Place is important
‘Place is important!’, the organizer confirmed as I shared with the ladies in the midlife group how Redondo Beach, California had a pull for me. I joined this group 3 years ago in hopes of gaining some clarity on the confusion and sadness that I had been feeling. I told them that I had no explanation as to why I felt so good and happy there. I confessed that every chance I got I would fly down to Redondo Beach from Portland Oregon. They all nodded knowingly and all agreed, ‘Place is important’.
The years leading up to my daughter going away to college were tumultuous ones. Our evenings and weekends were spent debating the attributes of different colleges, filling out applications and trying to figure out how we were going to pay for it all. My goal was to get my daughter to a place where she could learn, grow as a person, and be safe. And we made the best choice available to try and achieve that. But after she was out of our home and off to college, I realized I needed to do for myself what I had done for my daughter. I needed to be in a place where I could learn, grow as a person, and be safe.
Since I had more free time on my hands I started to explore new options for myself. The problem is, I had absolutely no idea what those options were. I was literally at ground zero with a ton of energy but no where to put it. I would alternate between being energetic and excited, and depressed and hopeless. I was like a pendulum randomly swinging between highs and lows for no apparent reason. I started to realize that finding out where to put my energy and what I really wanted for my future was going to be a hard journey.
Since I didn’t have a clear picture of what I wanted I decided to try anything that seemed at all interesting to me. A friend told me about the ‘Meet Up’ app, where I could chose what interested me and then I would get notifications of groups that were meeting in my area that shared my interests. So, I downloaded it and started to join groups. I would blindly show up to meetings all over Portland, having no idea what I was getting in to. I was scared to put myself out there, but I would try and stay open to what was in front of me without judgement, so that I could listen to see if there was something there for me. After going to quite a few meetings a finally found my nugget of gold in this midlife group in October 2017.
The organizer was a kind quiet woman with blue eyes that I felt could see right through me. We were given prompts to create art, and then we shared what we created and why. Such a simple exercise, but it left us all holding back tears. We brought in pictures of ourselves as babies and with our own babies, with our husbands, with our girlfriends, and at all different stages in our lives. We started to see the complete picture of ourselves, and not just what we were struggling with presently. So many of the women in the group were adventurous travelers that had moved to a different city, or country, sight unseen. I was one of those women, and I started to remember that about myself.
I remembered that I loved to travel and try new things. I remembered my love for engaging with like minded people and having discussions about personal growth. I started to remember that I am a person in this world and not just a wife, mother, employee, or problem solver. I felt a slow reawakening of dreams of mine that had long laid dormant. It felt scary as I knew that these dreams had power over me, and I wasn’t sure where they would take me.
My decision to be fully present at each meeting, also brought up all sorts of emotions for me that I didn’t quite understand. I thought overall I was happy but needed to find new interests, but I started to realize that I felt alone and neglected on an even deeper level. It was a vague sense of sadness that I couldn’t quite define. The other women in this group had the same feelings I did. We all teared up as things that we had buried within ourselves and tried to ignore slowly started coming to the surface. I started to not feel so alone. I realized that there were probably lots of women who felt lost and neglected, but also felt too confused to really share what was going on with them.
So, I started a blog to share my journey in hopes of connecting with other women who felt as I did, but didn’t know where to start. I didn’t have any answers but I wanted to share my questions. I had felt so alone for so long and thought that I had to figure it all out on my own. But I didn’t, I could ask for help and get support, and I wanted other women to know that they could do the same. We all need that support, because the journey to ourselves is a journey into the darkness, and we all must go alone and unprotected with no clear end in sight.
This lonely journey to finding myself has made the people closest to me feel confused and abandoned. They were used to me putting them first. When I started to put myself first they felt rejected, and I understand. I tried to explain it to them the best I could, and it hurt my heart to see their sadness.
I love my husband and daughter more than anything in this world. I have always told them that they have amazing gifts to offer the world, and encouraged them to put themselves out there. And it is true, they are two of the most beautiful people on this earth to me. In finding myself, I take nothing away from them. I have just started to realize that I also have amazing gifts to offer the world, and I also need to put myself out there. I love them just the same as I always have, but now I love myself too.
Three years later I finally understand what the group was trying to tell me, ‘Place is important!’ I moved to Redondo Beach last Thursday. When I first visited here 5 years ago I felt an amazing energy that I had never felt before. It was an energy that woke me up but calmed me at the same time. Ever since then, I have felt like this city has been like a person seducing me to live in the warmth of it’s sun and the healing powers of its beaches. I have taken walks by the ocean in the few days that I have been here, and I noticed that every time there are people meditating, doing yoga, or walking alone in thought. It is not a touristy or crowded beach. I started to think that maybe this was the energy I was feeling every time I came here. The people here are also trying to be more present and mindful, just like me.
This week I changed the direction of my life. I left my 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bath house in a great neighborhood with a beautiful private backyard for a studio apartment across the street from the beach. As I sit here with nothing but a gel mattress and suitcases in my apartment, I wonder what the future holds for me. Every once in a while I have a panic moment and think, ‘Did I make the right choice?’ I don’t know the answer to that question yet, but it feels right. I can’t explain the feeling except to say my whole body is telling me that this is where I need to be. And after neglecting and discounting my bodies signals for so long, I am finally listening. I am in a place that I can learn, grow as a person, and where I feel safe.