As a young adult, I avoided making big changes to my life.
It was fear, I guess, of making mistakes . I think it was also about finding a comfort zone for my life, then burrowing in and staying put.
Thanks to getting my heart broken in my early forties, I started to see an excellent therapist. At a certain point in my therapy, my therapist asked me to consider that I wasn’t just suffering from a broken heart. I was mourning all of my unfulfilled dreams (college, moving from a rural town back to the city of my birth). I had wrapped myself like a mummy, in a frantic effort to escape being hurt again. And I had not been hurt, in a long time, but I had not experienced joy either. Life was flat for me, like a bottle of soda pop left open, all of the bubbles that make a soft drink tasty gone.
My therapist told me I had a choice–I could keep myself mummified and keep on being miserable, or I could start peeling away the mummy wrappings and start living again.
I decided to choose living again, and stepped into the chaos of change. I developed a step-by-step plan for myself, starting with my ultimate goal and identifying the steps it would take for me to achieve my dream.
It was not easy, let me tell you. I had diarrhea for a year; a doctor told me it was anxiety, but I believe it was good old fear, plain and simple. I did not sleep very well for a long time. I made some decisions that were kind of stupid. But I learned as I went along my path, and I started to understand that I felt what it was like to be really alive. I had some bad days, but I also had some really good days also (like the day I held my bachelor’s degree in my hands). I learned how to trust my instincts, rely on my own judgment, because I am, after all, the architect of my own life (man, that was a good therapist).
I went on to obtain my master’s degree, and have been lucky to be employed for almost all of the last sixteen years (except for 10 months when I did not work, after the illness and death of my mom. But that’s another story).
So here I am in 2014. I’ve worked for the same nonprofit since 2001, in a number of different positions. In the past year, I have decided it is time for me to move on. At first I was just going to retire and live the life of a retiree, doing volunteer work and whatever else struck my fancy.
But you know, I’m not ready to sit in a rocking chair.
I still need to move on from what I’m currently doing, because it’s time. But I have other options–teaching part-time, writing, traveling, maybe doing some work in hospitals again.
Truth is, I just don’t know where I’m going to end up when I leave my job in mid-July.
I’m on an application track to do some teaching; it may take me months to know if I make the cut.
But that’s okay, because this old girl ain’t dead yet.
I’m embracing the chaos of change again, daring to dream that there is yet another version of my life out there, just waiting for me to grab hold of and wring dry.
And I won’t lie to you, my sleep quality has not been great.
And I’ve survived some gastrointestinal eruptions.
Knowing me, I’m sure there will be more.
It’s important that I keep those mummy’s wrappings off myself, trust my instincts, and take delight in who I am, as a woman, a mother, a grandmother, and a human being.
I had a graduate school professor who asked his students to consider the road less traveled, from the Robert Frost poem:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
So, onward and upward.
And yeah, I’m a little scared.
But I also feel fully present in my life.
It feels good.