I currently live in a suburb of Raleigh, North Carolina. I have been living here for about two years. Like most people who live in this area, I am not originally from here. I grew up in a town called Avon, Connecticut. I went to college in Boston. I lived in Washington, D.C. for a stretch and then went to law school in New Orleans. While in New Orleans I met and married my wife who grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. After law school we moved to Scranton and lived there for a year. Then we moved to Philadelphia and lived there for ten years.
In Philadelphia I worked for a big, corporate law firm performing a job I hated. It paid me well but I hated it. I felt unappreciated, made to perform mindless work and trapped because I had upgraded my life style to match my income and could not move to another job that would pay me as well.
In 2009 the recession put an end to that misery because my wife and I both got laid off. We then moved to Connecticut thinking we could live with my parents for a short period of time until we both found work. That short period of time lasted longer than we expected. But eventually we both landed work from home jobs. Suddenly we were in a position to move where ever we wanted to. After some research we picked a place with good schools and a low-cost of living and here we are.
I look back on all this moving with some regret. Everywhere I lived I always felt like I was trapped in the wrong place at the wrong time. If I had to do it all over again I would definitely have made different decisions.
Now that we live in North Carolina I find myself constantly amazed by how nice people are in comparison to all the other places I have lived. When I first moved down here I found myself in situations where I expected people to f#!@ with me and surprised they didn’t.
I suppose there is some Wizard of Oz message in all this. That I can travel the world looking for happiness but I really only had to go no further than my own back yard. I did move back to my own back yard after I got laid off and it was miserable. But the message is not literal. Dorothy is referring to the back yard of my soul I am sure. I think that is true to a point. Certainly, if you are miserable you are most likely going to take that misery with you where ever you go. On the other hand, if you are miserable there is something about your current situation that is making you miserable so shaking things up can be a good thing. Certainly staying put will probably not change things as I learned from staying at that law firm in Philadelphia for ten years.
I think change can be made, but it has to happen from within and sometimes outside help is needed to make that happen. Growth is possible. I am not the person I was twenty years ago. There’s nothing to do but look forward and keep moving.
Last night I murdered a man at a gas station with a shot-gun. My friend told me to leave the gun like in the Godfather. Actually he wasn’t a friend. He happened to be a childhood acquaintance. At one time I thought was my best friend. He was always criticizing me in the form of ball busting. He always purposefully misunderstood what people said and rephrased it as something risqué. For example, I might say, “My heart is beating.” To which he would reply, “Your fart is beating?” Later on I found out he was talking shit about me behind my back. This was in middle school some time. I remember working up the nerve to buy a ticket for a dance for the first time. They were selling tickets from a table on the stage in the lunch room. I had never bought a ticket to a dance before because I felt like people would make fun of me. I was a nerd trying to do something the cool people did. It was funny in the way a chimp riding a bike is funny. I was nervous and standing in line but people were cutting in front of me. Someone told me later that he was laughing at me and calling me a loser. I felt ashamed and betrayed when I heard that but it sort of opened my eyes that this guy was not really my friend. I sort of drifted away from him after that.
After I shot the guy I went back to my childhood home. I remember lying in my childhood bed afraid that I would get arrested for killing the guy. I prayed to God that no one would ever find out. Then I thought there must have been a security camera at the gas station. I felt panic and dread. I lay there waiting to hear sirens approaching the house and anticipating that it would happen any second. I prayed some more asking God that I be let off the hook some how. I thought about what prison would be like. I did not really have a reason for killing the guy. I just did it. Maybe I was trying to impress that childhood friend of mine.
As the dawn light filtered in through the window, I realized I had been dreaming. I had never shot anyone. Instead of lying in my childhood bed I was lying on the floor of my new apartment in North Carolina. I did not have a mattress yet.
Even though this was a dream I actually felt like God answered my prayer. It was as if the me in the dream was a different, yet equally real, person living in a different reality. God transported that me into this reality where the crime had never taken place. By doing this God had wiped the slate clean. It felt liberating. This is what forgiveness feels like.
My recent move from Connecticut to North Carolina made clear to me that I live between two states, stagnation and fear. When I feel stagnant I move to change my situation but when my situation changes I experience fear and seek safety. The safety eventually becomes stagnant and the cycle repeats itself. For me, both stagnation and fear are intertwined with humiliation. When I am stagnant I feel humiliation because I feel like I should be moving forward. The humiliation of stagnation is a safe place for me even though it feels dead. When I move out of my comfort zone by striving for more than this I risk a more intensive humiliation because somewhere along the line I learned that failure is shameful. This risk brings about fear.
In 2009 I was laid off from a large law firm in Philadelphia. I worked their for eight years and hated it. I had wanted to quit because I was not growing professionally but was afraid to quit because I was afraid of having less money. This was the humiliation of stagnation. It felt safe to stay in a job that I hated because I feared taking a risk by leaving. At the same time my marriage was horrible – probably because I hated my job. I had financial problems despite my income. The stress was overwhelming. I became depressed and suicidal (not that I acted on that feeling). I craved the feeling of safety. Although being laid off was a relief at first it began to feel unsafe because I had more expenses than income.
So my wife and I rented our house in Philadelphia and moved in with my parents in Connecticut. In the beginning, although I felt a certain level of humiliation living with my parents my stress level definitely declined. It was safe. Comparatively speaking it was emotionally a much better place for me. Since that time we worked on our marriage, we both obtained new jobs and after a bunch of life changing therapy we were in a position to move out.
As the time for moving approached I felt the fear returning. Before the move, my mind would race at night about all the things I had to do and all the money I would have to spend. After the move I stressed about getting furniture for our new place and all the money I spent. I also felt a level of humiliation for not having our place set up for a week. I see now that moving beyond my comfort zone makes me fearful and so I seek safety. I see that safety is a relief and feels good at first. Eventually safety feels stagnant and confining and I yearn to move forward. But as the day approaches to actually move the fear kicks in and attempts to stop me.
But on the other side of fear is feeling alive. And so in order to feel alive I have to be willing to feel fear and not retreat back to safety. Historically, I have not been willing to do this. This time around I choose to go through the fear and see what happens. Hopefully aliveness is on the other side.
- Things To Do If You’re Feeling Stagnated.. (advicefromcristina23.wordpress.com)
- Stopping Stagnation (bridgettekiner.wordpress.com)
- To become a stagnant pond (escapismproject.wordpress.com)
- Stagnation (alanacpona.wordpress.com)
- F.e.a.r. (morethangold.me)
- overcoming your biggest fear (hopedeal.wordpress.com)
- Living With & Conquering Fears (bloglostandfound.wordpress.com)
- Fear to Safety (theponderingvolumes.wordpress.com)
- Do You Live In Fear? (myviewandopinion.wordpress.com)
- Filled with Fear (trappedwithinsociety.wordpress.com)