"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey
Thursday, August 23, 2012
I'm Back. And I'm Enough.
I haven't blogged for a whole month. I told myself I was taking a break because I wanted to rest and enjoy my new marriage with less tasks to fill up my to do list during the day. But I realize now that it had much more to do with my growing paranoia about what other people thought of my life. Quitting my stable job "in this economy" (if I hear that phrase one more time I'm going to scream) left many people wondering - either wondering what was wrong with me, or wondering what amazing adventure I would have as a result. I had allowed myself to feel like I "owed it" to everyone else to do something spectacular to justify my puzzling, counter-cultural move. I had built up my journey to a level that was impossible for me to fulfill, and I didn't know what to say about it anymore, so I stopped talking about it. Because the truth is that I don't know what I'm doing. I usually don't. I can say what I'm doing right now in this moment, or what I have already done, but I cannot in truth say what I will do tomorrow or any day after that. Stopping blogging has not helped me to overcome the obsession with the approval of others. On the contrary, it has cut me off from my community and left me without a creative outlet for my musings. And, not surprisingly, my desire to please just manifested in other ways. In a desire to please my husband. In a desire to please my parents. In a desire to please my yoga teacher, my life coach, even the guy who works at the bike store. Why was I giving everyone else the power to define my life? How had I so thoroughly lost sight of what Iwant? And finally the exhaustion of spending all day trying to say and do the exact right thing all the time so as not to upset or disappoint anyone in my life broke me. I lost it and checked myself into the hospital. Being at the hospital, going through the intake process of considering whether to stay and seeing all the "sick" people around me woke me up. It helped me to realize that I don't need a hospital or a psychiatrist. I needed me. I needed to ask for some help, yes, but the person who could help me most had been in me all along. I had allowed her voice to become buried under everyone else's voice, and everyone else's opinions, and everyone else's values. So I left the hospital, went back home to my parents and my husband, and had a frank conversation with all of them about some things that I needed to change - starting with a change of scenery. Oldman and I packed our things and headed south to visit a friend in South Carolina. Once we arrived, we separated. He went to stay at the friends' lake house by himself, an hour away (at my request). I stayed with my friend, which is where I am now. I am not talking to Oldman or my parents while I am here. I hang out with my friend when she gets home from work in the evenings and we have a great time, but mostly, I am by myself, with only my bike for transportation. Today, I rode my bike into town to read at the local coffeeshop. When I stepped up to the counter to order, the barista just stared at me, as if in a daze. "Uh, hi." I said. He didn't respond. Just stared. "Could I please have a small coffee, for here?" I asked. He stared for a few seconds longer, then shook his head as if he was emerging from a dream. "I'm sorry," he said. "You must think I'm strange. I'm not crazy, and I'm not hitting on you, but you have the most amazing energy." I could feel myself blush. "Thanks," I smiled. "No I mean it. I don't know what you believe, but I believe that the world is all made up of energy. We're all vibrating, and you are radiating some incredible energy. I can tell just by looking at you and hearing your voice that you are a good person. You really need to just keep being yourself. You need to remember that." My shoulders, which I didn't even know had been tense, released downward. My jaw loosened, and something deep in my gut relaxed. I felt a smile come over my whole body. "Thank you so much," I said, hoping I wouldn't cry. "What did you want? A small coffee? It's on me, girl. Rock on." Then he handed me a mug, bowed to me, and walked away from the counter. And right there, in that moment, I remembered that I was enough. This complete stranger, whom I had no thought of pleasing or gaining his approval, had reached into the haze of self-doubt I had been wandering around in for the past month and told me in no uncertain terms that I was enough, exactly as I am, right now. In the past, I have gone through a cycle of trying hard to please people, failing miserably, and then saying, "Fuck everyone then, I don't care," followed by a dramatic, often self-destructive rebellion. I say that there is something other than people-pleasing and rebellion. There is a third choice. One that I am making this time. I don't exactly know what it looks like, and I'm committed to finding out. So I'm back. And this is my new manifesto: Forget advice. Forget what my parents or my husband or anyone else thinks is the right way for me to act. Forget having other people's approval be my main motivation for my decisions. Loving people does not mean giving them the power to define me. Forget self criticism and guilt. Yes to being my full, wild self. Yes to loving whatever and whomever is in my life, regardless of whether my behavior satisfies them or their behavior satisfies me. Yes to being loud sometimes. Yes to being silent sometimes. Yes to chilling the hell out and living in my body instead of my mind. Yes to being enough.