Why I can’t let go



My mother is one strong woman, she gets stuff done. We watched her work, attend school and manage a house after her divorce from my dad. There wasn’t much money for extras and I was aware that we sat on the lower rungs of middle class. Our needs were met and good times were had – we went to museums and art exhibits which were free – but I wanted the brand name jacket and shoes, not the knockoffs we bought at Alexander’s, and other junk I was sure would make my life better. We lived in a small house in a neighborhood where we knew all of our neighbors, could play outside and ride our bikes to our friend’s house. It could have been a lot worse.

I grew up hearing, seeing, sensing I’d need to take care of myself, like mom. I moved out when I was eighteen, living with my sister first, an assortment of boyfriends and roommates later, until finally settling into my own space, alone. Eventually I got married and bought a house, divorced, bought my ex out and have been living here for the last eleven years alone for the most part. I’ve worked to support all of those living arrangements, sometimes more than one job when necessary. I’m independent. I get stuff done.

I want to make some changes, want to contribute to the universe in other ways, want to find work that excites me, challenges me, fulfills me. I fantasize about leaving my job, fantasize about piecing together a weekly paycheck but when I do questions buzz around my head like annoying gnats.

Will I have to sell my house?

Will I be able to support myself?

Will I continue to be independent?

Will I find what I’m looking for?

Bill and I have a shared goal, to end up in the same house one day. He’s not ready to leave his house; I could put mine on the market and move into his but I’m not ready to leave mine either. Friends and family have asked When? Not yet, I say. There are valid reasons holding me back but are some of them excuses? Combining expenses would free me up to pursue some of my passions, it wouldn’t all be on me. But it’s scary. Living through the death of a marriage makes me hesitant. It’ll happen. It’ll all happen when it’s supposed to. Is that why I can’t let go or am I afraid of something else?

What if I don’t find my passion?

What if the grass isn’t any greener on the other side?

What if I make a mistake?

What if I’m unhappy?

I can’t get bogged down in the What if’s. I’ve got stuff to get done.

6 replies

  1. Wow. There’s a whole lot in this post. Bravo for opening your soul so publicly. I can comment only on my own experience and I’m sure I’m a generation (or two) older than you and I was lucky enough to land a horrifically mundane but well paying job when I was quite young.

    I also grew up in a single parent home, back when there were only 2 or 3 of us per class year with single moms. My mom, due to a carefully parsed inheritance, was able to provide my sister and me with some amazing perks; like horses, a home of our own within a block of all the schools we’d need. But, like you, I wanted more. I wanted to live “on the hill” and to wear the latest styles rather than the hand-me-downs from my much older and larger sister, to have a traditional family and a beautifully coiffed mom who didn’t look like a gypsy grandma. Emotional resilience was my legacy from my mother. I have been married…twice. Had long term relationships, integrated well with partners’ children but never had my own. I constantly question whether the model of the strong, single mom somehow negated my ability to give myself fully to another human being. Have I bonded with other people’s kids in place of having my own? Breakups have always been harder with regard to the extended families rather than with the man, which seems totally weird.

    But, loner that I am, I’m supremely happy now that I’ve stepped away from the whole idea of marriage and relationships. (Of course, I’m older, so my needs are different and easier to resolve.) But I stick to my belief that if we live in the moment; if we work to live rather than living to work, we will find meaningful ways to contribute to the world. For me, the most important thing is to not comprise who I am for the sake of a relationship or a fancy job. I realize that doesn’t work for everyone.

    You are asking valid questions. The grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence. You may NOT find your passion. But if you have and cherish your own soul, perhaps that will be enough?

    Sorry for the long rant.:-/

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Our past most definitely forms us. I am grateful to have a strong woman/mom as my first role model, sounds like you did too. I’m blessed with a great life, wonderful friends and family, loving relationship and a job that allows me to live where I live and travel a bit. If I focus on this moment I’ve got all that I need and then some. And, really, that is enough.Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  2. Your response was affirming Ger, that you may have what you are looking for and it is becoming clearer. Once I shared in a conversation with a stranger that I was not satisfied and wanted to leave the country work in the missions. At the time I was teaching in an inner city school with underprivileged kids who needed many of life’s basics (like mission kids) and shared that with the person. Their response was “You ARE doing mission work NOW!” Wow that was an “aha” moment many years ago. Thank you stranger for the “clarity”. xo

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