I'm sitting on my couch with Lucy Sparkle. I'm listening to hymns (yes hymns) on youtube. And I'm thinking. I have a lot to think about these days and I've found that there's no one better to soul search with than my dog and Jesus, so that's what I'm doing.
I'm thinking about the past year or so of my life; the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, all the lessons I've learned and all that I still have to be thankful for. I'm thinking about how I wouldn't wish the last year of my life on even my worst enemy, but how thankful I am for the the experiences I've lived through (even the bad ones) because I think I'm a better person than I was this time last year in a lot of ways.
I've learned what it means to really mourn a loss and to survive the grieving process. And it really and truly is a process. I think when I moved out in February I thought that I'd be sad and angry and hurt for awhile but that probably I'd just wake up one morning and be fine. As though a switch was flipped somewhere while I slept and the way I felt yesterday would be gone forever. Silly me. It doesn't work that way at all. The truth is that there have been some days where my job was the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning. There have been days when the emotional pain was so palpable that not only did I feel physically ill, but I would have sworn that my heart was indeed breaking into pieces in my chest. There have been nights that I've soaked my pillow with tears from crying myself to sleep, and then woken up with my eyes almost dried shut but still crying. You'd think the human body would reach a point where it would just run out of tears...but it doesn't. Or at least mine hasn't. There have been times when I I've cried myself out and I start to think that maybe, finally, I've gotten all the hurt out and that I'll never shed another tear as long as I live because I've used all mine up. But the real truth is that even now, almost a year later, there are still days from time to time where the hurt just hits me out of no where and before I know it, for no good reason at all, I'm huddled in a corner in my house sobbing my eyes out. These days don't happen as often as they did in the beginning, thank God, but that's what they mean by it being a process. The hurt doesn't just end one day. You don't wake up one morning ready to just put the past behind you and never look back. You just gradually move on with your life, one step at a time, until eventually there are more happy days than sad, more laughing than crying, more looking forward with hope than looking back with despair and you can finally start to believe that yes, this too shall pass and life will go on and you will be ok.
In this past year I've learned what it means to be a friend, a real friend, and to love people unconditionally; not because of what they do for you, or what they give you, or even (some days) how they treat you but rather just because of who they are. I've learned that there is good and bad in all of us and that my job is not to judge that, or try to fix that, but just to accept everyone I meet for who they are and do my best to be as good to them as I can be while I have the chance. I've learned that sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is just to be there. Not to try to fix anything, not to even pretend to understand, but just to sit down quite literally in the middle of the floor and cry while they cry and say, "You know what, this really sucks and I am sorry. I can't do anything to make it better but I am here and I'm not going anywhere." I am lucky enough to have friends like that.
In the past year I have learned that sometimes, no matter how much or how loudly I scream at God, things just aren't going to happen the way I think they should. And on that note, I think it's ok sometimes to get mad at God you know? And even to tell Him that we're mad at Him, because we're human and we don't have the capacity to even begin to comprehend His bigger plan. I think He realizes that, and loves and forgives us even when we doubt.
So I've been doing a lot of thinking and now a lot of rambling, because I've had a huge decision fall into my lap that had to be made and I've spent no small amount of time trying to be sure that I did the right thing. I've been dissatisfied with my job for awhile now, for a lot of reasons that I won't go into, but enough so that it has started to bleed over and make me miserable in my daily life even outside the office. I'm thankful to have a job, believe me, but it would be nice to get some sort of pleasure and satisfaction out of what I do. I mean, I don't think I'm asking for too much here.
This has all happened extremely quickly (and I'll spare you all the details) but the bottom line is that I was offered a new job last week. From the sounds of things its a great opportunity. It's going to be a huge step up for me, both in pay and responsibility and its with a company that has tons of room for me to grow and move up quickly. And the best part? They want me. They seem to see potential for big things, and they're willing to take a chance, to pay me probably far more than what I'm really worth at this point, and give me the opportunity to really push myself for the first time in, well, maybe ever. This job though? It's in Houston. As in, Texas. As in "too small to be its own country, too big to be an insane asylum, Texas.
So even though my current job doesn't in any way "do it" for me, and even though New Orleans was just about the last place on the face of the earth that I wanted to be this time last year, and even though I hate the climate here and have had just some miserable experiences and should have every reason in the world to want to get the heck out of dodge...I don't. I don't feel that way at all. Despite everything, I've come to love this dysfunctional little sweatbox and leaving isn't going to be nearly as easy as you might think. I have amazing friends here, an amazing church, and I've come to feel very comfortable and almost at home in NOLA. Almost.
I have to go. I've thought about it a lot and I know that I'm making the right choice. As much as I do like it here now, I know that this isn't where I'm supposed to end up. It's not even where I want to end up and the longer I stay, the more i fear ending up in a rut and never being able to escape. Because I've learned that just because something's comfortable, or easy, that doesn't make it right. And New Orleans is great, but its not right for me. I think that it was right for a time; I think that maybe there's no better place in the whole world to mourn than this broken city. They say that misery loves company and I think that the people here, even though you might never see it on the surface, lost something in Katrina that they never got back. I don't know how to explain it really, other than to say that if you need to grieve, and you need to mourn and frankly just sort of lose yourself for a little while, this is the place to do it. Even the happiness here is tinged by loss and while there is a comfort in that, I'm not ready to give up on all the good in life just yet.
I did that, grieved and mourned and let myself get caught up in the city a little bit for no reason other than to numb the pain, and I don't regret it. Truthfully, I know I have lost a little bit of myself in the past year and I think I'm finally ready to get it back. I'm ready to be me again, to feel whole and happy and content, and I just don't think I can do that here. I'm not sure I like everything about the person I see myself becoming if I stay in New Orleans, and I don't want to take that chance. I don't know if the Republic of Texas will be my forever home either, but I do think this is the best thing I could be doing for myself at this point in my life and for now, that is enough.