What do you do when a dream dies?
You know the dream–the start-up getting an angel investor; the promise of a promotion that you have worked years to earn; the prelude of a soft smile and tender eyes from across the room every weekday for over year. That dream. The dream you nurture with time spent away from your children, late nights in front of the computer, or flights to far away lands. The dream that almost cost you your marriage, helped you gain weight, and had you start drinking in order to “relax”? You know, the dream—the driving force that has been pushing you to succeed at all cost. The dream that keeps you up late at night worrying about the tension and stress from VPs who hate the CEO; that gives you stomach craps because you cannot let down dad; the dream that makes you yell at your baby girl and she cries. I am talking about the dream that was going to prove to God and man you are somebody. World be damned. But somehow, some way, the dream turned into a living nightmare…
I never planned on going into business. At least not alone. When I began this enterprise, I was friends with one of the most beautiful, charismatic, and supportive person I had ever met in my life. Let’s call him Lou. I loved Lou more than I loved myself. Because Lou believed in me. He took up for me and was loyal to me when people in authority betrayed me in service of their own survival. Lou was my 2nd client and he was the man I told all of my secrets too. When he had a brain/stroke scare, I was the first person he called. He was everything to me. I loved him and held him closer than a brother. Lou and I were extremely emotionally intimate. We talked about his marriage, the military (he was Army; me Coast Guard) and we dreamed. He wanted his business to expand, I wanted to get my work/words in the world. He said that he would have it happened. And he did. He treated me like I was special, precious, and worthy. He harnessed his resources to design my logo and print my words. He had my audio tapes re-edited for pitch-perfect sound quality. I had never had somebody stand so hard for me having what I wanted. It was like a fairytale friendship.
But like all fairy tales, evil lurks. Tensions build. And people stop telling the truth. Perhaps it was my arrogance in our love that had me believe that if anything came up, he would tell me and we could talk it through; perhaps I did not fully account for the wedge our emotional intimacy was causing between he and his wife; or perhaps he just got tired of supporting me. Who knows. Bottom-line: I received an email stating he was pulling out of the business venture because I had emotionally manipulated him and used him for his resources. (Silence) Have you ever stood so still you could actually hear your heart cracking right down the middle above the silent roar of blood in your ears? Seasons have passed and the hurt, in my chest, is still real.
Lou left me. No words just a series of emails. The 3 days before he sent his “Dear Jane” email, I found out that my aunt had died. He knew. No grace. And ever since then I have been trying to do my business without him. He was the business; I was the brain. I have been trying to do both and I have been struggling. I have been surviving the loss of my beloved partner but even more so the death of what he and I had created together.
How do you survive the death of a dream? Well you “survive” it by keep going, pushing, and not stopping. But that path has costs: health, wealth, and damaged relationships, including with yourself; especially with yourself. I would not recommend you “survive” the death as much as you “surrender” to the loss. You see, a dream is a possibility, an absent potential that gives us hope, a future if you will, that makes today worth living. A dream will help you endure because the dream is as real for you as the air you are breathing. When dreams expire, for whatever reason, here are some strategies you can implement to nurture your spirit:
1. Grieve: grieving is not suffering. This dream is something you poured your love, heart, money, time, and attention into. When it fails or falls away, it is a real loss. Set-up sacred time and space to respect the loss. By so doing it will help you heal.
2. Go home: Go to the people, places, and things that remind you that you are not alone and that you are a good person. In the face of loss, it is easy to turn yourself into the enemy. You need earth angels around you right now as you heal. Put on music that speaks to your heart. Read familiar authors who feel like old friends and let them minister their wisdom to you through the pages.
3. Get support: You may need a safe and private space to tell your truth. Call on a spiritual counselor or coach that really hears you. Let your Circle of Trust know that you are going through and ask for support. You are loved . Let people know you need them right now.
4. Give it to God: Somethings are really out of your control. Sometimes the death of one dream is the birth of a new vision for your life. Turn it over to the Great Creator and be willing to go in a different direction than you may have intended. Who knows? Maybe God needed to kill this dream in order to create the right one for you.
5. Get quiet: You have to create opportunities for you to do nothing but self reflect, experience the loss, the anger, the disappointment, the betrayal, the hurt, the humiliation, the all of it and pray. Short spells will do. 10 minutes. 15 minutes. 5. You can use a book to guide you, or you can journal, or you can just sit and meditate.
When a dream dies, it leaves a big void in the middle of your heart and soul. It does. It is in that void, that empty space, that a new vision of you, your life, or your business can arise. Don’t survive the dream; surrender it and dream again.
With all the love my heart can hold…