As you know, a while back, I began the messy process of falling apart. Now, I consider myself somewhat of an expert at this particular activity…only, this time, it was different. Usually, it takes some type of EVENT to start my little disaster a-rollin’, but in this case, nothing had outwardly changed. I still had beautiful, healthy children. I still had my home and my awesome job. I still had a roller-coaster of a relationship with the same guy I’d been riding along with for the past four years.
And yet…day by day, my misery mounted. My moods, at first, were mercurial and alarming, but eventually settled down into “horrible”. For a good while, I soldiered on, putting on my Stepford Wives face for work, then discarding it the minute I got home, locking myself in my room, snarling at anyone who interfered with whatever nonsense I was doing. I withdrew from EVERYONE who loved me, either because I didn’t feel like hearing whatever they had to say, or because I didn’t want to bring them down. I desperately wanted to get better, but I wouldn’t do any of the things I knew I needed to do to get there. I was tired of asking for help, and too stubborn to help myself. In short, it sucked. Bad.
One day, I woke up, and I just could not, under any circumstances, do it for one second more. I could not get up, get dressed, go to work, and pretend I was fine, while in my head I was terrified that, at any moment, I was literally going to run screaming from the hospital. I could not pretend I was fine, period. It was killing me.
So I hit my pause button- stopped everything dead in it’s tracks- and I went out on FMLA for mental health reasons. At the time, I felt like I was a full of shit liar, but HELLO! Why is it so hard to see our own dysfunction while we are in the midst of it? I was off my freaking rocker, and anyone who knows me can vouch for that.
I knew it was pretty bad when I told my mom that I had taken leave from work, and, rather than the scornful scolding I expected, she said “Oh, Thank God!” or something like that. I mean, she lives ten hours away, and she could see how ill I had become.
The first three weeks were not so good. I slept a lot, I ate a lot, I gave in to my depression. I spent a lot of time crying, and the rest of the time trying to figure out what I was going to do. Should I check myself in somewhere? Should I get the hell out of dodge? Should I just go back to bed? I thought I was just spinning my wheels, but I see now that I was doing something incredibly important. I was giving myself some time- a LOT of time- to breathe, to think, to grieve, to fall apart- with no pressure. I mean, what an incredible gift I gave myself…a long chain of days to just feel what I was feeling instead of fighting it and masking it and pretending I was fine.
In the midst of all this, my mom, who is the queen of practical gifts for your crisis (she once, when I was in my early thirties, sent me this package that I excitedly opened, only to find a case of laxative TEA. No shit. Pun intended.) sent me a book called “Finding Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck. I had my doubts, but cracked it open anyway. Have you ever been completely lost in the middle of your own life and suddenly found the exact set of directions you needed to find your way home again? Well, this book was that thing for me. Or the first part of that thing, anyway. It described to me exactly where I was, exactly what was happening, and precisely how to deal with it. I am still reading it, weeks later, bit by bit, but every time I open it up, it assures me, yes, yes, what is happening now is what is supposed to be happening.
You see, apparently, the way I was living was so out of sync with who I truly am, that I was losing my mind. When you are doing what you think you are supposed to be doing ( in other words, what your mom and your boss and “society” thinks is correct) and it is in direct odds with what the REAL you, the one that wants to be a cross dressing ballroom dancer, lets say, NEEDS to do- it can make you do exactly what I did. You can bet your ass you are going to wake up one day and, though that good and obedient, people pleasing you will want to get up and go, go, go, happy to perpetuate the facade of happiness, the REAL you is going to refuse.
So, here I am. Doing what I am meant to do, which is write. I don’t care if I am writing MY truth, as I am in this blog, or writing the make believe story of a make believe person in a novel (which I have done, and will be doing again for nanowrimo, yay!). When I am doing THIS, I feel alive and excited. I feel like what I am saying is important and worthwhile, and I feel engaged and full of that fire that I cannot access any other way. For me, this is LIVING. There is more to it, as well, but this post is getting REALLY long, so I will leave it at that.
What is it that you feel passionately about? What path does your heart long to follow? I want to hear your answers, even if you feel stupid and have never told another living soul. Please don’t wait until it goes to hell in a handbasket before you set yourself free. Can’t wait to hear from you!