Dictionary.com definition: conviction: a fixed or firm belief
I use the word “conviction” because it sounds so much more non-negotiable than the word “belief”. I didn’t even realize I had convictions until a big one was staring me down. And, it took a really long time for me to clearly define this conviction. It was:
I will not live in fear.
Now, I was never in fear of my life. I had a roof over my head, my children were fed and safe and we were active members in the community. The fear I slowly began to recognize was insidious. It crept into my life unnoticed until I was staring it down and declaring: “It is you, or me. so that means you. Fear, you gotta go.”
It was truly like I woke up one day and realized I had no idea who I had become or how I had ended up in a life where I was planning my days around the invisible eggshells covering every room of my house – I couldn’t walk around in peace. I couldn’t speak in peace. I was blindsided with the feeling of having to retreat into a corner so I could feel relief and I could breathe. This was life with an alcoholic. The alcoholic does not hurt people on purpose. I knew this and this made it harder, in truth. To know this man was not doing or hurting us on purpose and that it was the effect of the alcohol on his brain seriously prolonged my realization of what I was ok living with and what I was not ok living with. If only he could stop drinking, we could find peace in our home again. If only he would stop drinking we could repair our relationship. If only he would stop drinking I could stop living on the defense. The ‘if onlys” kept me in my marriage for a very long time.
Some people are cut out for life with an addict. They are patient and kind and understanding and can live without trust. I am patient. I am kind. I am understanding. But, I cannot CANNOT live without trust. I need more than trusting that someone is doing the best they can. I need to trust that my people will not hurt me or my kids with words, with actions, or with disregard. THIS was the real conviction. It wasn’t fear. It was lack of trust. Ok, so maybe it was both. Regardless, this moment, it was huge. It helped shape the life I began to dream of, the one where I was happy and felt safe in my own home without fear of happening upon the invisible eggshells around every corner. I had to realize that love just wasn’t enough.
Here are the initial convictions I defined early on. Defining my convictions has been very powerful in building the life I have dreamt of.
I will not live in fear.
I will not live with someone I cannot trust.
I will spend my time with those I love. Relationships are of the utmost importance.
I will live my life body and soul. Carpe diem.
I will trust in God. If it is right, it will happen.
It is a bit funny to me, now, that I had lived my life without defining my beliefs – I suppose this is a natural thing. We live our beliefs without having to put words to them because they are just a part of us. But what happens when those most basic ones are trampled? The ones we think are just givens?? It takes a minute to realize what’s going on. It took putting words to my beliefs to give myself the power and a true understanding of my situation. Defining my principles really helped me identify when I needed to set boundaries. Setting boundaries has given me confidence and helped me take control of the beautiful life I have been given. If you find yourself feeling lost, take a minute to define what your non-negotiables are. What are your beliefs and convictions about the way you want and need to live your life? And, are any of those convictions being challenged? If so, it may be time for a change.
I have also found that on the other side of divorce, in this place where I am defining my life and making choices for me, that I still find myself pausing and evaluating the people I choose to be around and the situations I place myself in to see if I am living my convictions. This place of peace was not an easy or quick road to take and I am finding more and more how easily it can be chipped away if I’m not careful.
Of course I am not walking around in a constant state of Zen and I don’t cut off my loved ones when we get crossways, but I am mindful of myself (as the only person I can control) and I try, try to respond to the chaos of the world from a place of love – love of myself and others. Any other way will lead to regret. Life is too short for that.