This is going to be a short, candid one this week, my loves. No editing, just straight from my brain to the keyboard. With the arrival of plenty of painful anniversaries and memories, I’ve gone into a period of consuming rather than creating.
Just like the natural world follows a natural ebb and flow of rest and productivity, so too does our need to give and take follow a pattern.
Right now I’m tapped out- and allowing myself to claim a hiatus, to take in all the books and tv and podcasts and images that recharge and nourish my ability to make sense out of things. On the surface of my consciousness, my grief isn’t really there. I’m going through my daily routines without it popping into my head a lot, and that’s something of a relief- but it’s when my body starts to feel sluggish, and I crave comfort food, and I want to impulse shop my credit card into the ground that I realize maybe there’s more going on in this little noggin’ that I’m not giving any attention.
So often you hear that you have to face your wounds- to really sit with them and allow yourself to fully feel- that’s doing it right. Right? But what if those thoughts haven’t even reached the surface yet? I don’t know exactly what I’m thinking or feeling, but I’m a good enough student of my habits to know something is… off.
This week my roommate came home and told me about a final project she has to do for her grad school work. She has to create and solidify Plan B and Plan C for her life if this current Plan A isn’t going to pan out. She has to flesh out the details of what those fall-back plans would look like.
I was TRIGGERED.
For so many reasons.
I asked her “How old is your teacher?” because I thought she couldn’t possibly be old enough to have had life teach her that things don’t go according to plan.
I felt my shame and guilt over the fact that my Plan A hadn’t worked out. It flared up like a chronic disease that I don’t know I’ll ever fully beat- because the damage that the saga of my mom’s disease and death inflicted on my ability to realize my early dreams is irreversible. I can’t go back and I really don’t want to. There’s too much resentment and regret. I didn’t want to spend my college years full of guilt for being across the country from my family and fear for my mom’s life instead of focusing on my homework. In another life, I wouldn’t be moving back home with my parents to take care of my mom instead of heading to a new city, excitement and a new job in tow. I didn’t want to spend the first year of post-grad frozen in mourning. I don’t resent what happened even… I resent my inability to be immune to it. I resent my failure to still achieve what I wanted before all of that had happened.
Guys, I beat myself up for that and it’s not even my fault.
When I take a step back, I realize that the life I had wanted for myself doesn’t even fit what I want for myself now. The things I’ve experienced have shifted my priorities and dreams- for the better, I hope.
I don’t want anyone else to feel like I do. I haven’t quite learned to forgive myself for the fact that my Plan A didn’t work out, but I sure as hell will fiercely protect anyone else from this feeling. Having your plans shift is NOT a failure. It’s the natural course of life. Nothing will ever go exactly as we expect, and if we refuse to be pliable to the curves and bends of our paths, we will have a hard time settling into contentment and satisfaction with our life stories.
The universe will decide which of your plans will work out.
I also felt indignant at the thought that anyone could just create a Plan B that would then work out perfectly if Plan A didn’t- because you know what? Plan B might be trashed right away, too. Wow, that sounds cynical doesn’t it? But… well, it’s true.
Admittedly, I also became defensive. Because I haven’t made a Plan B yet. I don’t have the foggiest idea of what I want Plan B to look like. It’s not for lack of reflection or thought or effort… but more so a lack of intuition and clarity. Goes back to my tagline for this whole project: How do you listen to your gut when you feel gutted?
If plans are dreams turned into action, what do you do when it feels your dreams are in a dry spell? If your passions have the volume turned down low? Makes it pretty hard to take action.
I word vomited all of this to my poor roommate, pretty incoherently, and realized there was so much I needed to step back and observe. My thoughts and feelings were coming too fast and furiously to even fully form before another one popped up.
After a couple of days, I think I realize that… My Plan B for the past 3 years has been to take it in small steps. Get through this day. Get through those couple months. Get through this year. I’ve slowly felt my passions and interests reviving, and welcome them back like old friends. My fire has rekindled from what little tinder I had to give.
This whole experience recalls the time my dad was asked to give a speech to his graduating students the Spring after my mom died. The message? Make plans. Don’t expect them to ever turn out like you thought.
Turns out my dad already knew what it’s taken me 3 years to understand.
There is no Plan A, B, C on into eternity. There is only one Plan- and that is to live you as best you can, taking each turn in the road, making what you can of it.
Wow so this post DID NOT turn out short at all… and I hope you followed my stream-of-consciousness writing! See? This is what happens when you give yourself a little break, the words will surely come pouring out again.
And for your viewing pleasure, a little look of what Plan A used to look like!