Saturday, May 16, 2015

Do overs

I am a huge fan of the do over.

Some are small: a haircut, a new eating routine, painting a room, taking a break.  Some are bigger: a new job, a new relationship, starting therapy, a big vacation.  Some are enormous: a divorce or a marriage, a new career, a move.

I'm ready for a do over in my life, and I am thinking large scale.  I feel so dissatisfied with so many things right now, too many things that make me feel small, and I'm reaching the point of being so dissatisfied that I'm actually going to do something about it.

Some things are easy to define: I am going to look for a new job.  Now.  I am going to put my heart and soul into the painful work of growing my career.  I am going to risk rejection, I am going to balance continuing to work with interviews and mothering, and I'm going to get a better job that will maybe let me get ahead, not just spin my wheels, and that will be in a healthier environment.

Some things are harder to define: right now, I long for the connection of romantic love, and I am completely closed off to it, which means that I'm doomed to dissatisfaction unless I change one of those things.  I have seriously considered saying "SCREW IT!" and abandoning my notions of partnership.....and I won't.  I am going to embrace the idea of finding love.  Somehow.  Someday.  Doing so makes me feel incredibly vulnerable and it's a painful admission, knowing as I do that there are no guarantees, but I'm going to find a way to stay open.

I'm reading Brene' Brown's latest book, "Daring Greatly," and it's uncomfortable reading.  She says that in her search to understand vulnerability, she found that people fell into two categories.  The first category of people are perfectionists who measure themselves via their productivity, who subscribe to the temple of busyness, who believe that they are not enough and so they try to be "good" so that people will see their goodness.  The second category of people are those who embrace their vulnerability and live wholeheartedly; this second group is often described as being creative.

I long to be a writer.  I have written since childhood, I have journals filled with notes, and I have stories that bubble inside me.  Lately, the stories are more and more insistent, entering my dreams, popping into my head while I stare at spreadsheets and databases, haunting me when I'm doing other things.  I read other people's words, and my stories whisper to me to put them on a page.  I keep those stories inside of me, longing for them so much that I can't let them leave me because outside of me, they are not safe.  If I let the stories leave me, then they might come under attack and find that people loathe them, pick them apart, can't see their beauty, call them names.  Worst, if I let my stories leave me, then they might be met with silence, with nobody who cares about them.  They might be ignored.

My stories might be the best part of me; I feel certain that they are.  They are me, they are something of my essence.  And so having them insulted or ignored feels like an attack on my soul.

So I lock them in a dark room, not daring to put them on paper, because I am the worst offender, and it is I who insult them and ignore them, and I am ashamed of that behavior.  I put them in a bubble, safe behind doors, instead.  But they wither without sunlight and trees; their muscles shrink without exercise; they long for companionship just as I do.

I want a do over of all of this.  It sounds ridiculous to me, even as I type it.  If I know what the problem is - and I've known for decades! - then I need to address it.  A fat person does not become thin by wishing for thinness; she needs to start by taking walks around the block and skipping the grilled cheese sandwiches in favor of vegetable soup.  A person does not become a writer by wishing it: she needs to put it on paper.


The timing for this might be perfect.

I am lonely.  And feeling disconnected.  And my friends are too busy for real connection, leaving us instead with a glass of wine here, a party there, and I want more.

What a perfect time to spend more time writing, to take that solitude and turn it into something.

Maybe my loneliness is a gift.  Maybe it's time, and that only with time alone can I create the things that I need to create; maybe the loneliness is a shadow cast by the brighter sun around what I need to do.


There's a new TV show starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda called Grace & Frankie.  See more here:

The show is surprisingly clever and with a lot more depth than I expected, and you should check it out if you're looking for some entertainment.  But that's not why I'm mentioning it.  I'm mentioning it here because the two main characters, who have been thrown together in improbable circumstances, are opposites of one another, and I see myself in both of them, even in their opposition.  One of the characters is polished, professional, and driven.  I long to be like her, and have spent years of my life trying to create a life like that.  The other character is wholehearted, unconventional, even strange.  I have longed to avoid being weird like that.

But I think I am meant to be weird like that.  That being polished and professional and exactly what society wants me to be is exactly what I do not long for.  That the split between these two is the source of too much tension in my life.

It's time for me to work on my weird.  45 year old divorced cancer survivor single moms do not become writers in between paying the bills and going to gymnastics competitions.

But I think it's time for me to decide to do just that.

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