Saturday, May 24, 2014

Change is...change

Sometimes bad things happen for no reason. Sometimes, though...

Seven years ago, I had a decent job and a great boss, and then my life fell apart in a pretty spectacular way. I made a mistake, a big one (not job-related), and I've spent the last seven years paying for it. I'm not quite finished yet, legally speaking.

And here's the thing: I can't regret what I did. It served a greater purpose. My life was drifting along. I knew that my work was something I did because I was good at it, not because I enjoyed it. I longed for the satisfaction of doing work I loved, but didn't know what that might be. I wanted my life to mean something, to me and to the people with whom I might come into contact.

I had glimpses of this better life from time to time, and I wanted what I saw, but I was cozy, unwilling to step outside the safety of my comfort zone for long. What I was doing kept a roof over my kid's head, and food on the table, and responsible adults sometimes do work they don't like in order to fulfill their obligations. That's what I'd been taught as a kid, what I'd always believed. The universe knew that in order for me to find that extra something I was looking for, I needed to be shoved forcibly out of my cocoon.

The change has been painful and humiliating and the personal shame of making that choice has estranged me from both family and friends. My kid stuck by me. She was adult enough to tell me that she didn't like what I did, but understood why I did it. I withdrew and isolated myself from people I cared about out of the fear that if they knew what I'd done, they wouldn't like me anymore. Some of them have surprised me.  I've had friends who learn the whole story, from me or from someone else, and still welcome me into their lives and their homes. I'm grateful for those people, people who see me as a person who made a mistake, rather than a person who is that mistake.

Was it a bad thing I did? Sure. Did anybody besides me and my daughter get hurt? For the most part, that answer's no.

Did it need to happen?

I believe it did. The emotional, spiritual, and financial struggles of the past seven years have been critical to my growth as a human being.

My life is different now. I've learned and unlearned things about myself. I've forgiven myself for ancient transgressions that weren't even mine to begin with. I've fallen in like with new parts of myself, acquired and refined new skills, and have work I love to do. It's not enough work yet, but it's something that had I the means, I would happily do without pay. I do in fact do it regularly for nothing but the sheer joy of it.

Good things are happening now, small things here and there. It started slowly and is gaining momentum. I've been taking the shattered puzzle pieces of a boring, uninspired life and putting them back together into a new picture, somebody who can do what I've always wanted to do - help people. In as many ways as possible.