To my DLS (dear little self), freaking out as life feels like it's careening out of control,
Why are you so angry? You had such a beautiful night with the secret group of powerhouse women that gathered in the hot tub to share their stories of victory and struggle last night. You had a great time! Why so sad?
The honest truth is I'm terrified to leave. I've been to Brazil 6 or so times before, and each I was eager and happy to go. This time, I am panicking at regular intervals during the day. Breathing shallow, eyes narrowed to pinpricks, groaning tiredly in my skin. I feel old. Not excited or eager, but tired and old.
I feel I can't unstuck myself from my life this time. I can't go, life is too full, I will miss too much. I have worked so very hard and waited so long to get to this point in my haphazard career - when I'm actually busy and in demand. I'm turning down work all the time. I could potentially sustain myself with video work through the spring if I kept going at this pace. It's modest, but it's the first real start I've had since I moved to Gabriola and I feel I'm gaining traction at last under my own steam.
I am doing many things I love, and I am loving editing again. I love to help people with their strategies and public outreach. Everyone suddenly wants quick, shareable video. Everyone I talk to wants me to make a web video series.
And I'm leaving in the middle of it all.
If I'm really honest about it, I'm actually kind of angry about it. Not about the project, I love being there and I will enjoy it with the boys and learning horsemanship from Douglas will be an amazing gift. I'm angry that my life is so stressful and full. That I have made things so damn complicated that I can't just pick up and leave without experiencing two months of chronically overheating brain and hyperventilating nervous system to get there.
How did I get so tangled up? Housesits and dogs, horses and my cat, my mess and debris from having too much stuff and too many projects scattered everywhere. I don't just have to sort and back up hard drives, organize luggage and things to take with me, I have to immediately sort ALL my stuff, the useless crap I'm leaving behind, too. Or at least that's what it feels like.
I live like a transient person. Everything half finished, almost done, nearly there, then dropped at the last stage as I run to another project or rush off to another rescue. So when it comes to leaving the country for 2.5 months, I'm also having to deal with all my unfinished bits and pieces I've left strewn around. The taxes and corporate papers. The camera lenses I didn't get around to buying. The birthday bonfire wood that's still lying around. The half-started garden I wanted to get around to. The blueberry bushes that I won't see bloom for the 4th year in a row. Things left undone bug me, but I am a chronic leaver of things undone.
So yeah, leaving this time stresses me out. And the other half of it is anger that comes out at my dear friends and anyone who want or ask for my time. I'm so upset at every suggestion to hang out because "can't you see I cannot be SOCIAL? I'm BUSY FREAKING OUT over here!"
But why be angry at all? Why so uptight, DLS? Why not accept that you simply cannot do everything, that you have chosen to be out of the country for two months, so you have to say no to some people and projects and things, and let it all go?
Because... oh yes here it comes... because you still desperately want to matter to people. The big lie you live with is that you don't matter, that your life is just your own strange collection of ideas and desires that somehow doesn't quite knit in to anyone else's and therefore doesn't matter to them. So now, for almost the first time since you moved here, you feel connected to community and that your work and contributions may actually matter to people. So you've become angry, outraged, incensed, that you are about to be uprooted from that.
Whoah. Didn't see where that thread was going.
So unpacking it a bit now: my belief system is 'Tobi's life doesn't matter to others.' So she works very hard to provide services that could be of use to others, and she takes on very big projects that matter, because she knows they are important and need to be done, and that her life will grow in significance because she is attached to them. These services and projects go largely unrecognized, and she goes for years feeling unseen and unknown, her gifts falling silent and ungiven, at her feet.
Then, something shifts: Tobi is suddenly needed, seen, asked for, her services wanted. The recognition that Tobi could provide something of value to another person's life comes at the precise moment she is dancing toward liftoff.
I am mad about leaving because I suddenly have found my place here and feel confident in the gifts I can bring.
Oh well that's just dandy. F***! How am I supposed to deal with that?
No wonder I'm tired and mad and sad. I'm fighting a belief system, not just struggling with how much gear I need to assemble before you go or cleaning up the birthday wood debris.
So the challenge becomes: can you detach your value from your work, and simply allow yourself to be loved and appreciated for who you are?
Can you see that gaining popularity and being in demand for what you do is the precise opposite of becoming the kind of person who can live a life of authenticity and strength from within? That your services and gifts are just that - services and gifts - they are not YOU, and they do not make you more or less visible to those who surround you.
Oh I can see it now. Yes, a little editing of that picture, and the whole thing blooms with truth.
I hope you can work your way into the light again, DLS. You're worth it, you know. And you deserve not to be stressed and anxious all the time.