It’s my 25th post.
It has been nearly a year since I began this blog. The title of it… (un)tethered… was shaped by the profound sense of disconnection I had from my own life after my brother’s death. Not just his death but the abandonment of my vocation and, consequently, home. I had the sensation that I no longer knew who I was. Everything was inside out, as you witnessed.
For most of 2020, I felt I was standing outside my own life, examining each facet for meaning and truth.
As I stepped into 2021, I felt something tangibly shift within me. I wrote about that too. The realization that we can choose who we want to be… that we can become a more authentic version of ourselves… was truly life altering.
In January, I made the decision to disconnect from my immediate family, excluding of course, my daughter. I encouraged her that she should continue to maintain and feed those relationships. But, I was beginning to understand that those relationships bound me to a version of myself I no longer cared to be. I had been assigned a role that I no longer desired to play. There was no escaping it, no matter how much I tried to change myself.
I read something the other day that made this make sense…
“With strangers, there is a temporary reordering of a balancing act that each of us is constantly attempting: between our past selves and our future selves, between who we have been and who are becoming. Your friends and family know who you have been and they often make it harder to try out who you might become” -Priya Parker
You, my audience, were those strangers. You saw in me pieces that I did not yet see in myself, and you allowed me to explore them, daringly, freely.
I thought about leaving Charlottesville, in part because it’s so damn expensive and in part because everyone here knows me within the parameters of who I was before. I didn’t feel I was that person anymore.
I made the decision to stay, mostly for my daughter, but I thought I might retreat inward, abandon my friend groups, maybe become some sort of social hermit.
And then, something happened. One Sunday morning in February, a long-time friend showed up in my driveway with hot coffee. As we talked, I saw all the ways she had changed and grown in the ten years since we had met. And in that moment, I realized how true our friendship was. There was room for growth. There was room to change.
A few weeks later, we gathered with several others to celebrate the birthdays that had trickled by through COVID. I was still feeling hesitant, guarded, though I would have never said it. I felt so far from the person they had all come to know.
And, if I’m honest, for the duration of those friendships, I had always considered myself a step behind, one element removed. They were all married (or were when we first met), all had children and homes and all the stability I longed for. I witnessed their lives with the smallest twinge of envy and a much larger sense of inadequacy.
But this too was part of an old tape, one I didn’t wish to play anymore. So much of my identity was defined as a struggling single mom, one with a tumultuous past and an uncertain future. I had let the circumstances of my life define who I was. But the truth is… those things are not who I am.
As I sat among my friends, I contemplated what it would feel like to see myself as their equal, as one among them. And then, something happened. A seed was planted… a passing thought that unexpectedly took root. It was spoken with conviction by my quiet friend who seldom inserts opinion.
She had an idea…
for a business…
I listened and then immediately dismissed it. I insisted I had no desire to start a business, wasn’t willing to take the risk, wasn’t able to live without a predictable income or reliable benefits. It was a beautiful idea but completely impossible. There was simply no way I could take something like that on.
And so, four weeks later I formed an LLC, purchased a web domain, and applied for a city business license.
I have helped others start small businesses. I love the process. I am good at the process. But my love of stability has always made it a nonstarter. The only way… the absolute ONLY way I would ever consider it… is if every other door had solidly and definitively closed in my face.
I have kept one foot in the door of the job search, but at this point, it seems that I can create my own before I find another (of course, yesterday I got the first call for an interview that I’ve had in months… more on that in a moment!)
The past year has showed me what it’s like to live on faith, without the predictability of all the things I thought I needed in order to be a good parent, to be safe, to be valid. If not for that experience, I never could have contemplated this.
I’ll still attend the interview next week. The practice is good and I want to be sure to keep every option open. I’ve deferred grad school. I’m giving myself one year to make this work, and if it doesn’t, I’ll return to this option.
In the meantime, I’m going to give this my all.
Ok, so what is it?
That, you’ll have to wait for. Soon… very soon, I will be ready to share it. But I will give you one clue… it is about as opposite from a social hermit as one can get.
What my friend saw in me was a piece of identity, a piece that I had carried for years but had never considered as a vocation. In the weeks and months since I have made this decision, I have felt myself step into a part of my being that I never knew existed. I feel more myself than I have in my entire life.
I am fully inhabiting my own life. It’s the most energizing thing I’ve ever experienced.
Sometimes I wake in the night to a surge of panic and racing thoughts of doubt. It’s harder to keep that old tape at bay in the midst of sleep. But as I rise to consciousness, I remind myself of the path I have chosen and the truth of who I am.
This is what it looks like when all things are made new.