Monday, December 20, 2010

Locked Doors

These last few months have been a veritable roller coaster. Or maybe that should be several roller coasters and so far, none of them have been terribly enjoyable. We've had two deaths in the family. One we were all expecting, and the other was a shock. A total frying pan to the side of the head. Another change has to do with a promotion at work, which erupted rather suddenly. Generally speaking, I'm fairly good at riding these things out; duck the jaw smashers that you can, and roll with the sneaky ass punches that you never see coming. I've become quite good at gathering my feet beneath me after a particularly bad blow, although standing without weaving isn't always possible. Lately, weaving and wobbling has become a norm. Life has more resembled a long line of frying pan wielding psychopaths, dealing mind numbing blows, than one bordered by flowers, singing birds and vast green fields. I suspect everyone gets to this area in their life where everything experienced it uncomfortably inhabited by dark shadows and a distinct lack of clarity.

I find myself wobbling in the doorway of a new job. A full time job. While I should be happy about this, it comes with several price tags. One of which is the job I will soon be inhabiting, is because a good friend is leaving the position and moving on. Which is great for her, and I really do wish her all the best (and yes, I will come loom ... visit you) I'm not sure what I see beyond the doorway is something I can handle. There is also the uncomfortable feeling that if I step through... actually I should say WHEN I step inside the doorway, the door will slam shut and lock. No going back, even though I was told that if I really hate it, I could go back. Seriously though, there IS no going back. Going back to your first home? Visiting the old neighborhood? Running into old friends and enemies? Not fun. Not for me at least. Too many memories good and bad. The bad make me want to curl up in a ball and roll myself into a dusty corner until I forget why I'm there. Good memories that make me want to do the same thing because those days are gone.

I guess what this really comes down to is fear. A fear of being trapped in a job I'm not sure I'll be good at. Fear that I'll screw up badly when everyone is confident that I'll do a great job. Fear that I'll become complacent and will settle for a job that I'm comfortable with, but will never grow as a person in. Fear that I will lose the courage to follow my dreams, because I have doubts that the dream is something I want and more a need for escape. Fear that when I'm in my last days that I'll look back at the here and now, and regret the decisions I made in the moment. Fear of things left undone. And lastly a fear that the reason all of this is weighing so heavily on me, is the fear that I am not who I think I am. I know we all have these fears, but sometimes they are much more real and threatening. The loss of the familiar, the loss of the people that keep your keel even; the self doubt and all the 'what ifs' and 'I can't's"add such vibrant colored outlines to the shadows we create for ourselves.

There is a children's book, "The Little Engine That Could" attributed to Watty Piper, but is actually older in origin. When I was a kid, I really didn't understand all the aspects of this book, because I was a kid. To me the book was cool because the underdog won, and I was always the underdog. At that age I hadn't experienced enough to fully understand that self-confidence is sometimes all you need in order to get an insurmountable task done. Because many of these mountains are actually mole hills, but appear larger due to two words. "I Can't". It wasn't until years later, when I had occasion to meet someone I now consider an extremely good friend (he may think differently. He's an interesting character.), who basically would calmly listen to me blither on for hours (possibly days) about why I couldn't do something. Then he would quietly (not always) suggest that perhaps I was so wrapped up with my excuses that I hadn't actually considered the -fact- that I was indeed capable and able in whatever it was I was back peddling on. I just had placed a convenient life roadblock in my own way out of habit. It's called,"I can't." The instant you think that, you really can't. Because your focus has shifted from the fear of something new, to all the ways you can avoid dealing with that fear. You've just hobbled yourself, and most people never step out of their hobbles under their own power. "I can't" enables them to remain as they are. Whatever that static position might be. Until of course they're pitched into something head first by other people. Then its panic attack time, or they find that they actually can do it. I will always be grateful to him for making me see things for what they were.

The words, "I can." come with their own set of responsibilities. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Sometimes it's best to let things go, for the good of yourself and for the good of those around you. In my case, it's more that I need to rediscover my ability to enable those words for myself. Those around me will survive without me. I've been in a comfortable place with my current position for so long, that I almost stopped where I was. Almost, because I was still going to school to complete an AA/AS and ultimately move on with my goals, but on a whole... I was slowing down. Immersing myself in my job, in the people, in my friends... rooting myself. Which I will not allow completely, because I'm not done with what I want to do, and unfortunately that means I can't set down roots yet. A lot of my confusion and 'I can't' comes from uprooting myself. Its necessary if I want to keep going, but I can't say I like it. Leaving familiar territory is definitely not comfortable for me. I don't deal with change well. When I was little, Mom would rearrange the living room, and I'd pitch a total fit of hysteria. As an adult, I still get emotionally distraught, but I keep the majority of it to myself. Hopefully.

So, although I'm on something of an emotional tilt, and am having to relearn how to deal with self-doubt and 'I can't' I'm going to step through the door which I fear will lock behind me. But that's alright, because I can always fashion a key, break a window, or just kick the door down. It'll still be scary at first. I'll be going in wobbling, but armed with the memories of a little locomotive, and a good friend whose spirit still pokes me in the forehead when I waver over an issue saying,

"Try. All you can do is fail, and that's not so bad."


"Unless you're a bomb disposal expert. Then it will be bad."

And since it's Christmas... Here's "White Wine in the Sun" by Tim Minchin. Yes, I am on a total Tim Minchin kick. You will all have to deal. Hope you all have the Happiest of Holidays.