Oh, Life

I’m feeling broken and small right now, and I feel the need to write through it.

I wish I could give a grand reason for it. Well, insert jaw dropping tragedy here just happened, and I am devastated, but bravely trying to cope. Chin up, lip tremble. Everyone marvel at my courage and resiliency. But none of that is true.

I think that sometimes I dismiss my own life happenings too out of hand, though. Sometimes I need other people to point out the obvious for me, but there is no one here right now, so I must point.

* my grandfather did die just a few weeks ago

* I did find out I will have to move, and I don’t know where to

* I am trying to switch churches

* my friends are all out of town

(wow, saying all these things out loud is hard)

* my clinical rotation is very difficult on me, emotionally and intellectually.

* I am about to turn 30, and I do feel like I’m mourning the dreams I never knew I had

(that’s a hard one to say out loud, too)

* I have not been able to pursue my own interests in months

(that’s a really hard one to admit)

* I feel like I have no control over my day-to-day life

* What I think I want most out of life is not in my control (my own family; relationships are not purchasable nor manufacturable)

None of these things are in my control, and many of them I do not anticipate changing. I admonish myself to cope better, but I think of “coping” as “muscle through life anyway” and maybe what I need to do better is consciously grieve so that I can move on. I just feel like a wimp, because it feels like all around me, other people are carrying heavier burdens more graciously. I know that I have been blessed a million times over, and yet still I’m crumbling. I feel like this is shameful, so I don’t want to talk to people about it. I have so much, and still I’m not happy? How ungrateful!

I’m sorry.

But I am crumbling.

It says in the Bible that He is mindful that we are but dust, that He knows our frame. I try to take comfort and courage in that.

But I am a fixer, and I want to fix things. I want to not wallow in misery, but make corrective changes and move on. I want to be stronger than the things that make me want to hide in my room. I want to go to bed every night satisfied, not frustrated, not discouraged, not self-berating, not dreading the next day, not feeling abandoned or forgotten or dismissed.

Many people seem to be able to present themselves well, to tell a good narrative of their story. I know that doesn’t tell what is going behind the scenes. And I know I shouldn’t be comparing myself to them, anyhow. But when I try to speak a narrative of who I am right now, it reads like one big pity party, and I shy away from speaking it out-loud. So speak it I must. . .

A woman who is terribly out of shape and very self critical is introverted and overwhelmed. She is getting older and older, but her introversion and lack of trust makes it hard to make friends, especially of the opposite sex. She is so overwhelmed by the banal things of life, like grad school and finding a place to stay, which makes her hide away from everyone. In her mind, she lives well–accomplishes many things, and forges the quiet but fulfilling lifestyle that she craves. But in reality, getting up every day is a huge task, and it’s hard to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. She is sitting in a kitchen lit only by the cloudy light coming through the windows, unshowered and still in her pjs, even though it is well after noon. She is writing into the void, to hear her own echo, and bracing herself for the renewing trial of life, Monday. She does not admire her own behavior, and so cannot imagine anyone else admiring it either. No single part of her life seems to make any sense at all, and life for the next several years seems only to be a thing to be endured.

Sometimes people talk about depression like they’re shocked to find out some people are depressed. What I always wondered is, who isn’t? And what’s their secret?

I think some people are less worried about me now, because I have a more “normal” life. Going to school is normal. Looking for a place to stay is normal.They can comfortably assume that after I graduate, I will continue to be normal, and get a normal job. What I don’t think they realize is that normal is excruciating for me. So what they see as a normal progression, I see as a crushing yoke I am desperate to get out from under. They think that after I graduate, I will re-join the world of 40 hour + forced labor. I am turning the Rubik’s cube anyway I can in an attempt to find a way out of that, including praying for mercy.

In terms of mourning dreams, some part of me assumed that by the time I was “grown up” – and surely 30 is grown up – I would be married and living in a little old farm house, or maybe even a cabin. It was okay to diddle around in your 20s; false starts and minor jobs are an acceptable part of life. But it was just obvious to me that obviously, life was about joining with someone in lifelong partnership and raising a family together. That was Life. That was the story I expected to be told in my life.

As people gently try to point out to me, turning one year older does not suddenly make all possibility of that happening simply evaporate. I know that, although that doesn’t stop the panicky feeling of time slipping away. But if that is how you’ve always (albeit subconsciously) viewed life, what sense does graduate school make? What sense does a 40 hour work week make? What sense does finding a place to stay make, when you won’t be nesting a family inside of it?

I am desperate not to have a meaningless life, so while one definition of Life is slipping through my grasp like dry sand, my other hand is scrabbling to find something else to hold on to. If I could just have a good enough goal, a good enough reason, to shoulder the burden one more time because it would all be worth it in the end. . .but what I have instead is two more years where I am essentially a slave, to exhausted to pursue what I want after doing all the things I seem to have no choice or control in, and after that, a giant, looming void. Nothingness.

I scrabble to fill that, because nothingness is terrifying. But shoveling rubbish or random things into a sinkhole does not cause it to make functional sense. When your one thought about “after graduation” is “please don’t make me work full time, please don’t make me work full time,” there is little to look forward to. What will you do, then? Anything! And I can come up with a long list. But the real problem is still that Life is not making any sense to me.

I catch myself scheming in my head that I will tell people it is part time until I am less burnt out. Part time to take care of friends and relatives, part time to create things. And then part time to teach classes and start my own little non-profit to help those who really need help. And then maybe to create my own little homestead. But what it really comes down to is that I’m trying to find meaning. I understand the meaning behind making a house a home. I understand about sweeping floors and little hands. And there is a sad part of me that realizes not everyone gets what they want out of life, but if I can’t have that, then I have to struggle to find some other little piece of meaning. And when I look at the hodge-podge of little pieces of meaning that I think I understand, I realize that even if I did all of those things. . .it would still be a plan B.

I don’t want to say it out loud, but today’s theme is “Say It Out Loud.” I was going to be an awesome mom. I was going to be an awesome wife, too, but I assumed I knew less about that, so the picture was harder to paint. I was going to be that person who was always there for you, who knew how to make you feel safe and cared for, who gave you the support and encouragement so you could go and do hard and amazing things. My life was going to be about loving you, all of you. All the skills that I had were going to be used to do that better and more. Without you as my purpose, what use are my skills?

One time I thought I heard that God only takes something away if He replaces it with something better. So if He really is taking away this dream, it will only be to replace it with something better. So I strain my brain, trying to understand what could possibly be better.

And I can’t do it.

It’s hard to both come to grips with what you most want, and have to mourn it at the same time. There’s no way I can reach out and take that.

Frankly, I’m scared of my future. There doesn’t seem to be any good choices, and I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid that no matter what choice I make, I’ll regret it.

Part of me is trying to figure out how to rebuild my broken idea of just being a humble country person living a simple life, and the other part of me is trying to figure out how to be brave enough to recognize I’m being asked to do more and to follow that. Part of me is vying for control, and part of me is mourning the life I thought would be easy to keep. But mostly, I am struggling even with the idea of tomorrow.

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