Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On Priorities, Love, & Freedom

“In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead. Place a mask on yourself before helping others around you.”

Such a simple, yet profound message.

Why put your mask on first? Everyone knows the answer to this—if you’re passed out from a lack of oxygen, how can you help anyone else?

You can’t.

You become a liability to those around you—relying on someone else to save you because you didn’t care enough about yourself to take care of you.

It’s easy to scoff at anyone unwilling to put on an oxygen mask first. It isn’t seen as selfish; it’s a necessity.

(You know where I’m going with this, right?)

Why do people think it selfish to take care of themselves first… before taking care of others? Why is martyrdom so acceptable and even encouraged? That type of codependence is rampant, and yet—it’s also acceptable, and in many cases there is such a long family history of it that no one is aware of another way of living.

A better way of living.

Thank you, Pathways. Thank you, BrenĂ© Brown, for writing The Gifts of Imperfection, for being so amazing and so willing to put yourself out there in the name of shame and vulnerability and wholehearted living. Your words are easy—to read, to understand, to grasp—but the concepts you lay out before the reader are complex, requiring from us a deep commitment to love, to self, to priorities.

I am doing better than I thought with the whole priority thing. I’ve noticed that I’m more relaxed and not nearly so frantic as I used to be when I don’t accomplish x-y-z. it just isn’t as big of a deal to me anymore. It doesn’t matter as much anymore.

Shit will get done whenever it gets done, and not a moment sooner.

And the really important things get done—no matter what it takes. And I find it fascinating that what’s stayed on the surface as I sift through my life and shake the sediment down through the screen and back into the river of life isn’t always what I expected it would be.

Priorities change.

A prime example is making jewelry.

Everyone who knows me knows that I love making jewelry. It’s a passion—or, at least, it used to be. I used jewelry making as an outlet—something tangible I would cling to, to keep me sane when my whole life was crumbling slowly apart, when the glue holding my insides together had turned to rot and the cracks multiplied exponentially on a daily basis.

Jewelry making became the new glue.

But I have a new life now. I don’t need jewelry design as glue anymore. And I find that while I still love making jewelry now and then—and I still love “playing in the beads” (as my ex used to say when I’d spend hours combing through my entire stash, creating ideas and designing new necklaces in my mind)—it is no longer a necessity.

I don’t need it.

These days—I need writing. I still write every day, although I have been neglecting this blog. Our little writing group is small but very strong. We six gather each week, and they take whatever I throw at them and run with it—always going farther than I could ever hope for, always impressing me with their commitment, their openness, and their vulnerability. I am so thankful for our writing group. They inspire me!

(And, yes, we always welcome “newbies”!)

Pathways TAing has once again taken a priority in my life, after almost a full year break. I missed it, but I also needed that time away.

My Monday night group is also a priority, although one I have been somewhat overlooking for the past weeks.

My work is a priority—after going four months without work and then almost like magic—stumbling into a role where I can use my strengths and I work with amazing, dedicated people, and where I can also stretch myself—I can safely say that I’ve never been happier in any career or job or company than I am right here, right now. I am deeply grateful. Words can’t express it, really.

And then, of course, there is David.

I could go on and on about David, and how good he is for me, how good he is to me, and how good of a man he is. I let him go back in January because there was something important missing from our relationship. At that point, he hadn’t really let me in, and after dating for four months, that wedge grew—and I knew that if I continued to stick it out the way things were, I was shortchanging myself—and settling for a relationship that was less than what I deserve.

I let him go. As my friends can attest, it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was incredibly difficult.

I even started going on dates again. I had two dates with two men, but my heart wasn’t in it. That’s not saying anything bad about either of the guys—they’re both actually pretty great. But my heart was decidedly elsewhere.

As hard as it was, I made a point of not connecting with David. My heart was heavy, but I knew that eventually I would be ok.

And then one day, he reached out to me. He wanted to come back into my life.

I was extremely cautious, but I let him come. And he came back in a very big way. He started to let me in, and then at some point it’s like the flood gates opened, and ever since then—it’s been amazing.

I can safely say that I’ve never had the connection, chemistry, and depth of love that David and I have. Every day he amazes me, just by being himself. Every day I marvel at how lucky I am to have him—all of him—in my life.

I’m writing this on the plane to Boston, and even now, I miss him—even now, I smile and honestly have to fight back tears because I am so overcome with love… with our love. I have never felt so honored and cherished as I feel with David.

Every day, I am amazed at how much better our love grows.

The last time I was on a plane was July 2011. I don’t remember appreciating the curve of the Earth back then—probably because I was nervous about the meeting I was prepping for and still very much hurting from the divorce and trying to hide and cover it up with dating. That’s when a couple of pivotal men entered the picture for me (and almost as quickly exited).

As the airplane banked to the left and I gazed out my window on the right side of the plane, I saw the vast horizon, and Earth revealed her gentle curve to me. I felt overcome with love—for this life, for all that I have been given, for the love I am now able to give and receive, for every trial that carves a deeper well of gratitude and growth within me. I am truly amazed at this life and deeply wondering how my life will change again—in 24 hours, 24 days, 24 years—but it’s a child-like wonder, not a longing.

Now, I am absolutely, blissfully free—to live in this moment and feel curiosity and wonderment about my future while giving a nod of honor to my past and to all the lessons that live there.