Just because I’m of a certain age, it doesn’t mean I’m all grown up.
And just because I’ve been in therapy for the past twenty years, it doesn’t mean I’m entirely sane.
At five o’clock this morning, I woke up in the middle of a “project.” As I bobbed up to consciousness, I found myself creating a list of the things I still need to do or fully understand before I can be considered a genuine adult.
I remember feeling vaguely disturbed by it all. I’m aware that I continue to exist in a state of arrested development, even with the giant steps I’ve taken towards wellness and wholeness over the past few years, and I probably woke up feeling disturbed because the few remaining steps felt forbiddingly steep. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so after watching an I Love Lucy rerun, I reached for a pencil and mini-notebook and roughed out a list of the things I still must do. (Wish me luck and hold me to it.)
1. Make consistent healthy dietary choices, not only to improve my health, mobility and appearance but also to vanquish the child-demon inside of me (and/or fill the spiritual hunger that causes me to eat unwisely).
In other words, find God and lose a hundred pounds.
2. Learn to live within my means. Filing for bankruptcy was a dispiriting task not to be repeated. Fifteen years ago, financial coaches were telling people to put their credit cards inside an empty yogurt container, fill the container with water and stick it in the freezer. I should have paid attention.
In other words, leave the credit card at home. (Yes, two weeks after the final discharge of my debt, one of my creditors has just handed me the chance to screw up all over again.)
3. Recognize and rejoice in the fact that I am me and nobody else. This means paying close attention to boundaries.
In other words, I am not my father’s anger and pain; I am not my mother’s expectations. (I sometimes think that Baby Boomers are still so wrapped up in personal growth, self-help and healing because they were raised by a generation of fathers who suffered from untreated PTSD and by mothers who felt stultified after giving up their war jobs for domesticity.)
4. Be fully aware that I alone am responsible for my life. No blame and no shame. I am the result of choices I have made, consciously or not.
In other words: after twenty years of therapy, I should be able to say that from this day forward, there will be no such thing as a choice that is not consciously made.
5. Believe. Believe that no matter what happens in my life, I can cope. I will manage somehow, I will see opportunity in every crisis and ultimately I will be okay.
In other words, trust. If I never find a supreme being, if I never subscribe to trusting the universe, then I will anchor my faith in trusting myself.
6. Accept death.
In other words, accept death.
Not only did I wake up thinking these are the things I still must do, I also felt different inside, taller, saner, stronger, more whole, as though the shift had already taken place.
Who, me? I must have been dreaming.
What, if anything, do you still need to do or to know in order to feel centered, grounded and fully adult?
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