Recently, I had this weird sensation come over me. What is this feeling? This … this thing? Well, what do you know? I was feeling contentment. Huh. Dang! And having that acceptance and contentment, and happiness, slap me upside my hard head had me think about the journey to finding some peace and joy.
After my father’s death six years ago, where there was no sudden last pages of a novel having us say all the things we never said and as the reader comes to The End, with little pearls of tears glistening, The End is resolved rather satisfyingly, the only peace that came was right before I felt my father’s pulse slow, slow, erratic beat, stop, and a man who was never ever still, a man who was loud and so THERE in any room he filled with that frenetic jittery energy, was suddenly so so very unnaturally awfully still, and that glimpse of peace I mentioned came moments before he died, when I held his hand and I fitfully dozed and there came a quick and sudden dream of a beautiful blue horse galloping into the sky, up up up and out of sight.
After that, for reasons known and unknown when we face an unexpected not-so-go-gentle-into-the-good-night death of someone important, Pandora’s Box rend asunder and I began to uproot many things in my life, walked away from some, ran from others, and through my scrambling amok both good and bad and in between, circumstances led me to have to give up the pretty sweet deal of being a writer full time so I could step out into a big empty space of possibility. Instead of thinking as an adult and being wise and all grown-uppy about it, I stumble-bumbled myself willy nilly** into messes and not-good-for-me men and right into a dark abyss of snarl. (It’s a big eye-opener to realize that you’ve approached much of your adult life with a child’s eyes and not a grown woman’s eyes—ouch, that recent insight was painful to admit!)
But, hey! From that murky crapitude I stepped into the light time and I didn’t even acknowledge the complete change rising up in me because I was so used to being Oh, It’s Just That Cray Cray Kathryn.
No miracle happened. My books didn’t suddenly fly off shelves, or even make it to a lot of shelves. I haven’t had time to write the book I so desperately want to have much more time to write; the bills still come, the mortgage still needs to be paid, I have to eat; you know, all those grown-uppy thangs.
So what changed to make the change?
Welp, y’all, it’s how I perceive my world and how I want to live in it and who I want to live with in it. This growth took a lot of uncomfortable looking in the mirror, and, ugh, soul-searching—double ugh (thus, the child’s eyes discovery).
So, when you are feeling negative, or like a “failure,” or struggle with whatever big dark bug has you in its scrabbly-legged grip, maybe my do and don’t ‘list’ will help you, or perhaps, as we are all different even in our collective sameness, you just need to make your own.
Don’t drink too much. Okay, maybe you’ll allow yourself that one night where you slug down some vodka and dance around the living room to techno trance before feeling sorry for yourself and throwing your glass against a tree and railing against your fates and then curl into a ball in a chair and sob and fall asleep and wake up with your mouth dry and your pea-headed brain full of cotton and then unsteadily climb into your bed where you wake the next day feeling like crap on a stick that’s been beaten against a glass-littered tree. Find another way to cope with stress and anxiety. No scenario has you drinking too much and then going, “Sure am glad I did that! I feel great now! All my problems are SOLVED!” Yeah . . . no. Which leads me to . . . .
If you have been drinking, or you’ve fallen down a weird dark well of self-indulgence, for gawd’s sake don’t post your angst willy nilly on social media. Bother your most trusted long-suffering BFF, if you must. No one wants to read that shit. No one wants to see your dark depressed underbelly. No one wants to worry their ass off about you. If you do post your ramblings, you will regret it. Yes you will. YES YOU WILL! Do whatever is necessary not to bare your darkened squishy brain until you feel better. If you post your errant oozy sufferings, later, when you are back to your strong kickass self, you will wish you had not let people see a side of you that you’d have rather not. (Remember, this is my own personal list; you may find solace in reaching out to thousands of your own personal social media friends.)
Don’t further isolate yourself by further isolating yourself. Give yourself a little time to push all the nasties out of your system, and then it’s time to stop wallowing. Get out with friends. Go for a drive. Invite someone(s) over. Workout. Smile at people. Talk to people. Be aware of your surroundings and remember where you once found joy. Remember that things are not all BAD, just different, and if there is some BAD, then remember it will not last forever unless you give the bad POWER—don’t give away your power. Find excitement in that different— *Did you think this writing life, or life in general, would all be easy? Silly Rabbit.*
However, pertaining to Number 3, don’t spend time with people you don’t give a rat’s big ole backside about or who don’t give a rat’s big old heiny about you, just so you’ll have some distraction, or so you won’t sit around alone thinking and over-thinking. Say it to yourself, in your head and then aloud: I know my worth! I am worthy! Look about your psyche-house until you find your self-worth and self-respect—are they under the bed, all dusty and rusty? Pull them out, dust them off, and let them back into your life. You do not need distraction from life; you do not need that “friend” or that man or that woman or that crowd or that bottle or that whatever it is that keeps you from thinking about shit you don’t want to think about—be with those who give you joy, who you trust because they are trustworthy; be with people who complement your psyche or personality or whatever.
BUT! Beating yourself up? Don’t. Stop it. Even if you’ve “messed up.” Dang! Who hasn’t? Give yourself a big fat break for being human. Beating yourself up will only make things darker. Even if you are the one who made the decision to dive into the terrifying unknowns, you should not be punishing yourself, and you should not be saying, “Oh well, this is what I get. This is what I deserve for shaking things up.” Nope. Why not be your own BFF for a while? Maybe during all this turmoil you discover just what kinds of guts you have? Maybe despite the fumbling around, you are doing exactly what you wanted and needed and considered for quite some time. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Give yourself some credit for Going For It, whatever that is, despite the initial feelings of grief and terror and stark-raving-madness.
Do find gratitude—every day. Every morning take a deep breath and consider just what you are grateful for. And throughout the day, remind yourself what you are grateful for! And you don’t have to be religious to be grateful or give thanks for the beauties of your life; I don’t have a religious bone in my tiny body and I am so very grateful for so very much. I just took a sip of some damned good coffee and, man, life is full of good sips of good coffee.
Do get out and breathe in some fresh air and exercise/move your body. Your body and your brain will love you for it, and you will feel GREAT. I promise you this. If you have never exercised, then take a simple walk, and then another, and then another, and one after that, and another after that, and feel your body grow strong and your brain feel centered.
Do live in the NOW, not some future. Remind yourself throughout the day to calm the voices in your head, stop for a moment, and BE IN THE NOW. What scents are surrounding you? How does your skin feel when you touch it? How do your lungs feel as you fill them with air? Your feet as they connect to the ground? Find the NOW, the present, this very moment in time, and savor it. The future will come soon enough and it’s rarely exactly how you envisioned it. So envision the future but be prepared for anything, and then accept the now of it all.
Do reach out to your BFF(s) and your family. If you uprooted your life, or it was uprooted for you, work with your besties and/or family on solutions to how you can transition from Old Life to New Life. There will have to be some grieving of the old life, even if you were ready to move on, or even if you were not, or somewhere in between. So . . . .
Do allow yourself time to grieve. If you don’t, then you are only denying what was once an important part of your life, no matter whether it wasn’t all healthy or perfect or wonderful or enlightened, it was still YOUR LIFE. Grieve the old as you step into the new. This goes for people we love and lose, too. Through death, divorce, moving on, whatnotall. Take time to grieve.
There are some people and experiences and way of living that we may miss forever and ever and ever, so allowing that grieving time, and then stepping into the light of our Now will help us to move on and move forward and find peace.
What do you have to be grateful for in your writing life, or your life in general? And what is something good you want to tell me about you/your writing?
**my over-use word of the day – ha!