I had a co-worker once, who asked me if I planned to get my Master’s degree. With immediacy, my response was, “I have to.” At that point in my life, hearing her response, “No, you don’t”, just irritated me. What did she mean, I didn’t have to? Yes I did, so I could then do X, Y and Z.
Everything was linear. I always knew where the line started and where it ended. My ego actually took her response to be something of a challenge, as if she was doubting that I was capable of accomplishing what I said I was going to do.
I attempted and failed at grad school. I can say it was because I took on too much, working two jobs and attempting school full time; but I know that would be a cop-out.
When a person chooses to go in to the field of social work, planning to have a career helping others who have suffered dysfunctional and sometimes traumatic experiences; she damn well better make sure she has her own shit dealt with and put away. I did not.
I was triggered severely while interning under a social worker in an elementary school. I didn’t even realize what happened, until the social worker (a woman I will never forget) told me she suspected I had PTSD and that it was ok to step back and take care of myself.
So that’s what I did. I withdrew from the MSW program. It hurt. I was somewhat lost at that point because all I had ever paid attention to was getting to a very specific place in life. I never bothered to look around and actually ask what else I liked, enjoyed or even wanted to do. I got stuck.
I got back in to therapy, continued to work, started my family and was making a name for myself, within the company I worked for at the time. Once I had my second child, I was derailed again. This time though, I was the one throwing up detour signs.
At this point, I had started to become more aware of what was really important in my life. Having kids had a way of putting my ego to rest, while igniting a greater love in me.
While on maternity leave for my second child, I kept feeling these little tugs on my heart. It was a pull to walk away from everything I had worked for up until that point and choose to stay home with my kids. It was radical and a bit of an obnoxious idea at the time. It wouldn’t go away though. So much so, that I eventually had to stop ignoring it.
Again, I couldn’t help but think, “How did I fall so far off course?”
Here I was, handing in my resignation, diving in to a world that even six months prior, I would have sworn would never be me. I was a SAHM, doing dishes and playing peek-a-boo in the middle of the day. Who am I?
I started to understand what that co-worker meant, five years prior. She was trying to kindly tell me, that I didn’t have to do any one thing. Life should and can be about what we want to do. I’ve had to let go of the reigns. Life never seemed to allow me to hold them tight enough to go in the direction I was “supposed” to go anyway.
I still revert back to tunnel vision occasionally. Now, though, I recognize it better. I can see and feel when I am unbalanced and need to just let go. I believe fiercely that I have to work for what I want; but the difference is now, I’m ok with not always knowing what that is. I’m taking more notes on life instead of worrying about the test. There really is no test.
My sister used to always say, “Throw away the map.” I finally understood what she was trying to tell me, when I stumbled upon this thought provoking quote, from a very unlikely source:
“As you start traveling down that road of life, remember this: There are never enough comfort stops. The places you’re going to are never on the map. And once you get that map out, you won’t be able to refold it no matter how smart you are. So forget the map, roll down the windows, and whenever you can, pull over and have a picnic with a pig. And if you can help it, never fly as cargo.” —Kermit the Frog
Those words are never too far from my heart. I try to “pull over” and have as many picnics with pigs as I can these days. I’m diverting my attention back to what’s right in front of me.
I have no idea where my life will take me. However, I do know, had I never failed at grad school, I never would have been so determined to work through my own childhood trauma. I would never have decided to become a SAHM; therefore, I never would have started writing.
Who knew Kermit was so wise?
Can you identify one event, moment or word(s) that changed your life. Do you feel like you have become a better person for being thrown off life’s course?