Wherein the Suburbohemian Finally Sees the Light and It is Not Coming from a Twitching Neon Sign in a Bar Named “The Crawl Inn and Die”
And thanks everyone who said “I told you so.”
My epiphany was announced by the kindly voices in my head put there by equally kind friends. They’d been gently admonishing me to not treat myself like cat vomit on the Persian rug of life (as they did not put it) but more like how I would treat others who’ve rocked along in a similar boat and found themselves becalmed in dank waters that were the opposite of where they intended to row.
I unexpectedly heard their voices as one would hear sweet, tinkly fairy bells when I sat with a close friend, who, like me, was coming out of a few years of uninterrupted disaster. We were quietly celebrating our ongoing emergence from life on Planet Doom by having lunch in a neighborhood place where the neighbors tend to have truly entertaining levels of income. We lolled among the swells and made plans to start taking care of ourselves and accomplish projects that had been delayed while we slayed other monsters and just tried to stay on the right side of the dirt. Then I heard my friend bemoan how little she’d accomplished over the last two years and that’s when I snapped.
“She sounds like you” the kindly voices chimed. “This is the same mistake you make!”
And Dear Reader, I told her so. I listed all she had done that was pretty damn amazing during times when she could have chosen to disappear into a haze of wine, denial or corrective shopping while her world burned to the ground. I told her that neither one of us gives ourselves enough credit for our accomplishments and I had that on good authority from people who’d heard me undervalue my own work just because it took place in tough spots that had not led to where I had originally planned to ever go.
Suddenly there was clarity peeking through shitty little clouds of distortion.
I scurried home to a neighborhood where the neighbors are not entertained by their level of income and before I could slip back into the habit of the personal short sell, I decided to look for evidence of my own accomplishments. During my Time of Great Despair, I‘d kept track of an assortment of domestic projects that ranged from grindingly tedious to overwhelmingly icky and staggeringly dreadful. I had come to think of these records and notes as place where good intentions had gone to die, but another look told me I’d done more than make a list and wander off in a despondent vapor. They were more like mini- monuments to an effort made to move forward and not just give up the ghost. Some were set aside because they weren’t that huge a priority or were so boring as to make anyone with an ounce of imagination and even less energy weep bitter tears of defeat. But a lot of the things that had been left undone had required vastly more concentration, creativity and sense of possibility than I could scrounge at the moment. The accomplished tasks ranged from not too shabby to wow, I really did all that.
The lists weren’t perfectly complete, but they were completely acceptable efforts to get a lot of stuff done, usually under siege conditions with guaranteed interruptions. Seeing them in print was validation for work that was mostly unpaid, totally essential and pretty much without value in the business world because it was done for family, for sick people—usually in circumstances and systems that weren’t user friendly.
Herein lies one of my challenges: taking this collection of efforts made, things learned and tasks beaten into submission to create part of a meaningful way to sell myself for a job that I might really want to do. That’s always been the goal. Seeing before me the evidence of all I’ve done over the last few years for family has told me that I still have strengths and experience to offer. What was left undone now makes sense. Friends and associates saw that first and kept pointing it out until I finally saw some of it myself. Now that I can actually start to believe it a bit, I can scrape off some of the weird and get more help configuring this message to take on the road.
Collaborators are standing by.