Oh, you guys….I am struggling to hit “publish”. Have been for weeks. We are back from our Cuba trip. I started writing about it…and I just can’t seem to find the right rhythm to publish it. I have other posts in the works too, just ideas really at this point. I am struggling to share, and I’m not sure why.
I’m blocked, figuratively speaking of course.
Maybe I’m grieving.
It isn’t like I don’t have plenty to say… Oh no! I have plenty to say. The thing is if I were to write, like I’m daring to do now, I’d be in danger of sharing the rantings of a lunatic woman SQUARELY in the middle – or maybe it’s really the start – of a mid-life crisis.
This is so not cool. So-not-living-up-to-the-blog-name at the moment! Sigh…
Mid-life crisis? Really? Me?
I don’t wanna have a mid-life crisis! I want to be who I dreamed I would be when I was younger: confident, successful, articulate, graceful, beautiful, and loved.
Incidentally I just now realized how I never really imagined myself as a giver when I had those teenage visions. Being a kind and giving person is the goal I should have been striving for. If it was, maybe I wouldn’t be having the crisis I am right now. But back then I was relatively kind..maybe I didn’t feel the need to envision something I had to start with. I wish I had….so I could remain a kind person. I’ve let that slip, big time. I mean, I realize just how ridiculous this entire post is. Be kind, be giving….that should be the end of the story. But those other things? I had serious work to do to cultivate those traits as I started with nothing. That’s what I was shooting for.
It’s embarrassing to admit all of this but that’s where my head is today.
My brain is so wildly all over the place as of late. Part of me shies away from posting because of what you all will think. I have a tendency to tell real-life stories involving real life people. I don’t make up names to protect the innocent; I just avoid using names. I should seriously consider creating some aliases for the people in my stories.
You see, I have a strong need to write a memoir. There is virtually no one who appears in all scenes of my life…my siblings are at least a decade older than me and we’re wildly different. We love one another but we’re not close…they don’t know what makes me tick, what has brought me joy and sorrow. And neither have they shared that with me over the years. And I have asked….but they are far more private than I am. It’s kinda like being an only child except you’re not, which is almost worse. People know you have siblings and assume you’re close.
Back to the memoir: regarding the cast of characters in my life, I’ve had several dramatic exits over the years, if you will. More than a few deaths, one devastating car accident, and a few marriages (not mine) and moves that closed off some relationships for good. If I don’t write these stories down, no one will ever know. I’d like to think maybe my kids will be curious about my life one day – curious to understand what made me tick and guide them they way I have – but I suspect that day will come when I am no longer here to ask. And when they have those questions, they won’t have the complete picture on account of those dramatic exits. They won’t know what has shaped me and how, because it just isn’t the sort of stuff of every day conversation. They won’t know the toughest lessons I have ever had to learn.
How many deaths? Well, we had a memorial service for my family at church this past Sunday. Granted, a few names were part of my husband’s family but I gave the priest a list of 45 names. 45 people who have passed! I knew well over half of them. All were family, all are gone, and I knew well over half of them.
Well, “knew” is a relative term. None of them really knew me, and I guess it’s fair to say the reverse it true too. After all, I was kid or young adult when those I knew passed, and they weren’t about to open up to me, their youngest niece. Let’s put it this way….we rode the train of life together for a little while but the conversation was more like every day pleasantries. Small talk.
Needless to say, there’s a place for small talk but that’s not my thing. I need to talk about life…make sense of things. I need wisdom. I feel like I’ve got nothing…just what’s in my head and I don’t trust it lately.
I just broke down Sunday, sobbing over the enormity of the loss. Some days all I feel is the loss and it makes me cry. Why does it feel like none of the latter relationships in my life have nearly the same significance as these ones in the beginning? Is this normal? But then I realize that crying makes me my mother, and I work hard to snap out of it.
And lately, regarding my brain? The regrets…oh, the regrets are strong today. Time is ticking by, baby. Part of me wants to make amends, make peace with people who are still living that I may not have treated so fairly or appreciated nearly enough when they were an active part of my life. If only they knew what good humans they were and what a difference they made to little old me. I wasn’t a proper witness to their significance, importance, goodness, decency….once upon a time. It’s only when 30-40-some-odd years go by that I can see these things so very clearly.
Why do I feel like I’m dying that I need to make amends right this very instant? Is that normal? Why is this feeling overtaking me? It too reminds me of my mom….her last phone call, unbeknownst to her at the time, was to make amends to a high school advisor of mine. Is that why I’m freaking out? Am I doing the same thing here?
I don’t know why I wasn’t a proper witness to these good people. Teen me was self-centered and shallow-minded. In some cases I for sure felt inadequate, awkward. And in other cases, I assumed that most people were as good and decent and kind as the ones I left behind in pursuit of new experiences.
I was wrong on oh-so-many counts.
I have spent most of my life, SO MUCH TIME, looking for a spark, and even waiting for lightning to strike twice. The truth is, all I’ve ever been is a seeker. I keep looking for something better, wanting something more. I can’t separate how much of that is a healthy pursuit of excellence, personal growth, and self-actualization versus blind, gross, insatiable need. The truth is, I don’t know how to sit still and just be. It feels like I’m withering away, rusting, when I do that.
Don’t get me wrong…I am grateful for what I have. But why am I not satisfied with that? Why do I keep looking? Why don’t I spend my time polishing what’s before me? And by looking backward at past relationships, why am I like the retiree walking on the beach with a metal detector looking for something precious that has been buried? What good could possibly come from THAT?
When I’m feeling good, I’m forward looking, not beachcombing. I don’t want to be in this space… But the beach…the waves are my tears, washing precious objects ashore. And while the ocean is vast and the objects are small, they bring some joy when I find them…even if they’ve been lost in the waters for so very long and not something that I can incorporate actively into my life today. Maybe my beachcombing is to find shiny little happy things and reminisce for a short while.
Let me explain: about a week or two ago, I made a list of about 20 or so people who had the greatest positive impact on my life. I put them in a couple of different categories, ranging from no contact whatsoever in years to constant contact. Only my husband is in the latter category…very telling. I thought long and hard about how hard it has been for me to make friends ever since I moved back to Ohio even though that was 14 years ago, and how maybe my best bet at this point was to rekindle the relationships that were the most meaningful over the course of my life. Very few of the 20 have entered my life in the last 20 years. Very few.
I know don’t know what I expect to get out of this effort. I know darn well that some of these relationships can never be rekindled. My outreach would be viewed as odd, eccentric, unwelcome. Lightning, I’ve learned, does not strike twice. Whatever stupid action I may have taken to cause the relationship to fizzle is a done deal. “Things happen for a reason,” they say. I say they happen because sometimes I’ve been stupid and careless….
I suspect the only thing I can hope for is to share a word of kindness about how much these people meant to me, tell them that I will always wish them well (as I have every time I think of them), and that I regret that I ever lost touch in the first place.
Yet this whole exercise feels like a stupid, vulnerable thing to do. I will probably chicken out before I get through the list. I don’t have courage when it comes right down to it.
And I know life gets in the way and friendships exist sometimes only for a season due to no fault of anyone, but lately I am living with regrets about that.
I’m walking on the beach with my metal detector. It’s silly, I know, but for now but it gives me something to do.