt.
The more I wrote the more the heaviness on my chest began to dissipate.
The more I wrote the looser my shoulders became.
The more I wrote the more I smiled.
I knew things were buried, I just didn’t know what. Writing exposed the truth within me.
I began to realize that each moment, this very moment, is the exact definition of what my life is. This is it. This is my life. This very moment is defining who I am as a human being (tweet that!) It’s part of the legacy I am building and leaving.
It’s the story I am writing.
I am truly grateful for every moment experienced and every cent that we owe. The financial hole we found ourselves in still exists today, though we are chipping away at it. The biggest change, however, is how I see the entire experience.
My perspective has changed.
This experience of coming to the end of myself has led me down a transformational path. A path of awareness, self growth, gratitude and serving others. I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for this. My family would not be where it is without this tremendous failure. Because of it we are now closer and are growing as individuals together.
This is a story of transformation. It’s a story about perspective. The women’s boutique was our vehicle to change and growth.
Writing has gotten me there and will continue to guide me.
Image credit: John Kay