Left off

“I have this friend who says that she just does whatever her energy tells her to do – whether it’s paint a table or work at a non-profit – until the energy for that particular thing stops.  Then she waits for her energy to tell her to do something else, and she does that.”

My therapist gave me this indirect piece of advice toward the end of today’s session.  We’d been talking about my ex – the loss of an entire created world that came with my decision to get out of my marriage – the way I felt I’d never been fully accepted by anyone in his family save his father – the “on the outside” loss I’m experiencing now, in the wake of my brother’s breakup – the time I’d told one of my girlfriends that, after we got married, “all the good parts of our lives [would] be over”…  It was an almost manic hour of story-telling.

It goes like this: “I was in college, enjoying being free and independent without any of the financial burdens of true independence, reading and studying during the day, partying at night, relishing all the drama…  And then college ended, and suddenly I was married and boring.”

“You went straight from all that energy and youth and freedom, to being isolated, in a little house, in a little village, in Wales, with no transportation and no one to talk to,” she commiserated.

“Well, there was France in between.  But yes.  And then when I got out of my marriage, it was like I had lost three years of my life.  So mentally, I picked up where I’d left off, and went straight back to being 22.  Doug’s three years younger than me, and I’ve never even noticed.”

“You lost three years?”

“I mean, I’m not delusional.  I know how old I am, chronologically.  But that whole relationship [with my ex] was so not me, it’s like it wasn’t me living it.  Even now, I live my life as though I’m a 25-year-old.  Look at where I work, the people I hang out with – and I have little-to-no desire to change my situation, start a career, move up in the world.”

“It’s interesting, though, that you say you lost three years,” she mused.  “Alcoholics, or people who have suffered a trauma, often report having lost large chunks of time.  And your memory is good – it’s not like you’ve blocked anything out – but I feel like there’s something to that sensation.  So tell me.  When you say it wasn’t you…”

“Before I went to France, I knew who I was and what I enjoyed.  My life wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly my own.  Then I moved to a foreign country, met my ex, and it was like I threw all that out the window.  I became a boring married person – I didn’t see it as my new, married life beginning, I saw it as my old, fun life ending.  I felt like my life wasn’t about me anymore, and I was miserable.”

That was when she brought up the thing about the energy – as in, I’d been following my energy, being a college student and seeing the world, and then I’d stopped the energy prematurely, before it was done.  So, theoretically, once my marriage ended, I picked up the energy where I’d left it.

I loved college – I love all school; I’m a nerd.  But it’s right on to say that the energy of being an undergrad fit me perfectly.  There was always something going on, always someone to hang out with, and always a perfect excuse to say no on days when my hermit side was acting up – after all, we were there to study, right?  And studying, for me, mostly involved reading novels and writing poetry.  I was in heaven.

“I’m not going to grad school, though,” I told my therapist quickly, when I saw the spark of the idea cross her face.  I didn’t want to get into the explanation of how impractical grad school would be for me now, now that I’m actually independent and therefore have the pesky burden of financial responsibility thrown into the mix.

“Okay, but what if you just – for your homework this week – what if you thought about, if you were to go to grad school, what would you hypothetically go to grad school for?”

In other words, since it’s impossible to actually go back and pick up the stilted energy, what is my energy telling me to do next?

It’s a valid, and exciting, question. 

(By the way, the answer is still not grad school.)

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15 Responses to Left off

  1. Josey says:

    You have me hooked…

    This is a long ass comment I know, but here we go…

    I moved to France to finish college and lived in Rennes (in Brittany)… loved it. LOVED IT. Loved school. Loved traveling. Loved exploring and learning. Met a guy during my travels between school and my internship over there (he was Canadian, but Dutch by birth. We met in the airport baggage claim in Rome and started dating. He moved to Australia for work, I visited. It ended up being too much for a new relationship to handle… but sometimes… *sigh* sometimes I feel I cut THAT energy short by giving up on the relationship. Opposite of you? I don’t know.)

    At any rate, as a 22 yr old I traveled to Colorado on vacation to spend 6 months skiing between France & graduate school… then I met my (now) husband…and never left. 6 years later, I’m married. I love my husband. I usually love where I live. I hate my job opportunities (or really, the lack thereof). I miss traveling. I’m petrified of regret.

    I told my therapist (the one time I went to her… I really need to get back there) that I’m afraid our TTC issues are God’s way of telling me to get my head on straight first. That b/c of that I blame myself for the Infertility. At the same time, I’m afraid of feeling resentful of my marriage and towards my husband for… “cutting things short.” WTH is wrong with me?

    I don’t know. This is a f*ed up world… with so many decisions to be made… and so much opportunity for regret. I know I need to move forward, but how?

    I look forward to following you and your journey…and seeing how you move forward.

  2. Sophie says:

    Why not grad school? I’m in grad school, and I live off of financial aid. Since I’m independent and over 25, I get enough aid to live comfortably. I’ve known plenty of people who have been living off financial aid for 3+ years as well. It’s an adjustment, but well worth it if you are doing what you want.

  3. Elphaba says:

    Ohhhh, I LOVE being a student. I went back to school about five years ago for a two year college program and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Just sayin’…

  4. AP says:

    Ooh, I like the idea of being guided by energy and I also LOVE school. If I could be a professional student I would. Alas, the real world has sucked me in.

    Also, you are totally right on my stat. rape reference. I don’t know what I was thinking!!

  5. Natalie says:

    I am stalking you from Josey’s blog. Had to check you out with a commendation that you’re her new favorite blog! Hope you don’t mind me getting to know you. It is interesting that she would suggest grad school. Personally, grad school was very different from undergrad. It doesn’t hold the same carefree aspects and that is probably due to the fact that I was married and working full-time when I entered grad school. I absolutely LOVE school and it was a hard transition for me to finally realize I was done….as in, I seriously considered a PhD; which would have done me absolutely no good career-wise. But I considered it just because I love school so much. I’ve found that for me the answer is to never stop learning.

    • Marie says:

      Natalie! Nice to meet you. When I have a baby one day, I will name her after you. (I mean, the name idea was there first, but whatever.) Stalk away. Josey is so sweet – and I still can’t believe she knows my French village.

      Anyway. What are you studying that would make a PhD so silly? I love learning, too. I read constantly and try to keep up on my French – and I’m the perfect study partner for anyone who is actually in school, because I can sit quietly in a coffee shop literally for hours. But my major was literature & creative writing. And it seems like getting another degree in that same thing wouldn’t be any more helpful than the first one.

  6. Laura says:

    wow, I totally agree with the energy idea. I have been flitting from thing to thing my whole life and I leave things when I feel like I’ve given it all I can… and those things that I’ve been forced to leave make me feel incomplete. I hope you can find your next energy….
    #24

  7. jill says:

    Visiting from ICLW by way of My Cheap Version of Therapy. This is a wonderful project that I look forward to following. I wish you healing and peace.

  8. Misty says:

    Hi from ICLW. I love your therapist’s advice. Wishing you luck!

  9. slcurwin says:

    I loved school and could have been really happy if we had the money for me to be a professional student. too bad. Now I’m just a boring married girl. 😉

  10. Ava says:

    I think to a certain point everyone loves school. There are clear objectives and clear results if a certain amount of investment is made, where else can you find that formula in life? A great performance review does not even come close to getting an A on an exam or at the end of the semester. Not to mention that you learn something tangible and directly benefit rather than having to identify vague life lessons in the day to day routine.

    But speaking of classes Marie, why don’t you take one? That’s what I did when I needed to get out of a rut a few years ago. It really did the trick!

    • Marie says:

      I know. Carrie and I took an online writing class last spring – so like a year ago – and she’s been harassing me to take another one with her. I just feel like my plate is full with this. And I have to write a letter to this penpal I have in Portland 😉

  11. Stacy says:

    Marie, don’t totally abandon the idea of grad school. It’s hard, and expensive, but at least for me, it was intellectually everything I had wished CCS had been and while I have no empirical evidence to say that I couldn’t have gotten the editing job I have no without it, it was the first thing I was asked about in my interview.

    That being said, every time I go to TJs, I am jealous of all the people who seem to have having fun, listening to cool music, surrounded my favorite snacks and dealing with the complaints of insane writers every day.

    Still…please don’t rule it out.

  12. Stacy says:

    Okay, don’t type and eat at the same time. “NOT dealing with the complaints of insane writers every day.” NOT. Some writers be crazy, yo.

    • Marie says:

      Stacy! Good to hear from you, typing fingers full of food or no.

      I would love an editing job – and I’m sure insane writers and insane customers are cut from the same cloth. What type of editing are you doing? Can you help me get a book published, if I write one? 😉

      I know I should go to grad school. But I’m barely making ends meet without the bills I would incur therein. We have a huge truck payment, and Doug’s dental work is going to be monumental. So I keep plugging away at TJs. And are you saying CCS wasn’t intellectually satisfying? What about Radio Pen? (Did you take that class with us?) I loved CCS though, and would go straight back there if I could… Though maybe you’re right: it was sometimes more fun than educational, depending on the classmates.

      But really, could you help me get a book published?

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