Tag Archives: denial

Learning to Say Goodbye

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(photo by Sacks08)

Last night something obvious hit me very suddenly, the most obvious things always seem to appear that way. I realized that part of my difficulties is accepting the fact that I am changing. Not physically (though that too), but in how I view the world and what I want out of life. I already knew this to a certain extent, I know its normal completely, but the tension is that I still like the plans I had for who I was to be when I was 18 or 22. Now a series of (good) decisions have taken my life on a completely different path. It doesn’t mean I am required to give up on my old dreams of traveling with the UN or National Geographic as a career, but it does mean that if I chose to pursue that it would be an overwhelming amount of work as well as a lot of negotiating a lifestyle change with J. Hard work I’m not sure I want to do.

While I’m still excited by those dreams, the travel, the meaningful and creative feelings of that sort of job, I’m not that person anymore. That’s difficult. To some extent its like mourning. I’m still in the denial stage, I haven’t accepted that my desires have changed and that changing doesn’t make my past desires wrong nor my future ones inadequate.

I have been stuck in one place (spread across two countries) since getting my Masters degree. I had finished checking all the boxes I had to complete before I ‘did my dream life’ and had no idea where to go from there. I had already made the decision not to live a nomad lifestyle and to be with J. I had already realized my dislike of bureaucracy that is inherent in traveling to troubled countries and dealing with international organizations. I had started to realize that my dream didn’t match me anymore, but I had no idea where to go. I also felt guilty that I had ‘failed’ to do what I always desired.

I was always very big on ‘not changing’ as a child/teenager. I vowed never to cut my hair. I vowed to keep my teenage diaries and never act like my mother. I vowed all sorts of things that I’ve, of course, broken since then. Just because it was silly of me to make these promises on my future self, it doesn’t mean there’s no old pain when I decide to break them.

So last night, while tearing up in bed explaining to J why I’m having such a hard time trying to figure out what I want our life to be like, I realized that it is in part because I have never let go of my old dreams. It is because I still love them (I haven’t changed that much). But you lose most things before you’re finished loving them. Perhaps tonight I’ll write out my ‘alternate’ life and seal it in an envelope, giving us our own space to move forward (the other on a parallel plane of existence).

I chose a different fork in the road, several actually, I’m still not sure what I want my life too look like. It will be different from what I expected–it will be much more about life outside of work than getting all my worth from my career. It may be much more like the life I grew up with than I expected (the life I yearned to out-achieve at 16). It may also be healthier for me. I may also be happier. I need to respect that these changes are real and valid. They are me and not some future impostor.

No one is particularly good at change (no one I’ve ever heard of anyway), but its part of human experience to learn to adapt. It’s funny how change can hide from you even after it’s happened. I can only fully turn to the future when I let go of the past. Here’s to starting to say goodbye and turn towards open possibilities.

Am I the only one that’s crazy?

Image(photo by Terence S. Jones)

I have been basically happy or content at some level for over month now. This is pretty much a miracle in the saga of my last year. I haven’t been thinking about it too loudly in case it is all a fragile bubble that will burst at any sudden movements (thoughts are movements now, did ya know?).

This mostly happy living is a good thing, a great thing, but I have a bad habit. A habit of wondering if it is ‘healthy.’ So I not only worry about the happy streak ending, but also whether or not the happiness is ‘real’ or just me living in a state of denial. Let me explain..

I’m moving in approximately 49 work days (yes I have a post it note countdown on my desk at work) or about 3 months. Part of this move will involved needing to find a new job in a new (old) city. I’m expecting at least three months of unemployment after I move, but I know it could be worse. I also know that I absolutely hate applying for jobs. The application process is probably one of the only things in the world that I literally, forever and endlessly detest. It is time consuming, boring, full of risk and uncertainty and also rejection. I end up applying for hundreds (quite literally) of jobs I don’t really think I’ll like out of feelings of desperation. Last time I was unemployed for about six months and I got pretty depressed. I started to interview for volunteer positions despite it not resolving my joblessness simply so I wouldn’t be at home alone 40+ hours a week with my thoughts.

The thing that utterly TERRIFIES me about moving is this period of applying to jobs. Terrifies in all caps is not an exaggeration. A small thought of it puts a knot in my stomach, my arms feel a slight tremor and a headache forms immediately behind my temples. If I could cower away and avoid ever having to apply for a job again I would. Yes I hate the process and am procrastinating on warming old contacts and revising my CV, but I am also so afraid that I will become depressed again and that this time I won’t be able to find myself out of it.

Now all of this stuff is maybe a bit crazy (and dramatic), but none of it is actually the point of this post–its the background. What I hope is that I’m not the only one who constantly assesses their current happy state for signs of denial. I’ve had a little over a month where I have been smiling and laughing more than brooding. This has coincided with me continuing not to think about the move that is getting closer and closer and all the stress that entails. I should be happy that my mental/emotional state seems to be improving (even for inexplicable reasons), but instead I have the niggling feeling that I’m just in an unhealthy state of denial. Then I begin to obsess over how to heal my wounds healthily. How to deal with my problems without ignoring my impending doom and—well that sets me off down the rabbit hole again….

This is not the most organized and well-thought out post, but I simply wanted to express the situation and reassure myself that other people worry their happiness is in fact warm thin veils of joy over deep pools of denial. I have absolutely no solutions here. So far I’m just telling myself its silly to worry about it, if I’m happy then I’m happy. Of course there’s always that sneaking suspicion…

Are you struggling between happiness and denial? (It sounds so absurd when I say it like that) Please share and reassure all of us quietly going crazy people.