Nothing

nothing.m4a

I’m sitting in my new house, packed boxes still unopened and waiting for me to actually do something with all this crap. But I’m feeling super emo. So I grab my little Casio and bang this out. The keyboard is precariously balancing on my knee. I’m scratching out lyrics on whatever I can find because the notebook I normally use is in a box somewhere. And I don’t even finish the song. I write a verse and a chorus and I’m satisfied. So here you go. The song is called Nothing. Yes, it’s a reflection of my stupid, illogical feelings. No, it’s not representative of what I know to be true. Music doesn’t always have to tell the truth. Sometimes it can tell the raw heartache that gnaws at us and burns inside our chests, hollowing us out. Sometimes, like me, you love too much and it breaks you. I’m not stupid for loving. But that doesn’t make it hurt any less when the love goes unreturned.

Lessons in Fear

I am afraid.

I’ve been afraid for 10 months.

Ten months ago, everything I knew “for certain” changed in an instant and life spun completely out of my control.

Routine, patterns, and consistency are all really important to me. I like understanding the rules and how things work so I can operate comfortably in this world that doesn’t make sense to me. Things that seem intuitive to some people are complete mysteries to me. How do they all seem to know what is “normal”? I have to learn the rules so I know what’s “normal”.

So, of course, my husband leaving unexpectedly and all the chaos that followed just wrecked me. There was no normal, no routine, no pattern, or consistency. Everything went into flux and just stayed that way. At first, I had no idea what to do. What do other people do when they go through a divorce? Turns out, there is no typical way to end a 21-year relationship. With no rules, I tried to follow my heart and do what felt right. But I was afraid. All the time.

I started trying to make decisions based on who I wanted to end up being when the smoke cleared. I enrolled in college for the first time. About a third of the way through my first semester, I realized I wanted to go to a different school. I started looking for one that had a great English and Writing program since that was what I was getting my degree in. I found the University of Iowa. It fit all of my needs. It wasn’t that far from my hometown, cost of living was comparable, and it had the best MFA program for writing in the nation. I applied to transfer in the fall. And I got in.

Now, I’m 16 days away from moving out of the town I’ve lived in for the last 28 years (since I was 13). This is the town where I met and fell in love with my ex-husband and married him at 19 years old. This is the town where both of my children were born. This is where my dad and stepmom still live. This is where my mom died of cancer at the age of 56. This is where she is buried. This is where my kids had their first kisses, first loves, first driving lessons, first swimming lessons, first years of school. This is the town where I had my heart broken more times than I can count. This is the town where I got divorced. I’ve never lived anywhere but Missouri and now I’m 16 days away from leaving.

Of course, I’m afraid.

This past weekend has been one where I am simply full of fear, overthinking scenarios, and worrying about what the future will look like. But I got royally sick of myself this morning. I made myself get up and out of the house. I drove to one of my favorite spots and just talked to myself. I realized how irrational my fears have been. I remembered things from my childhood that soothed me. And I realized that my kids would be ok. I would be ok.

I pulled out my journal and wrote, “All fear does is hold you back. You can’t banish your way out of fear or logic your way out. All you can do is face it and move forward. Standing still may as well be going backwards.”

There is still a part of me that is afraid but I have to be done with fear, done letting it hold me back. I have to be done standing still. I have to keep moving forward to stay alive. No more overthinking or trying to figure out the rules. There are no rules for this. This is uncharted territory for me. Someone else’s plan or way of going about this isn’t going to help me. I have to do what feels right to me. No more standing still, only moving forward.

People like to say, “this too shall pass.” That really just means that everything is temporary, everything has a season. This isn’t the rest of my life or my kids’ lives. It’s just a blip. This next part of my life isn’t even a chapter, it’s a few pages in the hero’s journey. It’s the traveling montage. It’s the opening of the story (moving to a new town because mom or dad is gone and we have to start over). The real adventure is yet to come.

Fear is going to lurk. It’s going to try to stop me, to get me to stand still. But standing still may as well be going backward. I have to face fear and push forward. Forward is the only way to stay alive.

I may have doubts and anxiety but I won’t let fear have me. I started off this post by saying, “I am afraid.” I’m ending it, saying, “I am strong enough to face the fear. I am strong enough to keep going.”

Forward.

Learning is weird.

It’s been a weird few days for me. Life/God/the Universe is trying to teach me something and has been for a long time but it’s just not quite sinking in yet.

I’ve always been the kind of person whose emotions tend to rule her. This is not a choice. It’s something I’ve learned to temper over the years and I mostly have it under control. As a child, when I did not have control, it meant meltdowns, tempers flared, uncontrollable weeping. I was told A LOT that I wear my heart on my sleeve. As a 41 year old adult, who mostly has it under control, it means the emotions still overwhelm me but I am better at choosing when and where to release them.

I’ve never liked this about myself, this enslavement to my emotions. I want to be cool and unattached, mysterious and easy going. Instead, I’m a golden retriever, Eeyore, and Raphael (TMNT) all wrapped up into one. There’s a meme I posted about myself a while back. It’s four characters and they each represent an aspect of my personality.

This is absolutely true about me but may I also add:

I am an emotional lady and I am NOT subtle. People know what I’m feeling. I’ve gotten so much better at masking as an adult but I’m still fairly obvious.

I got triggered a few days ago by a meme on FB and then again earlier today when I learned some information about my childhood that I never knew. Both brought back everything I felt when my ex-husband left me last year. I shared some stuff about how I love too much on FB after seeing that meme. Then today, after learning some new things about my childhood, I wrote a post about my feelings on it all. I posted it. Shared it on FB. Then, thought better of it and deleted it all.

I’m still processing all of it. After all, it’s only been 10 months since my ex left and we were together for 21 years. But it’s really embarrassing for me when I process so loudly and so publicly. Once again, taking my heart out of my chest and pinning to my gorram sleeve.

But as I process, the lesson I’m meant to be learning keeps creeping back up. And maybe pain is the only way I can learn this lesson. I don’t know. But here it is: I must learn who I am and become her. This is what Life/God/the Universe is trying to teach me.

I sometimes fall back into thinking that there is something wrong with me and that’s why all this has happened. I wonder why others can’t see how actually wonderful I am. (I realize how that sounds but bear with me.) Because the truth is, I like me. I think I’m smart, funny, sweet, kind, generous, cute, a good cook, and an all around nice person. I think I’m a catch. But *apparently* I’m not everyone’s cup o’ tea. And sometimes that gets me down. I begin to see myself as bland, boring, ugly, fat, annoying, stupid, and ridiculous. That’s when the emotions tend to get in the driver’s seat. And that’s usually when the wreck happens. (My emotions are terrible drivers.)

L/G/the U wants me to keep on liking myself. I’m certain of this. I really am wonderful, a class act (as a friend recently called me). It’s time to stop letting the ones who don’t see that affect me so gosh darn much. Maybe I’m not their cup o’ tea. That’s ok. They can go drink whatever kind of tea they like. I’m gonna stay over here and be a splash of Gentleman in a tea cup anyway.

So I’m out here learning and processing and growing and doing it loudly and publicly and embarrassingly and heart-sleevingly. But I AM learning. Slowly. To the ones who can’t see my queenly, wonderfulness I say, “Kindly fudge off.” And to myself, I say, “You’re pretty great. You don’t always see it. You’re gonna figure this stuff out. Keep going. Keep trying. You’re wonderful.”

L/G/the U wants me to figure out who I am and become her. I’m working on it. I’m still gonna process too loudly and wear my emotions like a gd reflective crossing guard vest, but I’m gonna keep working, keep trying, keep learning.

Thanks to all of you who are so patient with me on the roller coaster that is me. You’re the best and I love all your beautiful dumb faces.

So here I go, walking off into the unknown again, trying to learn who I am and become her.