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As Mercury goes retrograde, the coming three weeks are the perfect time for some life laundry. For Victoria Cox, this meant asking: “am I living a lie?” Artwork: Aneta Ivanova via Behance.net
Aneta Ivanova on The Numinous

It’s an unsettling feeling to look back on the last decade of your life, only to discover that you’ve been living a lie. No, I haven’t recently been arrested for identity theft nor do I want to be the next Caitlyn Jenner. What I mean by living a lie is this: upon looking back at the arc of my burgeoning adulthood, I was astounded to discover that the career choices I had made, had never, in fact, been the choices I wanted to make.

There was no gun being held to my head. I made these decisions entirely voluntarily. Succumbing to my own burning desire to please others, I began to emulate a path that would impress my father. Abandoning my creative desires, I launched headfirst into a career in law.

Essentially, I took on what had been one of his ambitions and pursued his goal for myself. All, I can see now, in the hope that he would love me just a little bit more. Of course I didn’t realize what I was up to until much later in life, that’s the power of the subconscious mind. But there were signs along the way, tiny whispers asking if this was truly what I wanted.

Ultimately, it was finally paying attention to these signs that opened my eyes to the fact I’d been faking it all along.

SADNESS: The first sign was the persistent, heavy sadness that was my constant companion. I spent so long convincing myself that I was doing the right thing that I simply chose to ignore it. I knew it wasn’t normal to feel this way, but it took me years to confront my sadness and ask myself that terrible question. The one you don’t want to ask because you already know you don’t want to hear the answer. “Why are you really doing this?”

FEAR: Then there was the fear – fear of making any changes to my life. So, cushioned by my regular paycheck, I chose to play it safe. I convinced myself that it was the fear of losing my job that kept me awake at night, when actually I was afraid of something completely different. I was afraid I was missing out on living MY life.

RESISTANCE: I had always wanted to be a writer, yet I never wrote. Instead of putting pen to paper and creating a story, I created a litany of excuses. I was too busy, too stressed and this was killing off any creative inspiration. What I was really doing was a classic case of self-sabotage; I was refusing to get out of my own way.

Aneta Ivanova on The Numinous

DISTRACTION: I would do anything to avoid facing up to the truth of my situation. Cue night after night when, instead of turning on my laptop to write, I poured myself a glass of wine and checked in to see what The Real Housewives were up to. Anything to divert myself from… myself.

EMOTIONAL GUIDANCE: Sensing my malaise, a friend suggested I try a meditation class. Once my monkey mind finally settled I discovered a sense of peace I hadn’t felt in years. Meditation began to show me the true purpose of emotions and how they can actually provide valuable guidance. Quieting my mind had highlighted the fact that anxiety and fear were my sole companions while I was at work. In stark contrast, I discovered that the only time I felt any semblance of joy was in a creative environment.

BOREDOM: Another sign that showed me I was living an inauthentic life was a constant sense of boredom. I was bored by my work and bored with life. I would plan vacation after vacation in the hopes of brushing up against some kind of enjoyment, but nothing excited me anymore. The world seemed to have become one, long, monotonous…nothing.

ILLNESS: Being stressed and unhappy takes its toll on the mind, and on the body. My body decided to give me a sign of its own making, a physical wake-up call. My skin reverted to its teenage years and broke out constantly. I had severe insomnia and my adrenals were burnt out. My body was essentially screaming at me to get my attention the only way it knew how, through sickness.

IDENTITY LOSS: Despite the fact that I was desperate to change my career I hid behind my profession. I used my identity as a lawyer to impress people, because I was too afraid to show them who I really was. Ironically I spent so long holding up this mask as a “successful lawyer” that it was no longer a mask. I had morphed into somebody that I didn’t want to be.

Aneta Ivanova on The Numinous

SELF-LOATHING: I was disgusted by the realization that I had let fear hold me back from pursuing my creative dreams. In an attempt to remove these loathsome thoughts circling around my mind, I began journaling every evening. A torrent of hateful words poured forth providing another sign I desperately needed before I could move forward. I now needed to forgive myself.

PERSPECTIVE: The act of writing out my deepest fears in my journal showed me that I was stuck in a victim mentality. Instead of throwing a 24-hour pity party, what I needed was a change in perspective. Why was I choosing to hide this experience in the Life Mistakes folder, when I could file it under Life Lessons instead? Looking at my situation from a fresh perspective showed me that my experience had actually created a swath of writing material. What if I chose to write about my story so that it could help others who were in the same boat?

I’m still a long way off from the writing career of my dreams but that’s the not the point. The point is that each step of my journey has shown me I was living life out of duty rather than desire; acting always to please others rather than pleasing myself.

I hid behind my fears because I didn’t want to face up to the fact that in order to follow my writing dreams, I had to let go of those parts of my life that no longer served me. Yet the very act of finally facing these fears gave me the permission I had been desperately seeking; the permission to pull off the mask of inauthenticity and show my real self to the world.

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  • Dana says:

    This post could not have come at a better time for me. 2015 was the year I realized that I’ve been living on autopilot – making the choices I thought others (particularly a then-boyfriend) wanted me to make rather than the ones I wanted to make. I’ve been frustrated with where it’s gotten me and impatient to get on with my life. It’s incredibly hard to admit publicly that you’ve been living your life for someone else, but I’m so happy that you did – it made me feel like there’s hope that I can turn things around for me, too. 2016 is the year I trust myself instead. Thank you for sharing your journey ♥

    • Victoria Cox Victoria Cox says:

      Hi Dana, thanks so much for your kind words. Pressing that autopilot button is so alluring yet it takes great self-awareness to realize you aren’t living the life you want and to make changes. Wishing you all the very best on your journey, its never too late to turn things around. ♥

  • Sophia says:

    This is so true for me and I never realised most of what I do is Resistance to what I really want to be doing. I’m on the journey of letting go of what doesn’t serve me and I’m excited by what my path looks like. :) Thank you so much for writing this!

    • Victoria Cox Victoria Cox says:

      Hi Sophia, thanks for your comment. Resistance can be a tough one to overcome, it can manifest in sneaky subconscious ways! Wishing you all the best on your path. ❤️

  • Brooke says:

    You are a wonderful writer! I am so glad you fulfilled our dreams and allowed yourself the space and honor to remove the masks- such an unnerving process but once done so much more fulfilling and cleansing- real- I have had trouble difficulty in many of these ways- you have brought it to the light. I too want to write and really love my truth. I am , gradually , slowly , one step at a time and now it seems it goes in super speed and then platos- just so I can actually sit back and enjoy life, indulge . I am grateful you wrote these. Gives me more hope and understanding and perseverance to share my dreams goals and visions with this world. I would like to bare down and share my story and write more Po. Be well and thank you- many blessings to you xo

  • Victoria Cox Victoria Cox says:

    Hi Brooke, thanks so much for your insightful comment. Wishing you all the very best in making your writing dreams come true! ❤️

  • Kate says:

    Like Dana, the timing of me reading your artcile is so spot on – it is as if some universal intervention pointed me here. Since October 2015, life has been a struggle. I’ve lost my lust for it, and feel my spirtual essence is leaving me. Like you, my skin (I work in the beauty industry… so it needs to look at least ‘clear’) as been warring with me; a sign I know – that I’m burnt out physically and emotionally.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It was a great comfort. Keep writing. :)

    • Victoria Cox Victoria Cox says:

      Hi Kate, thanks so very much for your heartfelt comment. I know exactly how you feel, but please know that nothing lasts forever and that the only way to deal with any situation is to simply move through it mindfully, taking it one day at a time. It will get better, trust me! ❤️

  • Emily says:

    This is exactly where I am, and I’m really wanting to start this change just not sure how.

  • Charlotte says:

    How true your comments are. How difficult it is for us to realise that one life we have and we should live it. Trouble is we all get lost along the way.

  • K says:

    There are so many parts of this I can identify with right now . Tears are pouring. I feel like such a failure and have no one to blame but myself because I’ve felt the need to always bite off more than I can chew and do everything thing myself. Now that I’ve made all my poor choices on my own done things that were logical to me at one point to later backfire on me and put me further back . I’m too old for this and should have known better and I’m embarrassed and ashamed.

  • Tev says:

    I read the many articles and comments,wow i feellike your telling my life story. I feel so lost but wach day i must put on my siperman cape and save the planet. At the end of the day i am polar opposite and i have always known it. However i do feel that there are so many people like me in the world. Yes there is hope.

  • Carole says:

    Like others have commented, your words strike more than one chord of my feelings to my own life. I have been the dutiful wife, doting mother for so long now and I am so disatified with my existence.
    In no way do I resemble the person I was ten, maybe even twenty years ago. My hopes and aspirations gone. I wake each day with a dread of yet another day living this lie. I feel I have allowed others to kill my dreams for me.

  • Melissa says:

    W.O.W.!!! Girrrrrllll…you are an EXCELLENT writer!!! Thank you SO much for sharing your story/journey. I Googled, “I’m tired of living a lie”, and was led to this site. You wrote EVERYTHING that I have been going thru for years, and I’ve finally had enough of living and being the person my mother wants me to be. I don’t want to live a lie anymore. I can’t and I won’t. Thank you and may God continue to bless the works of your hands.

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