So far this year, I have dealt with a lot of contrast.
Contrast is the term I use when I don’t want to say a more accurate yet colorful expletive to describe all the yucky, unwelcomed stuff that happens.
It has been, nonetheless, a phase of contrast. And I know that saying of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but honestly, I think I am strong enough.
The last 10 months have made me feel like the earth beneath my feet was made of quicksand and nothing was stable.
Mama would be the first to tell you her Kitten doesn’t like change, but change seems to be unceasing. I have felt like over the last few years that I have just juggled too much — grad school, work, grief, and chronic pain, among other life changes.
There was a sense of having no choice, and it being all by my choice. It was trying to do everything, and in doing so, nothing got done. Anxiety, stress, and a general sense of being overwhelmed became my normal setting.
I was trying to finish my doctorate capstone and working full-time.
I was worrying about an aging mother and uncle and if they were healthy and OK.
I constantly worry about my child and his safety; all our safety every time I turn on the news.
“Something’s gotta give,” I told Mama one day. “And I am afraid it will be me.”
It is funny how we can maintain a high level of stress and anxiety about things for so long that it becomes the norm and we think this is all we will ever know. And then, we reach a critical mass, and something does give.
In this case, it was my student loans. I maxed out my limits.
“How much do you owe?” Mama asked, quickly followed by, “Please, don’t tell me. I’d rather not know.”
“Trust me, you don’t want to know.” I knew the number and it made me nauseous when I saw it.
“What does that mean exactly?” she asked.
What it meant was my doctorate wasn’t going to be completed. Not any time soon, that is.
All the work I had done the last three years amounted to nothing. Zilch.
I felt like a failure. A big, colossal, chubby failure.
Seeing something I had worked for so hard just abruptly come to a halt was shocking and unsettling.
It made me question where I had messed up and how I done so quite so horribly.
If someone came to me with all of this, I knew what I would suggest so I decided to take my own advice.
I started going to therapy.
I didn’t want to upset my mother by sharing with her all my issues; she worries enough. She takes that worrying part of her job description a little too far.
The few friends I have that I would talk to about this have their own stuff to deal with.
Heck, all of us — each and every ding dang one of us has some kind of storm brewing in our lives that is just a bit more than we know how to handle at times. Of course, the first question the therapist asked was what had brought me in.
Where to begin.
It was a rambling stream of consciousness filibuster of everything that had happened the last decade that I was certain was rooted somewhere in my development years.
It was a sense of not being enough, not being where I needed to be at this point in life — just a sense of not quite being where I should be for someone in her mid-40s.
It was a huge, massive feeling of failure. Of being disappointed in how things had gone and thinking 99.999 percent of the choices I had made over the last few decades had been wrong.
I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life and in that moment, I sure dang didn’t like the place where I was. But where I wanted to be, I didn’t have the first clue and I said as much.
It was just a feeling of being in limbo and not knowing which direction to take.
My internal Siri was broken.
I know that the issues that were weighing heavy on my heart may not be as severe as what someone else may be dealing with, but that is kind of the thing about life.
What one may carry easily may be heavy for another. And the effects of long-term stressors can wear us all down, especially if we think we are strong enough to deal with it on our own.
There was something about taking each one of those things that had been weighing on me and dragging them out of the darkness into the light.
“If you could sum up the main overall feeling, what would it be?” my therapist asked during a session one day.
I had to think about it for a moment. “That I am not where I am supposed to be,” I answered.
“And where is that?” she asked.
“I don’t know.”
I don’t. I have no clue.
But there is a relief, a sense that things will eventually right themselves, or at least be a bit more manageable.
Or maybe it is a sense of hope that it will. Somewhere in the space in between here, and wherever that will place will be.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. She lives to disappoint her mother, or at least that is what she has been told. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom.