Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Worry

I'm worried. Right now I have a stable job, a stable living environment, and stable health.

Why am I worried? Well, it's because things are stable. And, for as long as I've been able to think, I have understood that stability is, above all, one of the most dangerous illusions out there.

When I was a little kid, I never felt that anything was stable -- boundaries that existed so clearly for other people, escaped me. I remember looking at a homeless person and knowing that any day, tomorrow even, I could be homeless. My mother brushed it off, saying, "You'll never be homeless." But for me, it wasn't so clear.

Don't get me wrong, I realize that I'm in a different arena than most people who find themselves in that position, but what I am saying is, I don't think I ever really felt free from the possibility that everything could suddenly collapse.

This may be a symptom of my upbringing. Both of my parents had pretty extreme tempers, things could escalate with them pretty quickly, a lot of times things ended with some kind of physical or emotional blow. I tried my best to avoid and protect myself from this, but some of these conflicts were impossible to predict, let alone avoid.

Another contributor to my little mindset might be that most things we experienced growing up were called "privileges." Privileges included the most basic things -- like eating dinner with the family -- to bigger things, like going out and seeing friends. They had to be earned, and could easily be lost. Growing up, I was very mindful that almost everything I experienced was a privilege, which I don't think is bad, but it does have some funny side effects later in life.

Two years ago, I fled my home in the middle of the night when a drunk roommate had a violent eruption. I couldn't sleep for a while, feeling that at any moment, somebody might come pounding at my door as I lay in bed crying to the 911 operator. Then, last year, right when I was starting to build some real momentum with my work, I fell ill for about eight months, and felt idiotic for not doing more when I had my health, for taking it so for granted. Later in the year, a dear friend/surrogate father fell ill, which of course reinforced my shame at having taken health for granted, but highlighted another thing I took for granted. My two surrogate parents were absorbed in the crisis -- they were and are my primary emotional support -- and I realized then that I could lean on nobody. I guess that's growing up in a lot of ways; or a realization that alone is what we always are, but cannot always admit to being. Financial stability was the last of my concerns at this point -- when everything else, things that were really, really important seemed so fragile.

Right now, I'm in this funny place. The various crises have lifted, I feel better, I live in an emotionally and physically safe house, and I have a job. I have allowed myself to become comfortable again, as much as one can be able after being confronted so directly with the potential for personal loss. Being somewhat stable financially (e.g. having a regular paycheck) has played into this sense of comfort.

And now I feel like I must be crazy, seeking out and pursuing opportunities which may dramatically reduce this stability. I will be moving, again, into the unknown. Away from the people who have supported me through thick and thin. Away from the only truly safe house I've ever lived in. The only stable job I've ever had. And money ... is going to start to be a bigger problem. What am I thinking? I know in my heart that I have to continue to pursue my dreams. But, folks, it's scary.