Life is one big in between, yet we desperately push for the end. We feel the pressure of a phase or a season and want to instantly push through to the other side. We can fast forward through commercials and order our coffee on an app so we don't have to wait in line. We are forgetting how to be uncomfortable. Being ok without being ok is a marvelous skills to possess. It doesn't mean fake it until you make it (also quite useful at times). But it means- I WILL be ok even when things aren't ok. I WILL be ok when things are hard. I WILL be ok. I just will, because I choose to be. It's a muscle we must strength like anything else. I think I need a brain trainer.
I've often associated some level of shame with not being ok. My inner asshole says, GET IT TOGETHER WOMAN. You are not a victim. You are in control of this. Yet, I still struggle to see the blurry line between what I can control, what I can't and what I simply MUST let go of. What I am not and never have been able to control. That list is long, yet I try to cut it down. I think- if I can control it- it won't shook me. It won't drown me. I will not be unprepared. It won't kill me.
It hit me last Spring. I am NOT ok. It wasn't a bad day or even week- it was a deeper level of not ok. My anxiety had blown my roof off my head. In January my person- Jack the dog died suddenly. It had been so long since I had experienced that level of loss, and I was undone. And five days later his sidekick, Belle the dog died. They were our first babies. Our constant companion from kidless young marrieds in Los Angeles, to two kids and old people in Fresno. They knew all the me's I've ever been, even when I had forgotten.
Then at the end of January, my Dad had a routine-ish surgery on a brain cyst, then complications, a second emergency surgery, and then a lengthy stay at a horrible Nursing Home/Rehab facility, and in March he died. My dad is so much a part of my DNA, I still don't quite know who I am without him here. There is a level of safeness I've always felt that is gone because he is gone. I didn't realize that, until it was gone. I keep his picture at my nightstand and on the kitchen windowsill where I wash my hands elevently hundred times a day.
My Dad's death has made me reevaluate everything about life and my own mortality. The initial intense pain is lessening, but it still hurts to look at pictures. I cup my hands on either side of my face and close my eyes and pretend it is him. Oh, to just touch his face ...
So as we started the process of having Greyson evaluated to go back into public school for the first time in almost 2 years, I realized all the glue and tape and temporary fixes I had used to put myself back together like Humpty Dumpty, weren't working. I recognized that I felt scared all the time. I was ready to stop feeling that level of intensity.
I signed up for an appointment with a psychologist on an app called Doctor On Demand. It's an app for all things Doctor covered through our health insurance. It seemed the easiest way to work with our crazy schedule. I eagerly awaited my appointment. Finally the day/time arrived and I logged in. It's like Facetime- (I know kind of weird). And for the first 8 minutes the screen read "technical difficulties". I hung up and tried again. And again. And again. Finally, I tried again from my computer and it worked. Until it didn't The screen would freeze, while I could still hear her talking. It was distracting and annoying. It kept freezing up and booting us off. So then she decides to just call me. Immediately- not being able to see a person and have them see me felt like not therapy.
ding ding ding
I hear her opened her car door. I am so distracted. Is she driving? Where is she going? This is still our allotted appointment time. It was hilarious. I was honestly laughing out loud. I make an appointment to help with the piles of anxiety I had been feeling, and I got off the phone feeling SO SO EXTRA ANXIOUS. Turns out tele- mental heath therapy isn't for me right now.
That unbearable intensity has let up a little. Summer (and doubling up on my Effexor) was a welcomed break and refuge. But I have still found myself hiding. I always want to stay home. I'm scared to leave my dogs. (There I said it). After Jack and Belle died, Oliver and Lucy joined our life.
And there is this irrational fear that accompanies my deep love for them. We were out of town for just 24 hours when Jack got sick. We came home and he was in so much pain, and then he was dead. If I don't leave Lucy and Oliver- they won't ever die, my mind tells me. Add this to big anxiety when I (rarely)leave the boys overnight. Can you see the running theme in my life? Fear. Anxiety.
I realized I feel scared a lot.
When Summer started, the beautiful Jamie-Lynn Sigler asked me to be a guest on her podcast Mama Said. Of course my first instinct was NO. And then- Why would you want me on there? (But I told that inner chatty asshole suffering from Imposter Syndrome to shut the F up and replied that I would LOVE TO DO IT. Because that was the real truth.)
And we booked it for September, and this weekend it happened. It's been so long since I had done anything like that- just myself. It was out of character for who I have been feeling like for so long, but - it is absolutely IN character with the real me- if that makes any sense. I drove by myself. I stayed in a hotel BY MYSELF. At first I was a little nervous with myself, like it was a first date. So, do you come here often? (actually no.) And then in tiny little droplets I remembered me. The me I've been before and after marriage and kids and everything in between.
I took a long walk that evening up and down Wilshire and all the tiny side streets in Beverly Hills. Nostalgia smacked me in the face repeatedly. I can't believe this used to be part of my life- Los Angeles. It's a place that feels so familiar yet so far removed from my day to day now. I loved it then. I love my life now, here in the Central Valley. But the rapid movement of time, and the ability to hold only so many memories at once scared me. How did I forget all about this part of my life?
I will NOT take a selfie with Villa Blanca in the background. But I WILL take a picture of it like a total tourist while walking by!
And of course it was ALL perfect and exciting and so much fun. I am so inspired by Jamie's honesty with her diagnosis of MS. I love how she shares the honest struggles of it, yet isn't a victim. I love how her whole life isn't MS, it's just a part of it. It doesn't define her- she is not MS. She is a Momma and wife and daughter and actor and sharer and connector. Maybe it's because she and her incredible co host Jenna Parris, are so damn relatable, or maybe because I feel like I know them from listening to their podcast, but it wasn't scary at all. I felt all of Joan of Arc's words: I am not afraid, I was born to do this.
These ladies so a need- more communication and connection around the ever-evolving feelings of motherhood. Sometimes it feels so isolating, and so often we feel as if we are the only one who feels these things.
Here are some of my favorite episodes:
This one on Grief is SO GOOD
And this one on being an F***ING awesome mom is LEGIT.
And an interview with the Husbands (SO RELATABLE).
So often we wait for the end. Its written in all the fairy tales, and it's when it all finally comes together. It's often the beginning too. But my Dad's death reminded me- maybe we don't want to get to THE END. Because sometimes it really is the end-end. And at the end, we don't know what will have- things we might take for granted now, like the ability to walk or talk or see or not experience intense pain. The beauty and the grit and the lessons and the profound and ordinary is in the mucky complicated middle. If we are really, really lucky- we are so far from THE END, and we are drifting through our own in between. Truly feeling ok, deep in our bones, even when we aren't.