“I would like to crawl into bed and watch Nip/Tuck. Then you tell me how long it will take for me to stay there until I can wake up and have it all fixed. In fact, that would be a great iPad app!” She laughs again, My Paid for Friend (may she live forever!).
“If I were to talk to my fellow clinicians, I would describe you like this: a 44 year old woman, with three school-aged children. Then I would start in on all of the clinical stressors. Divorce, loss of status, loss of identity, loss of financial stability, radically shifting community, dramatic change in spiritual structure (not relationship, but certainly the structure), health issues that have been unpredictable and rendered you for weeks at a time unable to even move. The only fixed piece you have right now is your staying connected with your kids emotionally. My peers would ask how much medication you are on.”
I felt great because in her professional opinion, I am doing well with my kids and that I’m not on medication (other than Nip/Tuck). She was trying to make the point that it is reasonable for me to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, cornered and scared right now. All I got was that she recognized I was maintaining pretty well with my kids. Gawd, I love my delusional survival skills and emotional shunting expertise!
I don’t think I know who I am. I don’t know what I want.
Bottom line: I am trying to figure out what I have to do to do the least amount of work to get back to the place where I can coast. I think coasting looks like going to the gym and watching Nip/Tuck, maybe add in sitting in bookstores sipping lattes and blogging.
I miss being able to say, “I’m the owner of ________,” and having that statement buy me purchase in the social structure, replete with the perks of awe and favor-currying. If I ever gave you the impression I actually have moral character, I apologize for defrauding you. The narrator who lives in my head and manages most of my internal dialogue appreciates the experience I had there as the owner of a business, as an employer, as a bright shiny person in a land of plenty. It desperately hopes we can be back there someday, it and I.
There is a strange tension. My soul is full, generous, welcoming and unfamiliar with judgment, largely because of the choices I have made to wake back up and the toll that transition is taking. But in the physical, all the things that allowed me to feel full and generous, welcoming (money, resource, property) no longer exist. Guess we’ll see if the soul of the woman is what she thinks it is, hopes it is, really wants it to be. Though the moral landscape feels murky, the lessening of judgment is a relief. There’s something!
So today’s assignment is to become aware of Black & White thinking which, apparently, is not grounded in reality. I have skills but they are not honed. I have intelligence but so do other people. I am the youngest and I am used to being taken care of and now I have to grow up, and that pisses me off. I am mourning my dying dream of being able to live the superhero fantasy life without commiserate work. Such sad disappointment that we (ex and I) were so close to having it all. That our combined character and lack of skill, baggage and communication got us to this place. And how to rebuild from here.
She points out that there is a possibility that I might at some point meet some rich guy who is charmed by my stunning personality and can take the financial piece of this away. “Certainly that is a possibility,” I say, “but if I do that now and don’t do this hard work to push through this self-doubt, then I will be right back where I started, and I have gone too far now to let all this upset be for nothing. The power dynamic there is too unbalanced until I know I can do life well by myself.”
I say structure and known’s are for pansy asses, weak people. She applauds my ability to cope with tremendous uncertainty (spectacular, she said) but insists that that belief needs to crawl into a hole and die (my words, not hers). I burst into tears thinking about giving up freedom. She says giving up freedom in small doses for a larger good can be a healthy thing to do–that I won’t feel trapped forever and that I won’t have to give up the essence of who I am if I incorporate elements of normal, of good enough into my life. I hear her words through a dense fog and discern only tendrils of light that feel vaguely trustable. I want to vomit. She is encouraged that I am feeling. Youngest child is not all it’s cracked up to be.
I don’t know if I will ever get to a place of peace with my life. I feel more clarity than ever but because of that clarity, I feel more unsettled than ever. I feel like I have taken on the mantle of test case for people that are unhappy and want to do something different in their lives but don’t know if they have the courage to make the changes. My life as an object lesson.
An acquaintance who has been watching my process unbeknownst to me for the last two years asked me yesterday if I was happier, what led me to finally take the bold step to blow up my life, was it worth it. It’s made him ask himself tough questions about his own life. That validates my quest in a small part. Not that there’s another family about to implode, but that those of us out there aren’t alone as we are looking for breath and life and hope. It just doesn’t come without cost. Without pain.
So it’s back to the cocoon with me. I’ll take forays out, fling some interaction around, come back inside and chat with my narrator. Black = I live in a vortex of doom and will have seriously compromised freedom systemically for the rest of my existence. White = I must have everything I want at the same time with no pain or struggle. I am to be on the lookout for how our conversations (narrator and I) frame things in these blacks and whites. I am encouraged to introduce quiet little suggestions of a life that’s okay in the very mundane and normal, without real need of superhero, though it makes me vomit in my mouth to entertain the notion. These are delusions I have known and called comfort.