I have this pair of pants. They are like yoga pants, I guess. They are the most comfortable pants I’ve ever worn. I love them so much; I can even remember when and where I bought them. Don’t laugh. But, I bought them at Wal-Mart. My son, then ten years old, was having major surgery at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. I was never one to wear sweatpants or even jeans. My wardrobe consisted of dresses, skirts, and pants. But, as we had to be at the hospital on the morning of surgery at 6 am and would be sitting around all day in waiting rooms and recovery, I knew I had to be comfortable. Not wanting to spend money on pants I would never wear, I went to Wal-Mart and spent all of eight dollars, figuring once the surgery was over, they would get sent to Goodwill.
When I first put them on that morning, they felt “funny.” I had never worn pants like this before, and the material felt weird against my skin. I kept fidgeting in my seat, out of nerves and being uncomfortable. But, by that night, I didn’t even think about it anymore. And those pants, which were so intolerable became like a second skin. They still sit in my drawer, and I wear them, probably twice a week. Now, when I buy new pants, I long for the familiarity of my black yoga pants and go back to them time and time again. They are worn from ten years of wear and have stains on them. The waist tie is loose and frayed. But, something in me, won’t let me throw them away. They’ve become too comfortable. They are safe. As I slip them on, they become a second skin.
Isn’t life like my favorite pair of pants? We get into a routine that feels safe and familiar. When we start to stray out of the places we are accustomed to, we feel vulnerable and long for our safe space. And nine times out of ten, we retreat back to that which is well-known to us. But, in that safe place, nothing happens. Growth is stunted, and we live in a repetitive circle. Nothing changes. When we propel ourselves out of that comfortability, and we face the new head-on, that which was unfamiliar becomes our new norm, and the cycle starts again.
I’m as guilty as the next person. I don’t like feeling uncomfortable or vulnerable. I buck against the scratchiness of the strange, new fabric. I fall back into old patterns and habits and hide from what’s around the next corner. In fact, I don’t turn the corner. I just keep going straight ahead where I can see the path coming up. And in that path you get stuck, and you feel like the ground beneath your feet has become quicksand.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. The past twelve months on that path of comfort have been Hell. There have been some fantastic happenings in my life. In my life, not in me. I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching. Not just the sitting in silence, pondering life part. I’m talking about digging REALLY deep into who I am and who I want to be.
This uneasiness I was feeling, this sense of having no purpose, no passion—it brought me to my knees. And I’m being completely honest here. I spent many days in bed. In tears. In complete and utter hopelessness.
Yes, I’ve lived with depression my entire life. I know its in’s and out’s. I know its lies and destruction. I know how it seeps into your blood and into your soul. I know how that bitch sneaks into your bed at night and steals every ounce of happiness you had, with no reason, no rhyme, no warning. This is beyond that. This was a completely new thing. This was me floating helplessly with no idea where I was going. I was no longer just depressed; I was lost. I was gone.
Here I am at 45, with my sons in their twenties and I’m alone without any mothering to do, I’m free-falling with nowhere to land, and I’m being thrown violently out of my path of comfortability. My mom jeans are too small, and I’m being forced to wear a new pair of pants that feel itchy and intolerable. I want to rip them off my body and climb back into those worn pants that fit me like a glove.
We all make choices, and most of the time, we take the easy way out. We like those clean, smooth roads that are familiar. They have the landmarks we look to for stability. The path is clear, so there’s no need to work hard to cut away the weeds and vines in our way. But, stepping onto those untrodden pathways are where we find ourselves. And I think that is my next step...finding myself. In all honesty, I have no idea WHO I truly am. I’ve become a chameleon of being who people want me to be at any given time, but when I’m alone with just my thoughts, I’m a body in my favorite pants without purpose.
I realized that fear is what keeps me in those comfortable pants. As much as I used to be a risk-taker when I was younger, I’ve become a fearful woman who lets fear control every aspect of her life. I’m afraid to fly, so I don’t travel far. I’m afraid of putting myself out there in the way I want to in my business because I think people won’t like me, so I stay stagnant and underperform. I’m afraid of what people will think of me if I say what I really want to say, so I stay silent. I’m afraid of what lies around the corner, so I stay on the familiar old path. I’m afraid of what people will say about me if I abandon everything I’m supposed to do for everything I want to do. Every single decision I make every day is based in fear. And where is it getting me? Stuck in neutral in faded old pants.
So, no more. I’m sick and tired of who I am and where I am, and I’m fed up with letting fear have a stranglehold on me and my life. I’m embarking on a journey that starts NOW! My eldest son just got a dream job offer, 2700 miles away in Seattle. Was I happy and proud of him? Of course, but again, it was throwing me into uncharted territory. My son would have a new life, far away from me. He wouldn’t be four hours away in college anymore. He would be an adult with an apartment and bills and obligations. I’ve cried tears of joy and fear the past three weeks since he received the offer.
With his relocation bonus, we needed to decide how he was getting out there and who was going with him. He wanted to drive out. Now, since he doesn’t have a driver’s license, someone would have to make the trip with him. I joked about doing the 2700 mile trip, just my two sons and me and the open road. Since my husband has a business to run and my elderly parents live with us, it wasn’t possible for both of us to go. But, what has become some silly dream, has now become my mission. I could take the easy way out and take a five-hour flight to and from Seattle, but I would miss out on a once in a lifetime experience with my sons. Sort of a one last hurrah before adulthood.
So, I’m packing up a rental car, my favorite pants, and my sons and we are westward bound. I plan on documenting our journey and writing in my journal every day, which is something I’ve stopped doing over the years. I’m hoping to find myself somewhere between the asphalt and the sky. This will be my last ride in those comfortable pants. I’ll find a new pair in Seattle, and they will become my new norm, itchiness and all.