I strive for the feeling of freedom in my life.
As a teenager and in my early 20s, I did everything I physically could feel free. At the age of 14, I had a serious boyfriend and when I was old enough to get a job, I spent weekends split between his house and work. I was earning some of my own money, so I was able to do what I wanted to do. I was pushing away from my parents, craving freedom and self-fulfilment.
By 18, I had saved enough to leave the country for nine months to travel. With a friend, we did the usual Gap Year route round the world, joining the thousands of other young people on a search for freedom. Drinking all night, sleeping all day, and seeing places we didn’t even know existed. Breaking through fears we had and doing whatever we wanted to. Because we could. No responsibilities and no cares.
And ever since then, I’ve craved the same feeling. The feeling of complete freedom. Surrendering to all the thoughts, feelings and emotions that come with being so young.
But I never seemed able to access it. As time went on, I continued to travel occasionally with my husband. But when things didn’t go to plan in my life, I got really stressed out. Gradually, I became fearful of flying. I had panic attacks, and felt the fear take a tighter hold.
And despite years and years of trying to work out WHY this happened, I still don’t really know. Maybe it was down to greater awareness of my own mortality. Maybe it was falling in love and developing fear of losing it. Maybe it was having ALL the great things in life, and feeling fear of it all slipping away. The WHY didn't really matter.
But, over time, the sense of freedom was lost. And when I had children, I felt that more than I ever had before. I felt trapped. I decided that there were a million things we couldn't do anymore. That the kids stopped us from doing. Dinner out, date nights, last minute weekend plans, exotic travel...
I put the beliefs in place that these things would never be possible again and I had to submit myself to the needs of my children. Completely.
I often talk about surrendering to life. To letting go and just being. To letting life guide us, rather than fighting against it, in the name of free will and independence.
When I talk about surrendering, submitting to my children in this way is NOT the kind of surrender I'm talking about, because a) I submitted with resentment, and b) I made the rules as to what we could and couldn't do.
I wasn't letting life do the deciding, I was doing the deciding. And I hated the rules I was putting in place for myself (Of course, I saw this as a dislike of being a mother).
Because, all of those things that I resented NOT being able to do anymore - the dinners out, the date nights, the last minute weekend plans, the exotic travel - they were absolutely possible. Anything is possible. The only thing saying they weren't possible was me. The layer of fear that I was viewing the world through helped me develop beliefs that I couldn't do all these things.
Which is absurd really.
If you were to track your own life in this way, would there be a similar theme? As you’ve gotten older, have you developed a thicker layer of fear? What do you feel you are missing?