Dedication: To all women who listen to, love, and support other women.
I am my biggest, “I can’t-er.”
I do not remember a single instance in my life when someone told me I couldn’t do or achieve something. I do remember the dozens – no, thousands – of times I “I can’t-ed” myself into inaction and misery.
“I can’t move to another country. I don’t know anybody there. I can’t get a job there.” I said these words for over thirty years. This May, I will have lived abroad for a year. I have friends. I have a life. I started my own company and earn a reliable income.
“I can’t get sober. I can’t take off work to get help. I can’t recover from the shame. All my friends will hate me. I’ll damage my family’s reputation. Nobody will ever love me. I’ll never get another job.” That is what I told myself for ten years. Then, I went on medical leave. I went to rehab. I got many more jobs. And, while I am not sober today, I can say I can get sober again, and I will.
How did my “I can’t” monologues and diatribes turn into stories of hope and possibility? I’ll never know the final answer to that question. Here is what I do know…
– I have a quiet and powerful – although sometimes magically hidden – self-preservation impulse.
– I know how to simultaneously leap blindly and strategically into opportunity.
– I am living proof that resilience is possible, that we can rise up from near-death to do things we never dreamed we could do, and in a fairly short amount of time.
These are some of the intrinsic factors that allowed me to move from “impossible” to lived-in-possibility.
I also know I was able to move from “I can’t” to “I can and am” because of all of the phenomenal “I can’t” opposition fighters around me. In my darkest I can’t moments, I’ve found myself surrounded by love and support. When I couldn’t pay rent when I first moved to a new country, people opened up their homes to me. When I didn’t know how what to do to stop the drug abuse, unexpected and loving female spiritual support appeared to remind me I had everything in me I needed to heal, evolve, and begin again. Friends listened without judgment, adopted my plants, forgave me for my selfishness and absenteeism, and welcomed me into their homes – when my company was less than desirable just as when it was a source of laughter and joy. My family – they have done their best to provide me with love and support in their own way. Near strangers now check-in on me just to see how I am doing. Whenever I attempt to move from “I can’t” to “I can” the universe shows up for me. Every time.
I can’t say my internal “I can’t” chorus has re-rehearsed enough to sing a new refrain at all hours, every day. (And yes, I know I “I can’t-ed” there, yet again…)
I can say that by remembering all the love and support around me and staying awake and open to that love, and by putting in some hard work to rewire my thinking and doing motherboard, I can do damn near anything – including recanting my “I can’t-er.”
If I can do it, so can you.