(This post is part of a series chronicling my Women on the Verge journey. Read all updates in the series.)
My first month of Women on the Verge found me pondering feelings of “wasted” time, seeking help with life’s challenges and the difference between “broken” and “growing.”
When last you heard from me, I was in the driver’s seat of my own bus, traveling down the Women on the Verge highway, headed for parts unknown. Unknown, yet compelling. Unknown, yet exciting. Unknown, and scary as shit.
The Woes of “Wasted” Time
Today, my travels transport me to thoughts of how many people my age are already “getting off the bus,” so to speak – retiring, downsizing, simplifying their lives… Yet here I am, in many respects, feeling like I’ve just recently boarded. And that begs the question: Shouldn’t I have done this years ago – “this” being to have found a sense of success or accomplishment in fulfilling – at least some of – my life’s purpose? That’s when an obligatory wave of inadequacy washes over me, as if on cue. My judgmental inner voice chides me about all the time I’ve wasted, “Yep, no doubt about it, girl, you’re a failure!” it whispers in my ear.
Once the negative self talk quiets, however, I begin to think that it isn’t really surprising that I’m just now getting on board; I’ve always been a late bloomer. Slow to date a boy. Slow to determine that boy was an abusive monster. Slow to devise an exit strategy from my relationship with that boy. Afterwards, it took me years to rise from the rubble and begin to discover what I wanted from life and what gifts I might have to offer. Even more years passed before I arrived at the delightful revelation that I have a unique voice in the world, even though it remained my closely-guarded secret. There’s no shame associated with being a late bloomer when I’m not berating myself for it. I’m a firm believer that everyone has a time in which they can shine – mine just happens to still lie ahead of me.
Desperately Seeking Help
The trouble I’m having with my “blooming” (late or otherwise) is that, while I can sense that it’s imminent, I can’t envision it clearly – or at all… I feel the pull – but where is it leading me? How do I define it, see it, lean into it? I need support, a nudge, a big ol’ kick in the ass – to figure out what it is I’m longing for. I can already feel this course unlocking the doors behind which the answers lie. I’m starting to glimpse how my present habits shoot my progress in the foot and simultaneously marvel that untapped powers/potentials lurk within me.
Shored up by some of these revelations, I’ve come to realize that I’ve come a long way and overcome a lot in my life. But I didn’t do it without help. While for the most part I’m an independent sort who’s diligent about trying to figure shit out for myself, I have, on occasion, reached out to professionals for guidance and fresh perspective. I’ve gone to therapy for depression; later, for insomnia. I’ve undergone some career counseling as I transitioned from one field to another. Most recently, I saw a social worker with a very specific goal in mind: To help me retain my strength and sense of self while living with and loving a husband dealing with anxiety and depression. Obviously, I’m not hesitant to seek help when I need a supportive, empowering sounding board. Yet I can’t escape the question, “With all the work I’ve done on myself, why am I still such a work in progress? Why am I not ‘fixed’ yet?” I’ve had all these opportunities to heal, evaluate, re-evaluate, adjust course… Why – or what – am I still seeking?
“Any man who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.”~ Samuel Goldwyn
I think I’m beginning to sense the answer: I’m not incomplete, so there’s nothing missing; I’m not broken, so I don’t need to be fixed. These are completely normal, even healthy, yearnings of someone in transition. Like growing pains, they’re uncomfortable and confusing; I have a sneaking suspicion there may even be some powerful life lessons lurking within that place of mystery. What I am is a woman who has arrived at a time and place in her life where she is ready for the next thing. Neither family nor culture teaches us how to navigate this part of our lives, so I needn’t feel the lesser for being a little – or a lot – lost. I’m not some late-blooming freak who finally has her shit together enough to want to figure out what she wants from her life. I simply have reached the realization that there is more for me, in me. I experience it as a desire – and a strong one at that – to utilize, to leverage all that I have already experienced into something grand, something precious, for myself.
And to go through this metamorphosis, I need a new approach – new tools in my arsenal to help me grow into my maturity with confidence, grace and zero bullshit! I’m already learning that Women on the Verge isn’t just more therapy, self-help, or regurgitated platitudes. I’m challenged by this course; it’s already asking me new questions, making me look under different rocks deep in my psyche. What would happen if I DID THIS?… STOPPED DOING THAT? And despite being an introspective therapy veteran, I’m frequently stymied. I don’t have a pat answer – or a glib response. I’m actually put on the spot and look at things – consider new possibilities – that I’ve never encountered before. This is scary, new, challenging and deep work. And I love it!
And when I think of the concept of “wasted time,” I think of this gorgeous version of this song:
And maybe someday we will find
That it wasn’t really wasted time