Autobiography · Personal Development · Relationships

Strength

We sit in his car and I wipe tears away with my coat sleeve. I’m reminded of how my Portland therapist taught me the difference between being tough and being strong. The difference between acting like nothing hurts and knowing things will hurt, but doing them anyway.

My best friend tells me my heart is always going in fifty directions. That is must be hard if not impossible to follow something like that.

On the wall in the restaurant two signs hang next to each other. One reads “be strong” while the other “be gentle”. Finally I’m at the place in my life where those two demands do not seem at odds with each other.

In his apartment I wrap my arms around his waist and hold him as close to me as I can. One part pride, one part relief, two parts heartbreak. I cling tightly to the idea that wanting different things does not make either of us undeserving people, just not right for this partnership. And I can’t help but feel a little swell in my chest when I think about finally standing up for what I want in life. But no, that doesn’t make it easier when we kiss at the door, say “I love you”, and I walk out for the last time.

It’s a new kind of ache. One where I stand with my feet firmly planted. It does not question or try to pull in any particular direction. I know what I want and I know if that’s the way I’m heading. Know when it’s time to change course. Narrow my vision. Finally honest.

I think about having children in the next couple years and begin to look at all my options. Think about the things I want to do that don’t involve a partner. Think about my past relationships and what works and what doesn’t. What builds me up and what immobilizes me. Think about how to do this all differently. It’s my dreams. It’s my job. It’s my sobriety. All of this. This belongs to me. And if I don’t want to, I don’t have to share it with anybody.

An interesting feeling. Walking on the ground with my own two feet. Not tip-toeing around anybody. Not sieving everything through someone else’s list of wants and needs. And for the first time it does not feel selfish or pointless. It feels like taking care of me. And that feels… Worthwhile. Finally.

Photo courtesy of Ray Hennessy.

Autobiography · Personal Development

Easy

"Broken Gauges" © Dave Wilson, 2011. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Broken Gauges” © Dave Wilson, 2011. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Before I really know what’s happening I find myself on craigslist. Job hunting. Not for any reason in particular. It’s not a necessity. I just want something to do besides writing. Because writing is hard and working for someone else would be easy.

I fantasize about having a boss, about making coffee again, about learning to redesign an old website. I daydream about working in retail, about employee discounts, about clocking in. I catch myself wishing someone would come into my room and tell me how to spend my time. A paycheck to show I’m contributing something. A good answer to the, “So what do you do?” question.

It’s the same struggle I’ve faced for years. The same valley I’ve found myself in again and again when my writing gets scary and uncomfortable. I see it stretching out in front of me, all introspection and vulnerability. And instead of trudging forward into it, I want to turn tail and run.

So many pieces of partially finished projects scattered on the floor that I feel like I never get anything done. It doesn’t build into anything. It’s just a thin coating. I have created no mountains, no mole hills. I haven’t stayed committed, haven’t buckled down hard enough to build. I have done the easy thing instead.

And I’m tired of that. Tired of taking the easy way out. The easy way in. Tired of not living up to the potential my mom keeps telling me I have. Tired of making excuses for why I haven’t done this or that or stayed interested long enough for things to really pan out. I’m tired of committing half-heartedly and then pretending I don’t care when nothing happens.

I want to make big goals. I want to accomplish big things. I want to stop worrying so much about what I think other people expect of me. I want to do the deep digging and find out what it is I’m really after. Because I have my suspicions that it does not involve a nine-to-five job in an office.

I know it doesn’t.

The things I build my dreams out of are written words published in places other than this blog. They’re longer form stories that I spend weeks revising. They’re rejection letters and late nights. They’re all sweat and sobbing. Tired eyes and worn down keyboards. I build my dreams on long runs and heavy lifts. On failed pull up attempts. On early mornings and long phone calls with friends. And it’s time I start being okay with it.

Because I’m never going to make anyone else happy without making myself happy first. I’m never going to live up to someone else’s expectations if I just made them up in my head. I’m never going to be fulfilled by doing what I think other people want me to. That’s the recipe for a life of resentment and exhaustion. That’s exactly the thing I don’t want to do.

So let’s do something new.

Autobiography

Red, white, and green

"White-Pine-Aurora" © Charlie Stinchcomb, 2005. CC BY 2.0.
White-Pine-Aurora” © Charlie Stinchcomb, 2005. CC BY 2.0.

Last night I had a series of dreams that woke me up at six o’clock this morning, drenched in sweat and clutching my chest. Deep breath. Deep breath. Okay, you’re okay. I splash cold water on my face and curl back into bed with Mason.

The omnipresent list of things I need to get done today starts its march through my head, but I stop it. I remind myself that it’s a holiday. I did all the cooking yesterday, Mason’s gifts are wrapped and under the bookshelf. Today there is nothing pressing. Today is just for breathing, for loving, for peace. Continue reading →