At 22, I had a crisis. At its precipice, my future was laid out, as clear as I chose to see it; and I moved through actions and places as prescribed. Seven months and two mental breakdowns later, my incognizance became clear and the reality of my unhappiness was blinding. My surroundings were a figmented oasis–a collection of concepts and ideas insinuated by everyone around me.
And while abandonment seemed necessary, the subsequent isolation felt like a horrible mistake. Recovery is hard. Carving a better way of living is hard. Especially when you don’t know what that living looks like, and when you don’t know what tools to use. Apparently it gets easier, but never really changes.
noun, plural cri·ses [krahy-seez]
- a stage in a sequence of events at which the trend of all future events, especially for better or for worse, is determined; turning point.
- a condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change.
- a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person’s life.
Those first few years I wandered through the desert with a blurred concept of reason. A small idea amongst a pile of big plans remained when everything else had been sifted. It stuck and it grew–within me, and then around me. And I knew. I hated it at first. I was so scared and I hated it. But reason revealed and I moved forth with what I (finally) knew.
And today–on my half-birthday marking the last 6 months of my twenties–I still find myself in deserts, choking my way through recoveries. Varied crises hurling me back into the wilderness as I search again for what is to be known. The desert has become a place of familiarity, as it does when you insist on living your life for you; from within. But the desert is lonely. And walking to an unknown terminus is daunting. Each step is never the last.
Up until 2 weeks ago I didn’t give a shit about 30. I’ve been saying I was 30 for the past 3 months because 29 sounded pretentious. But now, my cumulative time in the desert has become very real and I am tired. How many deserts do I have to cross before I can rest?
The obstacles I faced at 22 have long passed. I am achieving what I initially sought–my life’s dedications; and I am grateful for the realization. I know the type of person I want to be, and I’ve accepted the pilgrimage to get to her. I know the tools to use, and have the wherewithal to acquire the tools I don’t have. It has become routine. The obstacles I faced at 22 have passed, but the pressures at 30 have not alleviated–they have simply changed. House. Husband. Babies. Societal pressures, biological pressures. Circumstances that I cannot control if I am to remain true to myself. If I am to honor to the lessons taught by the desert. And if I am to have faith in anything at all.
So I continue to traverse, with the confinement of freedom. Escaping into deserts. Direction provoked by crises. Waiting to know.
Maybe 40 will have more answers.
Maybe it will result in less desert, and more oasis.