Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Changing Mantra

Quote from  Lemony Snickett
This one is all about me, but sometimes that is the way it needs to be, not to mention that this is a profitless self run blog, so I can kind of do whatever:

The normal me loves adventure.  I am warm and confident and frugal and not afraid to fail...  I act like it is my job to find silver-linings and shimmers of light and beauty in the mundane.  I embrace the quirkiness of the world, accept people as they are, and love a crazy story.  But I haven't really seen even a glimpse of that me in awhile.  It seems like a whole different person... The commonalities between the normal me and who I am right now are few and far between but both highly value honesty and transparency and being genuine. 

Hence, I have this near pathological need to tell everyone in the world that I am not okay.  In the rare moments that I leave the house without xanax, and anyone innocently greets me with a cursory, "How are you?" it takes every ounce of my will-power to avoid unloading that I am so near breaking that it hurts to breathe and every single solitary moment I am exhausted from just trying to survive.  My house may be clean, the kids may appear presentable, we may be traveling, or I may be at a party with a glass of wine and a smile but it is taking every bit of my limited will-power, not to scream my currently internal mantra aloud,

It is impossible to articulate exactly what it is that I can't do. I'm sure it has something to do with the pervasive heartbreak all around and the over-whelming responsibility of being entrusted to raise teenagers, and watching my dad die at barely 61 from a painful cancer, and then watching his mother die with a broken heart and my mom trying to figure out a new normal.  It has to do with kids dying way to young and mass shootings and orphans and widows and abuse and brokenness and refugees and a world that doesn't choose love.  It has to do with homework and small talk and a squirrel in the attic and bills and winter and accidentally gaining 15 pounds and a yard that nature has reclaimed and a torn ACL and fund-raisers for soul-wrenching causes.

But I don't scream my anxiety ridden mantra aloud, because I am a planner (a blessing and a curse for both this me and normal me).  And planners naturally think of life like a big chess game and as soon as I make that move to unload, in my next move, I will most likely be forced to actually talk, to real people and with real eye-contact... but I can't talk about this.  People get super awkward  and uncomfortable (especially me) but mostly, there is very little productive to say, just some shallow grief cliches.  These feelings are real and raw and scary but talking about them doesn't help, and there is nothing that anyone can do. 

The lyrics of Paul Simon (but in my dad's voice), are working their way into my new mantra... 

Breakdowns come and breakdowns go.
So what are you you going to do about it?
That's what I'd like to know.

I've gone through bouts like this before (although not this severe) and I have a vague idea of what I need to do:
  • I need to shower but then actually get out of the shower before the lack of hotwater makes me.  
  • I need to get outside.  I need exercise.  I need yoga.
  • I need sleep and rest and to be still.
  • I need to keep moving.  I need to travel.  I need to organize.  I need to be creative.  
  • I need twinkling lights and 8 Sarah McLachlan albums repeating on random.  
  • I need to read and think and process and I need to write.  
  • I can't forget to deliberately breathe and faithfully give and occasionally open my eyes.
  • And I MUST patiently, consistently, and repeatedly change my internal mantra.
But these often complicated and conflicting things are a challenge to balance for the normal me!  Right now, they are really insanely hard.  Adding to the stress is that I am a full fledged mom.  The world won't let me just hide while I take a break to collect myself.  I need to show up at parent teacher conferences.  I need to go to my job.  I need to have clean laundry and for whatever reason, it turns out that even if a family lives on cereal, trips to the grocery store are still required.  The kids are teenagers and will remember this break-down.  It is  part of their history and their story, which makes me feel guilty.  Moms are supposed to play the role of solid safety net and consistent care-giver.  But the heart of our family is broken and broken things don't heal as quickly as we would like or on our schedule or in the ways we expect, and often rather than heal, we can only adapt... regardless, it will certainly never be as it was before.

Life is messy and raw and painful but I keep trying to remind us that we may not like it, but those things are okay.  They can facilitate character and strength and beauty and connection. Life isn't always (or even often) balanced and organized and happy, but what is important is that it is real... And that we repeatedly and patiently and bravely continue to Choose Love, ALWAYS.  

And so I bravely wrote it down.  I wrote it down because Brene and Glennon and my heart told me that I should.  I wrote it down because it helps me process and it lets me scream that I am not okay!  Our family is not fine! (without needing to make eye contact).  I write because every bit of life isn't always fine; and when it isn't fine, it needs space to be processed and changed and healed or adapted but, it doesn't need to be rushed or fixed or masked or faked.

And I wrote because of this... somebody I don't know, wrote this truth down and it made me say... ME TOO!!!  EXACTLY... THIS...

And as a surprising side benefit... after hitting "publish post", it feels like those pre-disclosed accidental 15 pounds that are sitting squarely on my chest --are not pushing down quite so hard, at least at this second...  


  1. Kelly i want to write to you.... many consoling lines and paragraphs. But for now all i can say is HUGS.
    I want you to know that i understand and relate to you.
    ....and it will get better soon.

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