The more I process my grief, the more I realize that peeling back these layers reveals the usual suspect feelings but also opens the way for other unanticipated issues to come up that can be (have to be?) dealt with. What I have discovered so far about grief is that it has little enough to do with Kevin, except for the obvious loss of his physical presence, and everything to do with who I am and who I choose to be now.
I have recently started back on the path of how I got the way I am, trying to understand myself differently so I can refine or change some things I don’t like about myself. My post from back in January 2016 (Remembering Dad) is one I go back to time after time, thinking about how my parents’ grief over the death of my baby brother affected me then and continuing while I was growing up, and how that is a prime ingredient in the make-up of who I am so far. And how all that might have influenced how I parented my children, who are now parenting their own children. This is how cycles get rolling.
So why now? Well, here I am trying to figure out my future, make sense of the options I have. I am conflicted about calling myself an entrepreneur, since I don’t really have a business with products to sell. I am a trainer (underemployed at that) with services to offer. I haven’t marketed myself much, though, so I feel sort of like a starving artist, living on principle and principal. Even though it’s been a year and a half since I left my last job, I’m still unsettled about what’s next. And I still cry, but I am making new friends and developing a strong support network. Now I just need to find more meaning and make some money.
An alternative that could solve my financial insecurities showed up in my Inbox recently. I applied for a job back in Minnesota, one I hadn’t made up my mind I really wanted but was interested in enough to apply. I got a first interview, and I started making up reasons why this was a good idea. The prime factor was the salary and the stability of a regular paycheck with fringe benefits like health insurance. A strong but secondary factor was that I would be geographically close to three of my siblings and two of my very best friends. But my heart just couldn’t get excited about Minnesota winters, nor especially the structure of a Monday-Friday, 8-5, 50 weeks a year job, carrying out someone else’s priorities and directives. I kept hearing in my head that saying, “If money weren’t the issue, what would you do?” No clear answers yet, in case you’re wondering.
While I was waiting to hear about a second interview, I decided it was time to put my house in order, so to speak. Not just physically clean and well-maintained, which I would have to do if I were potentially going to list it for sale; more importantly, I wanted to mentally prepare myself for giving up the freedoms I have now. I rationalized like a champ all the positives of a move, and discounted the hassles of moving and starting over again. Suffice it to say that I want my roots to go deeper instead of broader now. And I wanted peace of mind, whichever way the cookie crumbled.
My friend Rosanne once asked me while I was packing for a move what it was I was running from, and I told her I wasn’t running from but toward, except I didn’t know what toward either. I still don’t know. Or rather, I don’t know yet but I’m getting closer. Note to self: what I have been doing all along is making money, not making a life. That’s going to change.
Yeah, so that cookie crumbled, and I didn’t get the job. I didn’t even get the second interview. And I still don’t have peace of mind (although the anxiety of moving has subsided, which must be a good sign). I’m very okay with this, because I didn’t really want to go (and my Spirit Self didn’t want to go either, I’m sure of it). But if not this, then what??? This is my time, right? Finally? No kids to worry about, no husband to convince, not even any bills except the mortgage and monthly utilities and other living expenses. Not the next thing, but the last thing, a legacy act.
I have often said to myself, I wonder what I’d be capable of if I just applied myself? I have had significant achievements in my life, which I am proud of, but if I really tried, imagine that! So I hired a coach/business start-up strategist to help me. The first thing she had me do was fill out a questionnaire about my job history. Which got me to thinking about how many times I have moved, how many jobs I have held, how many times I had that fresh start. Those Millenial kids have got nothing on me! I have held 12 positions in the past 40 years, always chasing more money, but eventually climbing a career ladder. I have had 13 addresses in six cities in four states (not counting the Army). Looking at that list laid out in black and white was an eye-opener. Having to articulate what my ideal day would look like, and define what success looked like so I’d recognize it when I hit that mark…those were tougher tasks. Trying to align all these bits and pieces into a vision and voice is going to be some work.
I know I would get along okay if I didn’t do all this thinking and analyzing and conjuring and … whatever else I am doing. I know I would be just fine if I put away the questions and reverted to “normal,” albeit a new normal, and society would readily accept that without question. People I know would probably be relieved I have finally settled down. I think I have done a swell job with processing the early stages of grief – the loss and doubt, the discomfort and discovery, even the understanding. But there’s more for me. I’m seeking full integration in this new life, fuller satisfaction, and confidence in the new me.
I have started something that won’t let go of me now. In this past month’s time, I’ve turned inside out. Move over, Alice, I have to go down this rabbit hole and see what there is to see. I just know that the door marked Grief is not the only one that has opened. I’m curious about what labyrinth I will find myself walking on this journey.