“I feel like I’m invisible. No one sees me. No one thinks about what I need.”
These are the words that came out of my mouth many years ago as I was deciding whether or not to stay in my marriage. When I spoke them, I was referring to my now ex-husband (can you guess what I decided?). I was also referring to every other person in my life, including me. I wasn’t fully seeing me. But I didn’t know that at the time.
The things I wanted then were to be accepted and respected. I wanted to feel appreciated for all I did for everyone else. I felt like I had spent my entire life trying to be what everyone else expected me to be and I couldn’t be myself.
Before we dissolved the marriage, I agreed to try counseling. In the first session the therapist asked me “Who will Julie be if you’re no longer part of a couple?”
I thought I knew the answer. I knew that I couldn’t spend the next 50 years doing things the way we had always done them. Whenever I suggested something different, the answer was always No and I went along. I responded to the therapist with “I want to travel, meet new people and learn about different cultures. I want to DO things.”
That was the start of a fifteen-year adventure that taught me so many things. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
Turns out the picture I had in my mind developed a little differently. I pictured traveling to foreign lands, trying exotic things and making new friends all over the world.
The extent of my travel, though, was the East Coast states between Pennsylvania and Florida. I did meet many new people and I did learn about different cultures. The new cultures included people who were homeless, people who sold drugs and prostituted themselves for a living and people who had to work three jobs at a time to make ends meet.
I learned what it was like to have to couch surf to keep a roof over my head. I learned how to feed myself on $10 per week. It surprised me to learn that there is a very dark underbelly to the travel industry in Florida. In addition, I learned that some of the best people will do whatever it takes to make money so they can feed their kids. Most importantly, I learned not to judge people for how they live their lives.
Before the divorce, my world included white, middle America suburban living. We weren’t rich but we always had enough to live comfortably. After the divorce and moving a few different times, I ended up living in Orlando for 9 years. During that time my suburbanness (it’s a word now, I just made it up) eroded. When my car died, I rode the bus for 6 years. With no direct route to work, I spent an average 6 hours of my day on the bus with people just like me who fell on hard times. The education I gleaned from overheard conversations was eye opening.
As a suburbanite, I tended to judge people who lived on the street as well as drug dealers and prostitutes based on my Catholic upbringing and on what I saw and heard on news reports every day. During my time in Orlando, I began referring to them as “my peeps”. They were no different from me. They were doing what they knew to make ends meet. Granted the method may not have been the greatest but sometimes in life you have to make choices in order to survive. And it becomes easy to justify the means when you feel you have no other choice. It’s all about the story you tell yourself.
I arrived in Orlando in October 2002 with hopes of making a new life for myself. I left Orlando in May 2011, broken and broke. But also, with an innate knowing that things were about to improve. The in-between time, while extremely challenging is a time that I will always look back on with fondness. Because that’s where I came to know who I am. Before I moved
there, I had no idea how strong I am. I didn’t know how creative I can be. I had no idea that no matter the circumstance, there’s always a way. You just have to allow yourself to be open to possibilities.
When I look back to who I was before the divorce and the idea of traveling to exotic places, I think where I ended up is so much better. Because I would never have learned what I did about myself if I had gone with the original plan I had pictured. The Universe always knows what you need and delivers it.
Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t wake up one day suddenly knowing all I needed to know to make my life better. It took me much longer to figure it out because I did it on my own. I learned how to navigate the hard times and I now know the answer to “why me”. I’m better equipped to show you the way through your current struggles for having had my own. Working together, we can get you to your destination in much less time than it took me and you’ll have the benefit of having an experienced guide by your side. Think of me as your travel agent/tour guide.
So, if you’re ready, I’m organizing a trip to Orlando where you . . . NOPE!! Just kidding.
You may be ready for a change but you don’t have to go that drastic. I did it all for you and learned all the lessons. And I’m here to help you map out your own blueprint for the life you want for yourself.
“Somewhere along the way I had lost my point of view and sense of self, and I feel like I found that again . . . I had forgotten who I was, what I wanted out of life, and had completely lost my motivation to find the answers. With Julie’s guidance I have been able to reconnect with myself and find my motivation again.” Christine J.