Getting Comfortable With Here

I finally did it. With the help of my roommate, I painted my bedroom. It’s now a gorgeous, romantic shade of grayish lavender, called “piano concerto,” which means it’s grown-up and high-brow, and not the color of a nursery. I can’t stop staring at how beautiful it looks, especially with my bright green abstract painting of a mossy underworld, roots reaching towards the earth’s core, amoebas bubbling up (the artist’s name I never got; she was a waitress who sold it to me for $50). And how perfect the lavender looks with my sister’s deep blue waterfall painting, and the painting from my grandmother, which looks like a village rebuilding itself from the aftermath of a tsunami. It’s a favorite of mine, which hung on Grandma’s dining room wall since I was a child. Two women stand on the shore, talking, maybe working together, maybe getting some water for their families. The artist’s name looks like Milo, and I have no idea who he or she is, or what became of her.


This project I procrastinated for months, and wondered if it would ever happen. Decorating has been an ongoing struggle for me, not just because it takes time, money, and work, but because it screams of permanence. It means I’m staying here, and rarely do I want to stay here, because I always think I’m on my way to somewhere else, somewhere better. Even gardening I couldn’t do. Last spring I’d played around with the idea of growing some herbs and tomatoes, and at the last minute decided it wasn’t worth it because I’d probably move next spring. Why put seeds in the ground here when I’ll just be somewhere else next year?

Because if you’re always focused on the future, you can’t be happy now. Why not make the best of what you have today? Maybe part of the fear for me was that I’d love it too much to want to leave. This feels more like my own space than ever before, and I have plans of making it more so. If I leave this, I go into the unknown, and there’s a 50/50 chance that would be worse, maybe more restrictive, less my space, and more our space, a space I cannot leave when times get tough. Who knows? That’s a future that hasn’t happened, and maybe never will. Maybe it will happen and be both my space and our space.

I bet my mom would love this room. She would say, “It’s so you!”

I love it here.

Since the day I moved to Maryland, I had plans of moving back down South as soon as possible. This wasn’t home. It’s too cold, too snowy, too crowded, too expensive, too this, too that. But when the opportunity arose for me to move back, immediately fear set in. Where would I work? Would there be a support network there for me? What about the friends I’ve made here? I would have to start over again.

And where is home, really?

I can’t think of a single place, but I know it’s out there. I just haven’t found it yet.


It reminds me of this beautiful passage from Dolores on “Westworld,” when Bernard asks her to imagine two versions of herself:

On second thought, it’s not that it’s out there so much as it’s right here. I just haven’t gotten comfortable with here yet.



One of the things I love about my therapist is that when I go to her with a problem and tell her how upset I am, then judge myself for being upset, she says, “That makes you human.” Because really. What’s the use in judging myself for being upset about something? I’m not a robot.

Another thing I like is that she has never suggested that I’m weak, sick, troubled, or helpless in any way. She confirms that I have a right to feel however I feel. A couple of years ago when I was going through my divorce I was so full of anxiety and extreme confusion about everything. Six months after I left my husband, I left my marketing job, and I had no plan of what to do next. My therapist at the time wanted me to revisit the past in a way that I was uncomfortable with, and I can’t remember the exact words she used, nor do I know her intent, other than to help me, but I felt like she thought I should be doing something other than what I was doing.

The point is, my therapist now looks at my life today, and helps me to focus on what I need to do today to get by. She lets me draw my own conclusions and decide for myself how my life should go, and then she supports that. “What do you want to do?” she asks me. I’ve grown to really like her.

One thing I really can’t stand is the feeling that someone is ignoring me because they’re angry with me. I’m left wondering why they’re upset. Did I do something wrong? Was it that thing that I said or did the last time we talked? Or maybe it was something else I said. Maybe I’m taking it all personally, and that person has something else going on in their life that has nothing to do with me. But if it is that thing I said or did, then maybe I shouldn’t have said or done that. Or maybe they should just get over it. Eff them anyway. I said my piece and if they don’t like it, they can deal with it. I don’t feel like talking to them right now anyway. I have my own shit to deal with.

…but would they please call me back?

Something my new Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) sponsor said that really resonated with me was this:  “That person is not allowed to speak to you like that,” Oh. Not allowed to. She was referring to a certain something that a certain someone had told me, a point of view that they expressed as truth, as my reality, when in fact that particular point of view was just their perception. She was talking about boundaries. A new concept for me.

The common denominator in all of my interactions was that I had a feeling that I didn’t express.

“Where’s your anger in all of this?” she asked me. Well, it’s there. Yes, of course that thing pissed me off. But I didn’t know I had a right to my anger. The moment had passed and I missed my opportunity to express it in the moment, because my initial feeling is usually confusion: Why is this person telling me this right now? Is this true, what they’re saying? The reason is because this person is explaining to me how they see the world, not how the world really is. They’re determining my reality for me, and I’m allowing them to. And that pisses me off. At myself more than anyone—and that has to change.

My mom told me something that stands out to me now. She said that she used to be quiet, that it took her a long time to speak her mind. For her, it happened when she started selling lawnmowers at Sears. She would’ve been in her 30’s then. It must’ve been the late 70’s or early 80’s, and it was more of a man’s world than it is today. She called it the Boys’ Club. She had to learn how to sell lawnmowers, to men. She had to work with men who thought she should stay home and take care of the kids—which I think she’d have gladly done could she have afforded it. She had to wear heels to work—in retail. Standing all day, in heels. Anyway, she learned to do it. She learned to sell lawnmowers, and she was good at it. She learned how to speak her mind.

The thing is, I never knew her to be otherwise. She was 27 when she had me, her youngest. A key part of her personality was that she spoke her mind. If something didn’t seem right to her, she let you know it. And those were her last words:  “Something ain’t right.” And then she collapsed in my stepfather’s arms.

Anyway, I can’t imagine her any other way than as an outspoken, feisty woman. If she bought a product that was defective, she returned it, and she let them know why. If they didn’t want to give her money back, she demanded to speak to a manager. When she found out my nursery school teacher spanked me, she marched up there and told them they were not to touch me. She kept up with the news, she voted, she signed petitions, she volunteered. She took action. And if someone else didn’t like it, that was their problem.

When I grow up, I want to be like her.

One small victory of mine occurred last night when my boyfriend called to tell me he decided to give his daughter the same coat he’d bought for me for Christmas. He’d gotten two at the same time, different sizes so that he could be sure of which one would fit me.

“I should’ve consulted with you first, but when we got back to the house, the coat was lying there and so I suggested that she try it on. Well it fit perfectly so I said she should have it. It helps me because I don’t want to deal with the hassle of sending it back, and she needed one for her upcoming trip. I hope you’re not mad.”

My first thought was, why would I be mad? She’s allowed to have whatever coat she wants, and he’s allowed to give her whatever coat he wants. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s the same as mine. Then I realized we’d be spending the day together, and I didn’t sign up for matching mother-daughter outfits. And I remembered what my sponsor had said about speaking my mind.

“Well, I don’t care if she has the coat, but I hope she ain’t planning on wearing it tomorrow, because that’s my coat, and I’m wearing it.”

The old me would’ve wanted to be Mother Teresa, and would’ve worn my old coat today so she could wear the new one. But the new me is human, and that’s my damn coat.

A little while later he texted to say she’d changed her mind and decided not to keep the coat. The old me would’ve felt guilty, because most likely he convinced her not to keep it, and maybe she really liked it and wanted to keep it. And I can’t lie, the new me feels a twinge of guilt. But it’s his damn fault! He can clean up his own mess. Which he did. And I’m proud of myself for speaking my mind. So there.

Knowing Who You Are

Recently I started watching “Westworld,” an amazing HBO series based on a movie and book from the 1970’s, an existential exploration into consciousness—why we are here, my favorite topic. Each episode contains snippets of profound dialogue, and most recently, in episode 3, Anthony Hopkins’ character says (I’m paraphrasing), “People don’t want to know who they are. They already know that. What they want to know is who they will become.” True words.

On some level, even for those of us who are on a path of discovering ourselves, we already know who we are. We know it in our core. But for whatever reason—our upbringing, the culture, our negative minds—we tell ourselves we can’t be that. We tell ourselves we must conform to what we think the world wants us to be. And it’s bullshit.

It reminds me of the time Mom and I were walking around downtown Black Mountain, North Carolina, I think it was, and we stumbled upon this little art shop. A woman, a folk artist, painted all these different little paintings on pieces of wood she’d found, and sold them for something like $25 a piece. Mom took one look at them and said, “Ella,* you could do that.”

I’ve written about it before, so in case you have déjà vu, that’s why. I just like to remember her words. “You could do that.” You can do that.

Here’s the painting Mom picked out, which I now have sitting on a shelf atop a stack of books I have no plans of reading (They’re about food. I’d rather eat than read about eating.):

Of the paintings I made for my boyfriend for Christmas (one of which is at the top of this post), he said, “I’d pay money for these.” Who knows? Maybe I’ll sell some on Etsy. Why not?

Originally I’d thought I’d wait until I fine-tuned my craft more… but can’t I just do that as I go? The worst that could happen is that no one buys them. It’s worth a shot.

*Not my real name. One of these days I might include my real name on this blog, but not today.


Yesterday I awoke early and went to the gym, and I felt so proud of myself for making myself go, after nine months of paying for a membership I haven’t been using. I had all these plans for being productive, with cleaning my room at the top of the list. Then I looked around my room and thought, there’s nowhere to put all this stuff. How can I clean when there’s nowhere to put anything? All I’d do is put it into more organized piles elsewhere in my room.

So I binge-watched “Marcella” and then slept for two and half hours before watching a movie with one of my roommates.

Here’s what I have:  25 bottles of essential oils, 20 books, 15 bottles of supplements. It’s embarrassing. Who needs all of that? But the frankincense is meditative, and the cinnamon is comforting, and the sandalwood is centering. It all says so right there on the bottle. The books are a collection of textbooks and self-help books. The supplements are multivitamins, digestive aids, sleep aids, immune support, brain health support, mood support. In the bathroom hallway I have even more supplements, which I get free or cheap from work, and no room to put anymore. I’ve given away as many as I can.

Speaking of the bathroom hallway, I have four shelves of stuff: towels, sheets, first aid, lotions, soap, beauty products, and of course, supplements. I feel like a hoarder.

One of the hallway shelves is bare, for the roommate who moved to this side of the house a month ago and now shares my bathroom, but she hasn’t used it. Before her I shared my bathroom with a guy who didn’t want or need any hall closet space, so I had all five shelves to myself. Too much stuff. But then, I used to have my own house, and they didn’t. They have always shared space with someone else.

This particular roommate is moving out soon, due to the fact that she’s pregnant with her fifth child. Where the other four live, I don’t know, nor is it my business. One of the little ones comes over on Sundays to visit, and his presence always makes me feel… unsettled. Being around little kids who live in what seems to me like a sad situation just makes me feel uncomfortable and depressed. Of course, I have no idea if his situation is sad—maybe he lives happily with loving grandparents or a dad who gives him everything he needs. All I know is his mom is a sober alcoholic who hasn’t been dating this new man for long and now she’s pregnant. It’s not the worst thing in the world. At least she’s sober, and she has a steady job, and she loves her kids very much.

Like I said, none of this is my business, and I have no idea what the situation really is. It’s judgmental of me to make assumptions. The real issue for me is that it makes me think of my own childhood. It’s not that I was in the same situation, but just that I was a sad child, and no one really knew that. I don’t think children are supposed to be sad. And any reminder of that just makes me feel sad.

This morning when I awoke I sat up in bed and looked around my room, and my eyes landed on the peace lily in the corner on my desk. I watered it two days ago, and now it’s standing straight up, leaning towards the window, towards the sun, behind closed blinds, because it takes indirect sun. Standing freakishly straight up. It just looks weird. The tips are brown, so I googled what to do about that, and apparently it means I’ve either over-watered the plant, or I’ve under-watered it. You can allow it to get slightly wilted before watering, but you don’t want to wait until it’s too wilted. I’ve done both, so I don’t really know what the deal is. It’s all about timing, which has never been my specialty. How does anyone ever know how to do anything?

Shelves. I will get shelves to put all this stuff on.

My mom’s words enter my mind: Go easy on yourself.

The good thing about peace lilies is that they are survivors. They do not die easily. I’m sure the brown tips will go away, and the plant will heal. It’s probably healing right now—you just can’t see it yet.

Ten Thousand Spoons

Today is the first day of my “staycation” and I plan on spending this time wisely. This morning I’ll go back to the gym, back to Zumba. I’ll make some turkey and rice casserole with my leftover turkey. This week I’ll de-clutter my room and paint the walls lavender. My boyfriend’s kids will be in town Wednesday, so that day will be spent with them. The rest of this time will be mine to spend working on self-care.

Almost every day I pray to God to give me some direction with my life, to send me a sign, to open my eyes and ears to the messages. When Mom first died I saw feathers everywhere, then nothing. The feathers are supposedly a sign of angels, but really it just means there are a lot of birds around. But then the other day I saw a feather on the ground at work, inside the grocery store, and then another feather when I was talking to my therapist. They could’ve come from my down coat… but then maybe some higher being made them come from there, or from birds. I guess you just choose to see whatever signs you want. It’s like Dolores on “Westworld.” She says some people choose to see the ugly in the world, but she chooses to see the good. She chooses to believe there is some purpose, some greater good in the world. She’s a beautiful character, and I can’t wait to learn about her journey.

Then the other day, one of my former co-workers, who just graduated from the grad school I’m attending, came into the store to say hi. She’s a nutritionist now, and she said that it’s so hard, and if she had to do it over again, she wouldn’t. There’s so much to remember, and she can’t, when talking to clients, and she spends all of her free time studying and working. On the one hand, anything will be hard, and no one would ever do anything if they knew how hard it will be, but then on the other hand, it sure felt like a sign to me.

There’s a man I know, a friend of mine, who’s an artist and a professional gardener who owns his own business. He’s single and lives with his sister, and spends what little free time he has painting. To me his life seems so wonderful. He does what he wants. But to him, his life is not what he wanted, not what he had planned for himself, yet he finds gratitude in it anyway. He wants to have a boyfriend (he’s gay) and not have to work so hard. Maybe to someone else my life looks desirable. It would’ve looked that way to an earlier me, because I romanticize unconventional lifestyles, and would’ve seen myself as someone who has the best of both worlds. And I do have a good life. I’m in a relationship yet I live as a single person in a comfortable house with everything I need. I can always come back to this safe place, my own space, free. I am free.

Last night I was talking to my friend, the artist-gardener, and he told me not to be so hard on myself. To give myself a year to grieve. He lost both his parents so he knows. I told him that I don’t deal well with big life changes, that I never just keep doing what I was doing. He said, “And you shouldn’t.” I asked, “What about all those other people out there, who just keep doing what they were doing?” He said that most people are unconscious, most people don’t think about all that stuff, that I have the heart and soul of an artist. Because what happens with me is that I search and search for a path, then I think I’m on it, then boom! Something happens and I get lost and confused about what path to get on. All I know is this doesn’t seem to be it anymore.

When I woke up this morning I stared up at the ceiling for a long time, and I thought, how can I just make money doing this? If he can garden and make money doing what he loves, then why can’t I do the same? There’s a book in all of this, I know it.

I read somewhere that big changes come in your life to snap you into being who you’re meant to be. My former co-worker friend I just mentioned, when she came into the store the other day, I told her that I’m lost, and she said to read Wayne Dyer, and I said I know all about him, and it was all easy for him to say when he became rich and famous. She said Wayne Dyer had a terrible childhood, and so did Oprah. Then last night I listened to interviews with Alanis Morissette on Spotify, and I thought of all the things she (Morissette) said.

She said she’d had this idea she’d meet all these celebrities and they’d live in harmony, but what happened was some of them were mean to her, and she found that what meant the most to her were random, everyday people saying that a song of hers touched them in some way. That’s what I’d want too. I just need to come out on the other side of this, and I will. I think of all the people I know who weren’t able to hang on, who committed suicide because they too had the heart of an artist, but they couldn’t find motivation for their path. Those who make it seem to be those who are the overachievers, the workaholics, like Alanis Morissette, Oprah, Wayne Dyer. I fall somewhere in between. I don’t want to commit suicide, nor do I want to work hard enough to become like Alanis Morissette, nor would I want to deal with criticism from random people about all the crazy or sane things I’ve written. But I do want to do something meaningful with my life. It would be so cool if I could somehow earn a living doing that.

Alanis Morissette is just two years older than I am, and became popular when I was in high school, but back then I didn’t listen to her much because I thought of her music as too popular (as if that made it somehow inferior). But now it really resonates with me, and I listen to “Ironic,” “Hand In My Pocket,” and “Right Through You” on repeat. One of the things she says in her interviews is that when she became a success, she had to write songs, then discuss them with executives, but she found that it impeded her ability to write, so she decided not to have the meetings until after she finished all of her work. She recommends that any artist do the same. When I’m in the middle of something, I don’t want criticism about how it’s not working, or how it should be. This is a lesson I can’t seem to learn, because it’s a mistake I repeat. Asking someone else what I should do with my life, or telling someone else what I’m doing, knowing they disagree, then feeling hurt that they disagree, because the sick part of me thinks I need their approval. Definitely the codependent part of me. Some people get burned once and learn to stay away. Not me. I dive into the fire like it’s a swimming pool. It’s the only way I learn.

Because here’s the thing. I don’t need anyone else’s approval. I’m the only one who has to live my life, so I get to make my own decisions about how I want to live it. All this asking everyone else what they think I should do, of apologizing for who I am, of explaining why I’m doing what I’m doing, it has to stop.

One of my favorite lines from “Ironic” is this one: “It’s like ten thousand spoons, when all you need is a knife.” It speaks to the frustration and disappointment I’ve felt lately, and it’s fitting of how I feel about my mom’s death. Then she ends with, “Life has a funny way of helping you out,” which feels appropriate for this blog post.

Still Searching

What I want to know is where are all the people out there struggling with their careers, or lack of? Where are all the support groups for those of us who have no idea what we’re doing, where we’re going, or how to get there, specifically when it comes to a career? Everyone’s more concerned about their relationships—like me—but they seem to have their shit together otherwise. Everyone I know is already on a path of doing what they want to do, and those who aren’t, accept their situation. They’re not endlessly searching for something different. And don’t tell me that if I believe it, it will happen, or to do what I love and the money will come, or to get a career coach, or take some classes, or read some books, or do more networking. I’ve tried all of that.

Sigh. I guess I will just keep trying.


It’s been two years since I left my marketing job and one year since I started school to study nutrition, yet doubt still plagues me. Every night for years I’ve prayed for my higher power to remove my doubt, fear, and insecurity, and to direct me in what God would have me do. Every week I talk to a therapist. Now I’ve found Codependents Anonymous (CoDA), and my new CoDA sponsor gave me some hope the other day after I told her my story. She said that I’m bright and won’t be working at the grocery store for the rest of my life, because I don’t want to, and she said, “We need to get you writing,” and she said, “If you don’t want to go back to school, you don’t have to go back to school.”

I’m going anyway. Even though I dread it, and haven’t bought my books yet, and have no interest in physiology II, and limited interest in eating or cooking. It just feels like my only option right now.

And I thought, Yeah, I am bright. Somehow she could see that about me, even though we talked nothing about anything scholarly, and she’d said she could tell I was a writer when I spoke because I’m a good storyteller, which flattered me, I ain’t gone lie. But here’s the thing:  being bright doesn’t pay the bills. One of my friends is so incredibly smart, but she cannot keep a job to save her life. I may seem so together to outsiders, but I am broken.

Some of my friends in the marketing industry had also fallen into working there without meaning to, but they had families to support, and they accepted their lot in life. Kids scare the hell out of me, so I never had any, thank God for them. So it’s a blessing that I have only myself to care for.

Now my boyfriend wants to pick up and move to Raleigh without me, to carry on a long-distance relationship until we get into a better place, and then I can move there. It’s the right thing to do, and what I’d have wanted—well, what I’d have needed, not really wanted, because I sure wish he’d try to convince me to go with him and live with him. That would just put me in an awkward position of feeling obligated to go to save our relationship, while knowing it wasn’t the right thing to do right now. No one can win with me. It’s possible he may not even go, depending on whether he gets offered the job he just interviewed for, and whether or not he decides to take it. It would be best for his kids, because they live there. It’s not like it would be the worst thing for us, yet I feel abandoned, already. I am the girl who wants to be invited to the party even though I don’t really want to attend.

And I would have wanted to go if we hadn’t had this last episode in which he expected me to spend Thanksgiving with him and his dad in a nursing home in Ohio when I felt obligated to visit my sister and stepfather in North Carolina, due to my mother’s recent passing, in spite of the fact that they don’t even really care. So I went to Ohio anyway and the whole thing crashed and my boyfriend spent a week ignoring me afterwards, and I’ve decided that no, that won’t happen again. Ignoring me is the worst thing anyone can do to me. I’ve been ignored my entire life, and damn if I’ll continue to be ignored any longer, especially in my relationship. That is not how this relationship’s going to go.

What I need to do is focus on myself and my career and how I’ll take care of myself financially so that I can live on my own, and not in a shared house for the rest of my days. I am really, really hoping that CoDA will help me do this.

“Top of the Lake” and My Life

Recently I’ve become hooked on a new Netflix series called “Top of the Lake,” a crime drama set in rural New Zealand. If you want to watch this show, spoiler alert! Don’t read anymore. This blog post is mostly a character analysis and some conversations as they relate to my life, but you might not want to know all the details of the show yet.

The main character, Detective Robin Griffin (played by Elizabeth Moss), works with her own inner demons as she investigates the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl. In the midst of big life changes, Robin experiences her mother dying, a lack of commitment to her fiancé, and she has no real home. She’s at that in-between stage, the stage just before the jumping-off point, or maybe it is the jumping-off point. Maybe that is the jumping point, the slow-motion process of being in mid-air, just about to land in a different stage of life, of being more settled into something more stable. Right now she’s just flying, falling, groundless. She’s tough yet vulnerable, and I love her.

I just love Elizabeth Moss. I rooted for her character in “Mad Men,” in which she played a similar character who was taken advantage of by a total jackass, and she was so devastatingly vulnerable, yet she came out stronger and tougher. Not that I always liked her character or agreed with the decisions she made, and I don’t think that hardening oneself is the solution (it certainly hasn’t worked for me), but what I liked was that she became a successful career woman and did her own thing.

That’s one thing that Moss’s characters have that I don’t:  workaholism. I wish that being a workaholic was my problem. I’ve read that workaholism doesn’t satisfy a person’s need for peace, or whatever it is that they’re searching. Still, at least that person has that going for them. For me, I wouldn’t mind if I never had to work. Some people say they’d be bored if they didn’t have a job. Not me. I would be perfectly happy if I never had to work another day in my life. I would focus on my hobbies all day long… most of which, unfortunately, cost money. I wish there was a job out there that didn’t feel like work to me. As I watch “Top of the Lake,” I wonder what life would’ve been like as a detective. Sure seems fascinating on TV. Ah well.

On the other hand, there’s GJ, played by Holly Hunter. I loathed GJ (I thought she was an arrogant bully) and her entire colony (I judged them for being weak and foolish) up until the last episode or two, when she says to them, “Wake up!” I’m paraphrasing here, but she basically tells them there’s no answer, this is IT, deal with it. You are literally living in Paradise, and are you happy with it? No. There are still problems. As much as I would love to live in a utopian tiny house community in the woods with a bunch of soul seekers like myself, it turns out life still happens there. At one point she tells them meditating won’t pay the bills. Haha! So true! You still have to take action. She says you have to die to be reborn. Also true! My question is, how long do I have to go through this pain to be reborn? GJ tells a young mother, whose baby is crying in the background, to go and learn from her real teacher (her baby), and the mother doesn’t understand. GJ shushes her. “Listen,” she says. Pay attention, she says. But of course the mother doesn’t want that answer. They all want answers, and they all think GJ has them. She’s the Buddha-like figure who basically proves that she has the answer, which is that there is no answer. Or that the answer is right here, in front of your face, and you know the answer but you don’t want to accept it. I don’t want to accept it. How can that be the answer? That’s not the answer I want. I don’t want to do all the work. I want everything to be easy.

At one point GJ asks Robin, “Are you on your knees yet?” Meaning, have you finally surrendered? Have you finally experienced enough pain that you’re ready to change? Robin says yes, and GJ goes, “Good.” How true! I am on my knees, and have been for a long time, and I really, desperately want to climb out of this pit. I just don’t know how. Because, now what? And clearly I haven’t fully surrendered yet, or else I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.

As far as my relationship goes, the honeymoon period is over. I don’t know what happens next. I honestly have no idea. And that scares me.

As far as my career-hunting goes, I’ve started on a path, found out that it takes a lot of work and sacrifices I don’t want to make, and now I want out.

As far as my living situation goes, I moved into a shared house last March, with the knowledge that this was temporary, and in the hopes that I’d be moving in soon with my boyfriend. That’s not going to happen now, though it may still later, but it feels like I’ll be 60 years old and living like a college student for the rest of my days.

This is how I’ve lived my entire life. I start down some road, then decide I don’t like it, and I start over. I don’t know what this–whatever “this” may be–is going to look like, so I want out. And I get out, only to start over again and eventually find myself stuck in the same place. Two years ago I gave up everything: a good house, a good job, a good husband. But good wasn’t good enough! It was boring, unfulfilling. Day in and day out, the same thing. Dead inside. I’m not saying that I need to go try to go back there, not that I can now, but I know, intellectually, that the answer is within me. I can change all the things around me, and it doesn’t matter, because I’m still here. I am the one who needs to change.

So I’m trying to do that. It’s just an extremely slow process, and I question whether it’s working, or if I should try something new. I question whether I am relationship material. I question whether I am cut out for having any kind of career. What I want is to know in my heart and soul and in my bones is that this is the man of my dreams and this is the job of my dreams. And that just ain’t happening right now.

And I get it. My mom died, and that changed everything. It cast a new light on my life, and made me stop and question, yet again, is this really what I want to do with my life? What does this really mean? Why did she have to die now? I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and yet, this happened, causing me to question my actions, yet again. Am I really truly living the most meaningful, purposeful life I can live?

Regardless, I’m staying the course for now. I return to school in January and we’ll see how it goes. My boyfriend and I are staying together for now, and are committed, today, to trying to make it work. And he has felt like the man of my dreams before, but man. This is a lot of work.

Is there really a man of your dreams, or job of your dreams? No. I don’t think so. There’s no Santa Claus, kids! I figured that out a couple of years ago, and thought that although there’s no Santa, there is a God. But right now that just doesn’t comfort me, because I know I still have to do the work, and I don’t know what that means.

In the meantime I will continue to try to live a spiritual life—which, by the way, is taking on a new meaning for me. And I will continue to take the actions I’ve learned, and am learning, and maybe just pray for patience. I don’t know what else to do.