I don’t want to beat ye olde Sargasso Sea metaphor to death here…but here goes:
I’m swimming in fucking kelp. I have spent much of the past three months unhappy to be stuck swimming in kelp…I feel strangely much more peaceful today, though not in the creepy suicidal way. I seem to be slowly accepting that I am indefinitely living a metaphor that, once romantic, is now tired, old, and yet still totally applicable. Accepting it in a way that might allow me to appreciate the relative luxuries of my current life.
The key words here are tired and old. I feel as though the life and soul have been sucked out of me. I recognize the value of many of the fixtures of my new life…but nonetheless I am struggling to keep myself firmly upon the shelf. Many times in my life I have felt like I was in freefall and been able to reassure myself the eventually the side becomes easier to grab…or that eventually I will hit some kind of bottom and then buoy back up to the surface. Truly, though I have had many emotionally trying periods in my life, I have never felt before like I do lately. I have never fallen so far and for so long. And endurance, under these conditions, becomes trying.
We have a large glass of beer and a Broadway show to thank for my current state of candor.
About a month ago, I stepped on my own glasses and broke them. In another time where I might be feeling more resilient, this would be a laughable tragedy. This echoed like an amputation. The glasses issue came to a head the other day as a symbol of everything else that’s been bothering me. I finally couldn’t stand it anymore. I work at a theater and couldn’t even see the shows I was working, from the back of the theater…because I CANNOT SEE. The other day I went to Wal-Mart, a store that literally shits on everything else I work for in my life…to see if their vision center might have something I could stand to wear. I went because I am currently living in a state of financial disrepair that I have never before in my life experienced and financial instability terrifies me.
Financial instability that, because I live in New Hampshire (dundundunnnnnn) where our current legislature doesn’t give a flying shit about human beings, could realistically morph into something more like homelessness sometime in the somewhat near future. But I digress. (See…you waited this long for a new post…there had to be a good reason…let’s hear it for becoming almost unmanageably depressed…).
I ate what felt like the last tiny piece of my soul for lunch and drove to Wal-Mart. I found a REALLY cute pair of glasses. The price was right, but truth be told, I can’t afford anymore more than a $5 pair of glasses at the moment so that fact that they were only $68 was almost meaningless. It wasn’t totally meaningless until I was told that by law, I cannot get a new pair of glasses, with my “old” prescription, without paying for an eye-exam that, even at Wal-Mart, costs more than the frames I’d chosen.
I got my first pair of glasses at 18. My prescription has never changed. I am 35 years old now. So let’s see…I could have a child graduating from high school this year who would be the same age as my fucking prescription.
I looked the poor sales dude in the eye and said “I need you to be totally honest with me. Because I am literally going to have to choose between feeding people, and getting an eye exam, if what you are telling me is true.”. He repeated what he’d said before. I walked out, went to the parking lot and sat crying on a bench outside of Wal-Mart. And I called out for an order of sanity. First I called Sonny…it wasn’t the most helpful conversation right then, but not because he was being a jerk, because he wasn’t, I was just inconsolable. So I called my mother. I called my mother and sobbed and dropped f-bombs on her for a good 5 minutes. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t form a coherent, logical thinking process. I finally grabbed onto the only piece of wreckage in my mind that made any sense, and remembered that Sonny needed stuff at the grocery store. I would get in the car and go to the grocery store. With mom still on the line, I went to the car…the car…DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR?!
As if sobbing in the parking lot outside of Wal-Mart wasn’t pathetic enough, I couldn’t find my fucking car! I wandered around looking for it, mom still on the line as I evolved quickly from hysterically sobbing, to a robust laugh-cry.
I hung up with mom, called Sonny back, apologized that I’d lost the car (and finally found it) and was running so late and he reassured me that it was not worth freaking out over. Went back in the store. Deep breath. Went back in the store. Apologized to the extremely nice man that I’d walked out on before. And ended up having a great chat with him. He also made a list of everything I needed to do, how much it cost…and absolutely confirmed for me that a bunch of no good lobbyists were the source of my eye exam misery…it was like he read my desperation and knew just what I needed to hear…like a stripper…but selling eye-glasses. Thanks Dennis.
So…I free-fell and the bottom seems to have been (please, God, let that be the bottom) on a bench outside of Wal-Mart.
Then I saw an amazing musical at work that made my heart soar. Just for a little bit. Those moments have felt so infrequent. I used to feel like that every day, no joke. Either soaring up, or soaring PENSIVE or soaring BIG or small, or soaring…with big feelings…somewhere…in so many directions that I was constantly engaged in feeling something. Engaged and full of creative energy. That’s my default setting.
So often this winter I have felt nothing. Or like I’m dying. Or like everything in my life feels like too much. I am afraid. I am afraid. Afraid because everytime I rally and gather the strength to push forward, kelp tangles around my legs and water fills my lungs or something unexpected happens and throws me for a loop. Every time I force myself to rally beyond my exhausted energy, life sends a curveball to punch me in the face. Many of them are curveballs that, in the past would have been easily rebuffable. I used to shake these things off but I’m so spent that I haven’t been able to. To be perfectly frank it’s a living death, although it constantly redefines my will to live. I don’t WANT to feel this way. I want to feel better, but the territory that I’m wandering is one I’ve never previously entered. I know I’m not the first one here, but finding the bones of others is hardly comforting on the path to wherever the fuck I’m going next.
I’ve been trying to find comfort in very small things and I think the cumulative effect has been beneficial. Want a cannoli but have no money? Get a fucking cannoli. See a new consignment store in town? Go in. Look around. Enjoy looking around at stuff instead of going somewhere to DO work of some kind. Hang out with the dog for an extra few minutes. Kiss the husband. Just sit with the children. Go to bed late sometimes instead of unnaturally fighting to sleep.
It feels like I need an armada to navigate this water and emerge the victor. But there’s only one of me.
I can’t control the world around me.
I’m surrounded by crazy people.
I’m struggling with the routines of daily life.
The usual mental tricks for refocusing on the brighter side have not been working.
The “at least you’re not terminally ill” strategy is usually fairly effective.
The practice of gratitude acknowledgement too…
All of my usual strategies for “fixing” myself have failed me, repeatedly and I don’t know why. New life challenges? Maybe my body chemistry changed? Who knows.
But today…for whatever reason…I felt like I started to turn a corner. A corner where I started to be able to forget how terrified I am of additional potential curveballs. For months I’ve had a pit of self-doubt haunting my belly as I’ve absorbed probably too much responsibility for life’s unpredictability. I’ve put on the appropriate face over and over, like never before, only to feel like I am faking it to a degree I’ve never had to before.
I wish I was more certain about how to preserve this feeling and cultivate it…but…I don’t have to decide that right this second I guess.
I think you can probably see why I haven’t wanted to write. I haven’t been able to. It’s been too much in the living, I couldn’t re-live it in the re-telling. So much else I could write to illustrate it but I’ve probably already written too much.
Cheers to beer and Broadway.
And a small life-jacket to the tiny otter that rose up to float among the kelp today.