out of solution
There was a time in my life when you could determine my moods by watching my blog. If I was unhappy, I’d post every single day. If I stopped writing, it meant I was probably happy and busy. Nowadays, silence usually means I have nothing to say. That can be good or bad. Good because my life is spinning so fast, I can’t process it. Or bad, because I’m licking my wounds.
I suppose, this week–it’s been a bit of both.
Since 25, I’ve kind of had breakdowns about every five years–the aftermath of which usually lasts for 1-3 years. When I was 25, a very dear relationship of mine started unraveling–which culminated in my mother’s illness and subsequent death. I call that period in my life the Year of the Cyclone, and it remains the most awe-inspiringly difficult/life-changing year of my life. When I was 30ish, another big relationship ended, and I gave up teaching–for good–to start a new path. That road was super rocky, and it forced me to stare down every remaining fear I had about being alone. I was able to pull myself out of it, and for a good long while, life has been steady. Few things truly scare me. I’ve accepted a whole lotta shit and let go of a lot of other shit.
Which brings me to here. I turn 35 this August. Four months. That’s an impossible age. Officially old. More than half my Mama’s life.
The mortality thing has been on my mind recently. Almost dying will do that. You don’t think of gallbladder surgery as serious. The four small scars have almost healed. You would think, from the silly band-aids, that I scratched myself on a tree branch. They look so innocent. They don’t look like the scars of a surgery that actually saved my life. But I am reminded that–had I been just a little more stubborn–had I waited a day or two–my gallbladder would have burst. I would have had a systemic infection. My pancreas and liver and spleen would have been involved. And there’s a good chance that I wouldn’t be here. And when I think about how close it came to that–because I am completely THAT stubborn and foolish–I am at once ashamed and terrified of myself.
When did I stop giving a shit about me? Or did I ever have that instinct?
I don’t know.
But this week, I sank to the ground and realized that–once again–my entire life is different. And I don’t really know who I am right now.
Or maybe, I do. And maybe that’s the problem.
My life is not bad. I have everything to be proud of and everything to be grateful for. I just started a new job. I had no difficulty finding a new job after my last job became something lesser than it was. I had invested a lot of myself in that job and had made some strides in terms of how I see work and co-workers. But the way it ended? It left a bad taste in my mouth and reignited old beliefs. This job took a long time to land–though I never really wanted to work anywhere else and knew I was the top candidate the whole time. They just took a long time to make a decision. This job has been rough so far. I started it by having surgery the day before my first day. I spent my first week propped up with pillows–foregoing precious painkillers so I wouldn’t fall asleep–which didn’t always work. I kept my bedroom near freezing to stop the drifting. I haven’t exactly felt like I belonged. I’m used to touchy-feely people who care too much. This is a boys club with professional distance at its core. This industry is new to me, and I am not the golden child. I have much to prove–and much to learn. And all of it is just hard. Harder because whoever I was in my last position isn’t me anymore. I am unwilling–and physically unable–to throw myself under the bus anymore. I take breaks. I sleep at lunch. I eat every meal. I drink water. I stop and start exactly when I should. And I don’t care as much anymore…which has made me feel apathetic–like my heart isn’t in it. Mostly because I’m not beating myself into the ground.
Right before the surgery, I quit school because of stuff I couldn’t fix. I’ve always found a way in the past. Always. So, to not have a solution was hard for me. To be so close and not finish was hard for me. But then, I figured something out. I didn’t want it anymore. It’s just a piece of paper. I have the knowledge. I don’t want to start a nonprofit anymore. At least not for a while. And, if I do, it’s all going to be obsolete anyway. I’ve lost my enthusiasm for the program. I was holding on, though, to the idea of school. I applied to another program–because that’s what I was going to do when this was over. I was going to go for a Master’s in Counseling–pay it all myself–and then work as a therapist for a while before getting my PsyD. I had a plan. But, after the surgery, money became tighter. The school I’d applied to became more annoying. And I wondered, “Why are you resorting to quick and dirty? Did you learn nothing from TFA?” So, now, I’ve decided to put school on hold. To just do one thing with my life and to do it well. To do it while taking care of me and redefining what’s important to this me, now.
Surgery–even when it seems like nothing and only takes an hour–scars you. For me, it put me face-to-face with my Mama. It forced me to forgive myself while also walking her path for a bit–in a much lesser way. It forced me to depend on others and trust others. It forced me to be broken. To accept it and let myself break more when I needed to. But to also be surprised by my own strength and self-worth. To be proud and to finally heal. To face my crutches and finally walk without them. To acknowledge that I’m in pain, but it doesn’t have to be a bad day. And to face money–once again–and all the demons it carries. I am learning I can figure it out, and it’s okay to not know everything.
I call this my new normal.
I’ve spent a very long time running a race against my own death…in competition with the girls I should have been…if only this and if only that. Unable to fully face my grief at not being them. Unable to forgive myself for my imperfections and the stories I didn’t want to be true. I’ve spent so long comparing myself to everyone and the impossible standards I hold just for myself. For things I neither loved nor wanted. For things I thought I needed because I should. Turns out, I need none of them. And at the end of the day, only I can decide my worth. Only I can choose my tomorrow and how I’ll feel.
Because what I do still matters, and I am still powerful–even when I’m broken and not quite invincible.
I don’t feel good. Truth be told, I’m a little lost. I’m wobbly and holding onto myself. I lost my anchor long ago. Not knowing feels like shit. A few days ago, had I been to a therapist, they’d probably have diagnosed me with depression. But I knew that already. And I want to feel myself fall to the ground–internalize the thud and feel that pain. I will never be numb again. Even this week, where every day I was flailing–some sad anger ripping at me at a low-boil. Even this week–I knew I’d be okay. I knew I’d crawl back into myself and reach out of myself. I knew I’d find my touchstones…my people and my things–the things I can hold onto when I have no idea who I am. Because those things are my missing pieces and they make me whole.
So, I’m writing. Because it’s about the only thing I can do right now. But I’m making room for the rest. And soon, I’ll be able to bend again. Today, I worked like I meant it. Like me. The new me who does things without risking her life. And I didn’t feel good, but I didn’t feel bad. And I recognized the smile on my face when it came.
I’m limping, but you can’t keep me from walking.