Monday, November 20, 2017

Paradoxes: Hiding and Holding

I am participating in Tara-Nicholle Nelson's 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders. Today's prompt concerned fears, longings, anxieties, desires.

Back in the spring, shortly after saying goodbye to Kristy, I sat with a friend, his arm holding me together around my shoulders, my head on his. And I asked him for his help with something. I asked him to remind me to stop being afraid to live my life.


Which maybe sounds silly. I mean, you are alive, therefore you are living. You know, your life.


But so many of my decisions in life have been motivated by fear. Fear of not fitting in. Fear of missing out (my FOMO could easily have a life of its own!) Fear of being alone. Fear of being judged. Fear of being forgotten. I won’t go on.


I remember about six months before Fella and I were to be married, I had what might have appeared to be a cold-feet moment. I had been thinking about my adult life up to that point and realized that outside of college and grad school, I had never truly lived on my own. Not without either benefactors or financing to cover the costs of living.


The FOMO got the best of me and I started looking for short-term leases with a friend. When I told Fella about it, he asked if I wanted to postpone our plans. That scared me more than the FOMO on my Real Life Sex and the Suburbs experience.


One fear outweighed the other; fear triumphed over fear. The theme is recurring.


This year, I hid from making scary life decisions. I keep hoping that the Universe will make the decision for me, or at least easy for me. But when the paradox of choice is fueled by conflicting interests--when I don’t make it easy for the Universe--it is paralyzed, too.


Which fear feels lighter than the other? Which fear can these shoulders bear?


The reality is, though, I’m juggling many fears. Because I’m afraid of what will happen if I let even one of those fears drop. Will it shatter? Will it ricochet and cause collateral damage? Can I live a life where fear is not my main motivation? Will life just get scarier? Even worse: not at all scary?!


Exhale.


My Contracts professor would weave a story from his childhood into his lectures. A shy boy, on his way home one day, carrying his prized violin, some thugs--hoodlums--bullies, preying on low hanging fruit, gave him the choice: “my money or my life. MY MONEY or MY LIFE! Given these two options, I chose the third option: I RAN!”

While I’m certainly not in the proverbial gun-to-my-head situation, I am paralyzed to choose between the two options I see before me. So I wait. I wait for that Third Option to show itself. I wait for my I RAN moment.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

That Motherhood Instinct

Motherhood.

The call to it came early for me. And I’m not entirely sure what the impetus was. Whether I wanted so badly to be a mother because at the time society still revered it? Or whether it was my intrinsic, innate survival instinct to procreate?

But I certainly had more than enough time to sufficiently set my fixation on it.

And when it came...boy howdy, babies are like way better than the best drug I ever tried (theoretically, of course, for my kids who may one day read this).

But now my kids aren’t babies anymore and my withdrawaling mind wanders to thoughts of how I got here, to my most coveted spot on the pedestal that I held in such high regard for so long?

I’ve written before about my struggles to even so much as like myself (update: the struggle endures). And now I have two genetic copies of me to face on the daily. How did I ever have the audacity to want to recreate myself, this person whom I still have difficulty not, you know, harboring a deep sense of loathing towards?

I’m confident that most some of it stemmed from an ego developed in my teens (of course) - that I could do it better. Give more, encourage more, allow more, say “yes” more (lol!). Let my kids become instead of forcing them into ill-fitting, society-approved, security-assured boxes.

But there were so many red flags along the way. And I assumed that because I had my doubts, or put conditions on when it was OK to have kids, that maybe it made me more qualified for the job. Because I was, you know, thoughtful about it.

And what I’ve found in practice is that I had zero actual concept of what it takes to be a mother.

Sure, sure. I’m not a bad mom. My kids are housed and clothed and fed and loved. And, sure, sure, that makes me a good mom.

So why do I still constantly feel like such an abject failure at motherhood?

Maybe it’s because there are these two externally viable pieces of me running around and, as much as I love them, I wonder if I fully do. Because they are me. And like some mad scientist, I made more of me to harbor a deep sense of loathing towards. And if I can’t fully love the me that’s contained in this one body I was given at birth how could I possibly begin to love those two little people as much as they deserve to be loved?

Perhaps that’s the answer: knowing that they deserve better love than I give myself. And someday, because I have loved them better, I will love myself better, too.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

When October Goes

I was in Ulta earlier this week when I realized: it's October.

Not just October, but, you know, OCTOBER. The pink ribbon wearing, socially conscious and evolved, cause-marketing machine October.

I went about my business, stood in line, and towards the end of the transaction was asked: would you like to round up your total to donate to the BCRF? YES/NO.

You guys, I saw pink. And not just because the whole fucking store has been pinkwashed to mark the occasion.

It took all I had to not give my proverbial middle finger to the corporate machine by indignantly telling the poor girl just trying to work the cash wrap that I have given enough to breast cancer research this year when six months ago one of my best friends died from it, while choking back the tears wishing I could have done more, given more, anything more so she would still be alive.

Instead, I quietly picked up the stylus to respond to the touch screen in the negative, paid for my purchases, and went about my day, albeit a fuck-ton more aware of the void.

It used to be that I didn't mind Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In fact, I wanted all the pink NFL gear and pink ribbon leggings and someday I would do this run or that walk or some other thing that there was to offer to the cause.

You see, I am also the daughter of a Stage 3 breast cancer survivor. When my mom was going through her surgery, recovery, and treatments, I was back living at home, between bar exams, surfing various temp jobs, and making sure that she, the queen of overdoing it, didn't in fact overdo it. Because she absolutely would have.

I've been on the front lines of this breast cancer bullshit and I cannot quite get right about the commodification of curing it. It should have been enough already, but it didn't do enough to save my friend earlier this year.

So yeah. I apologize, October. It's not you, it's definitely me. We'll try this again next year, I'm sure. But until then, I will not be sad to see you and your bubblegum pink halo effect in the rear view this time around.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Grace in Frozen Foods

Note: even though this was *not* written yesterday, as penned, I was reminded of this in real time yesterday when an unrelated prompt asked about a time I had experienced grace. And that's when I realized I never published it. With far too much ado...

Yesterday afternoon I found myself in the frozen aisle of my Safeway, holding a package of naturopathic cold remedy, paralyzed by the paradox of choice (only wanting another option not remotely available to me #Woodstocks), and fighting a box of frozen pizza that would.not.stay.standing.up.on.the.shelf.the.way.it's.supposed.to!!!

An older, good samaritan gentleman, who I instinctually would have described as middle-aged before realizing that I myself am now middle-aged (what the actual fuck?!), pushed his readers up on his head before saying, “just let it go.” And wouldn’t you know, upon surveying the situation, I could just let the pizza box go and it would lean against the casing of the door, no harm, no foul.

And at that moment I realized the sagacity this man’s advice and said, “you are so right. I should just let it go. I should just let a lot of things go!” I may have continued to spew some incoherent ramblings comparing the scenario to my children and my inadequacies of being a parent.

Frazzled first week of school mom clean up on Aisle Nine!

We shared a laugh at the absurdity of it all. He carried on with the rest of his shopping. I decided on which disappointments in the form of frozen pizza I would bring home for a Friday movie night at home. And we let it go, pizza box still askew, but securely confined on the other side of the freezer door.

But I took the random act of grace with me.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Two Truths and a Lie

Yesterday, I told my daughter a lie. She was acting up at bedtime and that's when it happened. I told her, “this is not how I want our time together to be after I've been away from you all day and I missed you.”

Truth #1: Not how I want to spend our time together

Miss Thing was exhausted. The day was spent with her grandparents (i.e., overindulged) and included a swim lesson. It's a lot for her little four year old self, no matter how sassy and independent she might be.

She was at critical mass--the point where all she could do was fight the sleep descending upon her, chasing the adrenaline dragon in hopes of stealing more awake time. Wiggly and nonsensical and babble-y and insensitive.

All I wanted was a calm, heartwarming bedtime snuggle. Clearly, I ask too much.

Truth #2: After I have been away from you all day

I had spent the day in wine country. Being a goddamned grown up, FFS. Not that I'm not being a grown up when I'm filling in for the role of Mom, but, y’know, doing grown-up only things. Drinking wine and eating a meal at my leisure. Going to the bathroom uninterrupted. Because suddenly, out of the clear blue nowhere, I turned 40 this week. The fuck all is this about?!

Lie: I missed you

I remember the early years of being a mom, when being near these excised little human pieces of me was the only way I could feel whole. Being apart from them was almost more than my heart could bear. It's a wonder I only got one speeding ticket while I was still working, seeing as I became possessed by some lead-pawed mama bear when it was time to slide down the dinosaur each day. Must. Get. Home. To. Babies. Like a freaking siren's call.

And now? Now they're always there. Two proverbial monkeys on my back (sometimes quite literally).

It's not as though I didn't think about my kids while I was reveling in my grown-up-ed-ness (and old agedness) over unoaked Chardonnay. But when I soberingly found my way back to them, I instead found I hadn't been away from them long enough.

To miss them, that is.

Of course the little voice in my head echoes the lamentations of all the “seasoned moms” you ever meet, warning: “Enjoy this time. They grow up so fast.”

But what about absence making the heart grow fonder? I mean, there's some absolute truth in that. At least from where I'm stranding.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ramblin' Man

Hi.

Happy New Year.

How are you?

Me? I'm okay. I miss you. This. I've tried to sit down to write for no less than 5 times this week alone, but find myself unable to take (make?) the time.

Maybe it's because I've got a whole lot of things jumbled and swirling in my head. Maybe I'm a little concerned about what happens when I do get it out. I would imagine, though, the best solution for such a problem would be to, like, actually get it the fuck out of there and then cross that bridge, as they say.

I know this much to be true.

So I went to a meeting tonight and instead of going straight home I'm at Starbucks, getting, at the very least, this out.  In hopes that it will cause something resembling a spark.

I read something the other day about living like you only had three months left to live. Like, as a rule of thumb. I envy the people who can live like this. You know, the laid back people.

One of the funniest pieces of feedback I ever received in a performance review, back in the days when I was still working outside of the home, was that I was a laid back. It took all I had not to laugh in my boss' face.

Hilarious, right?

I mean, I can fake it pretty well. And let's be real here, "fake it 'til you make it" is my penultimate mantra. But I am FAR from laid back. Nor am I your textbook Type-A personality, although I have my moments. I definitely have a quiet confidence that things will get things handled (even if it is at the last fucking moment possible).

I believe on a previous occasion or two, I have called myself an over-achiever-perfectionist-slacker (emphasis on the slacker). At first I thought that, reduced down, this was driven by a fear of failing. Even though it manifests as a fear of succeeding. Thinking back to that time I had a bar exam tutor, maybe it's actually a fear of having no more excuses?!

IDFK. This is getting too deep for my atrophied mind.

So there. I've broken the seal. Let's hope there's a flood of words down the pike.

And high fives for sticking with me. Also, apologies.