I am not crazy!
So, it is 2021. The crazy, tumultuous, deadly 2020 is officially over! When I look through photos of myself over the past year, I see a woman who was pushing through her feelings of sadness and putting herself out there to have new experiences, and meet new people.
When the lockdown happened in March, I could no longer avoid my feelings. I was stuck at home and they were right there with me. I still did my best to avoid feeling them by exercising incessantly during the day, and messaging men on dating apps in the evenings. Every once in a while of wave of sadness and despair would come over me, and I would allow it to surface.
The despair was from not having my family anymore, or my family in the form I thought it should be. The despair was from no longer having my home that I had for the last 20 years, where my husband and daughter were the focus of my life. We owned a home, we had a meditation garden, we had boxes and boxes of memorabilia in storage. That was my life that I had built over time. I wanted my own family so badly, and I had it.
But slowly, I started to want something different. It started when my daughter was in High School and we started to travel more to see potential colleges. It was just me and her, and we bonded on these trips. We got our hair done, went out to nice dinners, and got spa treatments. I had traveled all over the world before I got married, but when my daughter was little our trips were local either to the beach or to the mountains in Oregon. I was fine with that. I had no huge desire to jet off to Florence, as I did before I was married.
But taking these trips with my daughter when she was in High School reminded me of who I used to be. Not only physically taking the trips, but my state of mind. I was full of hope, I was daring, I wasn’t afraid to take chances! That part of me became dormant when I got married as I focussed on my family. But it never went away.
I felt my desire for change creep slowly into my consciousness to the point where it was all I could think about. I became so obsessed with it that I thought there was something wrong with me, so I started speaking to a counselor. In our first session when she asked why I wanted to talk to her, I blurted out through my tears, ‘I want to move to the beach!’ I felt ridiculous even saying it. I had the counseling session over the phone while sitting in my car before I went into the gym. And I felt like my mouth could not keep up with all the thoughts I had swimming around in my head. ‘But who picks up and just moves to the beach? Why couldn’t I get that idea out of my head?’ She listened patiently, and I felt like she was rolling her eyes at me on the other end, but that was just my own insecurities interpreting her reaction. She turned out to be a very helpful and an integral part of my growth.
I wish I could listen to a recording of that very first counseling session to see if I sounded as crazy as I felt. It was as if someone else was taking over my thoughts, and they wouldn’t take NO for an answer. I had a home, I had a career, I had a family, my marriage wasn’t the best, but whose marriage was? This was my life! A life that I had built over years with my love and determination. How could I just walk away?
It took me almost 5 years to actually walk away. And it wasn’t a huge moment that happened that made me act. One morning I woke up, walked into my office, logged on the computer and looked for jobs in Redondo Beach California so I could transfer there. It was if someone else, once again, was taking over my body. Why did I look on that day? I couldn’t tell you. I just did. And there was a job available. I emailed the manager to ask if they were still looking for someone, and he said yes.
Then I remember a thought came into my head that said, ‘Go tell your current manager you want that job, and you want to move!’ I started arguing with myself about how silly it was. But that voice won out, ‘GO!’ So, I walked into her office and told her. She looked at me in complete surprise. ‘You want to move?’ And I smiled at her, because somehow I knew that this was it! I knew I was leaving. ‘Yes, I am moving to Southern California to live by the beach.’ And after going through 10 interviews, in person and over the phone, they offered me the job. It was finally happening.
My finance job was my way to get to the beach, my passion is my art and writing. But even so, I work hard at my finance job and 4 days ago they offered me a promotion. I am excited about that, but certainly didn’t expect it or even try to get it. I just showed up every day and did the best I could, and they must have noticed.
So, as I start 2021 my resolution is to work a little bit every day at what I want to happen in my life. I know I will still have my days being sad over the past, but as I move forward those feelings will slowly melt away. I have learned that it is a process, not an event. My writing has taught me this. This blog post marks the 3 year anniversary of writing this blog every week. I haven’t missed a week of writing in three years, which is a commitment I made to myself. This year I want to write more often, and have more people read my words. Just like when I wanted to move to the beach, I can’t pinpoint all the reasons why I want more people to read my writing, it is just a feeling. And instead of putting a huge goal in front of me to accomplish with a deadline, I am going to work just a little bit every day to make this happen. I am not going to measure the progress, I am just going to do the work.
I know I can make it happen because as I sit here writing this on my balcony I can see the ocean. The woman that I was, sitting in her car feeling so embarrassed as she spilled her guts to a counselor and thinking she was crazy, made it happen. She made it happen by working a little bit every day on herself to be strong enough to walk away from a situation she had outgrown. Turns out, I wasn’t crazy after all.