I woke up in Maui to sunshine while my husband took the children for a walk, and all I can remember feeling is guilt. Yes, my life was perfect, but I wasn’t happy or fulfilled. And I wasn’t ready to admit it to myself. Sometimes in a single moment, we look at our lives and realize that something is off, and we instinctively push this feeling away. But eventually, it always forces its way out.
Six months later, my husband walked in and told me that he was leaving me. This was a traumatic event for me, of course, and I know today that if I had listened to my gut back in Maui and taken action, much of that trauma could have been avoided.
The people I admire most are those who can look at themselves honestly and admit when they’re not happy. These people are always great communicators. They talk to their spouses and their children and friends, and they communicate when they’re not doing well. In this way, they are able to work through their unhappiness and forge change in their lives in ways that are healthy and productive. Unfortunately, for most of my life, I wasn’t one of those people.
Instead, I was one of the people who gets hit with a trauma and just wants to stay in bed. After my husband left, I struggled to hold my life together until one day I had another moment. I had to decide whether I was going to make it or give up. And I decided that I would not spend another minute being a victim of my own inaction.
Life is not a light switch. Learning to listen to yourself and make a change in your life is not an overnight process. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the challenging moments in my life, it’s “Don’t settle.” When we start making the right decisions for ourselves, it’s not just a moment anymore, but a gift – a gift of investing in who we really are and in our own happiness. And that’s a gift that you can only give yourself.
Susanne Veder Berger hid her face for more than 50 years. Now, an amazing surgical procedure has allowed this courageous resident of New York City to show her “true face.” Susanne calls it “Getting Naked.” She’s embarking on a new journey and invites you to join her in confronting challenges, “getting real” and stepping into a fresh, more empowered life.