Monday, November 29, 2010

High Class Problems

Live in the moment.
Wise words.
I think about why that has been hard for me, and I think that perhaps, growing up as I did, for a long time the future was all I had to hold on to. I didn’t want to be "present."  I was pretty good at disassociating from what was happening to me and in front of me, and comforted myself with dreams of something else, something better.
Being present seemed artificial. It was what people who lived in a different world talked about.

I recently found a letter my (now deceased) therapist wrote to me many years ago. I was at a crossroads, and was reaching out for guidance. She succinctly summarized for me what I had left to do, in order to find the peace and happiness I so earnestly sought. She told me that I needed to get my financial house in order, and find a better job. She understood how misplaced I had been for so long. She knew better than I how powerful it is for a woman to have control of her money. She was trying to help me comprehend the importance of stability and continuity. She was right.

She also talked about my bond with my nephew, and told me that I needed to sort that out. It was always in my heart that I wanted a child of my own. I am so deeply moved and fulfilled that my fondest wish came true. It still seems so unbelievable.

Because I was not used to the pleasure of making a plan, setting a goal, and having things fall into place. I didn’t grasp how much of an effect I could really have on my reality. I was just learning to leap onto the seat of the racing wagon, grab the reins of the runaway horses, and steer it to safety. I barely believed it was possible.

But despite my bumbling and stumbling, I followed her advice. It worked out amazingly well. I am no longer paralyzed with the anxiety that living beyond my means created. I don’t worry about catastrophes falling on me like hail. I am no longer merely a pawn, eking out my existence at the mercy of some irrational Assistant Manager, afraid to speak my mind, and denied simple human dignity. The walls I have built are no longer to keep people away; they now form a strong foundation that shelters me. I can now choose to trust some people, because fundamentally, I trust myself.

The future is no longer the Promised Land. Right now seems tolerable, even enjoyable, most of the time. I have earned the luxury of contemplating the wisdom of living in the moment.

It’s nice to have this kind of challenge.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I've been feeling stressed lately.  I feel as if there are a lot of things on my plate, and I doubt my ability or my energy to get them all done with any semblence of competence.  I've thought about taking a day off and just recharging my batteries, but with the way things have been going at work, I haven't taken the time.

Then early Friday morning, after I'd dropped off my daughter and was almost at work, as I drove down a gently sloping road in the business park, I came upon an accident.  It was obvious that it had just happened, and also that the occupant(s) of the vehicle I saw could not still be alive.   Within seconds of my brain registering the upside down and crushed car to my right, I was surrounded by emergency respondent vehicles as they arrived on the scene.  I had already been going pretty slowly, but was forced to a stop in the middle of the road, effectively hemmed in on all sides.  My eyes kept returning to the mangled car, as I scanned the area around me as it rapidly filled up with fire truck, ambulance, and several police cars and other official workers I couldn't identify. 

I sat there in my car for only a few minutes, I think, but time had already shifted.  I twisted around in my seat and noticed that the traffic going the opposite direction was just now being affected, and cars were beginning to seek detours.  I was right up against the landscaped median on my left, a compact truck stopped directly in front of me, and the accident at 2 o'clock.  Behind me was the only gap in the road, and it was full of the cars further back trying to turn around and find another way.  All around me where the flashing lights of the emergency trucks.  It wasn't yet 7:30 am. 

I watched as a man in a fireman's coat and pants lay on his belly and tried to shimmy under the wreckage.  It didn't look like there was enough room for him to get very far, but the car had landed - hard - on its roof, and bits and pieces were scattered on the road.  I thought about how fast it must have been going to have flipped as it did.  I am glad that I wasn't there when it actually happened. 

I lowered my right window and got the attention of one of the guys who was standing near my car.  I asked him what I should do.  He took in my predicament immediately and motioned for me to hang on a minute, then he walked behind my car and helped make a passage out for me.  He walked back and told me to back up.

By the time I'd manuvered away from the scene, I had no clear idea how to get to my office building, but thought I'd head East and wait for something to look familiar.  Luckily, I soon found my way, and was pulling into the parking area.  As I came into the building, I passed a woman I work with who also comes in early like me, and I stopped to tell her about it.  She comes in by the same road I do, and we realized that she had passed through there mere minutes before it had happened, just as I had come through just afterward.

A look passed between us.  We talked about how lucky we had been.  It helped to talk to her right away like that, because I was shaky and felt weird.  I walked to my desk and put away my things, and got a cup of coffee and looked for a traffic report online.  When I found it, it said the accident had happened at 7:24.

On Fridays I have a yoga class at noon, and I was grateful for it that day because it helped a lot, but by the afternoon I had a splitting headache.  I know my boss would have let me leave early, probably even that morning, but I'm not the person who asks for help - I don't acknowledge right away how much something has affected me.   I went through the motions all day Friday, but my mind was on the accident and all the associations in my head to car accidents and trauma, and how life can change in an instant.  A work friend invited me for a quick drink after work, and I accepted, but it didn't help.  I just wanted to go home and be with my daughter.

Saturday, I never changed out of my jammies.  I watched all the shows in my DVR, and three or four movies on cable.  I fed myself and M, and went online a bit, but otherwise I was a vegatable all day.  I thought briefly of the laundry I needed to do and a couple other things, but I couldn't rouse myself to do them.

I felt better by Sunday morning, but something had been decided in my brain.  M has been talking a lot about Thanksgiving, and how she thinks it should be done this year, and all it has made me feel is tired.  I just don't have it in me to pretend to get involved in something I don't feel invested in right now, and yet I do like to make occasions festive.  We are not traveling to see family, as we just did that in August.  I am not interested in being part of another family's Thanksgiving; it doesn't feel right.  My single friends that I've spent holidays with in the past have other plans this year.  It came to me what I wanted to do.

There is an old restaurant up in the mountains that puts on a fancy Thankgsiving buffet that I've attended in years past and enjoyed.  President Eisenhower was a visitor there once.  They decorate, and have a large dining area, and it is fun and the food is good.  Just down the road is a nice hotel.  I made reservations for M and myself to go to the Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant and then spend the night up there, so that I don't have to worry about the weather and I can drink and enjoy the festive atmosphere and we can be safe.  This way I don't have to do a thing except drive up there and pull out my wallet.  We can dress up and have fun and I don't have to fret.  On Friday we can go into Evergreen and walk around.  It's perfect.

I feel better already.