I looked at the last date that I blogged: August 11, 2016.
A LOT has happened since then, and all of it transformational. No shit.
Last Fall was an intense time for a lot of us, here in the US, and really, it seems that the entire world is undergoing an intense time of change.
I’m experiencing this on the micro level, too. As an individual, I am evolving in a direction that is far healthier.
Where should I begin?
Let’s start with November 8th, 2016. It seems a lid was pulled off of America’s collective consciousness. For me, this meant plunging into a bit of an existential crisis. What is important to me? Who is important to me? I re-evaluated relationships and I re-evaluated my entire life. My entire identity. That’s what I’ve been doing, for months.
See…a funny thing happened, back in 2010. Something wonderful. Something magical. Something that was a complete and total shock to my family and friends (who knew that this kind of thing was never a goal for me). I met and married my husband, and our three children. I was in my mid-30s and I was on a particular career path, but my love for this man and his children was huge, and I needed this in my life.
But I was also a woman in her mid-30s with ADHD. Adding a family to my plate came with a steep learning curve. It took me seven years to acclimate to having a family and balancing it with my own needs. Quite frankly, at times, the process of acclimating to my particular set of demands nearly killed me, emotionally and physically.
Here I am. Seven years later.
I’m now a woman in her 40s with ADHD, and in re-evaluating my life and relationships, here’s what I have sorted out, over the past several months:
1) I need a career, not a job. I had a clear and determined career path when I met my husband. I was working my way toward law school, with the intent of making a positive difference in the world. For geographic reasons, I had to give it up in order to be with him. He did not ask this of me. I chose it for myself. It was a large sacrifice, but I willingly made it. It was a fine short term decision. But it’s not a good long term decision. I need a new career.
2) I need peace in my life. This means at home. At work. In my family relationships. In my professional relationships. I will not tolerate anything less, anymore. Not for anything or anyone.
3) I have options. I have real, genuine options available to me, that can make my life the life I want it to be. This has restored my hope.
4) I am the center of my own universe. This does not mean that all of my decisions are all about me. But it means that in order for me to be healthy, and for me to be most available to my family in healthy ways, I must preserve myself, in every compassionate way that I can.
5) I have a vision for what I want my life to be. What I want my family’s life to be. And what I want me home to be. And I will do anything to safeguard and cultivate that vision (anything legal, anyway, haha). I have restored my sense of future. I have learned that without a sense of future, people lose hope. I had lost hope. I have my hope back, and I envision my future with joy.
6) It is critical to me, as a fundamental part of my identity, that I derive my own meaning, from empowering others. This is what drove my interest in a legal career. And it has become the guiding principle in envisioning my new career. Which I’ll tell you about momentarily. It’s not about telling people what to do. It’s not about controlling them. It’s not about saving them. It’s about using my own gifts, and developing them, in order to spread some good in the world. Even as a child, I enjoyed teaching my little sister how to do things for herself. It gave me joy, and it gave her a sense of ability and confidence.
7) My home is a sanctuary from chaos. Period. No negotiation. No bullshit.
Changing my perspective has meant a lot of big changes, in a short amount of time, and I’m glad that I have a good therapist to bounce things off of, while I move through this time in my life. Here are the most crucial steps that I have taken, to re-set my boundaries. BOUNDARIES. Important word. I’ll be coming back to it. I just love ennumerated lists:
1) I severed several important relationships in my life, around the same time. Not because I do not love those I had to distance myself from. I love them all, very much. Family. Friends. But I cannot tolerate chaos in my life, anymore. I cannot carry other people’s baggage. It is too heavy, and I have my own to sort through. At some point, I foresee that I will be able to reach back out, and try to reconnect, with some of them, and when it’s time, it will be interesting to see how it works out. But that’s not “now” work.
2) I have taken my home by storm. My sanctuary from chaos deserves care. Organizing, cleaning. My husband and kids have been helping. I will not live the way that we have been living, anymore. I am done.
3) I am returning to school, to become a nurse practitioner. I deserve a career that allows me to do good work. It is important to me, to give something to my community that improves it. And my family deserves financial stability.
4) I start school next month. It will be challenging to do this, while raising a family, but…I can handle pretty big challenges. I know this. I have a plan. And this is what chores lists are for. I have been preparing my husband and children for what this will mean, warning them that EVERYONE will be expected to help maintain our home, or pets, our family. EVERYONE. No exceptions. By preparing them ahead of time, I hope this will ease the transition. If it doesn’t, they’re just going to have to figure it out. We got a dishwasher and a dryer, to make this a little easier.
5) My husband and I are continuing to make progress on our financial situation. This feels good. When I finish my RN training, it will increase my salary significantly, and when I finish my NP training, it will hugely increase my salary. By working during school (when I am able to) I am minimizing debt, and I have selected a training path that allows me the training, while helping to keep our debt down as much as I can. My husband is nervous about this transition but the way I see it, how can I turn down a chance to literally double my salary in 2.5 years. After all we have struggled through together, how can I NOT do this? He cannot double his salary. He’s a musician and teacher. That’s his dream. But me? I have the chance here, to make more money AND do something amazing? To me, this is a no brainer.
6) Good mental health care is a scarce resource in many parts of the country, and the dearth is particularly bad in the area in which I live. Families in my state cannot continue to suffer like this. I hope to specialize in psychiatric care.
Now then. Boundaries. I promised to come back to that word.
Re-negotiating my boundaries with the chaos in my life has changed EVERYTHING. I have come to understand that it is a necessary and also a loving act. It has not been easy. But it has saved my life.
Think about the relationships in your life. With your job, or your boss. With your friends. With your lovers. With your children. Are you boundaries where they need to be, or are you letting people abuse your limits…and not holding the line?
You cannot save them. You cannot fix them. There is only so much that a friend or a family member can do, when a person refuses to address their own pain, and continues to hurt the people they love. You can send them resources. You can clearly communicate your concern. But you cannot fix it for them.
You deserve peace. You deserve sanctuary from chaos.
Set yourself free. It is a loving act.