The Art of Getting One’s Life Back

It was late in March a few years back when I gave my notice at a job I was completely miserable at.  While I’ve never had any regrets on that decision, I had been hugely disappointed that it was not working out. 

After giving my two-week notice, I was instructed by my manager to hand over files to another manager in the department that would be handling things until someone could be hired to take my place.  After the exchange of files she said condescendingly from across her desk, “now you can have your life back.”  In addition to confirming that I had truly made the right decision in leaving, that comment stayed with me.  It was meant to be a dig at me but it got my mind working in a more positive direction.  What would getting my life back entail?  What would it look like?

Those times were somewhat confusing.  I had just turned 40 and was beginning to question everything.  Was I going where I wanted to go?  Or which direction do I take from here?  Is this it?  40 doesn’t feel like 30.  There were just so many questions.  I knew I had been unhappy for such a long time.  I knew that there had to be something better than where I was at.  It was like one morning I woke up and knew without a shadow of a doubt that I needed to take control.  Leaving that job was the first step.  It hit me on a Saturday.  I had no other job to go to but I knew the sooner I left the better.  My husband and I spoke about it at length and we decided we could manage for a while.  I can’t even begin to say what a huge relief this was!  At the risk of sounding cliché, I’m going to say this anyway:

NO one is responsible for my own happiness but me.  No one.

Things did not fall into place right away.  It definitely has taken time to get the pieces sorted out.  As a child I had a toy work bench (this is back when children’s toys were still made out of wood).  There were shapes drilled into the top like that of a star, circle, triangle, etc… There were also blocks in those shapes that you could pound through the workbench with a wooden mallet once matched up.  I bring this up because I liken it to a few times when I’ve felt like as an adult I’ve been pounding the circle block into the triangle hole and expecting it to fit which has led to much frustration.

Maybe its just this time of the year.  We have a landmark wedding anniversary coming up this Friday.  We will have been married for 5 years now.  Its been on my mind a lot and I have found my thoughts wandering back over those years.  We have accomplished so much.  When you are in the thick of things you don’t think in terms of accomplishment.  Its more of a tunnel vision attitude with your nose to the grind stone, but once through its important to look back and remember that nothing was accomplished without that hard work.   A week ago Saturday I was riding home in my car after a trip to a local monastery.  I remembered some goals I had set a few years back and the realization that not only had I met them, I had exceeded them was overwhelming.  Why hadn’t I seen it until then?  Is it possible to be concentrating so hard on something that you don’t recognize it when you reach it?  Like looking for an address and then driving right by?

While the comment made a few years ago by that manager was not made out of the kindness of her heart, it brought me to a huge realization that I had the power within me to make the pieces fit.  It didn’t happen overnight or even a fortnight –but it did happen.

Yes, I have my life back. 

It may not be the life I had 5 years ago but it has evolved into something entirely new, different and good.  Now that’s what I call progress.

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22 thoughts on “The Art of Getting One’s Life Back

  1. Thank you, I am so glad I tracked back to this post as it is just what I needed to read right now.

    • It does get better. 🙂 I know you’ve been going through some stuff with your old job. In all honesty you were kind of the inspiration for this post. I had been reading about your situation and it had reminded me so much of my own experience a few years back. It also made me look at the progress that was made between then and now.

  2. In this life we are all fighters. Every day living is challenging where one person always at the receiving ends of people’s manipulations, agenda, etc. Otherwise, sometimes you strike it lucky and an internal attitude adjustment leads to the dream – at your new job.

    “Choice begins the moment you misidentify from the mind and its conditioned patterns, the moment you become present.” – Eckhart Tolle, Author of The Power of Now

    Happy Anniversary, Monsoon!! I wish for the both of you to have a lifetime of love and happiness. 🙂

    • Zoom you hit the nail right on the head. I am often naive to one’s political agenda until after teh fact. I’ve so far steered clear from any ‘corporate biopolarism’ as I’ve come to say, and work in a wonderful place. I knew it had to be better. So glad I took that leap of faith.

      Thanks for the anniversary wishes. I’m so looking forward to a nice dinner tonight to celebrate.

  3. My dad has always said that to me, “You’re responsible for you own emotions, and your own happiness.” He’s amazing. He’s taught me that I could determine how I feel, and that I could forge my own destiny. I make a lot of mistakes, and sometimes I let things get to me. You’re right about not noticing the goal when it’s been reached. Now I’ve suddenly realized that I’ve made a few milestones myself. XD Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    • Your Dad is a wise man. We all make mistakes. The important thing is that we learn from them. I also let things get to me at times but I’m learning to let things go. Just letting go. I know you are the praying type too so I’ll share this with you. I keep a sign over my desk that says “Be still and know that I am God.” This is from Psalm 46:10. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked up at that during the day.

      I’m glad you realized a few of your own milestones, too. Its important to look up and look back sometimes too just to see how far you’ve come.

  4. It’s a cliche – but I don’t think there are a lot of people who truly know it.
    You are one of the few who got it.
    There are still too many who make their happiness depending on others, circumstances and/or things.
    So congrats on that.

    The other flaw of humans is that we at some point in our lives go on autopilot. I guess that is what you describe as tunnel vision. 😛
    I catch myself doing that quite a bit. If it gets really bad those are the times I start doing the stupid stuff (forgetting where I put things, forgetting whether or not I have locked doors, etc) When I notice that I try to break the circle. Unfortunately I haven’t found the secret yet on how to break it for good.

    And I got to say I truly like your metaphor with the work bench. It made me chuckle inside. So very true. How often are we trying to do that LOL

    • You know whats so funny? When I gave my notice at this job there were so many people that came out of the wood work that said they wished they could do the same thing. People actually acted like they didn’t have a choice and they were bound by some invisible committment to that place. It was really odd. I have a friend now who always complains about her job and when I’ve brought up that she should look for something else she’ll say something like its easy for me to say because I’m married and she’s not. While it was easier for me to leave because there was another income to rely on for awhile, I don’t think that is really an excuse to stay somewhere that you are not happy.

      And the work bench metaphor? LOL. All I can say is that you think I would have figured out in my youth that the triangle can’t go into the square hole no matter how hard I try. It probably would have saved me a lot of frustration. 😉

  5. Good for you. It takes tremendous courage to pursue change, even in the pursuit of your own happiness.

    I definitely tend to be one of those people who don’t look up from the grindstone all that often. I’m hoping for something better.

    • Hi LB, I hope you are able to find something else. It sounds like you have a lot of pressure on you where you work. I hope that things will get better. 🙂

  6. Just taking that first step towards taking control of your life, can have a snowball effect. First I took the plunge and became a first-time homeowner. Then I did something I’d wanted to do for years: legally changed my name. Then after that? This lonely single girl, who’d resigned herself to being the crazy cat lady, met and married her wonderful husband. Then, seriously? After that, we risked everything to build our little cabin in the woods. There is NO WAY on earth I could ever have planned any of that.

    • Oh yeah! Then I got laid off from my high-powered, high-stress, long-ass commute job. Now I have two part-time jobs, but they’re both up here on the mountain…

      • Where you live sounds amazing. It looks amazing too! How great for you for choosing the life you did. Being happy is better than any high-powered, high-stress and politically charged job will ever be. I don’t care how good the pay is. Some things are just not worth it in the long run.

    • Thats awesome that you have accomplished so much! How neat that you changed your name. I’ve wanted to do that for awhile now. All the first born women in my family all have the same first name. They go by their middle name. My Mom of course had to be different and name me something more modern (being the 1960s and all) so I would like to have it changed to correspond with what it should have been.

      Do you ever look back and say, wow, how did all this happen? LOL. Of course it was making the right decisions when the opportunities arose. I thought I was also destined to be the crazy ferret lady. Life had better plans there too.

      • Changing your name is remarkably easy. I did it through We The People. They made it super-easy. The annoying part was getting it changed with vendors and stuff. The DMV, banks and SSA practically just took my word for it. The phone company and the electric company? Had to have certified copies…

        “crazy ferret lady”
        LOL I love it!

  7. Very inspiring. It just shows that life cannot be scripted. I think knowing yourself you were able to steer your life the way you wanted it to go. My life looks nothing like I wanted or expected it to 20 years ago, but I’ve had so many unexpected good advances that I wouldn’t go backwards for anything.

    • Its funny. When I first left that job I didn’t know where I was going or what I was going to do. I only knew I had to put an abrupt end to what I was doing and that the rest would fall into place. It was a huge leap of faith.

      That is really wonderful that you’ve had those unexpected good advances. Life is definitely interesting. I’ve heard it been said that life is what happens while we are busy making other plans. So true.

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