We’ve only just begun…

Since leaving, the days are as I expected. I wake at the respectable hour of 9 am to check on my basil and dill plants. They’re fragile creatures and I don’t exactly have a green thumb, but one must keep trying.

Then I cook. Or maybe, cross the street to the supermarket for produce from the other side of the world (Sheng Siong has live boston lobsters, by the way). Then perhaps stop by the community centre to mull over yoga classes. Monday 10 am? Thursday noon?

Meals are simple — I cook for one (or two if a friend drops by). I focus on the process, the art in the preparation of the recipies of my mother and her mother and of generations before me, and that of Nifty on Buzzfeed. My favourite are the pasta salads, putting my dill and basil in danger of extinction.

Mornings on my balcony are quiet. Overlooking the nature reserve, nibbling on avocado mushroom salad, with freshly brewed tea and the breeze for company. I read, write, do research and quietly work on my various projects — a family business, a friend’s start up, or maybe an ex-client will ping me with instructions, in rebellion of my leaving. In the afternoon I leave the house — get a massage, meet somebody, run some errands. Time stretches before me like a carpet, and all the space in the world is mine.

I meet with my partner when he knocks off work with the rest of the world — and we be.

It is here, with my partner, that the seams begin to show and the hairline cracks become apparent. We’ve both noticed that since leaving my job, I’ve become more manja, more needy — do you love me? do I make you happy? My partner is kind and reassuring — of course. That was never in doubt and nothing has changed between us. So then why do I feel so needy and insecure?

And why doesn’t the feeling go away when affirmation is extended? That was the kicker, the clue, that there was nothing wrong with our relationship — the source for discomfort and anxiety came from elsewhere, and I needed to find it.

And that’s when I realised that this perfect life, with the picturesque mornings and the freedom to roam, comes with a high price: the only external structure I’ve ever known, the external matrix for the valuation of my self-worth and identity.

Without my job I could feel myself fading away — who am I now that I am no longer “corporate lawyer with x number of years experience in crazy developing country”? I no longer have difficult files to manage, clients who needed me to hold their hand through the dark nights of their transaction and to navigate this thing they call “The Law”. I don’t have crazy stories to tell or the delightful afterglow of a crisis resolved. I don’t have that all-important elevator pitch. What do I talk about now? What is my meaning? What is my self worth?

As with letting go of The Plan, I have started to panic. This is what going crazy looks like. And I haven’t even served out my notice period yet.

Originally published at aslowascent.wordpress.com on May 17, 2017.