Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Encouragement For When You Want to Give Up The Fight

Nine months ago we moved. We moved away from family and from friends and from the familiar. In the grand scheme of things we didn't go that far, we went six hours over without crossing any state lines. We were the newcomers who kept their license plates.

But anytime you go outside the four corners of the familiar you might as well be wandering in the wilderness. At first we explored new places and made laps in the grocery store trying to find the butter, all while enthusiastically calling this new state of being "an adventure."

Then sometime after a few months, the new stopped being the new anymore and became the status quo. A status quo where I still couldn't find the butter. And I realized that all of those words about "pushing our boundaries" and "being open to trying new things" had just been bravado talking. I didn't want the status quo. I wanted to outstretch my arms and gather everything I once had back to me, like lost little lambs rejoining the fold.

It's laughable really how small were the things that change aggrieved. Had I really once entertained the idea of moving overseas? I was a girl six seconds away from shedding actual tears over a pharmacy without a drive-thru. People live without running water or adequate health care and I felt God-forsaken because I had to walk into an air-conditioned CVS. There are first-world problems and then there are my problems and we both know whose are bigger.

I needed my routines and my routes. I was grounded without these. I flapped my wings, but try as might, I could not get the wind beneath my wings.

I had blithely assumed I'd easily find work in our new town. After all, I'm enterprising and hardworking and I smile a winsome grin. But shiny teeth don't always kick open the doors you want down.

Eventually, I tugged a few doors closed myself and let my work shape-shift. I put my laptop on the dining room table and started typing. I tripped over Legos, made sandwiches, put the mini-van in reverse and drive and park over and over again.

When I wasn't doing these things (and sometimes when I was), I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. The story that had been living in me breathed on paper all while the life I was presently living choked me. I was a house divided but divided by what? By whom? The past and the present? Or by who I thought I was and who I really am?

The story was wrung from me, drip by painful drop until it and I had nothing left to give. I swallowed the last tear and dried the chapters. Then, I started typing new words. Words that would be sell-able. They say that writing makes you a writer and that getting published only makes you a published writer. Please. Getting paid clothes you in legitimacy or at least adequacy.

Someone recently asked me if I was happy here. The question took me by surprise. For months people have been asking me if "I liked it here," and I have been saying that I did. It is true. I do like it here. Here is good for my husband, for my kids, for the life we want together. But you can like something and still not be happy.

More than once, I've felt hemmed in and trapped by my choices. I've felt powerless to turn a rising tide. If you want a different life "they" say (they being the kinds of people who say these things), then make a different one. It's all so straightforward, so simplistic. How hard can it be to put one plus one together and get two?

But what "they" don't tell you is that to get a new life, you'll spend an awful lot of time rubbing two sticks together watching nothing happen, that you have to give your genius time to be grow and that you have to accept that life will always happen: Car batteries die and babysitters fall and break their ankles from now until the end. Amen.

So, no, I'm often not happy. The process has left me frustrated and blocked and antsy and impatient. I want to throw in the towel and let them call the fight, but who is the winner and who is the loser when you're the only person shadow boxing in the ring? The irony being: How can you keep fighting when you can't see what you're fighting for? It's the mother of all conundrums.

I need someone to whisper the answer in my ear, I want someone to wave a magic wand and make it all alright. Wouldn't that be great? Except that it wouldn't be.

If the problem lies with me, then the solution does too.  I've got to keep rubbing those sticks until I spark a flame. Some day when I do, I'm going to set the world on fire.

Watch out world, because you will too.


  1. I appreciate your honesty. And I know that you will find your way ... Wherever that may be. In the meantime, know that there are a bunch of people cheering you on

    1. This is why you'll always be one of my favorite people!!

  2. Mary, Queen of Scots, said, "In the end is my beginning." Although it's not entirely apropos -- her "end" was a teensy more literal -- I like this quote.

    Starting somewhere new is hard, and feeling stalled is hard, and not having a drive-thru is also a small hardship. No, it's not like being stricken with leprosy, but parking & hauling kids around is something I'd prefer to avoid when getting amoxicillin or whatever.

    I admire how you're responding. I think your dogged approach will reap you dividends, although I guess that's one of the things "they" say (in which case, nyah-nyah, I'm on the opposite coast!).

    But throw away those the minimum you need flint & steel. ;)

    - K.

    1. I was a little scared when I first read "Mary, Queen of Scots," but I'm glad I kept reading. Off to find some flint and steel!

  3. I love that you are writing more. I have absolutely no doubt you will be a published and paid writer in His timing. I think we all have felt as you are now... Hang in there and keep on writing. :-)