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december 19

i remember laying in bed next to david in our bedroom in michigan the night of thursday, december 19, 2019. he was done. he couldn't play the game anymore. there was no easy way to go about it. "it" was getting out. i had been resisting this process for years because i was scared. i didn't know if we really COULD get out. i felt trapped, and somehow safe in the dysfunction i had always known. but everything had been coming together to show me time and time again that this was the end. i knew we had to get out or die with the dysfunction. so that night in the dark of our room, talking in hushed and tense tones, i turned to david and said, "you can blow up my family. just don't blow up ours." david hardly slept that night knowing the task of the next day: resigning from my family's business.

today is saturday, december 19, 2020. it has been one year since that fateful night and that fraught decision, the beginning of our escape. we no longer live in michigan. in september we moved back to austin, texas, the place where we first made a life all our own before we moved to michigan in 2016. this morning i woke in that same bed i laid in next to david a year ago, but in a different room, a new house. at 7am i heard the sound of a torrential downpour outside. gray clouds covered the sky and rained on us all morning. this afternoon the clouds receded and gave way to a beautiful clear blue. the sun is shining through our windows and its rays illuminate our home through the newly installed windows. shadows of tree branches and the last leaves hanging onto them in our front yard dance on the dining room wall. i rearranged the first floor this morning. it has been three months since we moved in. it was time for a major rearrangement. as i sit at our dining room table with sabina next to me painting her water wow books with her paintbrush and water, david up in the loft watching football, and juniper fast asleep on our bed, i am filled with gratitude. we did it. we are here. we got out and we built a life we love in a place we love with people we love and who love us, authentically.

i have now been in my new position as academic advising coordinator in the department of biomedical engineering at the university of texas at austin for two weeks. david has been a stay at home parent for two weeks. this was not the route we expected to go, and here we are. thriving. it feels as if this is the way it was always meant to be. as if before we were trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole, so frustrated trying to get it to work and not understanding why it was so difficult. now we have the square peg in the square hole and the round peg in the round hole and it feels so right. i keep thinking back to where we were just one year ago and marveling at how much we have accomplished, how far we have come. i didn't know what we were going to do last december, i just knew we had to get out and somehow we would move forward from there one step at a time. and we did. we figured it out. one step at a time. all of those steps vulnerable, painful, intimidating. all of those steps taken. i stand in awe of us and all that we have done in the past year to get to where we are now.

this job for me was completely unexpected. i have found myself with imposter syndrome these past two weeks. i have felt guilty for being able to secure a position i am excited about in a department i love. why me? why am i able to find employment in a healthy work environment with great benefits and others are not? why are we not suffering as others are in the midst of this pandemic? why has everything fallen into place as we live our authentic lives? i found myself holding so much stress in my body, expecting so much of myself because i have been given so much. i feel stress and anxiety across my upper arms and my chest. my neck and shoulders are tense. i have been so overwhelmed by how much i need to learn and so terrified of making a mistake. so concerned about showing the department that they didn't make a mistake hiring me and not one of the other competitive applicants for the position.

i have been meditating for five minutes before work each morning and my plan is also to free-write in a journal for five minutes as well. the free-write doesn't always happen but yesterday morning it did. in my free write yesterday morning i was able to identify this narrative: i do not deserve this position and i am proving i don't if i make a mistake. what if the brittain they remember is a figment of their imaginations, only the best parts of me and leaving out the insufficiencies? what if they find out they made a mistake hiring me? it is truly amazing where these spirals of feelings of inadequacy and insecurity can take me in my mind.

i shared the narrative i identified in my executive mastermind group call on friday morning. what impeccable timing for that monthly call. my mentor was able to identify this narrative as a self-limiting belief. and if i let this continue to take root, i will always be watching for evidence to prove it. i will view everything through this lens of i don't deserve this job. the reality is that i am dealing with a lot and i need to give myself a break. everyone in a new position feels what i am feeling. i can choose to re-write my self-limiting belief and turn it around: the fact that they chose me for this position means that i deserve it. i am going to make mistakes. i will own them, make amends, learn and grow. i care about doing this job well and i am going to do my best. there is no shortcut to excellence. it is supposed to be hard. the key is managing expectations, understanding my supervisor's expectations of me and watching to ensure my expectations of myself align with those.

learning a new position remotely has been challenging. i am grateful i am already familiar with the department and at least part of the job since i worked for biomedical engineering in two other capacities the last time we lived in austin. our assistant director, the head staff member, has been in her job just over a month and is learning her job while teaching me how to do mine. she was the one in my position previously. we are all drowning and we are all going to be okay. in an impromptu training meeting with the assistant director yesterday i confessed my self-limiting belief and shared that i really just want to do this job well. she knows i do, that's why she hired me. all the things that i have to learn can be taught. you cannot teach someone to care about doing their job well. as for mistakes? we are all making them. we are not expected to be perfect. they are going to happen and it will be okay. she even shared one she had made the day before. when something goes wrong, we will figure it out. we always have and we always will.

yesterday after work i felt so light hearted. grateful to be in my position with emotionally healthy leadership over me. what a gift. i was so afraid of not being able to find employment for david with emotionally healthy leadership. he had it in his last job before we moved to austin. that is part of why it was so difficult to make the decision to leave michigan. in that month between when david's employment at my family's business ended and his new position at a different company began, i just wanted to leave. get as far away from the business and my dysfunctional family as possible. but we couldn't, not yet. we had work to do first. and we did that work. we got to the point where we could have seen ourselves remaining in michigan and him continuing to work in that company. maybe michigan could be redeemed for us. and in the end we decided to leave. to return to austin. not knowing when or where employment would be found. a mere 11 weeks later we found it. i found it. or maybe, it found me. i am in awe of how things have worked out. in complete and total awe. what a year. what a life.

and so on december 19 of this year, a saturday, i reflect again and again on all that we have accomplished. i marvel at this life that is ours. we own a home in our old neighborhood. we walk the trails every evening after dinner just like in my vision of austin post i wrote this past summer as we were preparing to move. david and i are a team and functioning as one better than ever. we have two magical small humans, sabina and juniper. juniper will be 2 in just another month and a half. we are anticipating a quiet christmas at home and are so excited to create traditions of our own. my job gives 8 days of paid vacation over the winter holiday. i will get to attend bina's riding lesson during those weeks. and as soon as i head back to work on monday, january 4, renovation begins on our master bathroom to make it into the space of our dreams. i will continue to work remotely through the spring semester. i won't be spending 10 hours a week commuting to and from work. i can see my family on my lunch break and give snuggles to my small people throughout the day. the last time i worked remotely was when we lived north of boston and i hated it. i felt isolated and missed being with people. i anticipated this would be the same, but it's not! zoom meetings keep me connected with colleagues throughout the week and my home office setup is pretty amazing. i am so glad that on that friday night a year ago we decided to take the first step towards the life we have now.

on thursday, december 19 of last year, i was terrified. i didn't know what would happen next. but now i do. i know what happened next and its better than i could have ever imagined or dreamed. today i feel content. full of gratitude. excited about things to come. WE. DID. IT. we built a life we love. and we will continue to.


hello there.

brittain here. just sharing my journey day to day with lots of laughs along the way.

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