When Things Don’t Just Suck, They Bite.
It’s that feeling that the world is vicious. Like in a scary movie, trees and cityscapes come to life with grimaces and cackling laughter. Life suddenly loses its sense of humor and just spilling your morning coffee is an act of God against you. I was feeling like I was bleeding energy. Giving it out at random and leaking it from my pores. I needed to stop. Keep some things to myself for a while.
Recently, every time I sit to write, I get angry at my fingertips. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I don’t want to relive the story I have to tell. Writing means not only going there, but sinking my feet in, steeping and assessing the position of my toes.
It’s hard to publicly admit, but the truth is that life has kind of sucked recently. 2015 will not go down in history as my year. And I know that I’m the girl that finds an upside in the murky haze of shitty days, and I’m supposed to be the girl that has it all together. But what happens when I’m not? When I’m hyperventilating on the phone with my mother, and the world gets mean, and I feel like my hands are too small to deal with the hugeness of it all? What happens when my puzzle changes shape and all of my jagged pieces no longer fit all that “together.”
So, I could go into detail explaining to you about starting the year heartbroken and deceived, and maybe more upset than I’ve been in a long time. I could drone on about feeling heavy from that, when I suddenly learned that I had to move from the safety of my apartment. I could write about having less than a month to sift through a ridiculous amount of stuff that belonged to ghosts of roommates past. And I could ramble about the incredible task of packing up my life and moving, all on my own.
I could pour over how I finally wanted to get settled in my new place and about how I hoped for a fresh start and new energy, only to have rats move into my walls and keep me from sleep night after night. And, trust me, I could GO ON about the subsequent horrific infestation of mites that then descended on my pristine new bedroom when aforementioned rodents died in the sheetrock beside my bed. And I could explain how I tried to keep my sense of humor through it all. How I tried my best to laugh through tears while dealing with my uncaring new management company. And how, for my own sanity, I tried to crack the hint of a smile from a socially impaired exterminator, a Hasidic entomological savant (he was a tough crowd…).
I could paint the picture quite nicely of my entire body bleeding, and being peppered in mite bites, and feeling like sandpaper had been taken to my limbs, stomach, neck. I could elaborate on the PTSD associated with having tiny bugs crawling all over my skin. I could tell you about sleeping on the couch for two weeks and living out of a plastic bag, and about having a team chemically bomb my new apartment. About having to wash everything I own in piping hot water, which inevitably ruined a fair amount of my wardrobe. About stressing over of the cost of it all, and trying to keep up with work and life… and I could write pages and pages about how the weight of it all on my lungs made it impossible to take in enough air. And about finally, finally reaching the point where it all fell apart. Where I fell apart…
I could talk about all of those things. Because they’re all true.
But I think you get the point. And beyond that, really, what’s the point? The pragmatist in me assesses the “why me” mentality and I see nothing but a dead end, with a winding road to get there. And while recently, I swear, I’ve felt like an unwelcome visitor in my own life, I’m pretty determined not to stay in that uncomfortable space for long. They say healing is an art, and no one has ever accused me of not being creative.
But the funny thing is that up until now, I’ve thought that fighting and feigning strength was the way to do it. I’ve overextended myself with challenges, expecting things from my mind and body that I would never ask of other people, unwilling to accept this cosmic call for rest. And as it turns out, it seems that never wanting to be the girl that breaks is a recipe for shattering.
I think back to when I was sitting on a stoop a few doors down from my Driggs Avenue apartment just before moving day. Coffee hot in my hands, my eyes were sleepy in a way that sleep couldn’t fix. And, I remember watching as strangers picked up things from the box I set in front of my door, a sign slapped to it that read: “Free shit. Mom doesn’t want me anymore.” It was my subtle nod to the potential new owners that the belongings came from somewhere warm — someone.
A vase. A pot. A picture frame…I watched as the passersby would roll the items around in their hands. Assess their value. Look for defects. Tuck the chosen ones away under their arms with a satisfying raise of the eyebrows, or set them back in the box, unimpressed. It was an odd exercise watching strangers appraise my belongings. Out in the open. On a corner I’d called home for a number of years. It was terribly unsettling. But I knew it was a necessary step in the conscious uncoupling of me from my usual.
And I wonder — maybe I should quit fighting. Holding onto things so tightly and just allow them to run their course. Maybe I need to let it be hard. Get overwhelmed. Listen. Accept the lesson. Remember that sometimes tears are the only thing that can clean the slate.
So while I have wanted to keep my internal things internal, writing this admission to you was step one. I needed to get my fingers moving again, so that maybe my feet can follow.
During my move, I shed so much material stuff. And now it’s time to look at those things less tangible. Thoughts, habits, people… roll those around in my hands for a while like those strangers on the street. Assess things with fresh eyes. Rodent mites aside, what else in my life can I let go of that’s eating me alive.