this too
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
  Letting go

Struggle, struggle lately. Even though I know that struggling doesn’t help. Struggling just to survive in London, to survive the job. Struggling to move myself forward instead of running endlessly up a down escalator. Struggling not to hate myself for finding it so difficult. Struggling not to start falling down the down escalator. Struggling with the panic and despair when I find no time, no energy to move towards changing all this. Struggling even more in the past week or two when the migraine went on and on for days, always returning when the pill wore off – drowning in pain and nausea, losing sight of the possibility of feeling better, sleeping little and growing more and more weary. In yesterday’s intense heat and humidity, the struggle became so intense that I longed to lie down and give up. Didn’t do that, but maybe out of sheer exhaustion and despair I let go of the struggle a bit. Something broke, anyway. Like a thunderstorm after black clouds gathering and gathering. Today there is a fresher breeze and I feel less embattled.

In today’s new space, I’ve decided to set a deadline for ending this craziness, for leaving the job. I’m setting it for the end of 2005. I don’t like deadlines. Self-imposed ones seem like pointless stress. But I have to make this solid and real, so I can believe in it, see it and touch it.

And I’ve decided I will try to write more explicitly, more concretely, here about the experience of moving through a change which has no reason to be hard, but which seems to be inexplicably, unimaginably hard (like pushing through concrete, in fact). Maybe because it requires me to believe that I don’t have to replay my parents’ frustrated lives.

Explicit introspection is a challenge. It goes against what we’ve been taught is acceptable. Feels like too much ‘me, me, me’. But other people’s ‘me, me, me’ in fact often interests me a good deal, speaks to me about myself as much as about the writer, since we’re not nearly as unique as we feel we must be. We’ll see.
Well done Jean. You can do it. The journey may not be what you expect and there may be false turnings, along with the unexpectedly beautiful views along the way, but that doesn't matter. The important thing is to take that first step. I did something not dissimilar last year and am still here to tell the tale.

Re your last para, I think talking about ourselves is particularly culturally hard for we Brits! And your family credo about this sounds similar to mine. And yes, I find other people's lives and reactions interesting (what am I doing reading your blog otherwise?). But they are also immensely helpful in shining a light on my own struggles and journey. Go for it!
Yes! Keep going (or stopping if that's what's needed), and keep sharing. Something will break open when you least expect it. Sometimes it's just so unclear what the answers are. But keep at them and they will eventually reveal themselves. Usually, for me, it's in some kind of acceptance of who I am and what's right for me, not anyone else.
Hi Jean,
Yes, your introspection spoke to me today.
Your last paragpraph pretty much says it all! I can also so identify with the feeling of "pushing through concrete." I liken it to coming up against, climbing over, or breaking down my wall in previous posts.

The great thing about the blog for me has been the odd feedback or comment on what I have been feeling and expressing. Because sometimes I have felt so bad about saying how I feel and, invariably, my "feelings" seem to have been helpful or resonated with someone else. Validation for our feelings is crucial as we "explicitly introspect," I think.
I don't know how anyone manages to live in London...seemed like the definition of Struggletown to me. Sorry to write something so banal, but...I would feel pressured out of my mind there.
'Elsewhere', that is not banal at all, that is the heart of it...
Hello Jean,
I too am always hunting for someone who writes openly and honestly of inner struggles - explicit introspection, as you say. Here is one of my favorite quotes on the subject:

"Now and again, however, an individual is called upon to lift his individual patienthood to the level of a universal one and to try to solve for all what he could not solve for himself alone. Not everyone can or will do that - give his specific fears and desires a chance to be of universal significance. To do this takes a curious combination of humility, excrutiating honesty, and a sense of destiny, or of identity. One must believe that private dilemmas are, if deeply examined, universal, and so, if expressed, have a human value beyond the private..." (from one of May Sarton's books)

I absolutely believe that private dilemmas are, indeed, universal - and therefore potentially helpful to others.
Never put a stopper on explicit introspection if you are moved in that direction. Even if it says too much or doesn't find the right words it's still the stuff of creativity and is crawling with life and inspiration. I wish you well, dear Jean, and am glad you've made a decision to travel on a new road.
Oh, yes...the ball's begun to roll, and it will only continue. As Leslee said, just keep going...
I am so pleased, for you, that you are finding a way. And I'm also pleased, for myself, that your blog has a role in this.
Your last paragraph resonated with me, too. Very much so. (As did your entire post, I should add). I often wonder why it is, exactly, that we blog? It strikes me again and again that it seems a particularly self absorbed activity. And it is. It is.

But the best blogs, (the ones I really just can't do without, and find myself returning to again and again - like yours, like mole, like The Cassandra Pages) I come back to for their honesty (often searing) and their integrity. I return again and again because I find inspiration, perspective, clarity. I find an intelligence, a gentleness and a profound humanity.

So, thank you. Please keep sharing your thoughts and struggles and joys. Good luck with this newest transformation. I will be reading (I hate to say lurking!) and wishing you all the best.
When I had unmedicated migraines, I would think about shooting myself in the head. Not because I wanted to die, but just because it seemed like it might stop the pain. Good thing I was always so incapacitated when I thought this. Pun acknowledged.

Know yourself, know the universe, same thing. The struggle is worth it, as long as we know both when to let the current take us, and when to grab on and hold fast.

Hey, Jean. Finally catching up with you.

I've often had the experience of hesitantly posting something that I know will turn people away, or just leave them puzzled, because it's just my own weird stuff -- & logging on the next day to find a dozen comments from people saying "yes, that's exactly it!"

Lots of love from across the pond --
Struggle of any sort feels so much worse when we haven't had enough sleep or feel ill. I too had an incapacitating headache this week, and it's just so awful - but great when it stops. Glad you've decided to make a deadline for yourself and to be more public about the process - I really think you will find a lot of support here.
Jean, I feel your dis-ease. And I remember that our journey changed for the better when our vision of what and where we wanted to 'approach' became move vivid that those ills (not unlike yours) that we wanted to 'avoid.'

Hoping for clarity of vision of the place you will ultimately settle, for good.
Just about three years ago, I took a desperate vacation to Vermont. Dog camp wasn't as much fun as I expected, but getting away from Wall Street was blessed relief. I looked around and thought, "I could live here."

Then I tried it again emphasizing different words. And now I do.

At the time, I had no particular rationale for choosing this spot, just the knowledge that if I did not do something, I was headed for some kind of disaster, whether injury, illness or whatever.

So I went back to the city, negotiated a layoff, packed the truck, and I was here, in Vermont, four months later. Just in time to be frightened out of my wits by an extremely cold, extremely snowy winter.

Not everyone likes dramatic change as much as I do. And it has its shadow--it takes about three years to be comfortable in a new place.

But sometimes the need to change is far greater than the specifics of what change we choose. Why not jump? I could always have gone back if it didn't work.

But it did, and the quality of my life has expanded in a most satisfying way. I'm wishing for you the same or better adventures.
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