Break Down or Break Open

We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.

—Ernest Hemingway

For most of us, there is a time in our lives when we have fallen so hard, that it feels almost impossible to get back up. We are left on the ground shattered in shame, disappointment, anger, or grief. You can feel the fire pulsate in your breathing, feel the burn at your core, and the ashes drifting in the air. The thought of regaining composure or a sense of normalcy as we have known is almost inconceivable. Some refer to this as the ‘dark night of the soul’, a place that some of us will visit, and never wish to stay.

It is here where we are left with questions and choices:

Will it be the experience of once born innocence or twice-born wisdom? Will you stay awake, feel the pain or go back to sleep, and live a compromised life?

When we have been through a trial and survived it—or better still transformed its terrors into revelations—then we begin to approach other adversities with a different attitude. Change and loss may still knock us off the horse, but soon we are back in the saddle, stronger and wiser than ever. As life progresses, and we continue to transform and refine our consciousness, we gain more insight and humility, greater strength of character, and deeper faith in the meaningfulness of life.

– Elizabeth Lesser

–The choices here are personal… and critical.

I am grateful for my own experience where I found the light in my broken pieces. I managed the darkness with unfaltering support from the people I loved the most and those who crossed my path with an uncanny connection to my heart.

And…there are those who wish to stay there a little longer by divine choice.

So, when and if this experience is a part of your journey – just ask the question:

Will you stay awake, feel the pain or go back to sleep and live a compromised life


Carolyn Lebanowski
Carolyn Lebanowski
She began her professional career in retail and grew to become an experienced and respected senior-level executive with particular expertise in strategic development, organizational communication, and executive coaching. After nearly three decades of career growth in corporate organizational development, Carolyn was ready for a career change—and a life change. This led to a new role and the most challenging, enriching, and rewarding work of her life, as a Strategic Business Leader for nonprofit spiritual institutions. These roles provide her the opportunity to fuse the professional and the personal, aligning her business acumen with her spiritual identity and passion for the development of human potential—in her colleagues, her community, and herself. Carolyn is a writer who seeks above all to share from the heart. Her impulse to write began 20 years ago with letters to her children and grew into journaling that was unedited and life-affirming. Today she writes with a focus on raw, authentic experience, drawn from real life, to explore, express, and make sense of the pain and joy, struggles and triumphs, of life. In all her endeavors, she champions connection, integrity, and radical positivity.

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  1. Love this post Carolyn. I reminds me of a statement by Deepak Chopra that our friend Gina Mazza’s used in her book – “Each person’s tale involves some moment of trauma or questioning that leads them into a “shatter of the self” – which is what happens when “we don’t know who we are.” – Deepak Chopra – from the book by – Gina Mazza – Everything Matters, Nothing Matters. I finally learned here is nothing new to see in the past so, pick up the pieces and start moving forward everyday.

  2. Hi @CarolynLebonowski. have read Elizabeth Lesser’s book Broken Open. It was a game changer. I so resonate with your words/article. Love the phrase “once-born innocence, twice-born wisdom.” And the question “Will you stay awake?” truly is THE QUESTION, the challenge of our times. Thanks for your words and the reminder.