Life outside the lines

I’m a rule follower. I was a child born into violent chaos. Since escaping that life, I’ve thrived on rules. On absolutes and routines. Life in the lines is safe. Routine and predictability soothes me.

Sure, I’ve experimented in gray. I’ve dabbled outside the lines from time to time. It was fun and exhilarating and terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. I quickly created new rules for myself to ensure that I was safe again.

I’ve created walls between myself and the world, between my memories and reality, between my dreams and others’ expectations.

It would be easy to blame someone else for the predicament I find myself in. It would be easy to create a villain in my story and label myself as a victim. The truth is that while I had to deal with a very difficult beginning, my story did have plenty of heroes, too.

It was my choice to build these walls. It was my choice to create the hundreds of little rules and routines I created for myself to ease the constant overwhelming fear of unpredictability, of getting too close to other people, of being hurt again.

It’s my choice to change now.

This year, my life deviated from its course. It not only deviated, but it took an off-road route to somewhere I can’t even see on a map right now.

There are no real rules. There aren’t any lines to stay within. I’m off-roading my way to a destination yet undecided, and I couldn’t be more scared – and excited.

I’ve got a lot to do in a very short amount of time. I need to figure out what I really want to be when I grow up, set some short-term and long-term goals, pick a school, start school and lose this 20 pounds of stress-weight I’ve gained since January. I need to make a plan with flexibility and balance, which deeply scares me.

It won’t be easy. There are days when I catch myself fixating on the overwhelming tasks in front of me, worrying about all sorts of things which may or may not ever happen. I momentarily forget my off-roading adventure and start making a new set of rules to calm myself.

And then I stop.

I take a breath and close my eyes.

I focus on the sounds around me to keep me in the present, the only place I should be right now, the only place I can manage. I hear the voices of my children, the sweet clicking of my dog’s nails on the wood floors, the hum of the furnace as it turns on.

These every day sounds remind me that this great challenge ahead of me – this challenge to live life without fear and in the present – will be require real change. I can’t be the scared little girl who hides in a maze of rules, schedules, organization and regulation anymore.

I want to be the woman who is present.

I want to live now.

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