The fall was a blur. Suddenly, there was one of me, and one of me to get everything done that used to get done by two.
There were the logistics of running a house, paying for a house, and being the 24/7 parent for my children, with little to no down time.
In the back of my mind, I knew there were “big decisions” that needed to be made, yet, I promised myself in the heat of my finding my footing, that I would put off those decisions until January.
The one crusade that I had decided upon was being able to keep our house. I had convinced myself that keeping the house meant stability for my kids. They needed consistency. I was against shaking up their lives in any way more than the divorce already had.
January came, and my resolve to save my house led me to questions about where I was going next with my career. My present job was a stop gap. By fall, there would need to be a change, especially if I would be able to continue to pay my mortgage.
When I need answers, I turn to yoga. I threw myself into my practice. I woke up at 4:30 every morning, reading, journaling, meditating, and performing postures as if my life depended on them.
Except the “answers” weren’t easy. The thought of returning to Corporate America to hold onto the accoutrements of my once upper middle class life felt oppressive. Yet, following my dreams felt irresponsible, especially as the primary caregiver to three young children who were depending on me for shelter, stability, and three meals a day.
I didn’t know what to do. I indulged in my indecisiveness ad nauseum. I wore this as my badge. I was a woman with “big decisions” to make, and became someone consumed with decision making while remaining totally indecisive.
Then my youngest daughter got hit by a car.
On a beautiful day the end of January, she got knocked off her bicycle by a man pulling into his driveway who didn’t see her.
Her left leg was torn up pretty badly. She needed 17 stitches, physical therapy, visiting nurses, and was under the care of a wound specialist, yet, miraculously, she didn’t break one bone. She wasn’t paralyzed. She was alive. And while I was grateful that the prognosis was good, I was stuck at the scene of the accident for weeks.
I felt nervous all the time. I cried in the bathroom at work. I stopped returning phone calls. At some point, I stopped listening to my voice mail all together. I stopped sleeping.
The therapist I had been seeing since the onset of my divorce began asking me “probing questions.” Was I sad? How sad? Was I anxious? How much so? I felt defensive in her presence.
Then sometime in mid-February, something shifted. My emotions caught up with reality. My daughter was going to be fine. She was fine already. She was walking. She was healthy. She was alive.
I was ready to stop feeling scared about something that never actually happened.
I recently read an interview that Oprah had with Nate Berkus where he discussed the lessons he learned from surviving the Tsunami of 2004 which killed his life partner Fernando Bengoechea. In it, he talks about “Finding Your Ultimate Question.” For Nate, the ultimate question goes back to survival, which helps him put the more challenging moments in perspective.
Yogic philosophy suggests that most of our fears can be linked back to the “ultimate fear,” the fear of death. Recently, when I’ve revisited these decisions that have been overwhelming me, I look at them through a different lens. What’s the worst that could happen if I take Risk A or Risk B? Will I die from taking these risks? Will my kids die?
Because the reality is this: My child had a greater chance of dying at the hand of a car that day than she would have if I took some of the risks I had been contemplating.
I started investigating opportunities that fell in the “follow your dreams” category versus the category of practical.
I’ve surrendered to the reality that I might have to sell my house. And that’s OK. Because wherever I am together with my kids, as a family, will feel like home.
I’m not jumping into the unknown recklessly. I’m doing my homework, but I’m moving forward. I am no longer using my children as my excuse to not go after the things I want or to set a different course than the one we’re on now.
Sometimes, it’s almost easier to live without possibilities, to stay complacent in our lives instead of exploring “what could be.”
Freedom is scary. We all have choices – infinite choices actually, despite our expertly delivered inner monologues that tell us otherwise.
As far as those inner monologues go, I’m hoping this is the year that I can revise that script, if not tear it up completely.
Do you have an inner monologue that stops you from fully exploring your options? What are your excuses?
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