The Faith It Takes To Stay: Thoughts On Boundaries And Embracing Life
The faith it takes to stay is different than I imagined it would be. Unsettlingly unknown though it is filled with the familiar. Wider somehow than jumping off the cliff or running to the next new home. But terrifyingly narrow, also. Letting go of a million other paths, a million other places and people and things, and sinking in to my life. Saying, here I am. This is me. This is home.
If you know me well, or have been following my journey for a while, you will realize the significance of what I am sharing in this post. You will know that leaving my entire life (or at least some core parts of it) and beginning a new adventure excitedly is my specialty. I have, in fact, not lived in the same home for more than one consecutive year since leaving my childhood home at the age of 18.
Over the past few years I have become aware of my quite predictable yearly pattern of leaving and beginning something new. Late June, early July, doubts creep in. In the summer sun my feet start itching for adventure. I begin to empty out my life. The letting go picks up speed in early September. New ideas take hold and begin to grow alongside the retreat of my old life, until some abrupt magic moment in late fall when I fully let go and jump into something new.
This year’s leaving season started out much the same as in years past. Doubts crept in right on time. My feet began their itching. The letting go started, alongside the arrival of all kinds of ideas about the next exciting adventure I would begin. At one point, I nearly sold everything, bought a camper and embarked on an unplanned book tour across North America. My rational mind held me back, but just barely.
As the seasons turned from summer to fall I began to create many more slightly less extreme opportunities to leave. Some so tantalizing and rational I decided I would in fact go. But every time I began the preparations necessary to leave my home, my city, my job or my community and begin a new adventure, something strange would happen.
My gut would squirm. Anxiety would race over my chest. My head would take on a cold. I would have strong urges to consume bowls of pasta and red wine curled up in front of my fireplace. I would remember how much I love my friends and my colleagues and my dance community and my weekly writing sessions and my financial freedom and my very own, very comfortable bed. And a sharp pain would lodge itself in my heart.
Every step I took to leave generated a pre-emptive wave of anxiety and heartbreak so strong I just couldn’t do it. For the first time in my life it had become less painful to stay than to go.
Not that it was easy to stay. I was still fighting my life in the usual way that I do to justify my need to leave. I was not focusing at work. I was not creating anything new or moving my business forward and I was blaming that on my dissatisfaction with the status quo.
A million fears screamed at me every day. You need to leave! You don’t believe fully in this work you are doing! You need to be writing more! You need to build a business faster! You are wasting your life! You will never make a difference in the world at this rate! Just jump! Take a risk! Go!
And then, as I allowed each opportunity to leave to pass me by, different fears showed up. Nooo! You are becoming resigned! You are giving up! Your heart is broken forever! You will never fall in love or be excited about anything ever again! What’s the point of life if you aren’t doing something exciting and new?
These fears caused me to shed many tears. And I have at times been furious at my heart’s unwillingness to fall in love hard and fast and jump into something new. As I let the emotions out, however, I began to feel increasingly peaceful. And most recently, grateful.
I am grateful there has been no major upheaval of my life. I am grateful for the downswing in drama. I am grateful my wild passionate heart is learning patience. I am grateful for this growing trust in myself to respect myself and assert boundaries.
Mostly I am grateful because I am somewhere I have never been before. I am here. In my life. And I am not going anywhere. I am grateful for the deep loving community I have cultivated. I am grateful for my home. I am grateful for my colleagues. I am grateful for my work. I am grateful for my writing. I am grateful for the increasing opportunities to share my message with the world.
I am grateful because I know I am settling in to my life after a long journey of exploration. I am grateful that I have a long-term vision for myself and for the world that is big enough to hold all of it. I am grateful for the stability. And I am grateful, that for the first time in over 12 years, I am able to tell my friends they can send me Christmas cards at the same address as they did last year.
This does not mean that my life is now static. I know I will still make changes in my life. I will grow and shift and create and move. But it will take something truly and deeply aligned with my soul for me to be willing to shake my foundation.
And I will fall in love again too. I can feel my heart opening a little more every day. But I also know that I will never again give myself away with my love. There is a difference. This is what I am learning.
Loving someone or something does not mean giving all of me. It means loving me enough to know what and when and how much I can give without depleting myself, and respecting those same boundaries of others.
Staying asks me to live this truth. Staying means trusting I do not need to give myself away to experience love, and that I do not need to suffer to serve the world. Staying means consistency and sustainability. Staying means asserting daily the boundaries needed for committed long-term love.
So here I am. I am here. I am yours, life. And you are deeply mine. I am in this for the long haul this time. I have created a life I love too much to leave. And, I have found, the faith it takes to stay.