Cheryl's Blog

How I got out of jail.

This morning I woke from a dream and knew I had to write it down.  I was driving somewhere in the country through a beautiful pastoral setting filled with green fields, sheep grazing in the distance, and birds sailing overhead.

As I stared out the window at the peaceful scene, I suddenly heard a voice telling me how to drive.  Keep your eyes on the road, it said to me, watch where you’re going.  Now slow down.  You’re driving too fast.

I looked around to see where the voice was coming from and when I glanced in the rearview mirror, I discovered was sitting in the backseat!

Then I woke up.

I opened my eyes and groaned.

It’s you, I thought to myself.  Don’t you ever take a break?

I live with a warden in my head – a prison guard who works hard to keep me behind bars.  She pretends to be helpful, but she’s not.  She’s mean and annoying and she often interrupts my best attempts at expanding my life.

For the last few years I’ve been consciously working on befriending this part of me so she has less power.  But I gotta tell you, it’s a fulltime job .

There’s something that happens at midlife that changes everything.  If you let it.  The personality that’s been well crafted over the first half of life gets old and wearisome and other parts clamor to be heard.

And oftentimes those parts are diametrically opposed to the old you.  For instance…

If you’ve been a good girl all your life, I promise you there’s a bad girl waiting in the wings.

If you’ve been highly responsible and buttoned up, there’s a wild woman waiting to be let loose.

If you’ve become masterful at your job and successful at what you do, there’s another you who’s probably desperate to try something new.

When I look back at the journal I published in Waking Up in Winter, I see a woman co-opted by these new parts.  She was beginning to accept the fact that the status quo wasn’t working anymore and this meant confronting the warden who tried to keep her in line (read: safe).

Nearly everyone I talk to about midlife tells me they long to feel more alive.  I know I do.  And I’m discovering that the key to this aliveness lies in becoming aware of and expressing the parts of myself that have been kept in jail.

The problem is, often these parts are unconscious.  Hence the purchase of a red Corvette when you can’t afford it, or the midlife affair that destroys a good marriage.

Expressing the bad girl, the lazy guy, or the woman who wants to finally put her own needs first can be done without harming others.  It starts with being open to discovering the other side of you.

I’m uncovering these new parts by paying close attention to my dreams, by trying new things, by noticing what gives me energy, and by letting go of some of the old roles that no longer fuel me.

Which is why, this morning, when my conventional self told me to forget the dream and go about my day, I chose to ignore her.

I want out of prison.

So I lay back down, reentered the dream, and pulled my car over.  Get out or be quiet, I said to my inner warden.

She started to protest.

So I left her on the side of the road and kept driving.

I’ll go back to get her.  It just may take a while .

xo Cheryl

P.S. – You can order Waking Up in Winter: In Search of What Really Matters at Midlife here.

P.P.S. – The Hay House World Summit has started and I’ll be taking over Louise Hay’s Facebook page on Monday, May 7th at 12pm EST/9am PST for questions and coaching. You can find me here.  You can also register for the summit, here.

P.P.P.S. – There will be no Facebook Live session this week but you can watch previous sessions on my YouTube channel at CherylRichardsonTV here.

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