Tuesday, February 24, 2009

disengaging auto-pilot.

i used to have the most amazing intuition. i have sensed some awful demons from people i barely knew; i have had dreams that simultaneously mimicked real-life events as they were occurring.... some seemingly incredulous things have happened, that were in fact not incredulous because they were nothing but intuition. and since i was very young, mine has been extremely strong.

somewhere along the lines, that voice started to be drowned out. i suppose it was a combination of lifechanging experiences, none of which i was entirely prepared for, and every time i got knocked down i had a harder time hearing that voice inside me when i got back up. as of late, i haven't really been able to hear it at all. someone recently told me that i seem to weigh pros and cons a lot without assigning any weight to them, and i think it is because i have never really had to. i have always just followed my instinct, listened to that inner voice, and pros and cons were as intuitive as my decisions. i have felt extremely lost without this part of me, a part that i've been highly dependent on until recent years. questions about where to live, what kind of work to pursue, who to date, how to balance my health with my career... they have been overwhelming because i have been unable to access my instincts about any of it.

or so i thought, anyway. it recently struck me that what is missing is not my intuition itself, but a lack of trust in that intuition. little by little, the events of the last few years have been robbing me of my trust in those instincts i previously relied on so heavily. they were too muddled during chemo to give me any real insight or strength. they certainly didn't predict the cheating-on-cancer-girl saga. and so on and so on until one day, i woke up to discover i actually could not make a decision on my own. i was no longer asking for others' opinions to measure my own; i required others' opinions because i could not access mine. bad decisions made me feel more lost than ever, good decisions made me feel more dependent on others for what my next step should be. but good and bad, the decisions were made by listening to the most persuasive opinion that particular day.

it should not surprise anyone, then, that i have found myself fairly deep in a funk. i feel like i have lost control over my life in a very disturbing way. all of these decisions about staying near the people i love in north america, or enjoying (aging) family in india, or prioritizing my friends and family over my career, or achieving what i've set out to in my career for once and for all.... they have been so exhausting and unmanageable because i've still been looking outward. and everyone has an opinion, and as a fortunate bunny with many many MANY loved ones, not all those loved ones agree. so i'm constantly weighing other ppl's opinions on all of these extremely lifeshaping decisions, when i should instead be trying to hear my inner voice again.

i was thinking about all the parts of life in Delhi that made it such an amazing experience, and i remembered reading The Alchemist. i feel like i have been ignoring the signs for so long that they're starting to disappear. and i have been ignoring my own instincts for so long that i no longer know how to listen to them.

that is, until now.

it has been an extremely awful experience getting here, but i've finally rediscovered my intuition. i can hear it, and the more i hear it the louder it gets. that alone is making me feel more like myself than i have in months, and also reassures me that perhaps i can stop myself from spiralling, from behaving in ways i know i am above, and from watching my life unfold without being in the driver's seat.

the beauty of losing trust in ourselves is that we are in full control of building it back. i woke up one day and decided i was going to lose any sanity i had left if i kept questioning my intuition the way i had been. and so, i have made some life changes, all of which i'm proud to recognize align perfectly with my inner voice:

*my relationship ended. it was mutual. painful. necessary. and that is all i wish to share about it.

*i'm moving to Bangalore, India on monday. let me explain:
i have been facing a pretty tough decision between a career change and moving back abroad. i received some honest advice that to qualify for the roles i'd want to be in within North America, i need years of international experience. and any kind of career change was really unimaginable. it has been killing me to try and sort this one out.

in the end, i decided to go hard on moving back to India. most specifically, on moving to Bangalore. my grandparents live there, arjun lives there, it is the central hub of all of my family's travels within india.... as time has gone on, these reasons have become so compelling that other potential options started to pale in comparison.

i have also realized that India is very much a "now or never" plan for me. some loved ones have suggested to me that i can always pursue it later, and now that i've found my inner voice again -- i know that it is truly not going to happen if i don't pursue it again now.

finally, my doctors want what is best for me, but it is still my life and my decision to make. unless India somehow puts cancer back on the table, i am placing myself in the same level of risk as all other international development folks. i might get sick, but it is not going to magically kill me because i have cancer in my past. i'm tired of letting the "what if"s dictate my lifepath. and i will never be happy if i let that negative part of my past erase this positive part of my future.

--

so, there you have it! i visit my cancer docs monday morning for a final checkup, and barring any signs that the cancer has returned (read: highly unlikely), i fly out monday night. over the first two weeks, i have five job interviews lined up in B'lore for my intended line of work -- increasing access to medicines for infectious disease. i'll be back in North America for 2 weeks in august, to check back in with the docs and to attend a community event (KYC) that is important to me. other than that, i don't know yet how long i'll be staying in B'lore, and i don't know when else i'll be back. soooo, if any of you are getting married any time soon and i make your list, feel free to give me plenty of notice :)

i really think that i have needed to rely on others for the last few months. my trust in myself was so low that other people's voices were all i could rely on. and i feel more grateful than ever to have such supportive and loving individuals in my life..... especially if they could stand by me during some of the darker days! that said, it also feels liberating to have rediscovered my own inner voice. i feel like i might actually be capable of feeling happy again. like real happiness, the kind i used to feel so effortlessly - the soy sense of happiness instead of the estoy sense. i miss living my life like that! i'm determined to reorient myself towards it, and i believe the first step down that path is complete -- i finally feel like i can trust my instincts again, certainly enough to make my own decisions. and since you are all important to me, i am hoping you can trust me to make them too.