i decided to bite off one more project. the second topic for Journeys: Backward Glance.
Looking Backwards, Moving Forwards, Standing Still
this was on the CD player as i was writing...
iím trying to decide
which way to go
think i made a wrong
turn back there
-- erykah badu
the end of the year seems to bring this about - the sort of philisophical navel-gazing that most times we dismiss as tired and trite, but which seems to be de rigeur in the waning hours of the old year. and of course, i'm doing it too.
i look back over all the changes in the last year, and try to wring some lesson from them. if you had asked me where my life was going this time last year, i would have said that it seemed pretty sure. i had a boyfriend who loved me, friends and family from whom i drew strength and to whom i gave back, and knew who i was.
looking at it now, it was a pretty fragile construct. i wanted so desperately for things to be a certain way, that i took too many risks. i pushed and pushed and pushed... and things fell apart. the day my divorce was final, my boyfriend dumped me. i should have seen it coming; in fact, i think some part of me did see it coming. the fear is part of what drove me to demand so much, of myself and of him. i had invested so much of my self-image in who we were together that the thought of losing him meant losing part of myself.
and in the aftermath, i fought to find myself. iím still fighting to figure myself out. it was a hell of a rollercoaster for a while. some days it seemed like things were bright and stable, and then it would all come crashing down. and it could change on a dime, from one minute to the next. all it took was for someone to look at me the wrong way, or to look around my house and feel overwhelmed by all the tasks iíd set for myself, or to trip on the sidewalk, and iíd be a blubbering mess. and the smallest things - a kind smile from a stranger, a friend buying me a cup of tea, the cats behaving and curling up with me while i watched TV - could set it right again. the instability wreaked quite a bit of havoc, while earning my therapist a pretty penny.
somewhere in all this, i discovered the strength to be sociable in a new way. i used to dread going to parties or meetings where i didnít know anyone, because it was difficult for me to put myself out there. what if they didnít like me? what if i offended someone? and small talk... eh. not my strong suit, ever. but this year that changed. somehow, it became okay to walk into a place and chat someone up. Marketing Mode, i called it for a while, because it felt as if i was marketing myself. the risk was still there, but the fear ameliorated. this was a trait i always admired in my father, still do. and now itís my trait, too, one thatís slowly becoming part of who i am.
knowing that i can put myself out there has put me in a different place. itís given me a confidence that iím still getting used to. itís taught me that itís not necessary to win every battle just to stay who i am. i can explore, and take chances, and still be myself. compromise has become easier, and so has the willingness to try to see the other side of each discussion. itís far from habitual, but iím learning.
and my sweetie and i are rebuilding - no, building a new relationship. i donít know where it will go, altho we both seem to hope it will work out well. but there have been snags along the way, some very painful for me, and i very nearly walked away from the whole relationship the other day. and thatís new too - knowing that who i am is important enough to protect. while i love him, and want to stay with him, i canít do it if it means certain sacrifices that will cost me this hard-earned self-respect. iíd rather accept some pain now to avoid greater pain in the future. itís scary, and it was a difficult discussion. i was afraid iíd end up right back where i was six months ago. but i feel stronger now than i did then, and he is becoming more the person he wants to be as well, which is goodness and wonderful and i love him more for that. and somehow, from this new place, we were able to talk out the issue and come to what felt like a fair decision. i didnít try to push him into doing any one thing, just explained that if he did this, i would need to walk away and it would hurt. a year ago, this would have been me laying down a demand and him acquiesing. this time, it was a long, tough talk, and we both explained as much as we could about how we felt. thereís still a lot of work and building to do, and it seems like weíre both stepping up to the plate for it. i keep my fingers crossed and try not to mess up.
and some days itís two steps back. my self image is still an issue, which leads to problems with our relationship and my family, and which keeps me from leaping off that professional cliff to find the right job. i created a lot of problems for myself on the job this year by just not caring. the root cause, i think, is that i just donít feel competent. this is not the job i thought i would have, not the one i want. i need to concentrate this year on figuring out what i want professionally, and steeling myself to go and get it. i need to see the places where i am competent, and know that i donít have to be all things to all people or anything remotely close to perfect - and that iím still a good person.
and i need to take a moment to stand still. i appreciate the deepening friendships that i have been blessed with, and honor the self knowledge iíve earned. there is a stable base, a place to work from, a core to grow.
take a deep breath, acknowledge, and move forward.