My father died 28 years ago, more than half my life and still his words echo. He told me never to be a martyr. At the time I had no idea what he meant, the word not in my vocabulary. He explained its meaning sharing vivid examples that have stayed with me all these years. His lesson, chart your own course, be yourself, resonated.
Many moments his words reverberated as I discarded the path of least resistance in search of something more. I left a marriage that did not feed my soul, my wings effectively clipped and embraced the life just beyond. The decision led to the opportunity of building a new home in the country, training and running a marathon and facing my fear of being alone. Turns out, you can never be alone as long as you don’t lose yourself.
I left a relationship that was toxic and embraced the not plus one category. Trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole sapped my energy and my soul wilted. This decision led to meeting my husband and the life that we would create just beyond this choice. I learned a relationship should be easy and not exhausting.
I left a job that paid well with great benefits for many reasons, not least was a toxic co-worker who worked hard to make my work life miserable, its effects spilling over into my home life. The goal was retirement, though I realized I wasn’t ready and worked to educate myself, and build my own successful company. Work should seem like play and it is once again.
There are many moments in life where the path of least resistance seems the easy choice. Situations where we can wrap the cloak of martyrdom around us like a warm blanket and remain in place, comfortably uncomfortable. We can even tell ourselves that we are the better person, though in the course of a lifetime it matters little. Inertia, chips away our authenticity and makes us less, not more. We cheat ourselves and in many cases prevent the people we are being martyrs for from moving forward to their most authentic selves. It is a full circle that leads to defeat.
We have only this one life. My parents died young and working in healthcare taught me it can all be gone in an instant. We must not waste this gift, for at the end of life no one will applaud us because our souls died for useless causes. Likely, no one will spend a second thinking of what we sacrificed. It is the work of life to have meaning, purpose and to become our best selves. I have much to learn, though I thank my Dad for his wisdom so many years ago.