How leaving my comfort zone enhanced my life.
My head told me to stay in my lane, don’t veer, don’t even look in your side mirror. STAY IN YOUR LANE!!!
The very idea of changing or even challenging my path and direction at 47 years old was an idea that was worthy of suppression. Exploring the concept of life having more meaning and more to offer than just being a mum and wife was a paradigm that was almost untouchable and unthinkable for me.
I got married at the age of 20 to my childhood sweetheart. Had my first son when I was 25 years old and my second son at 27 years old. To describe myself back then…I was in a naive blissfulness that felt soft….like floating on a cloud. Life felt linear, planned and beautifully reassuring.
Clouds floated into each other softly. Occasionally a little “life” sun shower was experienced during my 30’s. Then….BAM the 40’s hit and rumbling “life” storms, rain and the occasional hailstorm was thrown my way to wake me from my beautiful blissful slumber.
Life started throwing curveballs challenging my thinking, destabilising me at times, forcing me to question my values and need as a mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter. My boys were finishing school. My husband whom always worked long hours began volunteering for an organisation that required him on weekends. Encouraging my family tribe to lead their life and create their own path and find passion was my mantra and ultimate goal for each member.
So where did I fit in now without becoming a burden and placing pressure on my tribe to fulfil my needs to be “their” everything.
Who was I if I wasn’t preparing carrot and cucumber sticks for afternoon snacks. Who was I if I was not entertaining and creating the perfect family that sat at the dinner table together, had lots of family and friends over to share a meal around the table. But more importantly, who was I if I wasn’t readily available to help others in their time of need and peril and wanted to choose myself.
These questions burned like fire in me for some time. They left me sleepless, anxious, and at times lost. Words and adjectives taunted me. Selfish, unloving, reckless, cold-hearted. Questions and statements woke me.. “Who do you think you are?”….“Change is not worth it.”… “Change is not what good wives and mothers do!!”
Thank god for my therapist whom graciously held me and encouraged exploration of self, familial patterns and my very own maladaptive coping skills and beliefs. She helped me open doors that were padlocked. Assisted in dismantling the safety of the mote I had so cleverly built around my life to avoid disruption, disaster and secure my ever eternal peace. She helped me recognise that I was stronger and more courageous than I gave myself credit for pushing me towards self-acceptance, understanding and love. And all this led to the courage to admit I needed more in my life.
I found the courage to voice to my family I needed more. I found the courage to go back to University and study. I found the courage to explore life and the wonders of education. I found the courage to get out of my comfort zone. I found the courage to DO HARD. I found the courage to find myself, extend myself and allow myself permission to be more than what my culture and society provided me as the “idea of the perfect wife and mother”. I allowed myself to change the paradigm…
Veering off course was a gift I gave myself and my family.
As Forrest Gump said “Life is like a box of chocolates….you never know what you are going to get.” I have learnt that through life’s experiences and riding the ebbs and flows life is mushy, colourful and sweet and dark at the same time. But most importantly I have learnt that to be everything to myself is allowing my family to love me with no pressure, resentment and beautiful connection.
Step out of your lane. It’s not easy but worth it. Try a different road. It could lead to amazing discoveries, fulfilment and a depth that all life has to offer.