Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Ever since junior high school I have had trouble with patience. Mostly it was expressed in the realm of love. As soon as I had determined that I liked a boy I would start stalking him. Well, ok, you know the infatuated-teeny-bopper style of stalking. I would arrange to be near his locker between classes. I would have my friends call him and then we'd hang up and burst into giggles. I would blush whenever he was near. I would spend all my free time on the dream of him...me and him...And as soon as I thought he had noticed me...I would jump the gun. Call him and talk to him. Ask him out. (Before it was really ok to do that. Is it ok now to do that?) I rarely waited for a boy to ask me out. (I think I tried to justify it as women's lib, after all, it was the 70's. But really, it was impatience!)
Invariably, I jumped too soon. He hadn't gotten used to the idea of me yet. He would be bowled over by my infatuated-adolescent moon eyes and forward nature. He would be nervous about me. He never liked me as much as I liked him.
When I was 13, I was not comfortable sitting in the in between. Letting life take its course. I wasn't able to stop myself from the actions that would end up in disaster. Most of the time.
Impatience. Worry. A lack of confidence in the universe and myself.
When I met Mark I had just started therapy and as much as I was more than twice as old as that junior high school swooner, I wasn't much smarter in the love department. As soon as I got home from our first date I wanted to call him. In some ways it was about extending that luscious feeling of excitement, but also because I just couldn't wait to see if I'd made the same impression on him. If he liked me and would call me back. If he wanted to talk to me again. If we'd go out again. I couldn't wait in that not-knowing place.
My therapist had suggested that I give him space and time to call me back. Not to seem over-eager. Let things unfold at their own pace.
Well, I didn't. Ha! I told myself to wait until he called me and then, bah! I called him. He was happy to hear from me (phew!) and the rest is history. (We got engaged after three months. We didn't waste much time, in general.)
But the lessons I was supposed to be learning? I didn't catch on then or even in the many years following.
And then last September when our therapist had been missing and then suddenly reappeared, as if from the dead, I had a flash of insight. I noticed, in one of my more observant, out of body moments, that as soon as I had information about one part of the story I started making up information about another part of the story. Rather than sit with "I don't know," I don't know why he didn't call, I don't know about what was going on for him in his life that he had to check out, I don't know why he didn't respond to my emails, I don't know I don't know I don't know. Rather than sit with the unknowing, I started to make up new stories. I had no information, it was all conjecture, and yet, I just would spin and spin and spin my tales. As soon as I had gotten a bit of relief (he was alive!) I started to torture myself again with horrible stories to fill in the blanks. It had no good end. And, to be honest, it shocked me.
This story-spinning is a variation on worrying. Something I'm pretty good at, as you'll know if you've read this blog before. And I have to say, as soon as I had this newfound awareness about my storytelling in the inbetween spaces, I was done with it. For the first time in maybe ever I was so over worrying, but in a way that felt tangible. Rather than tell myself: "Don't worry, it's such a waste of energy," I told myself: "Stop telling stories to fill the void." And I did. I could. I could stop before I started.
So, when Mark lost his job back around Thanksgiving and suddenly our world seemed like it was going to spin out of control, I decided not to tell myself stories. I took action, that was a better choice. I decided it was time for me to start bringing in income again and I found myself a very good possibility of a job. But as the weeks passed and the perameters of that potential job became fuzzier rather than sharper, and people I'd told about it started asking, "What about the job? When will it start? What will you get paid? How many hours is it?" I started saying, "I don't know. I don't know." And that was ok. I was not going to spin off in 17 directions with stories about what would happen if the job didn't come through or what would happen if Mark didn't get a job or what would happen if they wanted me but wouldn't pay me enough. I just put it aside. I am not worrying. I'm fine.
And that has opened me up to have a million other ideas for myself. A million and one create ideas for my work, my writing, my art, my family, our happiness. I am feeling more energetic and happy than I have in years. I am bursting at the seams with new possibilities. And for the first time I'm dreaming really, really big about my life. I love how it feels.
On January 2nd I chose my word for 2014: UNFOLD. It is a holder of much meaning and much possibility. It's hard to have the patience necessary to let my life unfold as it is meant to. But now that I've conquered my fear of the space in between, I am excited to see how my life unfolds this year.
What I now realize is that that space in between, the unknown? That's what's holding the best part of it...what will be!