So far, this year has sucked eggs.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been to the ER. I’ve added three drugs to my list of allergies, been bombarded by enough radiation from scans that I’m starting to get concerned about the cumulative effect, been scoped from both ends, and gotten a low-level diagnosis for some of my long-term troubles. I’m currently wearing a holter monitor to get a 24-hour snapshot of my heart activity and I’m starting a new round of antibiotics (the fourth in two months) for ordinary, everyday sort of stuff. I have to decide between thyroid meds, thyroid removal, and insulin meds. I’ve had a headache for two weeks, abdominal pain for over two months, and my anxiety is on a roller coaster. My neck is jacked up from hitting my head a year ago, and my shoulders aren’t much better off.
And that’s just the physical stuff. My husband lost his job in February and couldn’t get a new one because of all my health issues. Because of a new tax rule, our taxes got audited (I filed early and we’re poor – thanks so much for making life harder, government!). We won’t receive our refund (which we need to survive) until June at the earliest. So I’m sick and we can’t even afford to pay the $700 a month we have in bills, which we are borrowing from my in-laws so we don’t lose everything we own which is in storage in another state.
I haven’t been able to write much of anything. First because sitting put too much pressure on whatever was going on in my belly, and now because my neck gets too stressed out. I’ve spent most of two months in bed. I’m afraid of eating too much sugar, too much fat, of having caffeine, of going outside thanks to the worst pollen year I’ve had in a decade. I’m afraid of exercising. Of leaving the house without my husband. Every time I think I’m doing okay and start inching back out of my limited routine, something else pops up or goes wrong. And now it’s 105 degrees outside and I’m acclimated to the 70 of my bedroom.
Everything I do seems to make me dizzy, light-headed, or feel like I’m going to pass out. (Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but that’s how it feels most of the time.)
Life needs to change, but I have no idea how that’s going to happen. Even my husband is now so anxious because of everything that’s happened, he won’t leave me alone for more than two hours at a time. He wants to change things, too, but he’s too scared of putting himself out there to try.
I haven’t been this depressed since I had postpartum depression. I’ve been churning through tons of negative feelings, mostly about myself and my life choices, and I had a mini-breakdown the other day where I admitted to my husband that I honestly don’t believe I will ever be good enough for anyone. Not ever. He yelled at me because he thought I was wallowing (something he does frequently), but it’s true. So many of my choices and my directions are made out of fear that I won’t ever be good enough. As a person. As an adult. As a daughter. As a wife. As a woman. Never good enough.
I hate admitting that. I hate how weak that makes me, how much it undercuts my perceived strength in the face of suckitude. So much of what I do in life is for other people’s acceptance. Their validation. And inevitably they give me the opposite.
I try too hard. I’m needy, desperate, clingy.
Except I’m not, and I don’t.
I don’t personally believe we can ever try too hard, especially when it comes to people. Sure, we may try the wrong things and expect too much in return, but I don’t believe we can ever do too much for those we care about.
I yearn for closeness, which makes me human.
I haven’t really had close friends since my early twenties, and no close female friends I didn’t make in high school. That makes me yearn harder, yes, but it also makes me more willing to show up.
I do a lot for others that isn’t ever returned. It bothers the hell out of my husband. But I also know people who never do anything without being guaranteed an equal return on the investment. I would rather be like me.
I need to learn better boundaries. Except I’ve been doing that. I’m not super awesome at them yet, but I know how to enforce them and I’m not afraid to do it.
I kick ass at putting myself out there. Personally, professionally – I’ve got trying new things and taking uncomfortable yet potentially rewarding ‘risks’ DOWN.
I’ve had the pleasure of getting in on the ground floor of a new writer’s journey of discovery. She’s older than I am, with a long career in a good field behind her. But she’s new to risking self in the public eye. New to accepting who she is and what she’s driven to do. I don’t know her and she wouldn’t know me from Eve, but every time she posts anything, I feel a surge of pride. She’s finding her way. A way that’s equal parts exciting and terrifying. And I know how hard it is, because I traveled it more than a decade ago.
I’m not a neophyte anymore. Not professionally and not personally.
I may have lost (sacrificed, really) aspects of myself that I really want back, but if I pursue them I know I’ll resurrect them. Because I know the journey. The steps. The experience.
I got really mad at an old friend a few months back when he suggested I needed to be grateful for the spouse who “supported me so I could pursue my dream.” Ignoring the minefield that is the relationship involved therein, the dream part really jabbed at me.
A dream is a thing we want for ourselves, but don’t really believe it’s attainable. We envision this thing for ourselves – whether it’s travel or career or family – because we want it so badly. But there’s always a ‘but’ involved. “I want to write, but it doesn’t pay the bills.” “I want to travel but I don’t have time right now.” “I want a family but I’m really focused on my career right now.” A dream is the carrot we hold out for ourselves so that we can do the things we need to do that don’t fulfill us.
Writing is not my dream. Writing is my path. My experience. I have never once questioned that I would write (at least, not for longer than a week or so of soul searching every few years). My husband didn’t “support my dream;” he agreed to marry a writer, with all the empty bank accounts that went with the territory.
My life has been long years of hard, often soul-squishing work. It’s been lonely. But my problem isn’t that I cling to people. It isn’t that I need too much from them, or give them too much or expect too much. I don’t let them choose my paths (usually…).
My problem is absolutely all about timing. Timing kicks my ass. I’m impatient, raised by parents who are impatient in totally different ways. I was taught to get things done, to ‘strike while the iron is hot.’ Except if you’re not in the business world, that doesn’t work so well.
When you’re invested in the journey, in self-improvement, in life, impatience is counter-productive. I believe in making things happen for ourselves, but I also believe that sometimes we need to learn to read the currents. The saying isn’t, after all, “Fold ’em or hold ’em, just DO something!” There’s wisdom in patience, and patience allows wisdom.
So even in the midst of this terrifically sucktastic time, I’m working really hard on my patience. Reminding myself that even though it sucks, it’s clearing the way. Cleaning up years of personal messes, of health unknowns, of fear, to give me a starting point free from the ghosts of past mistakes. And that is messy work. It’s grueling. It’s like clearing out a forest after a fire – it’s sweaty, dirty, hard labor that makes everything black with soot.
Even though everything that’s going on threatens to make me literally crazy, I am reminding myself that it’s important work. That new books require old books to have satisfying endings. I have to create closure before I can create a new story.
The blank page that comes after is scaring the hell out of me, too (I haven’t had a blank page in life with no idea what I want to fill it with in seventeen years). But I keep reminding myself that I haven’t gotten to that page yet. I have to focus here, on all these little threads that need to be wrapped up first. I need to make sure I at least touch on them all, acknowledge them all, satisfy them all before I move on.
I’m not good at this yet. Ending things, letting go, moving on – I come from a family where that’s categorically bad. But I don’t want to follow those shoe prints any more. I want to walk my own path, free of resentment, bad feelings, and if-onlys. So I’m learning.
It’s exhausting, all the way down to the fiber of my soul, but I’m learning.
And in the middle of this awful, awful storm, learning is enough.