Saturday, July 7, 2012

Life lived simply

A few years ago my life was so completely turned upside down and scattered to the four winds that I didn't know which way was up. Lost, confused, broken-hearted, and directionless, the only thing I knew with absolute certainty was that I didn't want to go back. And even that certainty wavered from time to time as I journeyed forward, forcing one confused foot in front of the other. But I persevered and kept my eyes focused forward on an unknown and unknowable future. Reminding myself daily that "motion in any direction is better than no motion at all". The memory of the pain still fresh enough in my mind to drive me on.

It wasn't the first time I'd "started over", but it was the first time I'd done it without a clearly defined goal in mind. Never before had I leapt out into the unknown without a plan, or a destination. To make matters worse, I did it without anything even remotely resembling a support system or network. Friend's I'd thought would be there, weren't. Income I expected to have, evaporated. Emotional support that I needed, was non-existant. I was alone, broke, and broken.

So I turned to the one thing that has always carried me through; my spirituality. I told myself this is my "40 days in the wilderness" "hitting rock bottom" so I can start over and build a new life......  I realized the more I fought against the inevitable, the worse things I learned to just go with the flow. I learned to let go and let God....and plunged deep into an abyss.

And then I learned what it really means to trust God.

I learned God will provide when I really believe it. I learned to accept whatever God sent; whether it was counting thousands of fish-hooks, running a chairlift, mowing campgrounds, or driving a school bus. I learned to accept loss as a necessity, even if I didn't know why. I learned to follow where I was led; even when I was led to closed doors.

I learned how to make decisions based on what *I* want instead of what everyone else thinks I should do. That was new for me. I'd spent my whole life considering everyone else; what they needed, what they wanted, what they thought was best, and who they wanted or expected me to be. Like Julia Roberts in "Runaway Bride" I finally figured out how I like my eggs.

Having spent most of my life in isolation imposed on me by people I thought I could trust, I am proficient at being alone with myself. But I'd never been alone with myself without a constant feeling of walking on eggshells. So I had to learn how to be alone with myself all over again. I learned to wash dishes because they need to be washed, instead of because I don't want to get yelled at. I learned to rent movies on the basis of what I like, instead of spending an hour or more trying to guess at what might please someone else (who would never just tell me what they wanted to see). I learned to give myself permission to eat salad every day for a week if that's what I wanted to do. It was very strange to me to be able to do these things and not be punished for it.

I spent that first year just learning about myself, learning who I am. I spent the second year trying to figure out who I want to be. And I spent the third year learning it's okay to just be the person that deep down, I really am.

I am a simple person who has simple needs: shelter, heat, food, running water, a warm coat, transportation. I never had any ambition to be a successful business person or to earn lots of money or to have expensive things. All that was projected onto me by others; first my parents and their well-intentioned encouragement to "do well and be successful in life", later by partners who pressured me to earn they didn't have to. And then there was the necessity of supporting my two children on my own. And of course, society is always right there urging us to "do better, earn more, buy more" or be a loser......

For the first time in my life, I could make my life, my way, and my way is simple.

I no longer buy things I don't need, with money I don't have, to impress people I don't even like. I no longer suffer through social gatherings I'd rather not attend. Gone are the days of enduring relationships with people who take more than they give. I have a simple job that I like; working with people who are real, not phony. I spend my evenings doing crafts and watching movies. When I'm tired I sleep, and in the morning I wake up with two little dogs who are always happy to see me, and accept my unconditional love without question or judgment.

I have learned to keep it simple and no longer lay awake pondering all the what if's, mights and maybes. I have learned that "enjoying the moment" isn't just for exceptional sunsets or nights of hoar-frost and fluffy snowflakes, but is a mantra for every moment of every day. I have learned that if people don't approve of my choices; that's okay. It's my life to live, not theirs. They get to be who they are, and I get to be who I am.

I have learned that happy is a choice and I can choose it with every choice I make. I have learned that it's okay to be vulnerable sometimes; I don't always have to be the strong one. I have learned to accept help from others; and not beat myself up for needing help. I have learned that sometimes people do come through for you, even when you think they won't. And I have learned that lonely alone is far better than lonely in a bad relationship with someone that turned out to be completely different than who I thought they were.