By Pamela Noel
Special to Plumas News
There is a point at which she knew that her world was pivoting—no actually, turning inside out. It wasn’t yet obvious to anyone else, but the shift had started.
There was absolutely nothing wrong with the way she had lived her life. It worked. It provided for her family — not only financially — but it had given her a structure that sheltered her family from unnecessary confusion that “lack of structure” invites. She and her children had a home a block away from grandparents, and cousins. They had their neighborhood school. They had someone at home when they returned home to give them a snack and help with homework. They participated in after-school activities. Her children were caring, thoughtful productive humans. She had encouraged this.
But what she was just now beginning to feel and understand, was that the structure she had built while raising children, was no longer necessary. This structure contained all she had accomplished, her reputation as a productive community member, her role as a mother, a professional woman, a person calm and in charge.
And there are certain aspects of that structure she wanted to retain — a certain financial security she had earned, and the comfort a home, family and friends provided.
But what no longer served her was the personae in which she clothed herself , thinking that it was actually who she was. And maybe it was for a time. Maybe this identification with a role was necessary to do a certain job. At the same time, without awareness, so much was lost in believing that she actually was that personae; that the role she assumed was who she was. Now, she no longer needed the personae that had once served her well. She wanted more — being her authentic self, regardless of the situation in which she resided. She no longer needed to be a certain way because a job, or a role demanded it, or merely to make her family’s life easier.
She had served others for so long — in her family, her professional life, and even her social life. This attribute of serving had become second nature to her. She didn’t know how to be otherwise. It was now a life-long habit. She no longer really knew what her own needs were. When faced with the question, “What do you need?” she drew a blank. It was easy to see what everyone else needed, but her? She just hadn’t thought about it for years.
But now that professional life was fading into the past. Her children were now pursuing their independent lives, and social life was on the light side due to COVID. She had more time to contemplate and to feel. And what she was now feeling was that shift. It first became obvious in her body. Her stomach would churn; she felt her jaw clench, consciously moving it until it released and relaxed. The cords in her neck pulled tightly, causing her head to ache. Her body already knew what the rest of her mind was just starting to acknowledge. She had needs. She had a life that was calling to her with a different tune.
What she was going to do with this bodily feeling information she didn’t yet know. How she wanted to take the next steps in defining who she was, she also wasn’t sure. But, what she did know was she was getting clues from listening to herself. She was seeing, for the first time since possibly, childhood, a whimsical, creative being who was by nature, joyful. By welcoming an awareness of her own needs she was beginning to move into the next chapter of her life. The old structure may be disappearing … but what was about to replace it allowed the openness of possibility. And in discovering and acting on her own needs she would discover what fully stepping into herself meant. Not only would her fully actualized awareness increase her own joy in life, but would reflect outward even more, benefitting others.