So, I slept for 12 hours last night, and I just starting writing at 11:00 AM. I usually am almost done writing by now, but today I am slow moving. The sun is out and my cat is laying on the window sill soaking it in. I feel like my cat today. I just want to lay and stare out the window and think of nothing. I just want to watch the pine trees slowly blow in the wind, and watch the people walk their dogs by my house. It is that type of day. My mind has been in overdrive for the past couple of weeks, creating my book and drawing my illustrations, as well as working full time. This is the year that I have decided that everything will come together. So, a part of me feels like it has already happened, and I am frantically trying to catch up. But I am feeling depleted today. I was so tired last night that after my husband and I went out I almost ran upstairs to get into bed. I felt like a 5 year old that if I stayed up much longer I might throw a tantrum and start bawling.
I am not going to take my tiredness and slowness this morning as a sign that I want to quit everything as I would have in the past. After all, I heard somewhere that January 12th is known as quitters day, where people give up there New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t think people are quitters. I know for me, it is hard to keep my excitement up about achieving a goal when I work all week and I am tired, and I have to do the mundane things that keep life moving along. I believe the goals I set, and other people set, show good intention. It shows self awareness and a hope that there is a better version of ourselves yet to be discovered.
Progress comes in small steps. Changes sometimes take years. The journey that led me to where I am now started in October 2014. I had a breaking point. I am ambitious, and I like to feel like I am moving forward in life. I had a good job in financial services and I was pouring most of my energy into my career. I was promoted into management and I wanted to prove myself as a manager and keep moving up the ladder. The praise I received from my job became very important to me. It started to become a part of who I was as a person. So, I would feel good when things went well at work, and I would feel bad if things didn’t go well. I would spend my weekends going over scenarios in my head of how I could have done things better. My ego and sense of self was so wrapped up in my job, that when I was ‘counseled’ into stepping back into a staff position my self-esteem plummeted. They didn’t want me, they didn’t like me. I had tried my hardest and it wasn’t good enough. From that point forward there was a nagging dissatisfaction with my life. I needed that praise from outside myself to make me feel ok, and when it stopped I started falling apart.
At first I thought I needed to move. I needed to move away from the short days and rain in Portland to sunny Los Angeles where it seemed like the days were full of potential. I convinced myself that if I could just move there that everything would be ok. Somehow my life would fall into place and I would be happy. It was all I could think about to the point that I couldn’t focus on anything else. I felt so distracted and outside myself I knew I needed some help to sort things out. So, I enlisted the help of a life coach. I know I was so scattered on those first few phone appointments with her. I remember pouring out in 30 minutes all my disappointments in life. Talking about moving to Los Angeles one minute, and the next minute crying about my failures as a mom, sister, and wife. I was all over the map. I was embarrassed. I was thinking that the coach was probably rolling her eyes on the other end of the phone thinking I was crazy. My thoughts were so jumbled and confusing, I couldn’t make sense of them, let alone explain them to anyone else.
I was in so much pain, I wanted to give up and wallow in my self pity and spend my days dreaming of moving away from it all. But I didn’t do that. I hung in there. I talked to my coach every 2 weeks. She emailed me worksheets to complete, and inspirational quotes to keep me motivated. If I was making bad choices and I was being hard on myself, she would pick out the one positive thing that I did that week and highlight it for me. It would be something that I wouldn’t have even noticed if it wasn’t for her. I was making progress but it was slow and frustrating. I have always been a person who knows what they want and takes action, so to be swimming in confusion, indecisiveness, and stagnation was about the worst place for me to be. It gave me extreme anxiety. She would gently encourage me as I tried new things, and put myself out there. Somehow, somewhere, I had lost my compass for my own life. I had become so dependent on my employer, my husband, my daughter, my sisters to approve and validate me. I had no idea what I wanted for myself, or even who I was.
It was an extremely slow and excruciating process, but I finally started to see myself again. I started to recognize small parts of myself and trust the direction I was going. I had craved space, and I had thought the only way I could get it was by moving away to different city. But I was starting to realize that I just needed to claim my own space in my life right where I was. I needed to do the work to get to know myself well enough to set boundaries and honor my feelings. I needed to let myself explore and make mistakes, and be kind to myself.
Today, I feel that I have come to the other side of most of my confusion and frustration. My journey led me to writing and drawing again, which were my hobbies as a teenager. It made me remember how much I loved doing these things, and how connected to life I felt when I did them. Now, writing and drawing helps ground me, and gives me a sense of self that I used to rely on other people to give to me.
My journey took 4 years and continues today. It was not a quick or easy fix. I gave up at times out of sheer frustration over the years, but I never gave up for good. I am not a quitter! I know this about myself now, and I have more confidence because of it. And probably the most important thing I have learned is that I don’t have to feel motivated and excited every single day to achieve my goals, but as long as my good days outnumber my bad days I will move forward.