I’ve always loved that saying and I feel it is really true for me today.
It’s been 20 days since my long-term relationship ended. It’s been hard, the death of this dream. I’m 34 and single (hurts to say that), now live with my mom and I’m unemployed with debt. The past three weeks has been up and down and all around, but finally today, something feels new. The heaviness has lifted the tiniest bit.
Yesterday I talked to a friend who is always good for snapping me out of stuff. He is a realist and somehow if we talk long enough he says something that reminds me who I am and what I want. Thank you.
He listened to me talk about the things that were bothering me and all he said at first was “You need to get out and do something.” He recognized that I was stagnating. It hasn’t been for the just the past few weeks; I’ve been stagnating and frozen in fear for months now. That is a long explanation of my inner thoughts that I’ll spare “you” the details of, but suffice it to say I’ve felt frozen, unable to take a step in the right direction because I’ve been afraid to take any step at all.
My friend reminded me that the way forward is simply a series of steps, one after another, starting small at first. That is what I need right now, that is all I can do right now. Take one small…hell, tiny…step forward, then one more and another, and just keep doing that. Head down, eyes closed, slow and shaking, stumbling if need be. just. keep. Moving.
I did three things yesterday to move myself forward. After I hung up with my friend, I got in the car and drove to the neighbouring town. I went to a cruise ship booking place I’d eyed up since I moved into mom’s place. In the window there’s a sign that says “Join Our Team.” I walked in, told them I was there about a job, and sat and listened while the lady looked me up and down and told me the job was contract, find-your-own-clients work. It was clear that she had already decided the job was not for me, but that’s fair because the minute she said the pay was full commission, I decided the same thing. I listened politely, took her card, and moved on. It’s not for me right now, with my serious lack of confidence.
The next place was the last thing in the world I want to do. Seriously. I drove past the store, saw the parking spots and kept on driving instead of stopping, just like I’d been doing for the past few weeks.
Nothing is going to get better if you keep going like this, said the unwelcome voice in my head. So two blocks away I turned around and drove back, parked, plastered a smile on my face and walked into Pizza Hut to ask about the delivery driver job. She too looked me up and down. She had a hard face and looked like she was sniffing for signs of weakness. She asked if I had a resume and I said not with me, so she handed me an application while asking some cursory questions. By the time I’d finished answering, I could tell she’d decided to give me a chance.
“Come in tomorrow at quarter to 4 and you can go out with the driver and see how it goes.”
Done. It’s what I need, one small, tiny, miniscule win, walking in and getting a job on the spot. I walked out with a smile on my face and for a minute I tried to hide it, embarrassed to be happy about getting a job at Pizza Hut, but then I thought “Fuck it. This is a win for me and I’m going to be fucking proud of this win.” So I let myself smile as big as I could, drove back to mom’s place, and texted the friend I’d phoned with the good news. A win. An end to more than six months of unemployment. The pay is shit, the job is menial and I had to push through a stunning amount of self-judgment to even ask about the job. But fuck all the derisive voices I hear in my head calling me down for this…fuck you. This is a win. One small step forward, one tiny ball rolls ahead, one tiny quake of movement shivers its way through the mountain of inaction that has crushed me for way too long. Any job is better than what I’ve been doing with time.
Back at mom’s, I applied to the community volunteer fire department, even though I don’t know what my future is or where I’ll end up, even though I’ve imagined all the ways in which they’ll reject me. I remember Bill telling me that I’m a volunteer department’s dream right now…a shit-ton of time on my hands and some good quality training to offer. And hey, I can’t get a job if I don’t apply for it. I’ve boosted my chances from 0 to 50%, which is good enough for me. Plus, my heart aches about leaving my hall. I love being a fire fighter with every part of my existence.
Then I went to yoga because I promised I would, just to get out of the house. I noticed that while in the past week of classes I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and needing gentleness in my practice, last night I felt the presence of a new strength. Not going to win any marathons, but it was there. The will to push a little, the will to breathe into the pain, to stick it out and hold on for just one breath longer…and I held out for all of the poses that I’ve been bowing out of because they’ve been too hard. Win. My own personal marathon.
Yesterday opened doors for me, and today, the first day of the rest of my life, I take that one first step over the threshold and onto my new path. Slowly, carefully at first, I will keep going.
Below is the plan that I am committing to today with this first little step. And I leave with a quote the yoga teacher shared this morning:
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life
Phase 1: Kill Debt
Step 1. Get job.
Step 2. Go to job.
Step 3. Earn money.
Step 4. Keep job until I find something I want more.
Step 5. See step 1.