Finding My Real Life
I was a pretty little girl with curly blonde chair and dark blue eyes and a fiercely independent nature. I used to venture off with my dog exploring the outer edges of my neighborhood for hours. Looking back, those were my favorite times…when I could be free, because what I didn’t realize at the time was that I really didn’t want to go home.
From an early age, I knew that I was different…and more importantly, I knew that my family was different. I just could never put my finger on it. There was a lot of drama growing up. We moved around town almost every two years, my parents divorced, my father filed for bankruptcy, and when I was 16, the house I lived in with my mother burned down. And my home life was filled with a lot of anxiety.
Luckily, I excelled at school…and when I left for college, I was elated to start a new life.
During my sophomore year, I saw a flyer for study abroad and I jumped at the chance. My father, however, disagreed with this idea and refused to pay my tuition. So I marched over to the financial aid office and took my future into my own hands. I remember that march so clearly…because that was the moment that the real me first surfaced….the me that was determined…and more importantly, the me that was inspired.
I would go on to work in London and New York, go to graduate school in Australia, be a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria, and spend over ten years as a humanitarian worker traveling the world. My life became an adventure filled with fascinating people. But, like many overachievers, the frantic energy of my past caught up with me. My work started to suffer, my relationships became completely unsatisfying, and I felt like my whole life was collapsing around me.
My saving grace was a friend who was going through something very similar. She suggested that I see a therapist. With hands shaking and my friend on the phone, I made the long walk from the metro station to my first therapy appointment.
I cried every day for the next two years. The past was coming back to me in floods, and it came in such waves that it even shocked my therapist.
During this period, I made the hardest decision that I’ve ever made. I decided to stop speaking to my mother and distance myself from the rest of my family. The shock waves from this decision were incredible. My departure from taking on the role of my mother’s emotional guardian and doormat to my other family members’ needs was met with a complex array of emotions, including anger, understanding, disdain, and shaming.
It would take years for me to fully understand the magnitude of this decision. During this time, I took back control of my life. My real life. Not the one that impressed everyone else. But the life that I live with my soul.
I sold my house, left my well-paying, highly stressful job, and moved to a small city in the mountains. I pursued my passion for art, did massive forgiveness work, got a dog, and went for a lot of long walks. Five years later, I feel like I’ve been transforming inside of a cocoon and have only recently emerged as a completely new person.
I have the fewest friends I’ve ever had, but I have never felt more whole. I feel like I’ve created a fresh slate and the world is there for the taking. I’m leaving my small city in the mountains and heading to California…and I can’t wait to see what’s out there for me.
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