March 26, 2015

Life Lessons (a journal entry)

Do you ever have that feeling, when you're in the middle of some crummy life "thing," that you've been there before? Emotional deja vu. It may not be the same place or even the same people, but it's the same experience and the same feeling.

Have you ever taken a step back and realized, I've been through this before. And I hated it the first time around...and the fourth and the fifth. Why am I here again? Why does this keep happening to me?

Do you then have a moment where you think, maybe there's something I'm supposed to learn from this that I haven't yet learned. One of those connect-the-dots epiphanies where something that wasn't at all clear to you before suddenly is.

Yeah, me too.

So, I've moved again. (Okay, over a year ago, but clearly I haven't adjusted yet.) And I'm miserable...again. It's been a roller coaster ride for me since this started almost two years ago, varying widely from "things are fine" to "I am miserable." Maybe it's the long winter. Maybe it's a need for a change of scenery. Maybe it's the recent loss of our dog. But I am solidly in the "I am miserable" camp right now. Regardless of what is exasperating the situation right now, the foundation for my misery is clearly my lack of adjustment to our new location.

During my childhood, my family lived in 3 different states, 5 different cities, and 9 different homes. I went to 8 different schools (11 if you count colleges). Since I went off to college my parents have moved 3 more times, and since I graduated from college I have moved 4 more times. That's a fair number of moves and a whole lot of starting over. I am a tree with no roots. More of a moss-free rolling stone.

But I have never liked moving. It's always been hard for me. I've have always longed for a "home town." A place where you "come from." A place where people know you and have your back. Roots for my tree. A place to be planted. A garden to grow in. But I've never had it. And I've always been envious of people who do. I have friends who have lived in the same general area their whole lives, or most of their lives, and they have these great networks of friends and family around them. Not me.

And as I've gotten older I've found that I've become more and more of a homebody. I prefer to be home than most anywhere else. I have become less and less adventuresome. Branching out, reaching out, striking out seems harder and harder to do. I've noticed that once I find a vacation spot I like, I like to go back there every year, rather than try a new place. I like being places that I know. Places where I feel comfortable. Places that feel a bit like home. And I just realized that, without intending it, two of the three children's novels I've recently written have a main character who has recently moved and is struggling with settling into a new place. I just had to watch my oldest go through the pain of moving just like I did so many times as a kid. And I hated it.

And yet, I keep moving. Only two of those moves (the ones in my twenties, when I moved for my own job) were driven solely by me. It has mostly felt like something that keeps happening to me, not really a choice I'm making. But regardless the reason, I keep packing my bags and my boxes and my life and hitting the road.

So, I was sitting on the couch last night, half reading a book and half thinking about the funk I've been in and how to get out of it. When all of a sudden I saw the bigger picture of all of these moves.

A string of moves, a string of low points where I struggle to adjust to the new place.

Why do I keep moving when I hate it so much? Why haven't I been allowed to settle in and put down roots? Why don't I have a hometown?

And that's when I wondered this: if I keep buying a ticket to this particular show, there must be something I want to see...something I need from it. But what? What am I supposed to be learning from these moves?

I'd like to think that I started this post with an end in mind. (I bet you'd like that too.) But not unlike how I write books, I'm not a plotter. I don't always know where I'm headed when I start out. I just tend to go where the writing takes me.

So here we are. We know I move a lot. We know there's some life lesson I'm supposed to be learning from all of it. And I'd like to think that once I truly learn whatever the lesson is, I might get to stay put...or maybe moving will become easier. But what is the lesson?

Any ideas?

Seriously, if you have any ideas, please let me know.

I don't know. It's almost always a lesson in fear. So many life lessons seem to be about moving beyond fear. So likely I'm afraid of something. But what? Maybe it's a lesson in letting go. Maybe I hold on to things too tightly, afraid I'll lose them if I loosen my grip. Maybe it's fear of change. (Though that seems too obvious.) Maybe fear of being alone. Maybe the opposite, maybe fear of depending on others. The nasty side effect of becoming too independent...the "no man is an island" lesson. I could probably twist it into fear of failure if I tried...that's always a good one to go with.

Maybe I need to see a therapist. (I know, we're all thinking that.) :-)

Maybe I'll figure it out soon. Maybe I'll find the lesson ladder that will allow me to climb out of this hole I find myself in. Maybe this glorified journal entry I've posted on my blog will help me work through it. And maybe it'll help you see something in your own life that deserves examining.


Until next time, when you find yourself frustrated or struggling with something in your life, take a step back away from the trees and look at the forest. Is there a pattern there somewhere? Is there a life lesson hidden in your struggle? If so, I hope you find what you need from it and head down the path of happier times.

I'll follow you.

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