Here it is… I’ve never written two posts in a day, but, in the interest of total exposure, this is a follow-up:
The blog post I published just before this one, entitled “Free Beauty Therapy” felt like utter crap. I wrote it yesterday, and while I believe somewhere deep inside me everything that I wrote, I honestly wasn’t feeling it this morning when I hit the “publish” button. Just to the left of that “publish” button, WordPress has so conveniently placed a “Move to Trash” option; my mouse hovered between the two, as I waffled (yes, that’s a verb in my vocabulary) between the two choices. Is it a co-incidence that they are so closely located?
Since Christmas, permanent roommate has been putting in the long hours. In order to be on the job site on time in the morning, he is setting his alarm for 4:30 am. To me, that’s inhumane treatment. Cruel and unusual punishment. Yet, for the past three months, he’s been a trooper, getting up early, going to work, and bringing home a paycheck to care for his family. He returns home at night, sometimes as late as 8:30 pm, hangs out with the family long enough to eat, then retires to bed, hoping for enough sleep to get up and do it all over again the next day.
Two days ago, he got the memo that work was ramping up another notch, and they would now be going to a 12 hour/day, 6 day/week schedule. Including his commute time, that adds another couple of hours to what he’s already putting in, plus an extra day. There go the weekends.
Since he is somewhat at the mercy of the boss and the work schedule, (at least as long as he wants the job) the rest of us have been keeping a stiff upper lip for as long as possible. We are the supportive home front. Yet, the kids are missing dad, the house maintenance is suffering, the time spent on relationships and marriage is dwindling as the exhaustion mounts. Emotions are stretched, patience is hard-pressed, and hope is sketchy. With no finish line established, it is hard to persevere; the open-ended continuation is a killer. This life-style is unsustainable for the long haul.
Now I feel I have publicly whined ad nauseam. And I haven’t even mentioned the massive load I managed to take to the recycling center alone (since it had been piling up since Christmas, and desperate times call for desperate measures. I was afraid one day the headline in our local newspaper would read “Family of Four Buried Under Mountain of Recycling”). Nor have I mentioned the movies we see or the events we attend without permanent roommate or the meals we’ve eaten because he isn’t home yet or the friends who haven’t seen him in weeks because he’s always at work.
So honestly, while he and I remain firmly on the same side, and he is even more weary of this than I, we are reaching a level of persistence that is driven by survival, not sustainability. We are not thriving, but merely hanging in there until something gives.
And yesterday, when I woke to the glorious snowy morning landscape, I meant every word I wrote, but they also rang somewhat hollow. I do love the beauty. I did take the pictures and marvel at the birds and the raindrops and the foggy clouds. I am extremely thankful for the extra measure of precipitation that was unexpectedly dropped on us late in the season. But more prevalent in my mind and my emotions, was weariness. I have a tendency to post what is positive, what I want to feel or say, rather than how I really do feel, or what I really would say if I spoke with brutal honesty. I know there are times when this is wise; it is potentially damaging to blurt out whatever first comes to mind, and discretion and tact are many times the better part of valor. But somehow, between writing the previous post and hovering over the “publish” or “trash” buttons, I realized that I’m tired right now. I’m worn out. I’m weary of saying the “right” thing, or of posting the “positive” thing. It felt hypocritical to slap a smile and a snow-capped photograph on my page and pretend that’s how I really am right now.
So, here’s the question?
What do you do when life feels opposed? When you’re giving it 110% and feel like you’re getting very little on your return? What happens when hope wears thin, and the present fight seems on-going for as far as you can see? What about the times when you don’t want to smile or post a happy picture or present the idea that you really have it all held together? What about those weeks when exhaustion has brought into question your deep dreams, and the pursuit of your goals looks silly?
I like happy posts. I like to be encouraging and hopeful and to look for the silver lining. There is enough hardship in this world and enough burdens to carry without adding my own pessimism to it. I want to be an upper to my friends and readers and fellow bloggers. Negativity is so… negative. But sometimes a constant happiness feels contrived and shallow. Life isn’t a non-stop merry go ’round, with a bright side readily apparent.
My life does have many up-sides, blessings, and many things working in my favor. I don’t mean to imply it all sucks or that this is the end of life as we know it. This too shall pass, as a good friend recently reminded me, and I know we’ll eventually look back at this phase as a season that we pushed through and came out stronger on the other side. We are in a stage of growing pains, passing through this portion of the journey that hurts and stretches us and calls for fortitude.
I guess I just needed to acknowledge that: that it does hurt right now. That we are tired and worn and desperately in need of a break. That I don’t always have to be the upbeat, hopeful optimist.
And now that I’ve processed all that, it’s time to put one foot in front of the other for a little while longer. We’ll continue to recognize beauty and pause to breathe in the nature around us. We will appreciate our friendships and our blessings and we will light a few more candles and buy flowers and be gentle with ourselves and others. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Because the alternative — to give up — is unacceptable. Tolkien, the wise sage that he was, said, “Faithless is he who quits when the road darkens.”
That’s my confession, in the interest of naked honesty. I’m not feeling cheerful or springy, but I am digging in for a little bit longer. I am reaching for those reserves of strength that only have the chance to show up and be counted when we’ve given it everything we thought we had, only to find a little bit more.
Now, if only I had a phoenix around to photograph; that would make a fitting picture for this post, I’m thinking…