Currently my life is in a greater state of turmoil and uncertainty than it has been in a long time. I’m homeless (well, crashing in a friend’s back room), have minimal income and savings. The direction forward is not
clear at all.
clear at all.
But for all that, I am not trembling in fear or retreating into despair. In fact, I am emerging from those things, feeling lighter and more optimistic than I have in quite a while.
For the last few years, my life was small. I felt like a prisoner in my own “home," chained by self-imposed obligations to a needy yet powerful person. I tried loosening the bonds, partially loosening them only to find them tightened elsewhere. At last an incident occurred slugging me in the gut. It was intolerable. With the help of friends, one practically ordered me to end the relationship. Another sat with me as I made the call in which, like Alexander the Great, I cut the knot.
Am I grateful? I know that in such times, I am told to expect feel such an emotion. I do feel lighter, seeing more possibilities. But not all my problems are traced to this one problem. The seeds from which it grew were planted long ago. There were advantages: I had grown lazy, irritable, indulging in fantasies of “if only” and “what if” and “someday.”
I grew up in a family that once had money. We expected a certain standard of living as our due. I learned this even when I knew a sense of entitlement was a castle resting on sand. Instead, I accepted the idea I was to be the hero, the backbone of the family. At the same time, I was given no guidance how I was to accomplish this. I learned I had no useful skills, my intelligence and creativity only meant I had my head in the clouds, making me a hopeless daydreamer. Yet, I tried doing the impossible, going down trying would at least show I was noble and worthy.
What a bag of garbage!
Unfortunately, a sense of entitlement is the enemy of an attitude of gratitude. If a reliable car, a fulfilling career, or chances to travel or learn are my just desserts, then why feel thankful?
Of course these expectations and amenities to life are not due to me. To have them, I must work. I realized I have skills people find useful. Subverting these abilities by over-volunteering to a “worthy cause,” I did. Or worse, I became the willing “servant” of a charming abusive person. When I realized the situation was abusive, the chains were in place. I did not budge. I believed leaving the unacceptable situation would have caused disaster, regardless of the steep cost to my soul.
Now, I am out of the latest version of this cycle. But, I cannot rest on my laurels: there is a lot to do as I rebuild my life. Nothing will come automatically. I must find a way of serving in this world that fulfills rather than drains me, bringing appropriate (not extravagant) prosperity. I am widening my circle of supportive friends (abusers need not apply). I am purging deep-seated bodily fear of attack and criticism from others. Such persistent anxiety has me still walking on eggshells even as the scars from my most recent living situation fade.
As this new life emerges, a true attitude of gratitude will replace the sense of entitlement that led to resentments and disappointments.