When things tend to go well for me, I have a tendency to not trust it. I feel like if I give into this good, then the bad is just around the corner, waiting to take it from me. My life, this confusing and wonderful life, has taught me to never be too comfortable when things are quiet. Over the last couple of years, I just feel like it has been a struggle bus. No matter where I was or what I was doing or how hard I worked, there was always something mocking me from the corner, my own personal demon. Call it whatever you want but feeling like I have my shit together? It is a frightening thought. The moment I do, it all crumbles any way. I get it. That's a real Debbie Downer way to look at the world. I'm not a brooding teenager anymore. Those feelings have over excited dread should have left me years ago but still they stick. Here's the thing. I know exactly how to handle disappointment, failure. I am comfortable in that skin. It's like slipping on a robe at the end of the day and settling in on the couch to a nice movie. I know the waves of anxiety that will happen, the way they roll in quietly like thunder, knowing that once they start to roar, I can do nothing but ride it out. I snap my hair band at my wrist, close my eyes, and hang on. It's why I don't like roller coasters because that's what my anxiety feels like if that makes any sense... but I understand that chaos. I know exactly how it will go. I will panic. I will breathe. I will get up.
When things go right? What is that? I drove my car for the last few months with a muffler that I thought might fall off at any moment. I envisioned it. I figured out all the scenarios if it broke down on the highway or in town. I told myself how much panic I would allow and then how I would do what I had to do to fix it. I imagined the worst case scenario every time I got in the car to drive to work, to the store, to my coffee shop, fully expecting to not make it my destination. I told myself that it would take millions of dollars to have her fixed because I prepare myself for the worst at all times. But you know what? I always got to where I was going. The explosions that my runaway imagination created never happened. And to get her fixed was far less then a million dollars. This behavior isn't a new thing for me. I think even when I was a kid I always thought the worst. I understand in my adult hood where this mentality came from but I have never understood why I was always such a nervous kid. As an adult, that's all my life has been, one struggle after another, one anxiety inspired panic attack after another, because the demon in the corner mocking me has always been there. So many things in my life have been taken away from me, I guess I just got used to things not staying. I started to assume that everything was a passing thought and those thoughts became comfortable. Don't become too attached. They may feel good right now but it all turns sour eventually.
If you knew me, I don't know if you would necessarily see any of that. I try not to put that out there in the world but the older I become, the more honest I want to be. I believe in love, in goodness, in kindness but I have a very clear view of all those things as well. Human nature inspires all sorts of behaviors, not all good even if intentions are in the right place. We could be best friends today but I know eventually life will present different paths. And I feel like it took me a long time to get that, to forgive that. Here we give our hearts to each other, bare our secrets but when life presents itself we are going to follow our own stars. I took so personally at times, thinking that it was me they just didn't like any more. Why bother getting attached to people who will never return it to you? For a long time, I didn't. I kept myself at a distance, safe from the abandonment that I knew was inevitably coming. The people around me would at some point become those car explosions my head created. I look back at all the people that I once knew, the good and the bad, the ones that hurt and the ones that lifted me up. I think about my father and how he's been gone for so long, how my mother is getting older. I smile at my husband, so thankful that this man taught me that this anxiety won't kill me unless I let it. And then my kid, this beautiful little teenage monster that I created. I look at her and worry and see the worst case scenarios all around her. I look at her and snap my hair band around my wrist and let myself worry but I know that once the thunder goes by, that kid is going to be just fine. She will leave me but it's not because I have done something wrong. She will leave me because she's got stars to chase and I want her to catch all of them.
Someone asked me the other day how were my things? I laughed. If I'm being honest, right now they are fine. My car is fixed. My kid is finding her footing. I've found a new focus in my art and writing. We're finally making some headway out of this financial hole we fell in. As I write these words, my head is already bracing for it all to fall apart. How dark, right? Why can't I just take a moment and enjoy this? Because the reality of me is this. The demon that hangs out in my corner, mocking me, will always mock me but I don't know if it is really a bad thing. For every great thing in my life, I feel so incredibly grateful. For every kind word that someone gives, I cherish completely. I love these moments when it feels calm, sitting on a porch on a breezy summer afternoon. You close your eyes and just feel that breeze brush against your cheek. I hold onto these moments so tightly because the reality of this life? Well, the reality is that soft wind can turn at any moment. Life is fleeting and cruel and incredibly unpredictable but in that chaos there is beauty. I know that this way of thinking, about sitting in the dark and feeling comfortable in the doom sounds like a horrible way to live but there is a balance. I can take the struggles that I internally face and string together words. I can take that pain, that loneliness that sometimes paralyzes me and create an emotionally charged drawing. Life will not go the way we expect it, good or bad. There will be explosions and rainbows and showers in the middle of a sunny day. I am not ashamed of my anxiety, of worst case scenario thoughts any more in this life. In a way, it has been the best way to keep my anxiety under control. Think it, feel it, and let it go. The demon in my head he's not as scary as he used to be.
I used to make plans. I would think about these things that I needed to get done and I would do them. There would be no hesitation. I would just do them. And if I didn't know how to do something, I would figure it out. I guess I learned pretty early on that the only person I could depend on really was myself. It didn't take away from the people in my life that cared for me and wanted to help me but somehow I could never completely trust that either. I was never scared of asking for help. Hell, that was the easy part. What kept me from asking for help was the inadequacies I would then feel because you helped me. Sure, it was a very chaotic thought process for me because it did not make any sense. We are humans and often times cannot do this life completely on our own. Rationally I have understood that but realistically I couldn't accept that for a long time. I'm a Taurus. I am in every way one of the most stubborn people you will ever meet. I have no shame about it. In fact, it's one of the things that I do like about myself. Because while I am a pushover about many things, the core of me can not and will not be moved. So me admitting that I need help is a big deal and I don't take it lightly. There have been times in my life when I've had to ask. There have been times when I feel like it has been OK to ask. And there have been times when I have been made to feel like I couldn't manage on my own because of it. It has always been easier to figure it out on my own. The only person I can then blame is myself. The beauty of that? I have complete control over fixing myself, too.
I was pretty mad at myself earlier this week. It's been a struggle bus lately. I've felt like so much is out of my control. I gave up a job making decent money for a job that hasn't turned out to be what I thought it would be. I can't seem to catch up on my bills. My car needs work that I've had to help to get taken care of. I feel like my kid is struggling and I don't know if I'm any better off to help her. I feel like I am literally screaming at a world that just doesn't hear me but this feeling is not foreign to me. There's always been a part of me that no one hears. The older I get, I try to figure out if it is because I am the one muting myself or is that no one really hears me? I don't know. And honestly I don't think it's important either way. I have this new found drive to write beautiful words, to draw emotionally inspired pieces of art but I feel so overwhelmed by everything else I get lost even in my lines. Sometimes I don't always say what is bothering me especially with my husband. He is facing the same struggles because we're in this life together. He gets angry at me though, wanting me to tell him when I'm frustrated or sad or whatever I've rarely been able to do that. He wants to help and I love him for it but some battles are just for me. I am a stubborn woman who will figure this out in my own way and, after ten years, he still wants to shake me out of myself. I agree. I would love to shake me out, too, sometimes. I know how quickly I retreat.
I will sit in this struggle for a minute but eventually I will get annoyed and do something about it. I don't wallow necessarily but I do take my time to digest. For as much as I love chaos, there is a part of me that needs a clear direction. I need to sit down and plan out my way out of something I am facing. I am not making enough money right now so what do I do about that? I suck it up and try to start selling my art work. And while that boat is taking off, I get a second job and bank money. I get frustrated about my career? Well, then I look for options that are more like what I am looking for. I feel like sometimes I get stuck. I find comfort in the dark, understand this blindness but I need to be inspired, too. There is something so motivating about solving a problem. I want my art to sell? Well, I have to find the courage to put it out there and know my own value. I have spent so much of my life being so unsure, dipping my toe in the water, fearing it was going to swallow me up anyway. I've taken my time and thought about how to live my life the right way but I want to be honest here. I would love to just jump off that cliff and trust that I won't break myself in the process. It's never been just me though. My entire adult life has been as someone's mother. Every move I've made, I've had to think about before doing. I have this momentum within me right now. I feel it but I feel like I'm back to that point in my life where I've got nothing figured out.
So what does a girl do? I suck it up and figure it out. I often quote Stewart Smiley in the mornings before I leave for work. I say to myself, "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And gosh darn it people like me." It's not because I doubt that I am any of those things really. It's because I know I need to push myself a little bit each day. The facts are I live a pretty boring life for a woman who has so much fire inside. So I often feel like exploding all over the place, knowing that I can't and I won't. The practical side of me gets the fact that I am a grown woman with responsibilities, obligations, and an empty wallet. But that confirmation that I am going to be just fine no matter what is something I need to tell myself. No matter what, I am always OK. My anxiety can bring me to my knees but I get back up. My battle with depression sometimes makes me cry in the shower some mornings but I dry off and push forward. My nervous nature will sometimes stop me from doing the things I really want to do but I hold tight to those dreams. And I drive my husband crazy with all of these things I struggle with but he knows the amount of strength I carry with me every day. My rose colored glasses shattered a long time ago and I see life for what it is. Sometimes I want to tell it to go suck an egg. And other times I can't get enough of it. There are times when it just wants to fight and I'm down for the war. Other times it wins and I don't get out bed all day. I figure it out. This moment won't last forever. I got plans to make, bills to pay, and a few cliffs to leap.
There is so much of our lives that are just, to put it simply, confusing. My birthday is coming in April. It's a pretty significant one. I think about my current life state and wonder if this is my mid life crisis? I feel bored, frustrated, completely over the monotony of what is happening but I lived so long being unstable this is OK. I didn't know my schedule from week to week. My income depended solely on people's moods. I worked late hours and drank afterwards for two more. I've lived that midlife crisis life honestly way before I came even close to this age. Still, I look behind me and I see all these years that now line my pages, understanding that the number of blank ones in front of me are a question mark. And what a morbid thought to write, right? But understand that I do not fear what comes after this life. Whatever it is, I gave my best while I was here and that's all we can do. And still I look for a deeper purpose every day. There has to be more than this haunts me some times. I look at this life, this beautiful mess of a life I live, and I can't help to wonder how much harder I can work, how much more I can push myself, how many more steps can I take to finally feel like I can breathe. I don't care that I'm turning 40 this year. It's a number. It's this thing we create to mark our success. I'm not where I want to be but who is? There is some solace in knowing that so many of us are clueless.
I saw this silly meme the other day. Those things are brain eaters let's be honest but they are entertaining. Sometimes you just need a little nonsense to get through the day. It was saying something about if she had her life together, she wouldn't be sleeping next to unfolded laundry. Usually I read those things, give a small chuckle, and then move on with my life. They are not meant for too much deep thought. For whatever reason, that one kind of stuck in my head all day. We measure our lives by the things we've accomplished even the most minuscule of tasks. That laundry next to her somehow represented every failure in her life. How ridiculous (1) that I put that much thought into it and (2) that is how we judge what of people we are. If someone walked into my house right now, they would see a floor that needs to be swept, bookshelves that need to be dusted, two baskets of laundry that needs to be done, and a very stinky litter box that needs to be changed. I understand we are judged by what people see on the outside but let's be honest. What we are on the outside is nothing but a show, an illusion of what we want people to see. My house is a little messy and I understand that if you walked in, you would probably have thoughts just like I would if I walked into yours. It's human nature. I am by no means throwing shade. My point (however I seem to get there) is that we are so much more than dirty laundry or folded and put away clothes. There is a beautiful middle, a lovely simple middle.
When we are young, we are told that by a certain age we should be a certain way. We should be married with children and a career, a beautiful house with a well manicured lawn and a dog running around the backyard. Our lives should be well synchronized, well orchestrated. We grow our children and then we happily age into retirement. No fuss. No muss. And then we grow up and we realize that all that is a cereal box image that doesn't really exist for most of us. What we find is that we have to work two, three jobs just to provide the basics sometimes. What we find is that dating is really miserable and not fun. What we understand is that whatever our lives are going to be, they are not going to be easy. You learn to do what you have to do to get things done even if you have to sacrifice the things you love to get there. I am turning 40 this year, this age that I should have my shit together. I should be a well oiled machine at this point. And, in some ways, I am. I know who I am, what I am made of, the potential more than I ever have in my life. I have a husband who I adore and who adores me. I've got this almost adult kid who despite the recent battles is amazing. I have my talent, this ability to write these words and create pictures that touch people, that I just started to explore and allow to bloom. In so many more ways then I ever thought I would, I feel the poetry in this skin.
At almost 40, I know looking at my life maybe leaves people wondering, asking what is this lady doing? I work a job that is not a career. Honestly anybody who knows how to talk to people could do my job. I am not being challenged (just tried if I'm being honest). I get up in the morning, go to work, come home, go to sleep. This mundane, routine life that drives me stir crazy. I don't own a washer or dryer. I still rent an apartment. I live beyond my means, struggling to make ends meet. Retirement is just a funny joke to me at this point though it's something that I do legit have to start thinking about. I can't help my kid with her future because the right now struggle is hard enough to work through. I will forever be sleeping next to that pile of unfolded laundry it seems. And then I take a step back. I give myself a good kick in the ass and remind myself of what all these almost 40 years have taught me. There have been very few steps in my life that have been light and airy. Most of them feel like I have a ton in my shoe. Just one more step, kid, just one more step. It was about the next step and the constant worry of 20 steps from now. My chest has been heavy my entire life but I don't stop. When I can't walk, I crawl. And if I can't crawl, I roll. Whatever I have to do, just one more step. Maybe one day I'll be where I am supposed to be at the appropriate age but it doesn't matter. I could never fold my laundry and have my shit together. We can be a little of both, a perfectly put together mess. What is important is that I feel I have my insides together. What other people see is not really all that important if we have every confidence in ourselves.. Our lives have a tendency to work themselves out. Just keep moving, kid. Keep growing.