It’s odd because–when 2012 ended–I felt pretty confident about my life’s trajectory. I had clear goals and a path to get to each one of them. Who knew that almost five months into 2013, I’d be smack dab in the middle of an identity crisis? Not me. That’s for damn sure.
Nearly every part of my life has changed this year. The only thing that really hasn’t changed is my living arrangements–though I wouldn’t call that a good thing. This apartment has not been the best fit, and despite our efforts to leave it earlier this year, something was stopping us. That actually turned out to be a good thing because, had things gone according to plan, I would have been having surgery on our moving day.
So, we’re signing another year-long lease. I’m determined to really invest some time in this apartment–to make it feel like home. It never has–despite all our efforts to claim it. The past year or so, it’s been especially annoying. There’s this thing about places you’ve outgrown where they start to grow thorns and trigger your weak points. For me, that often comes out as frustration. I’m trying to focus on the good things. As I get back into running, I’m sure I’ll appreciate this place more.
I had anticipated a quiet, think-y weekend. This past week was rather difficult, and I felt like I was in the midst of a crossroads–like all future decisions would be determined by what I decided now. I felt extremely tired–like the kind where you can’t get out of bed. I spent most of Monday asleep or dealing with the aftershocks of not having Gus. My other symptoms have gotten much better. But my body is definitely calling the shots right now. I can’t forget to eat, or there are consequences. Eat more than a tiny portion? Consequences. Forget calcium at each meal? Consequences. Eat fatty anything? Major consequences. On Tuesday, my surgeon expressed concern that some of these side effects weren’t righting themselves. I am supposed to come in this week anyway, so we’ll be checking things out then. I’m more concerned about the incisions–one of which was probably infected for a bit (seems okay now). I’ll be happy when I get the all-clear. I’ll be happy when I can swim and actually drive somewhere.
I had some really bad days this week. I’ve been realizing a lot of things–things that make other things more difficult during a time when I can’t really afford bravery or risk. I made choices this week that I then second-guessed And then it became apparent that it wasn’t just about single choices. It was about major trajectories. Namely–what am I doing?
I’m not questioning the long-term so much as I’m questioning the in-between. And yet, the in-between is almost more important than the long-term. Getting there has always been the hardest part for me. In this case, the last few months have really magnified that. Because the in-between determines my resources, which determines what’s available to me and also dictates timelines.
It was much simpler a few months ago. But now, I really have to think about what’s best for me and be strategic. Despite all my thinking in the past, I’ve never had solid strategies. I’ve had gut feelings. So that needs to change–not just in terms of what feels good, but also in terms of what delivers the best outcomes. Which brings up a whole bunch of those eternal life questions that have really limited my life choices in the past. Literally, I’m asking the question: what am I worth? What’s worth it to me?
It’s a privileged predicament to be in, I realize. The adults in my life had few choices. People in my old neighborhood? Few choices. Happiness was something you didn’t choose. You did what you were supposed to do. And you got happiness by not expecting too much.
I expect too much. Flat out.
I can’t decide if that’s my eternal downfall or the reason I’ll finally be happy one day. Maybe, it’s both.
All I really know is–while this whole thing now is perfectly fine in a lot of ways–and some other me would have been ecstatic about such a thing–it’s not really working anymore. It’s like whatever contentment I had for this type of thing in the last few years…ran away. And I’m left with the old feelings I had when I left it behind. That restless anxiousness. That more than this. That–please, please, please don’t let this be it feeling.
It’s hard because it’s all perfectly fine. It’s enough. But I keep feeling like I deserve more. Like I have more to give. And even if it’s just a stepping stone, I’m not sure if it’s something I can do. Because it could crush my spirit before I even get close.
And I know that those are choices. But I find that I have zero tolerance for the settling anymore. Just none.
But I’m also not in a place to bargain.
And I don’t know what to do.
I usually make decisions fairly quickly–based on gut feelings. And if I delay that listening, it comes out somehow–usually through self-sabotage.
I’d planned to think and strategize this weekend. But, then, on Friday–I did some weird reaching thing (like a reverse fly, from bed). Only I’m not supposed to engage abdominal muscles at all. I’m not supposed to pick up anything over five pounds. No stretching. I forgot. Sometimes, I feel so good I actually forget that whole almost dying thing. I forget that I can’t contort like I used to (one of the things that makes me feel like me). I forget that I’m still kinda fragile. And I was fine for a minute or two. But then, the pain started. As best as I can tell, I pulled a chest muscle. Not terribly, but enough to force me to pay attention. So, all weekend, I sat with a heating pad–downing Ibuprofen–watching every tv show ever. I feel better.
But it was funny. For the whole weekend, I was taking care of me. It came instinctively. I knew what to do. I listened to my body and stayed in the moment–even when it hurt like Hell. I didn’t think about six months from now or five years from now or even Monday. I thought about right now, and I immersed myself in the stories of other people. It was nice.
And last night, I realized, that I hadn’t been obsessing at all.
It was new and rather shocking–much like my changing lifestyle. It’s interesting how easy it is to shift to healthier mindsets when faced with crisis. Things I’ve struggled with all my life seem less scary and less hard to change. It reminds me of how Mama quiet smoking and started eating better when she got sick. Of course, I controlled her food–but she didn’t really complain. The smoking thing always shocked me. It had been her thing for so long, and in one instant, she was free. How many times had I asked her to stop? How often did she wean herself down, cigarette by cigarette? But, given the inability to breathe, there just wasn’t a choice. Whatever she had gotten from it, just wasn’t worth it anymore. She was worth more.
The whole thing reminded me of attachments–things I’ve read about while trying to wrap my head around Buddhism. I’m bad at the attachments thing. I’ve lived my life based on darlings–setting my sights on things and making them my world. My life is probably one big attachment in process.
I remember thinking last night that the answers would come when I stopped being so attached to the questions. There was a peace in my heart when I felt that. Kind of the opposite of everything I’ve ever thought. It was like being fully invested, but having no delusion of control. There was a patience embedded that was extremely foreign to me.
I think I’m getting there. I used to think not being attached to the questions meant being blase–or indifferent…something I’m totally not. But now, it feels more like surrendering–to whatever the Universe has in store, but also just trusting myself…just knowing that I don’t have to know everything. That the answers will come when they need to–when I’m ready to absorb them–and that, until then, I don’t need a game plan. It feels oddly…natural.
So, I’m staying open and feeling my way through things. Not severing anything, but just letting things go where they need to go. Not because I’m trying to will some outcome by manipulating myself to woo the Universe into submission. I’m living, as much as I can, in whatever reality is in front of me–for as long as it feels like staying.
It feels very hippy dippy. But then, I’m seeing an acupuncturist naturopath at the end of the month. And I’m contemplating running 2 marathons in a year. I’m shocking even myself.