Today started out all wrong. The problem is, I didn’t know it was going badly until it was too late to correct. Today I arrived at work 30 minutes late. There is nothing like walking into a meeting full of people, when your company has called in a consultant and designated you as a leader, with your boss present…and you are a full 30 minutes late.
I would have actually been on time, however, the competent individual who sent out the information via email stated an 8:00 start time. Everyone else got the follow up memo with the time correction. Everyone except me.
You know it is a bad thing when you are walking down the hall to a meeting, thinking that you perfectly on time, maybe even a few minutes early and your boss is texting you, “Are you coming?” That awkward moment when you feel the dread thickening in the pit of your stomach as you open the door, take your seat and discover, everyone else has been there for 30 minutes.
Sudden, overwhelming insecurity and paranoia.
I, did, in fact check my memos. All of them listed an 8:00 start time. There was no follow-up memo, at least, not to me.
How is it that every one else knew of the change in time, but me? And then my next thought, Was this an intentional set up? Who would do that? Why? Read the rest of this entry
Tonight, I lie awake. The moon, this late in August is almost full, the second full moon we will have this month; a blue moon, they say. The light floods the deck outside my bedroom, illuminating everything in a beautiful blue glow that can only be seen and appreciated in the wee hours, on nights like these, but only if you are one of the fortunate ones who cannot sleep. I have my own beautiful, exquisite dreamland right outside the slider leading to my deck. As the moonlight streams down onto my personal paradise, as I gaze from my bed out onto the deck, I think, “If I felt better, I would go out there and enjoy that beauty.” Instead, I remain in bed and I wince with each movement. Tonight, my back is killing me. I can’t get comfortable. I’m in pain.
If there isn’t emotional pain going on, then someone, somewhere is hurting physically. It is the way of this life. While it is true that we learn and grow and deepen during our times of suffering (if we are paying attention), I’m not sure that I like this particular aspect of suffering that I am enduring. When I was younger, I could do anything or nearly anything with no consequences. I mean, really, almost anything. Today, I attempted the “almost anything.” I moved a tree from the tree store into the back of my vehicle. I then moved the tree from the back of my vehicle to the driveway of my place. I then attempted to move this tree, with only a little help from one of my children, from the driveway clear around the house to the back deck. The tree? A Japanese Maple, as tall as I am and a little bit wider. This did a number on my back. Years ago, I could have done all this activity with no consequences, but these days, I pay for every bit of effort I expend. My currency is pain and sleeplessness.
This year has been filled with pain for me. Six days into it, I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. I have four children, three of them at home, the oldest is not yet fully launched. What horrible timing. Pain. I have had more financial struggles this year than I’ve had in a good, long while. Another car blew an engine. That’s a deductible I couldn’t afford to spend the family grocery money on. And in the professional work realm, I encountered a year that I would put up there with my top three worst years in the world of work ever. Add to this, uncovered medical expenses which I am still paying off, and a boyfriend who suddenly decides to take off without giving me notice. I mean, I thought we were working on forever, and it turns out that he was only working on him and his kids and I was the stepping stone. Pain. Pain. Pain.
And with it, regret.
But tonight…I’m in a different kind of pain and it isn’t emotional.
Physically, my body is killing me. It is punishing me for the work I expended today to create some additional beauty in my world. Beauty that was worth the pain I am experiencing now, because if I’d known I was going to feel this way afterward, I would have still moved that tree single-handedly onto my back deck. It is so worth it to me. And, as I lie here in physical pain, pain that Vicodin was created for, I think this: My body hurts, but my psyche does not. While my body screams in agony and I cannot get comfortable, if I am honest I have to say, that, in spite of my recent experience of being abandoned faster than most people cash in on a lottery winning, I am doing okay.
And okay is okay.
I’m not happy about the fact that my love life is nonexistent, and likely to be so for a very long time. (Actually, if I can’t have the Gone Boyfriend, I’m okay with this. I just don’t want to go to the effort.) I’m not happy about the fact that I’m likely to attend all of my children’s monumental events in life…alone…while their other parents attend these very same events happily married with a second or third spouse. Yeah, what kind of loser must I be? Pain.
In spite of all of this, here is what I know: I am okay with me. I haven’t settled. I haven’t compromised. I am the one I have to wake up to each morning, and, for the most part, I am content with who I am and what choices I’ve made. Sure, I’d love to rewind life several decades and make some different choices, but those different choices would eliminate certain people from my life that I simply find I cannot do without. So, I’m okay with the choices that I would re-do, under other conditions. I’m okay with where I am right now. I don’t like a lot of my current reality, but I’m okay with most of it.
I’m good with the the fact that I’m able to provide for my children, that we are surviving and thriving in an economy where many are struggling.
I’m so grateful for all the people in my life who’ve given me hugs, emotionally and otherwise in my most painful moments and who, in spite of my drama, still care to call themselves my friend.
I’m grateful for a career, that while stressful and imperfect, enables me to provide for my family without having to depend on someone else…and to do so…reasonably well…and which allows me to make a difference in the lives of very important people who will someday make decisions that affect us all.
I’m grateful for a Japanese Maple…or two…on my back deck that will provide me with some beauty and a peaceful respite for some years to come. If I can just enjoy the beauty of a tree and a moonlit night, I think I just might always be content.
I’m in pain, but I’m content with my lot. I’m good with this.
Home should be a refuge from the pain. I, thankfully, have this refuge in my life.
I can’t complain…but…you know I will…just because….it makes a great story!
Today I had my 5th of what is scheduled to be 33 treatments of Radiation Therapy. I call it my Rad Therapy. One of my friends, who has a much more serious cancer situation than I, told me that I’d meet people scheduled at the same time and get to know them. Well, it didn’t take long. On my second day, I started to get to know this other woman pretty well. At least, we talked easily and seemed to have much in common. She had the same treatment I was having; radiation, no chemo required. I was looking forward to not spending time alone and silent in a waiting room.
Today, she celebrated her last day of Rad Treatments. She was so excited. When she came out, she had extra stuff: a certificate and something else they gave her, which I’m forgetting. I didn’t notice because I was dealing with an unexpected rush of emotion. What was that? Where did that come from?
As she hugged her sister happily and collected her things to go, we said the customary, “Best of everything to you,” statements and then, just like that she was gone, and I was being called back for my treatment.
I will probably never see her again.
I am sad about that.
I didn’t even remember her name.
We didn’t exchange numbers. I would like to know how she is doing in the future.
I think life is a funny thing. No one wants to be diagnosed with cancer, and I certainly have it far less than some I know. But the most bizarre and surreal thing about this entire journey is that of all the things I am dealing with in my life right now, this one is the least stressful and easiest for me to cope with. There have also been great moments of joy tinged with sadness, like the one this afternoon as I watched my friend revel in completing this leg of her journey. I was very happy for her and a little sad that I won’t be seeing her every day after work anymore.
I feel a little lonely again. Sometimes when you’re heading down a new and unfamiliar road to an unknown destination, it helps to have a walking buddy. Kind of like the toys in “Toy Story” when they all had to find a moving buddy. Somehow Life is moving me. In January, it picked me right up and put me on this road marked by frequent stops for medical services. Like always, I’m an inquisitive traveler, so I’m learning a lot. I’m not afraid. I am very happy about how things are going in this part of my life.
But I’m going to need a new moving buddy.
This time, I’m going to make sure I get her name.
I’m exhausted these days. I shouldn’t complain. Who isn’t exhausted in our American overworked, stressed out society? I should clarify, I’m more exhausted than I usually am these days, and yet, I cannot sleep. I find this both strange and completely understandable. It is strange because I’m not given to being so totally wiped out and still unable to sleep at night. I find it understandable, because for the first time in my adult life since my mid to late 20’s, I am actually looking forward to my future. That last statement is a testament of just how pathetic my life has been over the last 25 years. Or, maybe, it is proof that I’ve been depressed and simply trying to survive. There really is nothing more life-draining, dehumanizing, energy-sucking, and damaging than a miserable relationship. I’ve experienced not one, but two of these in the last 25 years. One of the earliest signals to my younger self that something was indeed terribly wrong in my life was that I realized I had stopped looking forward to things in life. I stopped anticipating. My life had become something to be endured. Something to survive. I anticipated no joys, no excitement, no future. All I could do was survive…and I wasn’t even doing that for myself…I was doing that for my children.
I used to be the person who looked forward to moving. New locations, new digs, new people. I relished all the aspects of moving. For as much chaos as I’ve experienced in my life and for as much as people view me as being a free-wheeling, laid back, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type person, when it comes to moving, I am anything but laid back. This move has been no exception. I have systems in place that make moving as stress free as possible (as long as everyone around me does it my way). I also have methods that make the moving day incredibly quick and painless. Even though I’m a bit of a tyrant during a move, all who’ve moved with me, recognize that what I do works. I don’t end up with stuff scattered all over the old place or the new place for weeks. And I’m moved in and unpacked in a matter of a few hours an no one has to be inconvenienced or work overly hard. Smooth moves. That’s what I do well.
So, tonight, exhausted as I am, I cannot sleep because the minute I rest my weary head on the pillow, my mind begins scrolling through all that I have yet to do to get my family of six out of our house and into our new digs in the next 7 days. It’s pretty exhilarating, considering that just over a week ago, I had no idea I was going to be moving over Labor Day Weekend. Sure, I knew a move was in my future, like maybe six months down the road. I had no idea that within 24 hours I would find, tour, meet the landlords and put move-in fees down on what will be the largest and newest home I’ve lived in my entire adult life. Furthermore, I’m saving money in doing it. Even further, it is super-conveniently located and has all the modern amenities; something I’ve lived without for nearly a decade now. I’m excited. I’m anticipating this adventure. I’m looking forward to life in this new place. Above all, this symbolizes a casting off of all that was painful, ugly, broken and beyond repair in my life. As I toss or recycle each unnecessary or broken item, I’m taking another step closer to that clutter-free, minimalist lifestyle I seek. Stuff clutters. Clutter stresses. I’m done with both. The physical stuff and clutter are going, as is the emotional stuff and clutter.
It is much easier to do away with the physical trash in my life than it is to get rid of the emotional garbage. Of late, I am realizing the power of “letting go.” I know it sounds cliche, but I’m learning there are things I just don’t have any power over. As one who has been far too concerned with what others thought of me over the years (especially the ex’s), I’m learning that the very thing I wish I could control, but which I can’t, is others’ opinions and perceptions of me. Sure, I can do my best to put my best foot forward, but when I tell my ex that what he proposes won’t work for his daughter and I, I cannot control that he thinks I am a control freak or that he believes I’m intentionally sabotaging his relationship with his child. Where he’s concerned, I am a control freak about our daughter, but this is more due to his extreme negligence and abusive behavior than it is my desire to control in this area. In spite of that, I have no desire to sabotage any relationship he has with his daughter. He will never believe this. He will especially not believe this when he learns about our move. His reaction worries me. I then kick into feeling badly and somehow that I am again at fault for the conflict. I am learning to stop my mind from running down that well-worn path and, instead, to take a different route this time. This new route is one that affirms my ability to make good decisions and validates my intentions to move my family to a better situation in life. A situation where I can be present for my children instead of stressing out about all the things I will never have the money to repair or maintain or do for my children. I cannot be worried that this ex, who never cared about me or what was important to me, doesn’t understand my motives or intent. No matter how I present this, he will view it negatively and I will likely end up in court anyway (a needless waste of time and expense). I have to let that go. I can’t waste energy on that. With each item I throw out, I am banishing the memories of dysfunction and moving toward a healthier manner of living and relating.
This is the future I see.
This is the life I look forward to living.