Here was my story: "I am directionally challenged." A common narrative, right?
Here's the meaning I made for myself:
"I don't know North, South, East, or West, can't navigate streets, have no perception of where I am, can't find my way home from a new place.." Know that feeling?
Here's how I learned that this story and its meaning are bullshit.
"I'll Get Out Here, Thanks"
Back in 2016, I knew only one direction: Out. Out of my marriage, out of that living space, out of suffering, out of the life that felt like misery and slow death.
I had no idea what my life would look like once I got out, but that did not matter at the time. I had a heading, and I was moving towards it, no matter what. The directional segue to the way out was by way of Berlin. Berlin is East in relation to Chicago. So East was where I was headed. To a new city, to old friends, to adventure, to restoration. That two week trip was the start of a much larger relationship with navigation and direction. It changed my life and re-birthed me onto a totally new path. From a literal sense, it showed me that I could, in fact, navigate a map--the U Bahn train system in Berlin, for example, and I could find my way through the streets of a foreign city. And I could have the time of my life while doing it. I floated down those streets, the taste of freedom was in every beer I drank, every food I ate, and every breath I inhaled. Freedom, I thought often, is also a direction.
I had more joy, happiness, and fun on that trip than I had had in all the years prior to. While the volcano of my life was exploding back home, and would continue to for the next year, those two weeks gave me the restorative energy to face the new direction that my choices had pointed me in.
And, ok, so now that I knew I could read a map, navigate a city on my own (Berlin was also my first solo trip!), and enjoy my own company while doing it, maybe the 'directionally challenged' narrative was not as true as I thought it was. Huh.
From "I have to know" to "I'll figure it out"
Next direction: More. I had been working part time in a job I loved, with people I loved, admired and respected, and the best boss I would ever have. But I needed more: more money, more working hours. The ability to get out of my parents house, where I lived in a constant state of battle and unrest, was fueled by my drive to make more out of my life. And that required cash flow.
So, I got a new job, where everything about the place caused me to realize that I needed to start finding my voice in an assertive and respectful way, and to set up some much needed boundaries. At the time, I didn't actually realize what I was doing, but looking back, I see the impact of that environment caused me to rise in my boundary setting practice. And then I got a different job, because again, More was the direction in which I was headed. I wanted to call all the shots in my life.
With More came New. A new living space, for which I had very little to put in it, except for immense amounts of gratitude and love of independence, and that beloved feeling of Freedom. And then a new relationship. And New is definitely what this one was for me. Unlike any other. The foray into what headed later into the direction of conscious relationship.
I took another vacation, this time with my 5 year old in tow, to another new city: Denver. And we figured it out. We had the time of our lives together. We shared an incredible adventure based on stuff I had looked up online and put into a loose itinerary in the form of a spreadsheet. Not completely directionless, but it was comfortable and worked well.
So More and New were directions I could navigate pretty well. Progress. I went from thinking I was directionally challenged and therefore had to know everything before I could proceed, to realizing I could navigate tangibles and intangibles on a 'figure it out as I go' basis.
No Map, Just Dark Nights & a Compass
A dark night of the soul is hard to navigate. During the first one of 2019, I knew one direction: Dark. And that is because the direction, More, had ended at steep cliff. I had lost my job, which had pushed me right out of my comfort zone.
The next heading I took was 'Project Manager', which was what I thought the direction 'New' was pointing to. So, even though I was still in the dark, I thought I had my way out.