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It’s my belief and my stand that if we create a culture where we actually understand how we operate as humans and how transformation takes place, we don’t have to experience this tendency to hide and withdraw out of fear of being shamed for our experience. This is where the Transforming Out Loud series was really birthed from, from that place.

My mission is to normalize transformation on the planet one intimate retreat at a time.

Hello, and welcome to this episode of Retreat and Grow Rich, the podcast. This is your first episode in our new series called Transforming Out Loud. I’m Darla LeDoux. I am the author of Retreat and Grow Rich: the Entrepreneur’s Guide to Powerful, Profitable Retreats, which you can find on Amazon.

Today we are kicking off this new series, Transforming Out Loud, and I want to start by sharing with you a little bit about why I created this particular series. First of all, my mission is to normalize transformation on the planet one intimate retreat at a time.

First of all, I want to talk about what does that mean? What is transformation? Transformation is actually our ability to create a permanent shift in our context for living that opens up all new levels of freedom, self-expression, love, peace, joy, all of those things that we truly want, that deep level of fulfillment.

We actually have the ability to shift the way we view life so that we give ourselves the space and permission to show up in a whole new energy, and that new energy actually has a ripple effect that transforms every single one of our results. If you are a fan of this podcast, you probably get it, and you know exactly what I mean, because you’ve experienced it.

My mission to normalize transformation on the planet is really about making it so that it’s not strange or weird, first of all to attend retreats and tend to our own inner journey, but second of all, to create, or we could say attract or experience things, that maybe look like a storm in our life or something going awry, but it’s actually showing up in service of our greatest good and to help us learn very deep and profound lessons and shift our energy and our way of being in the world.

These things are happening for us and for our growth, and we live in this culture of extreme judgment. We’re very much, and it’s coming from fear and survival- that level two energy, which I talk about the energy levels in Episode 4. That’s the world that we live in, this, “there’s not enough to go around.” We are comparing and controlling and proving and all of that to survive in life, and that energy makes it very challenging when you’re moving through something that doesn’t look good on the outside. Because we live in an energy where people are quick to judge and when something doesn’t look good, it’s challenging, we like to hide it. We like to keep that to ourselves until we’re through it, until we come out the other side, looking all perfect and pretty, and it feels safe then to go back out into the world.

It’s my belief and my stand that if we create a culture where we actually understand how we operate as humans and how transformation takes place, we don’t have to experience this tendency to hide and withdraw out of fear of being shamed for our experience. This is where the Transforming Out Loud series was really birthed from, from that place.

In the anatomy of a transformation, which is something that I teach my retreat leader clients and something that we actually go through in Episode 3 of this podcast, the crux of transformation, that place where we really start to shift, happens at stage four, which is surrender.

When we get to a place of surrender, which is really getting that the way we’ve been operating isn’t the same way of operating that’s going to get us the result we want. We get to this point where we say, “okay,” and I look up, because for me it’s a spiritual conversation. “okay, my way of how I’ve been wanting to control things to this point hasn’t gotten me the result I want. Show me another way.”

We can be in this place of surrender in our connection to spirit or source. We can be in this place of surrender in our connection to other people in our life. A lot of times if you are a retreat leader, or you’re a coach or a mentor, you know what that’s like when your client gets to the place where they say, “okay, I’m going to relax my ego a bit, and I’m just going to breathe, and I’m going to allow in what you’re sharing in a new way.” Because if we hire a coach or a mentor, that person has a result that we don’t yet have, that we want.

In order to truly get the most value from that, we actually have to surrender our own ego’s need to be right and to already know what we know. That’s where transformation can take place, when we are in that energy of surrender. This isn’t about giving our power away or letting people tell us what to do. It’s really bringing that energy of surrender. We’re saying, “hey, I’m open to a simpler way. I’m open to a more easeful or elegant solution.”

When we are in that energy, we can see new truth. We can actually get a glimpse of the ways of being or habits or patterns that we’ve been bringing to life that we’ve just outgrown. They no longer serve us. At that point, we can embrace a new truth and a new possibility that takes us into a whole new sphere.

It starts with surrender. We don’t typically surrender well. I can speak for myself. This has been something I’ve had to learn. We don’t typically surrender well. Our society is built on the idea that being strong, and having ourselves together, and being independent, and pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, and all of those things is revered, right? Or that is what it is to be strong. We feel like we have to have all the answers and explanations for why we are the way we are, why things are going the way they are, why we’re right, all of that.

If you think about it, we spend so much time in our head thinking about how we will explain things, and we actually explore this in one of the episodes in this series with Tina Forsyth. It’s really awesome. Be sure to listen to that. But we spend so much time in our head thinking of how we can explain things so we look good and people still like us and accept us, that we struggle to actually surrender and allow the lessons to unfold.

And it makes sense. I grew up in a small town where everything one does is magnified, and it can be really scary to put yourself out there and be fully yourself in this environment. The whole concept of surrender flies in the face of this sense of self-protection for our survival that we’ve been conditioned with.

This idea of being strong and together actually hinders our growth, because if we can’t surrender, we can’t see new truth, and we don’t ever grow.

I’m introducing this idea of what if we lived in a world in which it was normal to share the behind the scenes of our transformation, because it was actually safe to do so. For those of you who are listening to this, I’m sure you’ve had your own transformation, and maybe sometimes it’s come in the form of a problem or something really going wrong in life. What if we could share that?

The truth is it’s not always safe to do that. There’s a lot of judgment, and we don’t give a lot of grace in our society for someone who messes up, at least not without a skilled public relations expert on your side, right? We see this happen with celebrities a lot. But for those of us in our day-to-day life, we’re afraid we can’t recover from the truth of the things that are happening within us or happening behind the scenes.

If you’re someone who has done your inner work and you’ve developed a strong internal approval system. In other words, you’re not looking for the external world to approve of you, at least not as much as you used to be, then I encourage you to share the behind-the-scenes and to pave the way. Myself and the guests in this series have raised their hands and said, “yes, that’s me. I am willing to transform out loud as a matter of course, as a matter of how I do leadership in the world.”

The more of us, and I’m not saying everybody should do this, right? It’s not always safe. Maybe you haven’t cultivated a group or community that loves and receives you no matter what. I talk about this in my second episode in this series. Maybe you haven’t worked your muscle enough to really be okay receiving whatever feedback comes your way when you are out in the world as fully yourself. If so, it might be okay to save that. Go on retreat. Get in a safe space with a skilled leader who can hold that space for you.

If you’ve done your work, if you’ve put yourself in these environments over and over again, and your muscles strong, I encourage you to just take a few more risks and start to share. That’s what I’m modeling in this series. That is my hope for you in what we demonstrate and bring to life here.

By the way, as a retreat leader, your skill at transforming out loud will translate into a skill of you being able to hold a safe space for others to do that in your retreat. The more you put this out there in the world, the more you will hold an energy of total love and acceptance and safety in your retreat room. I invite you to journey with me as we transform out loud over the next few weeks.

The title of this episode is Death, Divorce and Taxes. In truth, I’m not going to talk about taxes, but I just thought that rounded out the title nicely.

So the year was 2006. It was May, and I just hung up the phone talking to my mom, who lived in Minnesota, I was living in Ohio at the time, and she had just told me that my stepdad was diagnosed with cancer, and it was really serious. This was incredibly stressful news. It would be at any time, but it was particularly stressful because I had also just recently changed the locks on my front door and officially kicked out my husband and began the process of separation.

I’d been married just six months. I refer to this sometimes as my celebrity marriage, because it happened so quickly. I was pretty devastated. I couldn’t believe that I had made such a mistake in making the choice to get married. It was almost as if as soon as the signature dried on the marriage certificate, a switch flipped in my then husband. He suddenly started not coming home in the evenings, not bringing any money home from his job as a contractor, and essentially really stressing me out.

He had a son, has a son. And on several occasions, went out to go pick up a movie, for example, and the three of us were planning movie night, and he would just not come home. SO here I was with his son, who’s in tears, “where’s my dad? What’s happening,” and I’m there trying to pick up the pieces and console him, meanwhile, calling hospitals and trying to figure out what happened. Until eventually this became a pattern, and I wised up. It turns out I had married a drug addict, who was really amazing at hiding this until it seemed it was safe for him to let loose, because he had landed me as his legal spouse.

This is all happening in my life. It started actually in January, leading up until May. During that time we went to rehab. He went to rehab. He got kicked out of rehab. I continued to go to rehab, and I went to what was called family group therapy, learning all about addiction and codependency and all of these things, which I actually thought I knew a lot about, because I grew up in a household with alcoholism and addiction, but it turns out I really had a lot to learn clearly.

I continued and I went through the training, and I got myself strong, and I made the decision to end my marriage. This was cemented by changing the locks because if you’ve ever been in relationship with someone who’s actively addicted, it’s really challenging to reason with them. In fact, I had been through a lot of really hard experiences, including having the house broken into by drug dealers and a lot of scary things.

So I had just made the decision that I was going to move out, be on my own, and put this relationship behind me- I’ll share more about this decision in a minute- and I got the call from home that my stepdad was sick. My stepdad had raised me since I was in second grade, so by all accounts, my dad was sick.

I immediately flew home and went, I started doing research, trying to support my family. If anyone has had a cancer diagnosis in your family, you know that feeling of figuring out what does this really mean, how far along, what’s the survival rate, what are the treatments, all of those things. My rescuer, fix-it, went into overdrive, and I started doing all of those things.

At the same time, I’m just devastated inside and feeling really alone, because I’m in the process of ending a relationship that I’d been in for three and a half years, and I got weak. In this process, I actually invited my ex back in. I listened to these apologies. Really, I felt I wasn’t strong enough to do this on my own, so I decided to lean on him. We tried to make it work for the next three months and continued our relationship. Meanwhile, I’m supporting my family from a distance and taking all of my vacation days possible to travel back to Minnesota to be with my family and do what I can.

During this time of traveling back and forth, things just got worse in this relationship that by all means needed to end. To where, again, times got very scary, a lot of experiences that really broke my heart happened in my relationship to the point where I had to end it. It just wasn’t going to survive. I hired an attorney, and I’m at the divorce attorney’s office- and I remember it clear as day- I’m just walking out from hiring this divorce attorney, and again I get a call from home that my stepdad’s going to pass, there’s nothing they can do.

Again, I travel home, and I’m there as much as possible, spending time with my family, and really trying to navigate these conversations with my stepdad, because he’s there saying, “I’m going to fight this. Don’t worry. Don’t cry. It’s going to be okay,” and I’m there knowing it’s probably not going to be okay, but I didn’t really feel free to be able to talk about that with him. We’re all there pretending like it’s going to be okay. Those were the last conversations I had with him before he passed.

And I was back in Cincinnati, back sitting in my corporate cubicle, putting in time in my job so I didn’t lose my job when he actually passed away. I wasn’t even able to be there where I wanted to be when I wanted to be there, because I had this job going on. When I share the story a lot, that’s what I say, is, here I was in my cubicle, and I made a decision in that moment that I was never going to be so tied to an external reward like my paycheck or my boss’s approval that I wasn’t able to be where I wanted when I wanted to be there.

It was honestly in that experience that I got committed to starting my business. I’d been thinking about doing it for a long time, and it was in that moment that I really got committed. There was a blessing in this, right?

I talk about that, and I also talk about how my stepdad was fifty-two, he had just gotten promoted into a job that he loved, ironically, in training and development in his company. So he was just starting on this career that he loved, and he passed. It really fired me up to do what I love now even if I’m going to fail. I’ve got to find out, because we don’t know how much time we have.

So there were all these positive things that came from this experience, but what I don’t talk as often about is a lot of the inner healing. I was in a place where basically life as I knew it was ended. This relationship that I’d made a big decision to commit to, because I was like, “I’m not going to get divorced. I’m going to choose once,” and I waited until later to get married, because I really wanted to do it right. My mom had gotten divorced, and I didn’t want to make those same mistakes, so to speak.

Here I am, this is falling apart. My family as I knew it was no longer the same with the loss of my stepdad, and I didn’t know what to do.

The first thing I want you to know is, this was the best gift I ever got, of truly not knowing what to do, because it was the first time I was really willing to surrender.

Up until this point, I felt very in control of my life. Even though plenty of people from the outside would have thought it wasn’t going so well, because I had had a lot of relationships that didn’t work out, and I’d changed jobs when most of my friends stayed in their same corporate job forever, they’re still there. There were a lot of people around me that were thinking I wasn’t doing great at life, but in my mind, I really felt like I was up until this point.

I had to surrender what everybody thought of me, and I had to surrender this idea of myself as this totally successful human being, because here I had failed at my marriage. Being able and willing to fail at something opened up a whole new world for me, and I got to this place where I thought nothing’s guaranteed, life isn’t guaranteed, first of all. Second of all, no matter how we try to control everything working, we may or may not be able to do that. It actually made me willing to take risks and start my business.

But in this time, before I got to that place, I really was at a loss, because I’d never been so out of control before. I found myself- I did the typical overachiever- I went to a divorce support group, I went to a grief group, and I got counseling, so I did all the things. I really didn’t expect therapy to be helpful, but I went to therapy, and I’m sitting in my therapist’s office, and the therapist said something to me that actually totally changed my life.

She said to me, “you know what they say, Darla?” I was like, “no, what do they say?” She said, “when one door closes, another door opens, but the hallways sure are a bitch.” I giggled because it was funny. But then I stopped and I thought about it for a minute. I started to imagine myself in this hallway, and I started to imagine that these things that were happening in my world were nothing more than doors closing that were pushing me into this hallway where something else was possible, where a new door would open.

I began to really imagine that life was supporting me. This was the first time I developed any ounce of faith in my life. I began to imagine that life was supporting me in moving me through this hallway and moving me forward through a door that was more divinely aligned with the truth of who I am and that would really lead to happiness and fulfillment. Because when I really was truthful about my life, I was working in a corporate job that was okay, but kind of boring and not really in alignment for me, and I was in a relationship that obviously wasn’t working for me. Things really weren’t working. As much as I was acting like they were, they really weren’t working.

So I began to have gratitude and appreciation for this experience in the hallway. From that place, that was really a place of surrender, of saying, “you know what? I don’t know where I’m going. Clearly, the doors have shut behind me. The old ways of being, the old ways of operating no longer serve. What’s available now?” I became really willing to be in that very vulnerable space to see what would unfold. And I learned three things.

In addition to all of this shifting of my willingness to start a business, and to try something different with my career, and to risk, and to fail in all of these things, I also in this process healed. By healed, what I mean is, I brought light to parts of myself, to beliefs, to stories, to energies, that I had been holding onto for so long. I brought them out into the light where I could see them and own them and discern what was true and what wasn’t about these things, so I could integrate those energies and move on in a whole new way.

For some of you, this is making loads of sense, and if it’s not making sense, I’m going to share in more detail so it starts to land for you.

I’m going to share three different lessons or healings that occurred from this experience in the hallway.

The first experience I had, the first healing was a healing around addiction, a healing around addiction. The reason my parents got divorced- they were divorced when I was young, just under two years old- my mom finally left my dad, which was an abusive relationship both emotionally, verbally, physically abusive. She left because she had to for her own survival and our survival. You can imagine the energy of that, right?

That said, in my experience as a kid, we don’t see that. I got it consciously later in life, and there’s a whole lot that I’ve unpacked since about that. But what I saw was my dad didn’t care about me. I wasn’t important enough for him to get well. The way this showed up was many times he would say he was going to come pick me up and we were going to spend time together and then he wouldn’t show up. He’s later told me that he either was drunk or didn’t have the money for gas to come and pick me up. In my child mind, that was a total failure on my part. Something was wrong with me that he didn’t come and get me, and I wasn’t important. I was fundamentally flawed.

Even though I didn’t carry this consciously, in my energy field that was the energy I carried. It was the energy that was the perfect energetic match for an addict to come into my life. Because I was still holding that energy, so I was available for someone who was a match to that energy, which is the addict, right? In this experience, and I’m so grateful, because I had done a lot of work actually and experienced transformation before I entered into this relationship, so I was able to catch it pretty quickly, thankfully.

What I saw in this experience in going to rehab with my ex and watching him fail at the treatment experience, watching him test positive for drugs even while he was in treatment and really seeing that, I knew, I could tell from how our conversations and our experience going through this, that the conscious part of him wanted to be free from this. I could tell that the conscious part of him wanted to be in relationship with me, and wanted to have this life that we had been building, and that the addiction actually had nothing to do with me, and his inability to conquer it and get clean actually had nothing to do with me. I got to see it.

When I got to see that, I could also see that that was true for my father. That his failure to pick me up had nothing to do with me even though in my child mind it was all about me. Clearly I wasn’t more important than that drink. I got to see that that may be true, it may not be true, but it certainly wasn’t entirely true. In fact, he probably, I could really feel love and compassion and get that he, there was probably a very large part of him that wanted to be there and wanted to show up for me. Then there was this other part of him that simply couldn’t, that wasn’t even thinking about me, right? It wasn’t even a conversation.

Through this partnership with my ex, I was able to heal that, and to feel in every cell of my being that it wasn’t about me, and to actually bring a level of compassion to both my ex and my father, but really to free myself at a certain level- these things come up to heal as we grow- from this idea that I was flawed and I wasn’t important. It was so beautiful.

Healing number two. I mentioned that my ex had a son, and he was just turning five when I met him, and seven, almost eight, when I left. I will say it like this, when I left him. I actually remember a moment when I doubted my choice to get married. I actually called off the wedding. I got a glimpse of the truth, and I was like, “no, I’m not going through with it.”

One of the reasons I actually talked myself into going through with it was because of this child who I loved. I was a stepmom, and I took that very seriously, and I loved this child, and I loved being able to play this role in his life of being someone stable, and loving, and affirming, because that’s what I had needed in my life, and what I eventually got in my life to a certain degree, and so I wanted to be able to be that for him.

And I remember a moment where my truth, as I know it now, I didn’t have this level of clarity then, was knowing that this was not the right relationship for me. However, my mind came in and said, “you know what? It’s okay if your life isn’t that great, because you’re going to make life better for this child.” I literally thought that, I kid you not, and I went through with this marriage for that reason.

On the other side of that, when I made the choice to leave, it was actually a choice to choose me. To undo this martyr syndrome, this idea that I had to sacrifice my own happiness for another’s well-being, because I don’t know, we don’t know, would it have made the difference? Maybe. Maybe not. We don’t know, but I get to choose my life. I get to choose my life. I get to choose my happiness and trust that this little soul has the choice to choose his as well and that it’s not necessarily my job to fix a situation that wasn’t mine to fix. He had the dad he had. He had the mom he had, and none of that was really my business. Yes, I could have an influence, but could I have an influence at the cost of my own well-being? That was a choice I originally made and that I had to undo actually. It hurt my heart to no end to make that choice, but I made that choice.

Here’s the thing. In making that choice, just like I healed with my dad, I got to heal with the other people who left me. When I was a kid, my mom, when she left my dad, she clearly had a belief that as a woman you need a man to survive in life. So she immediately started looking for another man and then another and then another. I went through several relationships with her where she, we lived with someone, we lived with a couple people actually before she got remarried to my stepdad.

Here I am forming these relationships with these different men, and then they leave, and they leave and they leave, right? This is my perception as a kid. Of course, the perception is they left me. I didn’t know what really happened. They may have left my mom, not me, my mom, for their own well-being, because she could be challenging. Perhaps my mom left them for her well-being.

Again, it had nothing to do with me. In that moment of choosing me, even though I would have loved to have also chosen him, I chose me. In that moment, I healed all of that feeling of resentment and not enough-ness that went with the thought that I wasn’t good enough to keep these people around.

Can you start to see how this level of healing couldn’t have been set up better from the universe? This marriage, even though it didn’t last, was such divine alignment for me to learn these lessons. Had I had the lessons before, I might not have had to go through that, but I didn’t. It was the perfect setup for me to learn and grow.

The third thing that happened is super interesting because this was a short marriage, I had not paid off the wedding before I was also paying for the divorce. I want you to get that, and money comes in here, because I had this bill, because I’d decided to just charge our wedding, and we had a plan to pay it off, which never came to fruition. I felt a lot of upset about that at myself, like, “what an idiot that I spent all this money, and now I had this debt, and now I don’t even have a relationship. I don’t even have this child in my life. I have none of the things that I was buying into when I made this choice, and here I am,” right? I felt so dumb, which is a huge identity crisis for me, as the one who’s an engineer and the smart one. I felt so dumb.

When my stepdad was diagnosed with cancer, which, again, if you remember, was just five, six months after my wedding, six months after my wedding, and then he passed so quickly, I could look back on that wedding, when I had him walk me down the aisle, and I had the father-daughter dance with him, and I could know that I would have paid-our wedding was about twenty thousand- I would have paid twenty thousand dollars over and over and over again to have that time with him.

One of the things that was particularly healing about that time is, during our first dance he shared with me, he said, “you were my first born.” Remember I’m a step-child, right? He said, “you were my first-born,” and he said, “you saved my life.” Now, that’s a lot of pressure for a kid actually, but when my mom chose him, he was also drinking, and things weren’t going well for him. Because of me, he chose to stay with my mom and then build a life with her and build a family, which got him sober. He literally said, “you were my first born, and you saved my life.”

Now, that was a beautiful moment that in his passing I could hold onto and I could know that he felt that way about me. I could know and really understand the divine role that we played in one another’s life, right? Because him being in my life brought a sense of stability, believe it or not, that I hadn’t had before. Even though often it felt unsafe, because he was actively drinking for some time, it actually brought this sense of safety and stability to my world that I didn’t otherwise have. I fought him like a step-kid would, but I knew he loved me. Having that affirmation and that conversation was so healing and without having the circumstance of a wedding, I guarantee we would not have had that conversation.

Again, all of this came together in divine right timing and beautiful alignment for me to heal. That dance and that conversation was so healing for me as the step-kid, who kind of had a feeling she didn’t belong, nobody wanted her, she wasn’t important, she wasn’t enough It was so worth it, right?

All of it, all of the experience and the pain that I felt, I genuinely felt, and the potential devastation I could have chosen to feel. Instead, I chose to heal. I could have felt devastated, and instead I chose to heal. Thankfully, I had some tools going into the experience that allowed me to do that and to really bring love and compassion to my ex, to my dad, to myself, through this experience.

Again, if we think about this healing, healing my belief that I wasn’t enough for my dad to get sober, healing my belief that these people who were in my life, as a potential stepchild, had left me. Healing this idea that I wasn’t important as the stepchild. All of those things, this person who came into my life, who society might judge as a deadbeat, and a loser, and an addict, and a jerk, and all of these things, was such an angel in my life, because this experience healed me and brought me to where I am today.

At every moment we’re choosing how we move through these experiences. I could have so easily let the well-meaning people in my life, who would have easily gotten on the bandwagon of, “he’s a jerk, it’s his fault, poor you, you’re a victim,” all of these things, I could have chosen that energy, but instead I chose to heal.

Imagine a society where instead of having people being eager to say, “what a jerk, it’s his fault, you’re right, he’s wrong,” all this, “poor you, duh-duh-duh,” what if instead we were trained to say, “oh, my goodness, where’s the healing in this experience? You must be growing into something really amazing that you’re moving through this experience.” That’s the intention of Transforming Out Loud.

Thankfully, I had a little bit of support who was coming from that place in my life at that time, so I could hold firm in my knowing that this was happening for me, and I was healing through this. I went through it so much faster than so many people I see who go through it with societal norms of “this is a problem and a disaster,” and before you know it, their energy is so depleted, they’re just in victim mode, potentially for the rest of their lives.  

So the more we can share, the more we can transform out loud, the more we can encourage others to unpack these experiences and see them as the beautiful healing opportunity they are.

I would love to hear your insights on this conversation. Please share over at our Facebook page, Aligned Entrepreneurs. We have several threads going about, one for each episode, and I really want to have this conversation out loud. Please share. What are you hearing? What are you healing? What’s inspiring you today because this series exists? Thank you so much, and we’ll see you in the next episode.

Do you see yourself hosting transformational live experiences or retreats, yet something’s been stopping you?

Maybe you’ve actually tried it but something went wrong and your retreat didn’t fill, or maybe you’re simply afraid to fail. There’s a real vulnerability that comes when we step forward to lead in this way, and the ways we imagine failure to happen are endless. That’s why I want to flip the script and have some fun with retreat fails.

Join me for this new free training all about people who have failed and lived to tell the tale. Join me now, and you’ll get access to this exclusive free training with me and some of my hand-selected experts right away. We’ll see you there.

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