I thought I would go back to work after my first maternity leave. It only took one day for me to realise I was wrong!
As I sat pumping milk in a windowless room they had set aside just for me, I realised I hadn’t prepared myself or my daughter for our lives apart. I knew that we could both adapt, but I found myself asking; was it necessary to make it necessary right now?
My boss was very understanding and gave me two more weeks of unpaid leave to figure it out.
The thing was, I already knew.
I knew, I just hadn’t listened to that knowing. Instead of leaning into the hollowness I felt that day I continued to try to bolster myself up because I thought I just had to get through it. But the shock of having my 11 month year old be angry with me for that unexpected day away, made me question whether both of us ‘having to get through it’ really was the only possibility.
As I reflected on what had happened I realised I was surfing along on what I thought I should be doing, and what I thought people were expecting of me. It felt precarious and it was difficult to sink into the knowing inside because that felt, ironically, like the unknown. Jumping from one stress-filled thought to the next seemed like a better option that resting between the thoughts.
Yet I realised that those thoughts were not providing me with any peace, nor a solution that seemed like the right one. So I had no choice but to listen to the silence more than the noise. And in that silence there was a quiet voice that knew all along that going back to work in that way, at that time, was not right for me.
And that’s what living a life in integrity means to me.
It doesn’t necessarily mean being right or moral or making the best choice. It means making life choices in alignment with that quiet voice inside.
That quiet voice inside – it knows what is right for me, at any time, but a long time ago I learned to ignore it. I learned to look elsewhere for wisdom. I relied on other people – and my perceptions of other people – to tell me what to do and how to behave. And that’s what lead me into the wilderness of trying to please other people, which, as you will know, never results in peace and contentment!
But once I realised that there is a constant source of wisdom within that quiet space inside, I started to listen to it more. Gradually I developed more trust and faith in my own ability to make decisions that are right for me, and that actually led to some pretty radical choices like home educating and living in India – but a life in integrity doesn’t have to a look a particular way on the outside and that’s the great thing about it!
The only way to really know is to check in with how it feels on the inside.
So, how does your life feel on the inside?