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Dreaming Back My Stories

IMAGE: Illustration of womans face covered by colourful butterflyI sit writing this post on a rainy Tuesday morning at the desk of my home office, which, after 5:00 pm, turns back into my kitchen table in my small condo. Although space can be a challenge, I am completely content. Just a few days ago I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my Leave-Taking – the day I left a flourishing career behind. I wasn’t moving on to an exciting new job, going back to school, moving across the country, or taking maternity leave. But the choice to leave was still my own.

I walked out of the office that Friday afternoon swimming in a sea of emotions and unanswered questions marked by a combination of relief, excitement, fear and trepidation. Beneath the remaining doubts circling my mind was the spark of something that kept me moving forward, until the building in which I spent so manyhours of my time, energy, productivity, commitment and potential, faded into the background.

Leaving a good, stable job is not something that we are “supposed” to do. Everything about the culture in which I’ve lived has told me to follow the rules, do well in school, progress at work, be successful and stick to “the plan.” Opposition to this linear progression forward creates a swell of questions, concerns and judgments that have left me feeling guilty about the self-care practices that should be much more important to our workforce than they often are.

The cycle of productivity, success and recognition; working to exhaustion and illness; tentative recovery; then back to status quo with no awareness of the impact of that cycle on our bodies and spirits perpetuates a culture that thrives on success that is driven by fear. Eventually, I realized something bigger was at stake.
The road to healing has been a slow unlearning and a process of facing many little deaths. The Ambitious Career Girl in me – once so proud and determined – has been shedding her mantle of perfection to reveal an old strategy of hiding my truth, my inner authority, and deep down, the belief that I wasn’t enough. Shame has many faces among us, and this is some of what they look like for me.

Uncovering the stories I told myself to get by has been painful at times, but an important part of the process of self-discovery, soul retrieval and homecoming. The darkest moments of truth-telling and facing my shadow are also the fertile ground where something new is slowly being born.

There continues to be moments of self-doubt and discomfort as I maneuver through this territory where “vulnerability,” and “authenticity” are the new currency. But faith keeps me on this path, and each day I meet others, who, like me, are making difficult choices about how to work and live differently.

Stripped of the names, roles and defenses that once defined me, I am closer to my truth now, to the woman inside who I am now learning to be, and I am dreaming back the stories that are longing to be told.

 

Kristen Roderick, Writer, researcher/evaluator, and community convener

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