oh my aching bones

Tired of being tired is an old cliche. I’m almost even tired of writing about being tired.

Friday night into well into Saturday, I slept better than I have in months and months and months. Saturday night into Sunday, it was gone again, replaced with fitfully tossing and turning, and waking up early. Which means it is my emotions that are keeping me from sleeping, which makes me ANGRY.

I hate it when my emotions get in the way of very practical things, like sleeping. There’s a long list of things my emotions are getting in the way of right now, but sleeping might well top the list. The only, only, only helpful piece of advice I ever got for emotions-getting-in-the-way-of-life was: You need more time for yourself. It’s as much a necessity as going to the bathroom. You need to. You have to. You can only put it off for so long.

It’s good advice — it nearly always works — but it’s still maddening sometimes how impossibly out of your control it can seem to be to follow it. What, do you think I planned on being broken down in the remote mountains half across the country for three days? You think I planned the insane madness of switching jobs and living situations every 10 weeks?

So the problem is, I have to write about being tired. I have to be “with” all the emotions, even just the quiet chorus chanting “tired, tired, so, so, tired” in the back of my head, all of the time. Even the lamenting voice that says, “I am just so bone weary tired.”

And I wish I could get beyond them, to the other emotions. To the hopes and dreams and profound(ish) thoughts. But as with grief, it seems like sometimes you have to just sit there and hang-out in the lone note sounded too long. Or maybe the chord, who’s base note is tiredness, and on top of that is fear, and on top of that is hurry.

And it is so tempting to think that if you could just DO, then things would get better. Get rid of the hurry, and the fear will go away. Get rid of the fear, and the tiredness will go away. But the doing actually seems to feed the hurry and the fear and the tiredness. And it seems like the only way it really works is to rest first. How is it we can be too tired to rest? Because in order to rest, you have to trust that God is taking care of the worry and hurry.

Be tired? Yes.

Rest anyway.

 

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I’m just so tired I want to puke, that’s all.

Tired of change, tired of growing, tired of waiting, tired of showing up, tired of not knowing, and also, just plain tired. When you wake up aching with your shoulders by your ears, you know you aren’t really sleeping well.

I just keep wondering what God is going to do with any of this. Having I been changing–growing–transforming, even? Yeah. But into what? That I don’t know. 7 years ago I drove white knuckled into the nearest city to volunteer, driven by a sheer desperation to do what I needed to do, even though finding my way in strange places, in the dark (no GPS in those days, and driving itself was usually enough to make me white-knuckled) was quite the painful stretch for me. And now I’ve dragged myself half-across the country, by myself. I keep showing up and faking it, which takes tremendous effort nearly every day, but, you know, when do you get to arrive?

When do you get to sigh, and stretch out, and relax, and maybe enjoy a few moments of bliss? When do you get to say, “Ah-ha! That’s what that was all about!” When do you get to snuggle up to someone you love and say, “Our work has been hard, but what beautiful things have been wrought.”

I’m afraid of the answer being, “Not in this lifetime, sweet-cheeks.” I feel like I have been pushed and pushed and pushed and am still being pushed, and yet I have no clue about the pay-off. Here I am, a stranger once again, and I still keep wondering, Why? Why am I here? Why am I a stranger again? What do I have to learn, or what do I have to give? Why does it never seem to end?

People say really sappy things like, “you’re what keeps me going!” That’s grand and all, but what if you don’t have someone to keep you going? Flying solo means there’s no co-pilot if you need to take a potty break, or a tearful meltdown, or even just to stop and smell the roses a bit. And it’s like being the raven sent out looking for land after the flood; you have to keep flying 24/7, but you aren’t really sure what you’re looking for or even if it exists. What if you just keep going because being lost and staying put is the only thing that feels worse than being lost and wandering around in circles?

And traditionally, this is where I’m told (even if just by myself) to man up and stop whining and remember that everyone else has a rough life, too. In their own ways, and with their own struggles and with their own doubts and fears. Although I suppose that’s an equally valid reason to NOT shut-up: struggling through life is a valid experience that everyone goes through, and there’s no need to pretend it’s all fluffy clouds and spun-sugar roses.

So, ow. This hurts. I’m still not quite sure if I’m a caterpillar being turned into a butterfly, or a caterpillar being turned into a . . . really mashed-up caterpillar. If this is all a refining, then where’s the gold, people?

Where does it end?

Someone told me the other day I had a beautiful smile. I didn’t contradict them. At this point, I’m nearly resigned it’s my trademark. Someone else told me I was beautiful, too. I had to work a little harder to not attempt to dissuade them.

Look, it’s not like I think I’m terribly disfigured and grotesque. It’s just it seems I’ve discovered a train of thought that goes like this: “If I’m talented and beautiful and compassionate and hard-working and sweet and encouraging and smart and loyal and all these other things that people seem to say I am. . .how come my life never seems to go the way I think it should?”

The denial of compliments is really just an extension of “what am I doing wrong?” or “I must not be good enough to deserve the things I want.” My mind knows this is stupid, which does not mean I don’t think it. It just means that I find this particular part of myself unpleasant, and tend to work hard to hide it in the background where I can pretend I’m not one of those people who has to deal with endless insecurity and a desire to earn a path to all good things.

I’ve also discovered another train of thought, which goes, “People say the most attractive thing is when you are honest, capable, confident and independent. Um, false.” Because everyone tells me I’m gloriously honest, shockingly capable, and sometimes independent to an intimidating degree, and I most certainly have neither friends nor suitors falling out of the sky all around me. Either that or people have been misleading me on my credentials, but either way, I’m being sold a load of hooey.

In short, if I have all the potential to be a heroine, where’s my plot?

People say that “life doesn’t owe you anything” and point out the only reason why things go the way the do in stories is because: editors. The gist is that the majority of life is really rather dry, boring and tedious, and if you’ve ever gotten the impression otherwise, it’s because someone is casting delusion in your mind (and that someone could even just be yourself). And there’s something puritanically satisfying about taking that staunch stance. You know: real women don’t complain. Toughen up.

But in the end, there’s very little difference between that, and just sticking your head in the sand and pretending you don’t feel what you feel. Spoiler alert: pretending you don’t have emotions is ultimately self-destructive.

So what are we supposed to do with emotions we don’t want to have? And also, why is it that we don’t want to have them? Do you know, I feel rather guilty anytime I recognize myself feeling like I would just like to have someone take care of me. I’m trying just now to sort out if there is anything remotely rational about that. I guess I just grew up believing that everyone has their own mess, and you have to deal with your own dish and not sit around waiting for someone to bail you out. That wanting someone to come deal with your problems was weak-minded, lazy, spoiled, and practically immoral. I have no idea how much of that was my raising and how much of that was my personality. It’s not like I have problem giving care or helping people.

But as a woman, you’re not supposed to wait for your white knight on a white horse to come and rescue you from all of your real-or-imagined problems. You be a responsible adult, and take care of your own crap. So what do you do when you find yourself wishing that there was someone else around who actually wanted to know about your problems–emotional, practical or otherwise–and actually wanted to do something about them?

That makes it sound like I never had help, which isn’t true. I get help all of the time. I feel like I practically live on help. Why, recently, some of my brothers have even begun learning they can hug me when I come home! Am I being sarcastic? Sort of. Not really. It does feel like a strange thing to crave a caregiver.

The only thing I know is that we have to give our emotions to God. All of them. Not just the neat, tidy, pious, self-sufficient ones. The messy ones, the shallow ones, the ugly ones, the longing ones, the angry ones, the fearful ones.

Other than that, I have yet to figure out where this post is going, which is atypical. Usually by now I have figured out my beginning and middle, and am driving toward the end. All I really have right now is just a raw feeling of being a girl as I’ve tried hard not to define it: delicate.

 

My brain, it feels like mush. My laptop is here, but it, too, seems to be functioning improperly. If I get home, when I get home, I’m going to have to ask my brothers to look at it, but my current guess is that the operating system is now too much for my puny, cheap as I could get computer. It keeps updating itself, and every time it updates, the computer is less and less responsive.

I asked the tow truck man to get me some water. I almost didn’t, because there is water from the tap, and it won’t kill me. I justified it to myself in the moment that he really wants to help, and I should find some way to accept his help. But in retrospect, I am feeling sad and lonely and wouldn’t mind seeing a familiar friendly face, and I asked for the water more for a chance to not be alone for a few moments. I suppose I could go talk to the motel owner, but I get more the impression that I make him uncomfortable. It’s not that I have anything to say; it is only that there is only so long you can go without even seeing another human being without it being distressing. And by seeing, I mean be in the physical presence of. The digital age, with all it’s wonders, cannot replace that.

I’m an introvert. I’m not afraid of being alone. Sometimes I am desperate to be alone. But in times of life crumbling rapidly into the surreal, being alone can be hard. Having other people around, even if just to share the experience, makes life seem less real and more concrete. It may not mean doing anything or needing anything. But it’s still a peculiarly strong sense of deprivation to go through unsettling things alone.

It’s not a matter of “can you.” Or of “needing assistance.” It’s just a question of wanting to feel like a human being, and the more isolated you feel, the more you feel ostracized from the entire human race and therefore inhuman.

 

And for me, this is barely writing. I feel like my faculties are strangely inhibited, and I can’t figure out why.