Right now, this very minute, I’m sitting on a back porch in rural Ontario, with harvest sunshine warming my hair, the smell of a wood-fire on the breeze, a glass of crisp Niagara sparkling wine, and every colour of autumn on the trees around me. I feel at peace.
In moments like this it’s hard to remember that the soreness hovering around the hinge of my jaw is from grinding my teeth over years of distress.
That juxtaposition of calm contentment and deep panic perfectly sums up the strange place my mind lives in these days. I’m not sure quite how to describe it. I can tell I’ve managed to climb up a little from where I’ve spent the past months. I have enough perspective now to recognize a story of things that inevitably led to exactly where they did. But I still don’t see the way forward from this, I don’t see where to go from here.
Right now, I hold still. Not as still as I was – not paralyzed, my fingers are definitely wiggling – but I’m not sure what to do, and I’m scared that’s not going to change. Last week I talked about doing small things to try to rebuild a sense of basic happiness and reinstate some calm. But I also feel antsy, impatient – I don’t want to stand still forever. How do I figure out how to move forward, to make decisions and take action, without tapping right into the underlying panic I’ve worked so hard to move out of?
This balancing act makes it difficult to take even small steps forward. Realizing how vulnerable I am to my feelings of panic and failure right now has been humbling. I’m not sure how to navigate and negotiate self-compassion, understanding and forgiveness on the one hand, and wanting to just get on with it and build dreams to work toward on the other hand.
This is made all the more difficult by a long-standing feeling that I don’t know what I want to do – in terms of career, travel, family, home. No dream job comes to mind, no Ah-ha! moment of wanting to pick up and travel the world, no sense of when will be a good time to have children. This ginormous I-Don’t-Know leaves me feeling a little sceptical that passion, joy, and certainty are ever going to be part of me. This feeling is joined (and supported) by the fear that if I do work something out and start doing it, after some time I won’t want to do it any more. It won’t really be right after all. And I’ll have to start again. I’ll never get to feel “YES! THIS IS EXACTLY IT!”
If this fear sounds like a bit of a wet blanket on dreaming and moving towards those dreams…it’s because it very obviously is. I won’t put myself into any one idea because I’m scared it’s not going to be what I want (not for long enough to make it worth it). I will have wasted more time that I can’t get back. So I don’t even really have dreams – I have tentative ideas that I think would be pretty fun but even they seem to form with “Yes, but…!” warnings stamped all over.
But so you know I’m not all doom-and-gloom 24/7, and to remind myself there IS a forward here, I’ll share a few of my dreams Might-Be-Funs.
I dream about:
- Getting to a place that I feel good in, where I feel sure I want to be right there, right then.
- Travelling without negative consequences for my life. Seeing places I have only read about! Touching life in near-and-far away lands.
- Making travelling a part of my life/work/career for the long-term. Not becoming a nomad, but getting to take up opportunities to go places and meet people and experience new things.
- Living in other places for little bits of time. (6 months?) Like San Francisco, London, Glasgow or Edinburgh, Vancouver, New York, the Yukon…
- Working for myself, on my own terms, following my own interests and sparks. Reading, writing to an audience, talking about ideas, inspiring and motivating people to make their lives better.
My intention for the next few months is to work through the fear and uncertainty leaving me to shift my weight between “Don’t move because you’re safe here” and “Don’t stay here because there’s life to live”. This will be no small task. At the same time, I’ll try to pull some of my dreams a little closer, however small they are. (The smaller the better right now, I’m guessing!) I will also try to thrown some fun in – pictures, stories, recipes, the joyful bits that are all mixed up here too.
Please know that I am my own blind-spot here! Consider each and every post an open request for advice. You can comment, email, facebook message, whatever works – and share your experiences with me, to offer tips or observations, or even to just say hi.