Acclimating to a Marginal Lifestyle by Dawn Jepson

Acclimation to a marginal lifestyle is not an event that happens overnight. It is a series of choices over an extended period of time in which one sacrifices their deep inner desires, usually in return for something else. The marginal lifestyle means living in a way that reflects only embodying a portion of your potential, desires and truth.

Think of climbing a tall mountain. You pause along the way to let your lungs and your body adjust to the altitude.

Or, consider the changing seasons in New England. Most of the time we don’t wake up and find it’s 80 degrees with the winter over. Rather, day by day it gets warmer, the snow melts, the leaves come out, and we change our wardrobes.

These are a couple of examples that represent acclimation in a person‘s life.

What might not be healthy acclimation is allowing ourselves to slowly, over the years, give away our power or to create false stories to justify an unhealthy lifestyle.

In any relationship there is give and take, accommodations are made in order to live and play together harmoniously. Still we retain our sense of self, who we are and what we want and believe in. It is frightening that as the years pass, if we don’t pay close attention to what those seemingly minor accommodations have added up to, it can feel like our life mess blossomed spontaneously. Suddenly we have acclimated to a way of living that doesn’t match with who we truly are. I know this because it happened to me.

No one forced me to accept a marginal way of living. No one forced me to give up my freedom of being me. I first unconsciously and then consciously found myself making those sacrifices for what I thought was a good cause - harmonious living. But the truth is that too often I gave pieces of me away; my priorities, how I wanted to do things, how I wanted to spend my time.

Inside me I was experiencing anything but harmony. I knew long before I would admit it to anyone, even myself, that I was giving up too much of me for the sake of my relationships. I created stories for myself, and at time for others, why this was okay. It has taken me a long time to wake up. I did attempt to call back my power on several occasions but did not choose the best route. Therefore, I continued with the marginal lifestyle.

Today I am taking a different path of self-healing. And this time I am doing some hard work; facing the truth, recognizing when the old patterns try to call me back into their craziness - and I am doing a great deal of grieving. Of course there is deep sadness because it wasn’t all self-sacrificing. There were many happy times, loving times and times of learning and evolving in positive ways. Through it all, this time of change has not been easy. In fact I am doing some of the hardest work of my life. I am winning “the battle” this time around.

I don’t like using that term, “battle,” because it sounds violent. But it HAS felt like a violent battle at times, especially in the beginning. Sitting quietly with my feelings, breathing, remaining aware of my thoughts, and treating myself with kindness, are just some of the tools I employ to help myself move forward. I am passing through this transition to a new way of living.

Changing old ways of responding to the ones I love and making new choices in the midst of stressful times is not easy. Yet it is possible. I am doing it, with the help of others and in faith and recognition that I am stronger than I once believed. I share this personal experience because I know that there are others who live with detachment from what their heart and souls want. They too find themselves in a marginal lifestyle. My hope is that this post offers those readers the courage to make the difficult changes that bring the joyful quality of life we embrace when we are authentically true to our hearts, leaving a marginal lifestyle in the past.