Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Independence

Hmmmm. I’m starting to wonder, actually have been wondering for quite some time, if I was meant to be a settled down person. You know—married, 2.3 children, white picket fence, steady employment and PTA meetings. More and more, I’ve been thinking ‘no’.

I took one of those Facebook quizzes about what kind of animal represents me—as a rule, I don’t take them seriously but sometimes the results make me think. Apparently, I am an Eagle type person, the description of which is:

You have an Eagle personality. These Birds of Prey are some of the wildest of nature's beings. Though they can be tamed they always retain some of their wild spirit. Most see the Eagle as a wandering spirit but it only seems that way to the untrained eye. In actuality you as an Eagle personality have issues being tied down in relationships and in places sometimes not because you want to be elsewhere just that you want the freedom to be elsewhere if you choose. You aren't the most trusting individual but you are the most well known. Eagle personalities are few and far between but they tend to stand out in a crowd as if they don't belong with them, mainly because they are fairly solitary: they might be the artist who sits in the corner and doesn't communicate, they might be the popular person who has lots of acquaintances but very few actual friends. Being an Eagle means you have an inner core of strength, which you unfortunately have to use quite frequently since you are uncomfortable leaning on others, and have difficulties sharing your personal and innermost thoughts.

I don’t know anymore. I like to think that I chart my life according to my own wishes, but more and more, I look at my past and realize that I’ve never been settled. Not at any time, not in any place, not with any person, not in any job. My earliest memories are of wanting to get away, to escape from wherever I happened to be in my life or where I was living.

For a period of time during my now-defunct marriage, I was at the same job for almost four years and during that time, in combination with an impossible marriage, I felt trapped. I was in a rut. Get up every day, go to work, come home, make dinner, watch TV and argue with my ex. Every. Single. Day. I felt as if I had died in a hell of monotony. And then one day, I was laid off along with half my department because the company I worked for was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Suddenly, everything was immediate. I started living in the here and now and anything could happen. I was scared as hell because I had become accustomed to an every day mundane existence and was abruptly dumped into a whirlpool of uncertainty. At the time, I thought it the worst thing ever. After a number of months (and after much nagging by my ex even though my severance package paid my full salary for the duration), I found a contract position as a Business Analyst. The position turned into Project Manager, Build Manager, Trainer, Team Lead, Systems Analyst, Quality Assurance Analyst, Support Analyst, Professional Handholder and Chief Cook and Bottle Washer for a department in the government. And in a strange way, my need for instability and chaos was satisfied - until I hit my physical limit and was forced onto disability.

But it was exciting. Being dumped into the deep end and forced to sink or swim. I swam but at a huge cost to my health. I think it's part of a perfectionist, masochistic streak that seems to run through my head. If I could do ten jobs at the same time, I must be pretty good, right? Wrong. It illustrated how the thought of letting other people down adversely affected my health. It illustrated a lack of personal boundaries. It illustrated how people will take advantage of those who do not protect their own boundaries. I hate learning these lessons the hard way, but that’s the only way I seem to learn them.

I seem to do better on my own. Always have. Like a lot of people, early on I learned not to trust people. People will turn on you. People will let you down. If you do it yourself, you won’t have to depend upon anyone else. But you know what? No one is an island. And you will be hurt. At some point, in some way. It is a part of life. But the question isn’t if I will be hurt, the question is how will I react when I am hurt. I won’t disappear. I won’t dissolve. I will keep going because that is what I’ve always done.

No matter how independent you are, at some point, you will need help. And with any luck, someone will be there. As someone was there for me when I needed it the most.

2 comments:

cheryl0117 said...

You go girl be proud of all you have accomplished.

Kim Smith said...

This is a great post. I've always been fiercely independent. I have felt settled in my life before but I'm most settled when I'm alone. However, as Barbara sang it, people need people. Love your point about no man being an island. So very true.