I woke up today feeling okay for the first time in a long while.
How’s that for a dramatic re-entry?
I’ve been grappling with a lot of stuff for the past several months. I think the last time I felt really steady was about a year ago. In September, I remember feeling like everything was going to be alright. In October, I started to feel like I was getting smacked repeatedly. It’s really been increasingly intense since then. There’s been big stuff: two people that I love have died; there are major potential life changes ahead; there are big life things I want to accomplish, but I’m faced with enormous road blocks; my workload has been truly unsustainable for a year and a half. There’s small stuff: I cannot seem to get my weight under control; I’m about to enter my fifth and then sixth reporting structures at work in the past 3.5 years; the cats will not stop tearing up the rug I purchased less than a year ago.
I have felt like a balloon that’s being slowly filled with water. A little here, a little there, and suddenly I’m stretched so tight that the lightest touch will cause me to rupture.
This weekend, I accidentally stood someone up for the first time in my life. I completely forgot to feed someone’s cats. I absentmindedly chopped a chef’s knife down on my index finger. I forgot my phone when headed to an important meeting spot. I went to work without my bus pass, and had to ask a bus driver to take pity on me and please let me ride for free one time. I cried in public three times. I thoughtlessly left a water bottle in my suitcase while attempting to go through airport security.
It was not a banner weekend. Hell, it has not been a banner year.
But then, on Sunday, I ran (and walked) a 5K. I ran for 1.5 miles straight, without stopping once. I’ve never done that before. About a third of a mile into it, I thought to myself, “Well, this sucks, but I’m not dying yet, and other things suck a lot more, so I’m going to keep running.” When I realized that I’d run farther and faster than I’d ever gone before, I cried a tiny bit (the first of the public cryings of the weekend). I walked under a quarter of the entire distance, and finished the 5K in about 40 minutes. My goal had been to make it in under 50, and I was incredibly, incredibly proud. For the first time in a long while, I felt like a total badass. I did not care one iota that the fastest runners crossed the finish line before I’d even reached the quarter mark. I didn’t care that I looked like crap, that my gait was likely awkward, that most of my friends would have run circles around me. I had finished, I hadn’t passed out, and that was enough for me.
And I thought about the other things that I’ve powered through this year: the insane and impossible events at work that have not killed me; the myriad difficult personal things; the larger pants; the long and quiet expectant waiting for information and other people’s decisions. I thought about how I beat myself up the minute I check an item off the to-do list, pondering how I could have done it better, faster, more efficiently or effectively. I thought about how often my first thought in the morning is negative these days: “I would pay any sum of money to stay home rather than…” or “I am so fat.” I thought about how rarely I really celebrate anything recently; every celebration comes with the caveat that the axe could drop at any moment.
And I remembered this post, which I reference to other people over and over and over. I remembered my favorite part:
“…only once or maybe twice in life, when you get the chance for change, real change, you’ve got to do a whole lot more than just one thing. You’ve got to look deep inside your own soul and follow where it wants to go. You’ve got to listen, really listen, in order to hear what the universe is trying to tell you. And move mountains, then, when you finally know what you want.”
Yesterday, I was also reminded of something I read years ago, an essay by Alice Walker:
“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before.
Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.”
So, maybe the last many months have been really really hard, but maybe I’m just growing. Maybe there’s this bigger, better me breaking out of current-me’s shell. Maybe I just need to (oh, good grief) lean in to the curve and pedal like hell, and I’ll coast out of it. Serendipitously, I received an email today from one of my favorite people, reflecting that he has also been feeling much of what I’ve written above. As I read it and replied, I remembered the days of blogging when sharing meant feeling less alone. Even as I type (and retype, blast you wordpress for crashing and not saving anything) this entire post, it feels dangerously like an overshare. But talking with my friend today, I realized that the overshare is what reminds us all of our capacity to love and our ability to empathize, and it gives us courage to carry on, knowing that we are not the only anxious, mildly-depressed, imperfect person on the journey. So here I am, with my lengthy, navel-gazing, oversharing post.
I woke up this morning feeling like everything will be alright. Ultimately, I believe everything will be alright. If I may take this already self-involved post to yet another level by quoting John Lennon, “everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
This isn’t the end. It isn’t the beginning, but maybe it’s the beginning of something. Maybe it’s the beginning of the next big thing. And it certainly isn’t the end. Everything will be okay. It probably already is.