Thursday, March 27, 2014

Life on the wrong side of the equation

What do you do when you've devoted your life to adventure and discovery and freedom and being open to new things, good things, getting 'away' for weekends and weeks and months and years... and then you find yourself in your 40's and you haven't built any real security and you think it's time to do that.  I love adventure, and I crave security.  I would love to have both. I feel the intense desire to find a balance between them, let them complement each other in my life.

When I read self help books, it seems like all of them are telling me to give adventure a try - as if parenting and growing for the first 40 years of my life was supposed to have been all about the opposite. Nesting? Settling? Safety? And, yes, security? 

But what if I have all that covered already? What if I already know how to take chances, let go, be free, seek adventure and live a life of discovery? What about those of us who find our equation tipped in the opposite direction? Where's the mid life manual that tells us how to seek commitment, find security, nest, settle?


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The more things change...

... the more confusing, frustrating, liberating and intimidating life becomes. Something like that.

I've always considered myself to be at my peak during times of transition, so in a way I'm finding it awfully unfair to be in my early 40's and experiencing what I'm told is one of life's bigger transitions and finding myself not quite hitting my stride. It's like one of those off nights with friends, where for some reason you're not on your game, your jokes fall flat, you accidentally chose a shirt that itches and you find yourself clock watching at 10pm. Or is that just me?

The last few months have seen even more transition come into my life. I've always considered myself to be this one thing, with some major offshoots. I am "a single mom" in a highly specialized and demanding career. And now I'm still a mom, but different. And the small voice that has been telling me (and fought down, with some effort) that the "highly specialized and demanding career" was not meant to be my entire life path - that voice got so loud with Ky out of the house that it became the only voice I had to talk to. Okay, I realized. I have to rethink my entire life - not just the piece that was me as an in-house, hands on mom.

If empty nesting is emotionally fraught and tricky, then empty nesting and undergoing a career transition is that times 10. After an adult lifetime internally battling guilt that either my work or my child was getting the short end of my evaporating energy and attention, I find myself now with enough time to devote to something entirely, but I'm left with shadows and uncertainty. Where IS that needy, sucking, energy vortex of a career when I need it? My life feels so off center without the pull of child, work, child, work, that I'm like a planet that has lost its moon and whose tides are degenerating into an untimed free for all. Mountains crumbling and rivers running uphill. After a lifetime of chafing under a regular schedule and fighting tooth and nail for adventure and excitement, I now find myself striving for some small amount of certainty and predictability.

I'm reaching for a lot of resources in trying to sort this out. Probably the top 3 this month are:

1. I started seeing a therapist.  I don't think she's especially good?  but after only 3 sessions, maybe this is normal. What I want is for her to tell me what to do - how to get my life in gear, what homework to do each night to achieve my goals, how to find a little of my center of gravity again. What we do is just talk, the way you might over lunch with a friend. Catch up on the week, what's on your mind, oh yes I totally understand that, sometimes that's just the way life works, what does your schedule look like for next week?  --- that sort of thing. This particular resource I'm not super impressed with yet, but I'm giving it another month to start feeling worth the copay.

2. This may be silly, but I also got Tony Robbins PersonalPower II CDs. What drew me was the fact that it's something you're supposed to listen to once a day AND you have an assignment to do, which speaks to the overachieving student in me like crazy.  I rolled my eyes a lot through the first part of his schpeil and then started to get the feeling that he was actually kind of a really nice man who sincerely wants to help people and has some good intentions and a lot of ideas to help shake things up, which I desperately need. I want to think about my life differently because I'm stuck, and I want something I can hang my hat on every single day, something that makes me feel like I'm moving forward rather than spinning in circles, so I consider this a total win.

3. I'm being more open in my friendships about some of my struggles. I'm a stuffer and a "Oh things are great!! I'm fine!!" sort of person, so actually telling people "Umm, I'm struggling and things are kinda sucky at the moment" is a huge step for me. I find some people withdrawing from me, not knowing how to deal with an Em that's not perfectly motivated, happy and winning at life every time I turn around. I find some people issuing the platitudes "it'll be fine, you'll be fine" that you do when you don't know what to say, but generally wish someone well.  I find some people admitting that they too struggle, they too are finding life a little hard to navigate, and are grateful that someone else was willing to admit it so they could admit to not being in top form themselves. This last group has been a lifesaver for me.  It's so nice to be able to just not be doing fine some days - with company and commiseration.

I've also been putting myself out there a lot and doing a lot of that back-of-the-mind thinking you do when you can feel the cogs turning and you have no idea yet what product they're making in the dark recesses of your subconscious mind. It's all very mysterious and secretive for now. I hope my mind reveals its big project soon, as I've only got about 10 days left of Tony Robbins...