I’ve done two totally terrifying things in my life.
Move to France 18 years ago
Give birth to my second son sans meds
Every other experience I’ve had in my 43 years on this planet pales in comparison on the “holy shit I don’t think I can do this” spectrum. I’ve often thought about these two moments as seminal “warrior woman” milestones in my life. So massively hard but unthinkably rewarding they’ve come to symbolize a source of strength and determination in me that I didn’t know I had.
If anyone had told me as a teenager that I’d wind up living in France for 18 years and that I’d pop out a child without any pain relief, I’d had surely thought they were talking about a much stronger, braver, resilient person than I could possibly be. But how did that become me?
What is that power that lies in us that can lay dormant for years and then at some point, often when we least expect it, swell into an awesomeness that knocks our fears out of the way and takes charge for us?
I want to know that again. I want to harness that potential again. So as I explore the next chapter in my life, I’d like to try and pin-point what allows those leaps to occur. What are the elements in play, both consciously and unconsciously, that can move our mountain of fear and anxiety out of the way so that something magical can take its place?
MOVING TO PARIS:
When I moved to Paris I left everything behind: my whole family, all of my friends, my job, my boyfriend, my four (!) cats. It was leaping into a proverbial blank canvas. I had no job set up, no apartment, just my friend Jessica who offered me to stay in her place in Paris for as long as I needed while I figured things out.
I was a nervous wreck the months leading up to my departure. My heart and head were doing a hundred thousand pirouettes each day pulling and prodding me to question the decision I had made. I even had my first (and thankfully) last panic attack. But I knew I had to go. I was just going to vomit my insides out every time I thought of it. The logistical planning was a torturous, drawn-out perforated process with holes that I felt I would leap through, burrow into and hide within to escape the decision I had made.
Where would I store my stuff?
How and when would I quit my job?
How much money would I need to live off of while figuring my shit out?
What kind of health insurance would I need overseas? (I know, so American!)
The hardest part was not really knowing how long to plan for. What kind of good byes were required. Was this the big kick-off? Do I need to cancel credit cards? What about if I get called to jury duty, am I technically here or there? Of course there was some mega emotional drama with the relationship I was leaving behind. But that’s for another story (maybe).
So what actually helped me to finally make the leap? I remember two very clear “clicks.”
One, I had a distinct desire to clone myself and leave one of my clones in New York while the other ran off to Paris. It was a very logical solution that would comfort the people in NY who I cared about, who would miss me, and who I was scared to hurt by leaving behind. But where did the real Zeva want to be, I asked? My gut knew: SHE was going to Paris!
The second “click” came from my incredible therapist who I had been seeing for a year. Initially a bit dubious about the Paris dream which she thought was an escape from unresolved issues, over time she started to welcome the idea and help me visualize what that process would look like. What the steps would be to help me get there while continuing to do the work required not to leave any stones unturned back home.
When she and I were in synch with the plan and as the plot started to thicken with realness, as in my plane is scheduled to leave in a week and I don’t think I can get on it, she said the most powerful 8 words anyone could have said to me at that time: “You just need to get on the plane.”
I knew she was right. I needed to prove to myself that I had the guts to do it. To get on that plane. To confront my fears of change, of leaving everything that was comfortable to me to embrace that voice inside of me that was beckoning me elsewhere. What was helpful with her statement was that it removed “forever” out of the equation. What happens next, happens next, not now. Now, I just need to get on that plane.
I have used that term as a mantra in other situations, and it continues to serve me (and others) well. Sometimes, you just need to get on the plane. The journey is often as important (if not more important) then the destination. And what’s the worst thing that could happen? When you land, you can always turn back.