I spent a few days at my brother’s last weekend. It was so lovely to see him and his gorgeous family. I felt the most myself I have felt for a good while – briefly stepping away from current stresses (which have been causing regular nausea and anxiety), and just being with this person – who in many ways feels like the other half of the person I am. Though we do not live near one another (sadly) our shared experiences attach us with a bond that I could feel with no other human being. I don’t have to ‘Be’ anything with my brother. I am just me and he is just he. I don’t have to pretend I’m fine if I’m not, or hide the things that are not working right now, and I am pleased to say he doesn’t do that with me either. Even though we are both struggling in our different ways at present, it felt good to be there for one another. As it has always been. As it always will be.
It was so joyful (as ever) to see my niece and nephews too. What beautiful, humour filled, captivating people they are. So full of what they are doing and what comes next in their lives. I am truly envious of them sometimes. With it all ahead of them.
All of their choices there for the taking
All possible mistakes there for the making
And their young hearts open to the inevitability of breaking
Though I do not forget how hard it is to be a teenager. In fact I remember it all too well. But they seem to have so much more of an idea of who they are and what they are doing than I ever did. This may be in part due to the considerable amount of time and effort my brother and his wife put into helping them think through each of their choices and encouraging their talents, interests and individuality.
When my brother and I were similar ages as they are now, our parents had just embarked on launching an all-consuming new business. And, though I really do appreciate that they tried their best to be there for us, and certainly did encourage us – they just didn’t have a lot of time to stay up close to what we were doing and where we might be going next. Not a criticism. They were working their socks off to try and provide for the family in the best way they knew how. But it meant that my brother and I did a lot of the finding, and stumbling, along our paths on our own in many ways.
I was sleeping in my niece’s bedroom on my recent visit. And, on a shelf next to her bed sits a miniature wooden dresser. This dresser was mine when I was a child. And now it is hers. I spotted it and it made so much history flood back. It was not all happy memories. There were memories of the sad, dark little flat attached to my parent’s business that it had once lived in. Very little light to brighten the gloom. A place that was both a refuge (for me and my dog – my only companion in that place once my brother left home), and also my prison. When I wasn’t at school, or there was no opportunity to escape to a friend’s house (all of whom lived miles away from me), my options were to either sit in this gloom with my dog, or walk into the hills with him by my side, throwing stones for him and contemplating what all my friends might be up to, and if (in fact), they were still my friends – insecurity and loneliness being regular playmates of mine at this time.
My niece sometimes struggles with her friends too, I see that, and with her own teenage self. I look at her, and I hear her, and I see so much of myself in her (I’m sorry my lovely – I really am :). But there is a strength in her too that I recognise. A resilience, a stubbornness, a refusal to be beaten down. And I recognise that too. Oh so well. And I know how important that will all be for her in the future.
She is at an important point in her education, when she gets to make choices about what career she might like to work towards. She has chosen subjects that I too have a passion for (psychology and philosophy in particular) – subjects I would have dearly loved to study at A Level if they had been available to me. I did go on to study psychology at university, and remain fascinated with it to this day. But, for many reasons, I did not pursue it as a career at that time. It just wasn’t right for me then.
In more recent years I have also developed a fascination for philosophy, and have read many texts about Ancient Greek philosophers as well as works by modern Western thinkers. Such explorations into man’s mind and motivations, probing into why we behave in the ways we do, the moral and mental dilemmas we tangle with, along with what it looks like when it all goes wrong, tantalise my brain and get all sorts of passionate pondering going on in me. They create a kinetic energy, and as I write about it, and think about it, this energy builds until I think ….
“I want more of this!”
As I have mentioned in previous writing, I have reached a bit of a cross-roads in my life. My old work does not fill me with kinetic energy – quite the opposite in fact. I have been looking for new opportunities. But few of the things I have gone for have fired me up or inspired me. A few have, but they haven’t paid off regardless. And, on a bad day, I start to lose faith and feel stuck and despondent.
I often dream of having my time over. Launching myself from scratch – like my niece is now – able to start with a blank page and maybe write a different script. Of course that cannot be. But then I look at the tag line to my blog “The first half was the learning”. And that is certainly true. How much I have learned! About myself, about others, about the kind of person I want to be, the kind of people I want to be around, and the kind of contribution I want to make in the world. And that is all valuable intel. Gold-dust in fact.
And now, having been through some life stuff (and then counselling and therapy to treat depression and anxiety), I understand and appreciate myself and what is important to me more than ever before. More than I ever could have if those things hadn’t transpired. So perhaps now is the time. Perhaps it could only have been now. When I have lived a bit, and learned a bit. Lost a bit and then found myself again.
My niece inspires me enormously. She is just embarking on what her future holds. And, what is to say I am not now doing exactly the same? But with the benefit of all I have learned in the first half. I have an inkling that I know in my heart where I might like this second half to take me. That in itself is huge progress.
There is a course I have long been thinking I might like to sign up for. A qualification in Counselling & Psychotherapy. Something I have recently benefited so much from myself. Something that I am fascinated by, passionate about, and would be able to give my full energy and interest to. I thought about doing it last year too, but I didn’t have the money to pay for it. I still don’t have the money to pay for it – even less in fact. But my heart is telling me “Now is the time”. My circumstances are telling me “Now is the time”. My bank account is telling me “You have nothing to lose”. Literally. Nothing.
I am going to have to borrow the money. It is going to be a struggle. But I am not making any headway with the other things I have been trying – perhaps because I am not meant to be. Perhaps these other ventures are not paying off because the space had to be held for this other thing that is my true purpose.
I am now verging on the edge of a new cliff. I have no parachute. But what I do have is an indomitable spirit and an ever optimistic faith in the potential of the future. Though the perfectionist in me cautions ….
“Are you sure?”
“How can you be certain this is the right course of action?”
“Have you researched every single other option in the world first?”
This is the kind of perfectionist speak that can keep me stuck forever. I know this because I have been trapped by it before. Though every choice is a risk, continuing to stand still, as I pray that something will break my way, is not an option anymore. That most definitely is not where the living is at. And this second half has to be all about the living.
And so I find I have another cliff to jump off.
Good job I have some experience of jumping off cliffs.
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