Lately I’ve been feeling caught in an ‘in between’ phase of who I used to be and who I want to evolve into. My therapist gave me a little nugget of clarity this past week when she said that I got ‘frozen in time’ after my brother died. I didn’t really care about evolution. I just wanted something, anything, anyone to make me not feel. I got stuck in a cycle of dysfunctional relationships and bad habits with food and alcohol….but underneath that I also got stuck in a belief that I would never really be able or capable of doing or becoming successful in my professional life.
I got into being a nanny practically by accident. I graduated from Syracuse with a Bachelor’s in social work. Unfortunately, I had absolutely zero desire to use it. There was however, a man I told myself I loved whom I had never met – except for online (this was in the early days of America Online, before real online dating was born) – who lived in California so, I decided to move out there. It was a complete unconscious geographical escape from the life that had fallen apart completely after my brother was killed. I didn’t make a plan, look for a West Coast job or think about any sort of repercussions. I just needed out of New Hampshire. Consequences be damned.
When that whole scenario imploded after about a year of homesickness and emotional unavailability from the man I thought I loved, I moved back East and stumbled into a career of full-time childcare. At the time, it made perfect sense. Kids made me laugh and I was good with them; becoming a nanny felt exactly right…and simple. When I first started out I was 25, living on my own for the first time and making what I thought to be pretty decent money. I felt vital, important and successful without having to use the degree I didn’t really want. And oh, I loved my job. It kept me busy during the day and fulfilled enough to feel pretty good about myself.
As I’m writing this, it feels like I’ve used my job as a salve too. My work allowed me to live vicariously through other people’s successes. The homes I worked in were huge and luxurious. Wealth and opportunity were always available in abundance. Having that kind of life is something I never even attempted to dream up for myself. But working with people who live that kind of life helped me forget my regret about not giving a fuck when I went to school. Being in a lovely home helped me lose sense of the fact that I wasted some of the best years of my life because I was too broken by my loss and pain. Being in their environments gave me satisfaction too – I helped raise their children to be healthy, productive members of society. I was the busy little cog that kept the wheels of all the families I worked for spinning effortlessly. They needed me. I loved that feeling.
But these days……being needed at work only suffocates me. I don’t feel successful. I feel stuck. I feel like I haven’t done enough (or anything) with my life. I feel that I should have made a better plan. I am 36 and I’m still working in someone else’s home, helping raise someone else’s kids, running someone else’s meaningless errands and feeling like a fucking professional failure. I did get frozen in time. I didn’t evolve. But that doesn’t at all mean that I can’t. Again, I’m feeling caught ‘in between’. I used to feel ok with doing what I do for work….but I’m waking up to the very real fact that I honestly don’t want to do this work anymore. I can do more. I want to change course. I’ve been afraid of that for quite a while. Afraid to try. Afraid to fail. Afraid to succeed.
Fear is such an asshole.
This post is me making an effort to not let the fear stop me anymore. Sure, it feels familiar…but it doesn’t feel safe. I need to push past this phase and find my path. If only I knew what that was………….I guess that will be my first step.