i knew change was coming. i knew that getting on a plane and heading to scandinavia would, once again, change my life. of course, i had no idea how much everything would change.
it had been twelve years since i’d been to scandinavia, since i’d seen or heard from ian. my marriage with jake was crumbling, though it was really difficult to admit that to myself. the therapist i was seeing on a weekly basis, after nathan (my co-worker) encouraged me to begin to really deal with my marriage/life issues, wasn’t completely sold on the idea of me going abroad in the middle of a marriage crisis. but, i knew it was right. i couldn’t explain it, i just knew. it was perfect timing.
there was a part of me that was, of course, saying, “to hell with this marriage counseling. how can i fix my marriage if my partner won’t go to counseling with me?” and then, there was the other side of me saying, “i must be crazy to think that jet-setting off to europe in the middle of all of this craziness in my marriage. how selfish am i?” but, in the end, there was actually no decision to make. this pull that i felt toward scandinavia, to denmark – and it was actually more than ian, because i had no idea about his life – won out. i knew there was an opportunity staring me in the face, and i knew that spending five weeks away from my life in north carolina would prove to be therapeutic. i also knew that when i returned, i would not be the same.
and to be completely honest, somewhere deep, deep, deep inside me, i subconsciously knew that it would be the end of my marriage.
so, i wasn’t gonna just sit around, live with the status quo, and miss this opportunity. nope. it was time to take back myself, to set this part of my soul free – only i didn’t really, truly know that’s what i was doing. i only knew from deep within my bones that it was right. besides, jake was completely supportive of me going. i don’t think he needed or even really wanted me around. an indication of how far apart our lives already were – and how long we’d already been living our own lives.
i had had enough of living in the midst my so-called peaceful life. a life without conflict. for years i thought it was so much easier to just make everyone happy, to always keep hoping that one day everything would be as i imagined it with jake, to follow the path that was expected, because i everyone told me i was soooo good at what i did.
i sought shallow peace without conflict in my marriage, and in my entire life.
but, in may 2007, i took the bull by the horns and moved forward, forcing myself to realize that peace is not the absence of conflict, but that true peace is finding one’s self in the midst of conflict and being authentically you. real peace is the presence of self, of spirit, of hope, of love right smack dab in the middle of chaos. real peace looks fear in the eyes and casts it aside. real peace comes from an inner fight to recognize who you are, accept who you are, and love yourself anyway – because you are already loved exactly as you are by this great spiritual being that creates & re-creates. real peace comes from knowing yourself and living life from that deep place within your soul.
for the first time, in a long time, i heard that deep place in my soul crying out to me. i felt that deep place in my soul stirring. elizabeth was still inside there. not, liz, the wife, the minister, the student, the daughter, the sister, the friend, but, elizabeth. the raw, real, untamed, untouched, undiscovered elizabeth. and i knew, that even though i was more scared than i could imagine, and that my life was about to become more insecure, more uncertain, and perhaps more unaccepted that it ever had been, that ignoring that small, still voice would result in the fire in my soul dying out. but instead of letting it die out, it was time to let elizabeth out.
i had finally realized that i was unhappy & unsatisfied, and that i had dreams to chase. i finally accepted that i deserve more than being beaten down with words that were meant to make me feel guilty. and i finally felt the desire to live life on my terms – not the church’s, not my family’s, not my husband’s. i needed to be me. i needed to explore me. i felt called to discover me – the me i was created to be.
at this point, if you know that i am married to a woman, you may think that this is my coming out story. a story to release the lesbian that lived inside me. that i had these secrets about who i was & who i wanted to love, and finally, tired of suppressing my desire for women, i decided to make a change in my life.
but this is not that story. not at all.
this is a spiritual story. i was on a journey, an uncovering, a discovery of who i was from my soul. and that has nothing to do with who i have loved, or who love now. i thought nothing of loving women at this time in my life. in fact, i had never thought of loving women.
instead, this story has everything to do with my relationship with myself, and with the God that i believe in; the God that i believe is inside all of us. it is a story of a journey inward, to connect with my spirit, which is the same spirit that connects us all.
it is a story about my death. the death of my false self, and the birth of my true self. a spiritual being, a free woman, a dreamer, a pilgrim, a nomad. it is a coming out story of sorts, but it is more like a story of coming out of the shadows and into the light, of coming out from my cocoon and flying as free as a butterfly.
it is a story of letting go. of breaking free. and learning how to be me.
so, in the middle of june, i gathered with the five university students i would be leading across scandinavia and we boarded the plane in charlotte. the plane that took me back to where i first felt my soul 12 years earlier, the plane that would change the direction of my life, and set me free.
we lifted off. i left north carolina & all my expectations behind, and set my sights for what was about to come. i didn’t know any specifics, only which countries i’d be visiting. but, i knew, that when i returned to the states in five weeks, i would not be the same.
yes, i was only sitting on a plane, but i felt as if i was actually flying on my own. for the first time. gliding. completely free.