This hasn’t been a good week. I’m trying to remind myself, borrowing from the wisdom of a strong woman (A, her name is Alice) who has had, and is dealing with, her own setbacks and steps forward, that I have to stay on the path that makes the most sense to, and for, me.
It isn’t easy. Life refuses to stand still to accommodate my plans. Nagging doubt, worry, and even guilt get in the way. I question myself as I imagine others must be questioning me. Why should I give any credence to what ‘they’ might think, or believe, or be told about me. I do care though, but how incongruous that seems when I have no clue if their thinking and opinions and questions are really happening, or simply being fabricated by my own weary brain.
I seem to be investing my entire self into a battle that the other half of this equation simply shrugs off. I know that this behavior, by nature, speaks to the way I handle most things in life. I’m an all-or-nothing person. I don’t have the capacity to come at something half-assed. I don’t have the ability to trust that things will get done, or be handled. Nothing is simple in my world, yet I wonder time and again if I am the one making life this way. Is control the ultimate goal, and at what price happiness…
Curiosity caused me to spend some time with Google last night, searching out the answer to a question about anxiety and stress. I’ve witnessed a specific behavior over the years, witnessed it again yesterday, and I was pretty sure that I already knew the answer. I was correct. Anxiety and stress can manifest in numerous signs and symptoms for different people. This very specific sign, and the surrounding drive to withdraw from stressful situations, is a coping mechanism in and of itself. In other words, I’m being hit in the face yet again with a clear message: rather than be present in this world; rather than work to solve or move ahead; rather than take responsibility, the choice is to shut down – retreat – ignore, and when you pretend that you are helpless long enough your life gets very easy. You can go about your days letting others handle things for you. You can be indecisive, feign ignorance, and go on living a lie, presenting yourself to 98% of the outside world as an adjusted, rational, normal person.
Some days, like today and like day after day this past week, I would so like to be that person. I would relish the freedom to let the world lead me and do for me, knowing that the only effort I would have to expend would be a handful of hours here and there, keeping up the pretense for those few who are relatively insignificant in my life while avoiding the ones who should matter most.
Some days, like today, I am so very glad that I am not that person. I am so very glad that something (stronger?) within myself allowed me to choose a different path. It’s not a perfect choice, and my own actions will never be perfect, but every time that I am witness to the consequences of inaction I am renewed in my focus. I have to remind myself that I don’t have control over what others will see, or think, or believe. I have to remind myself that, while at this moment I may appear selfish or unkind or disinterested to others, the opposite has been true for decades.
Some days though, I am just so tired. Some days it would be so much simpler to be the person I was 30 years ago. If I do that, if I make that choice, then I will continue to live a lie. I think I owe myself more than that.