On Twitter: Jack Kornfield@JackKornfield Oct 20, 2014 at 5:55 am
The Path Is Not Linear but Circular and Continuous - http://goo.gl/hlEzET
How can this be?
I grew up believing that grown ups got jobs, worked hard, found a partner, got married, bought a house, had children, set aside money, retired, gardened & played golf & traveled and then died.
There was a starting point, a middle point and a end.
That life map was simple & clean to understand. I could measure where I was on the path by checking off my accomplishments. Until I derailed my life train.
My derailing was my divorce. We had worked hard, bought the house, set aside money and then due to unemployment, the money all got spent, we almost lost the house, and the we killed our partnership.
Then my life became about starting over. Looking back this has been the fatal flaw of the past few years for me. I thought I was supposed to start over on the original path. Like a board game, I thought I was supposed to go all the way back to the start point and work my way back up. I have been beating myself up with all of the "shoulds" based on where I was supposed to be based on the original life map.
If you haven't read my piece A Nasty Case of the Shoulds, please do!
After my derailment, I started back at square one. It took forever for me to find a job. Because of my kids school schedule and location, my hours 3 days a week are limited. I have been shocked at how much of a problem employers see this as. You get my 20 plus years experience for $12 an hour tops but my having early two days a week when I can work 16 hour days the other two days a week doesn't fit your acceptable model.
I found a job that worked around my children's school schedule and could use all of the skills and experience I have collected in my 20 plus years working.
I found the partner. I had created a list for my searching and he met all of the important qualities I wanted.
I found the house. I moved out of my girlfriends basement and into my huge 3 bedroom old victorian rental with a fabulous porch & large back yard, within minutes of jumping on the highway to get to my kids school.
My children and I settled back into our rhythm and life was normal again.
I felt like I was really doing a good job checking off items again. Now I was on the path to being able to start saving and boom I would be totally back on track for my 40's. Right?
Then my ex husband stopped paying me. That was a huge financial hit.
Then my soul crushing job and the stress it created made me very, very sick and put me on very, very expensive daily medicine.
Then the company I worked for took a huge loss. I took a pay cut.
I was renting my little dream home, but it is not mine. It is tied to my job. If I leave the soul sucking job, I leave my sweet little house.
You know that moment when you find yourself sitting, confused and lost? That is where I am. Confused and lost. Kicking myself for all that I should have done that would have been better than what I did.
Why didn't I go back to school so I could get a better paying job to provide for myself? Then I remind myself that I didn't go to school because I have barely been able to scrape by financially and with time as it is. If employer's are not accepting of needing a flexible work schedule I have lead myself to believe neither will college. Sorry Mr. College but I can't take classes after 2 on Monday's & Tuesday's and every other Friday because I have to go pick up my kids from school in the mountains. Then I only have them on Monday & Tuesday evenings, so I can't take classes then or I would miss out on being with them. As you can tell this is a big one I keep kicking myself about.
I am ready to succeed financially. So much of my stress (and most people's) is just trying to make ends meet each month. But I think I am going to have to wait on the school plan until my kids are grown up. I am trying to convince myself that I will catch the school train on one of the next go rounds.
So, why did I get back on this damn path. It didn't work for me the first 20 years, but it is all I know, and I reached for the security of it. The reality is that there is no security in it at all.
I really don't like the idea that life is not a straight path, but "circular and continuous" as Jack Kornfield suggest. I don't like it, but I know he is correct.
Even before my first derailment, things were starting to spiral out of control.
Several lay-offs, draining of the retirement funds, almost losing the house because we couldn't pay the mortgage and the healthcare payments. We would have years of barely scraping by, followed by a year or two of great success and stability and then another cycle of lay-offs and loss. This was repeated several time over my 16 year marriage. Crazy how I forget that. I like to look back and see that we were on a steady track to retirement, but we weren't.
So I have found that I have been kicking myself for not having made it farther down the path of success, when I should be reexamining why I am so anxious to return to the life map? This map has not worked for me yet. When does one accept that the traditional model is a lie? And even if I accept it as a fallacy, what do I replace it with?
How do you live on this kind of life map once you acknowledge that life is not a destination. How do I get back in line, work hard,when realistically I will lose some huge portion of it again and have to start all over? What I need is a new concept that helps me to accept the ebb and flow that is life.
I both love and hate the impermanence that I am learning about. I love the idea that even though things are very difficult right now, that they won't always be. This is the hope I cling to. I don't love the idea that when I get everything in place and I feel successful, that it could all go away again. I so don't like this part of the cycle.
I have had my couple of good years and am fearing heading back into the instability and financial difficulties again. I keep hoping that as I grow older and smarter that each down swing will be smaller and shorter and less costly, but I don't have evidence of that yet.
MENTAL NOTE FOR LATER THINKING: I am guessing this is one of those limiting beliefs I keep hearing so much about.
So I am spending too much time being confused and lost and ignoring that I need to pay attention.
Yesterday at work my maintenance man staged a low level intervention. He told me he has noticed that I don't breathe a lot at the office, that I hold my breath. Then my admin, turned around and brought up my teeth clinching and endless head scratching (eczema). That they took the time to come up with ideas to help me is a huge testament to how very kind they are. However it also makes me pause and notice how much I am ignoring because I don't know how to fix it all. I have been burying my head in the sand.
It seems that I am fully capable of ignoring my body announcing that is is overly stressed. I cannot allow my health to become a part of this cycle. I am blessed that my friends took the time to tell me I am starting to scare people. But, how embarrassing to be that person who everyone is watching implode.
My goal this weekend is to create an idea of what a new life map looks like for me. What do I want to accomplish as milestones? What will success look like to me? Can I define enough of it in small daily moments that I don't ever feel like I am failing again? How do I redefine my life map to have more of the milestones be things that help me ride through the low cycles?
Time to start thinking about what small steps I can take to take care of myself and to help myself dig out of this hole I find myself in again. Time to pull my head out of my ass and start taking care of myself.
Step one to think about what I want my life to look like so I can see if anything I am currently doing supports the life I want. I am ready to go from surviving to thriving! I am going to end it here and get my notebook out and meditate before the morning gets away from me.