Happy New Year, everyone! Although we are only just stepping into 2017, I hope that it has been good to you so far. 2017 has started out full speed ahead. After 19 years, I have returned to college for a graduate degree. Am I somewhat off my nut? A little.
Here’s the thing. There will never be a good time to rock the boat that is your life. I am, for example, a single parent. Even when I was married I was experientially a single parent. You can peruse the entirety of this blog, read what is obvious, read between the lines, and deduce that I was doing everything, for the most part, alone. I can tell you exactly why I did that, and it was not entirely my ex-husband’s fault. I had developed beliefs around my circumstances that kept me locked into a certain way of thinking–a limited way of thinking.
- I was raised by a single mother. I grew up watching my mother “do it all”. That is the norm for me. My mother never asked for help. If she couldn’t do it, then she figured it out. She once fell out of the attic and broke her leg while trying to fix something even though she knew absolutely nothing about fixing whatever was broken. I am a bit like that. That’s tenacity and stubbornness (or willful stupidity). It has served me well in life, but excessive self-reliance causes imbalance. Plus, it alienates the people in your life who would love to help. Also? Burn out.
- Life does not become simpler as we age. It gets more and more complicated. When I was in my early 20s, my personal welfare and future reality were, for the most part, my biggest concern. I was not personally responsible for the well-being of other humans. Of course, I loved other people and wanted to be available to them, but, by and large, I was looking out for Number One. I am a mother now, and every decision I make will affect my children. I am no longer solely looking out for my own interests and investing in my own future alone. I am considering the effects of my decisions on my daughters and investing in their futures as well as mine. This can give me anxiety and cause me to feel paralyzed at times. When is it ever a good time to make major life decisions? I like homeostasis. Nature and the human body like homeostasis. Introducing big change is risky. Stability vs. Risk. That’s a tough call for me now.
- I have struggled with my health for years. This is common when you have profound trauma in your past–autoimmune disorders and neurological issues like migraines being the chiefest of complaints. I am the poster child for the aforementioned. I have chronic migraines (CM) and cluster headaches, and I have done everything possible over the last thirteen years to relieve them. Pain management is part of my life. I was very fearful to attempt to go back to school while living with a sometimes debilitating condition, and I felt very limited in my future choices when viewing my life through the lens of my daily pain and future health risks.
- I have children with special needs. This was my biggest limitation. I was “on call” 24/7 for a few years. To a degree, I still am. I dropped off the planet socially. I had to be prepared to cancel appointments or social engagements in order to be with one of my daughters. During the worst time of the manifestations of their diagnoses, I did nothing for myself. I rarely slept. This was the most limiting factor of all. At present, my daughters do not spend the night with their father. They see him socially and come home. Being the sole primary caregiver does limit one’s choices. One starts to feel imprisoned in circumstances.
- I felt eroded spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, thusly, contributing to profound existential fatigue. That defined 2016 for me. It felt like I would never be “me” again. Ending a 20-year marriage, enduring two surgeries resulting from domestic violence, therapeutically dealing with the traumatic fallout every single week, managing autoimmune symptoms and pain, and learning to live alone and raise four daughters in a truly single-parent household took an inordinate toll. I could not imagine ever feeling like I was flourishing again.
So, what was the solution? How does one think about the future when the present feels so limited? I chose to reimagine my future and “do it” anyway meaning I chose to make the choice I really wanted as if I didn’t have the present limitations, assuming that my life would adapt and expand for the life I was attempting to build. A bold move perhaps, but what are my options really?
I can either stay in the current smaller space and think small, accepting my perceived limitations, or I can change my view, imagine that my life would expand to fit the life I want, and take a step forward. Then, I applied to graduate school. I am now entering my third week. I won’t lie. It’s been bumpy. There have been complications. It’s winter. I get cluster headaches in winter. Nothing new there. One of my daughters is experiencing an exacerbation in her condition. Nothing terribly new there either. Disappointing? Yes.
What does all this mean? What is my conclusion?
Life is happening around us all the time. That will never change. The very familiar life that I know is happening. It will never be a good time for me to do what I really want. I might as well start doing it now then. I’ve had enough practice managing my life and complicated circumstances. I would think that I can manage all the complications that might arise then while building something better. That’s not a bad conclusion to reach. The only question then: Do I trust myself? Do I believe I can do it?
Yeah, I do. Look what I’ve done so far.
That is what I would offer up for 2017. There will never be a good time to decide to do what you really want. It’s akin to couples trying to decide when to have a baby. There is never a good time to have a baby. Babies change everything. If you want to have a child, then you just have to go for it. Embrace the messy, wonderful, exhausting process in the midst of the already messy, wonderful, traumatic, exhausting process of living.
There will never be a good time in your life for you to reinvent yourself, take a risk, do that one thing you’ve always wanted to do, make that one change you know that you really need to make, or make a plan of action. Life is not set up to ease us down the road of success. Life is set up to hinder us. That’s why we have heroes and heroines. They overcome extreme obstacles and provide us with an example. They inspire us. But, your life is probably full of obstacles, too, and that makes you something of a heroic figure then just waiting to be called up.
What if you’re being called up now?
It really is now or never. The future is but an idea at best, but today is yours. It is all that you have. You will never own tomorrow. It is now, and now is the time.
“If not now, when?” Hillel the Elder