Life Is Messy

It happens to everyone, I am quite sure. The inability to think not just linearly but with any sort of focus. I have gone through these phases probably most noticeable to others when I am depressed or physically off – maybe, or generally, a combination of both. The perfect people out there may only notice it when they wake up after either a night of very deep sleep or a night of very little sleep. I am NOT perfect.

The reason I am going into this at all is that I have sat in front of my computer for over an hour and have written only the words up to this point. But, the best way to get words flowing is to let them cascade from the mind. I have been watching the butterflies, squirrels, and birds; listening to the call of a heron on the creek and the blast of a rifle being sighted in; picturing the illustrations of a million stories I have never shared. I started out knowing what I wanted to say but lacked a clear way to give it the voice it needed. So, you get the messy version – the one not planned or linear. And I promise not to edit my thoughts or try to make them make sense when I am done getting it down. Why? Because too often I say nothing at all in an effort to box it up, wrap it beautifully, and tie an immaculate bow with six-inch curls (like in the movie Elf).

Reflecting on progress is not coming easy to me lately. Oh, I know I have done some pretty amazing things over the past seven months, but to see it in the midst of physical health frustrations, financial worries, and emotional ups and down, it is tough.

I sat with the question, “If you got offered a reset button for your life, would you press it?” Try thinking through that and answering it thoughtfully and honestly. My therapist is always asking me to get granular, and I did so with my answer to this question. So, would you hit the reset button? Why or why not? What are the benefits and risks to both options? Maybe you would not hit the button on your life, but would you hit the button on a situation or two? Or how about this: “If you could snap your fingers and change one thing in your life immediately, what would it be?”

Emotions suck. I have had it up to my eyeballs with them this year. I have suppressed them, fought with them, hated them, willed them to be less intense, and disintegrated into a puddle of frustration over the inability to control them the way I wanted. Lashing out in anger or rage, crying (or choking back tears) in the most inconvenient places, and hiding from the world because of crippling anxiety and fear have knocked me down. I mentioned being courageous in a recent blog post and was met head-on with evidence that I have been living in an overly cowardly way. I kind of still am, AND I see it and want to change it. I “just” need to do it. The effort I am making now is to consult with and listen to my feelings and sensations. They are telling me something important.

Imposter syndrome is real. From the perspective of working out at the gym, being a mom and wife, working in a job where I must be confident and firm in my decisions, and so much more, I have reasoned that I am not who I pretend to be. While that is quite true (by my own doing), I am not necessarily an imposter. I wrote part a snippet of my story on seeking mental health help for the world to see. Is my story really that significant? I don’t know. This blog is my own attempt to remember – to look back on the process and progress – but it is more about my current struggles than the preposterous abuse of those treating people like me. Anyway, this snippet I wrote will be published in an anthology in 2023. I put myself out there, despite the imposter syndrome, and opened a window I cannot and will not close.

I went through this difficult period in which my mind was playing tricks on me. It was projecting images onto in-the-moment experiences, so I did not know what was real and what wasn’t; like a flashback but different. If that wasn’t bad enough, it tossed me into grief and despair. One minute my mind was telling me I was laying on the floor with a gun to my head, and the next minute I was wishing my brother were available for a phone call. I was simultaneously living in a make-believe world, 2006, and 2015. I struggled. It took several weeks, but my therapist collaborated with me in an unconventional (to me) way. We sat in a different room, at a table with paper in front of me, and I drew pictures so primitive they could be reduced to hieroglyphics in a cave. The gaps were filled in with words. I am assuming, with good reason, that my therapist was quite frustrated with me. Sitting at that table and communicating what I could was HUGE for me, but I also shut down as is my pattern. I promise it is as frustrating for me as it is and has been for others. I am proud of myself for what I was able to do though.

Can’t or won’t. Oof. I swear there are things I legitimately believe I cannot do, and I have been reminded over and over that it is about willingness. Fear, shame, and humiliation are very real though, and they make some discussions feel impossible. I share often with my therapist that I have no words for the images, memories, and trauma bouncing around in my head, so I decided to try something different. I picked up a book I did not want to read and force-fed my brain the words and concepts I needed to interact with. In the process, I felt somewhat more comfortable with the topic – comfortable enough to have some conversations. The topic: sex. The seeming inability to discuss sex in a healthy context makes conversing about sexual trauma (and the experience of shame that slaughters my soul) a total nightmare. I may still be floundering when it comes to working through trauma, but I spoke words I have felt too much shame to think about.

Each of the situations I have made progress in are peppered with the Eight C’s I committed to practicing this year: Curiosity, calm, clarity, connectedness, confidence, courage, creativity, and compassion. I am truly proud of even the small steps in the above examples, and I am disappointed in how abruptly I get tripped up and stop moving.

I feel disconnected and on edge, afraid and angry, and incapable of “figuring it all out.” I guess I don’t have to figure it all out though. My therapist tells me I know enough and can work from where I am. This is both reassuring and disheartening. I want to know why – to everything. But “because” is elusive. Without an answer to “why,” I have to change my focus. Rather, I need to refocus: I am going to have to be curious, connected, and courageous.

So, how’s it going? Meh. Maybe my low mood as of late has me feeling as though I’ve been blowing in the wind. Maybe I haven’t been very open-minded. Maybe I haven’t given myself or others much credit. I am struggling to be bold…strong…fierce. Guys, I’ve had a rough several months, and I feel lost and defeated. AND, I am not quitting. Let me just stand here and study the map for a bit.

As promised, I did not go back and edit this or try to make it make sense. Let’s be honest, life is messy, so am I, and so are you. If you find yourself in a mess (or you are a mess), take a deep breath, make some coffee, get curious, connect, and be courageous. That’s what I am going to do.
Life is messy. People are messy. To be messy is to live. Just ask my little man.

5 thoughts on “Life Is Messy

  1. Life is messy, you are s right…but that picture of the little boy is so darn adorable 🙂 May I share a link to your blog on my blog so that all of my readers can learn more about your blog and all of your writings and articles? If that’s okay with you please let me know. Have an AMAZING rest of your weekend!

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