A miracle will need to happen for me to finish this semester and return to school for good. As of this moment I’m sure I’ll collect my student loan money and then withdraw from school to focus my free time on self-care and writing. The worst that happens is I don’t get published, and if I decide in a few years to get training of some sort to do some other type of work, or maybe I just apply to some other better-paying jobs and actually get one, then I’ll do that. For now, I don’t see how I can focus on all the things I want to do while studying. When I was in school every free moment was spent studying, and I cannot do that right now.
My sisters won’t agree. They’ll think I’ve given up, that I’ve given in to depression and maybe they’ll worry that I’ll never do anything. I cannot worry about that or what anyone else thinks. I must follow my gut and do what I know I need to do.
What really needs to happen is for me to make this decision and be okay with it. To stop putting pressure on myself to do something, to do anything but write this book I’ve wanted to write all of my life. And I don’t want to put pressure on myself for that either because then it will never happen.
There is only one thing I’ve ever wanted to do for my entire life, or since I was eight years old, and that is to become a writer. (And I’m aware that my blog posts need to be edited, but the desire to get the word out surpasses my discipline for the time being.)
One of my co-workers, who I’ll call Rashad, told me the other day that I remind him of Dolores on “Westworld.” Either he is extremely perceptive, or my life is an open book, because I relate to her character so much. One of my favorite lines from her is this one: “There aren’t two versions of myself. There’s only one. And I think when I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”
I’ve probably talked more to Rashad than most of my other co-workers, apart from my friends in my own department. He’s the one who I first told about Mom dying, mostly because he’s the first one I saw when I returned to work, and the horrible nightmare I had a week or so after her death. We’ve talked about God—mostly just that there is one—and I know he’s a recovering addict and budding actor. He knows I’m divorced and used to have a very different job. But I don’t recall telling him that I don’t know who I am, or that I’m on a journey to find myself. I didn’t know he could see me so clearly. And if he, a near-stranger, can see me that clearly, then how transparent am I to the rest of the world?
It doesn’t really matter, though I feel vulnerable. The funny thing is, I’ve been like this my entire life. And it’s been obvious to anyone with eyes and ears throughout this whole time. My identity is wrapped up in finding myself. Seems ironic, like a dog chasing its tail. In high school and college I wore different clothes and hairstyles as part of the quest. After that I looked inward. Then I just tried not to let anyone else know that because I felt ashamed and hopeless, and often I gave up, and tried to pretend to be like how I thought everyone else was.
It has always been a mystery to me, how people do this thing called life, especially those who seem to have it figured out. I call bullshit on them. The ones who walk a straight path to their destination—those people I don’t get, and I imagine they’re in denial, dead to the real grittiness of life. Who knows? My own path has been messy, winding, a roller coaster at times. Hitting rock bottom, crawling out, taking baby steps sideways to find peace. Before you know it, life becomes beautiful, and it starts to feel like you’re winning, that everything will be okay, and then life slams you with something like death. You hit rock bottom again, thinking it can never get worse than this, and then it does. But then life gets better again.
My boyfriend and I have started to talk again, and I feel that we will be getting back together. Baby steps though. He’s talking to his therapist today, and then we will have a talk some time after that. In the meantime he sent me a few sweet texts, so I decided to text him early yesterday morning. I didn’t hear from him by the end of the work day, so I texted again. Still nothing after a couple of hours. So I emailed him. Still nothing. So I called him, twice, and still nothing. I imagined he’d changed his mind. Then I thought maybe he’d died. Perhaps he’d committed suicide after contemplating this relationship. He felt doomed and decided to end it. But no, he wouldn’t do that, as depressed as he can get, because he loves his kids too much. But then, I’d thought that about my friend who either committed suicide or overdosed by accident last year—to this day I don’t know how she died. Maybe my boyfriend had had a heart attack. He could have been dead all day in his bed, alone in his basement apartment, and no one knew it. That’s what happened to my co-worker last year. He woke up and got ready for work, then sat down in his living room chair and died of a heart attack. He was found by the store manager the following day after not showing up to work for the second day in a row.
So maybe it sounds crazy that I got dressed and got in my car at eight o’clock at night and started to drive to my boyfriend’s house. But when people just die all of a sudden, when everything seems normal, but then you realize you got a text from your sister two hours ago asking you to call her, that it’s urgent, and you see that she’d left a voice mail before that, but you hadn’t checked your phone in hours because you were at work and trying not to be on your phone, trying not to be obsessive about whether or not your boyfriend had texted, and then you find out that your mother had a stroke and isn’t breathing on her own, that there’s absolutely no hope of recovery–well, I guess you get a bit of PTSD. I did, anyway. Maybe I’d have been that way anyway. I do have an active imagination.
Anyway, I barely got out of my driveway when I saw that he’d responded. He’d been asleep all day with a bad cold.
That’s when it hit me. This is how it is. This is how I am. I catastrophize. I project into an unknown, doomed future.
Living with uncertainty—that’s the real task. There will never be a moment in which I have it all figured out. Period. This is life, now. This is it. This.
Even now, as I’m writing, I’m realizing that I have no idea what I’ll do, and that’s okay. Today I will go to class, and see how it goes. There’s no need to decide today what to do for the rest of my life, or even for the rest of the semester. All I can do is live for today. Learning how to focus on that is the real challenge. Although I know it intellectually, and it’s a lesson I learn again and again, the challenge to live one day at a time is an ongoing lesson for me.
But that’s okay. Just remember: one day at a time.