I am scared a lot. I never let people think that I am because that would mean that I am weak and vulnerable and, well, that’s hard to admit. It’s hard to lament about your own situation when, one, you know so many whose problems are worse than your own and two, no one wants to hear you complain anyway. Being asked “how was your day” is not an open invite to dump about how all the kids do is fight and how work is crazy nuts and your are exhausted and just barely hanging on because chances are they are too.
So I keep most of my fear inside and allow it to eat away at me, my mind and my heart. I have a smile that is super good at hiding my inner turmoil; it is my shield that saves me from wearing my heart on my sleeve. Usually that smile can keep most of my fear and anxiety at bay until I shut the door of my home behind me and then it pours out. My family catches the brunt of it, the snappy remarks and the eyes rolling and the feeling of “if I have to make another dinner or fix another snack or wash another head I am going to explode…do you not know what I am going through?” And the answer is simple. No, they don’t. Because they are 9 and 7 and 4 years old and they don’t understand the stress of being an adult and they shouldn’t have to. But in those moments of overwhelming emotion I feel like they should. They should know how hard we work to feed and clothe and give them all that their little heart’s desire. That it’s hard to be a mom and a wife and a working woman (not necessarily in that order). That I am exhausted and want to go to the Caribbean and lay on a beach and sip fun drinks with umbrellas in them all – by – myself.
And then I feel guilty because that is not supposed to be what I want. But in that moment I do, I want it more than the air that I breathe because I feel like I am going to break. But I don’t because I see three sets of eyes staring up at me and I know that they are thinking “Yep, she’s lost it again.” So I smile and tell them mommy is tired or has a headache and they run off like, “yeah, we figured that” and I wonder if that’s something else that they will add to their list of things they need to tell their therapist in 15 years.
I keep most of these feelings (if that’s what they are) from my husband because he has his own set of worries to contend with and, well I just hate adding to them. So I know that he thinks I am a bit looney too because he has no idea of the storm that rages inside.
It’s exhausting, this fear thing, and I have thought about letting it go but then what would I do. Who would I be without this almighty force driving me, pushing me, consuming me? Peace? Hmmm, that’s an interesting concept. I feel that when all the bills are paid and the kids are quiet and the house is clean and the deadlines are met. So, not often. And isn’t that sad? Because life is short and I am realizing now that I have lived most of mine with spurts of peace and contentment. I grasp at them and then as quickly as they come, they are gone again. How do I get more? I over analyze that too…maybe if I do this or figure that out, then it will come to me. Then I will be enlightened and mellow and free. Fat chance.
I pray a lot about this. About finding peace in the mayhem of life. The answer that always comes is surrender. Surrender what? Holding onto the things that I can control, which these days doesn’t feel like much. Let go off the stress and anger and fear. What would I be without them? Ahhhh…peaceful.
That usually lasts about a half a day and then someone is fighting about a ripped sticker that the cashier at Kroger gave them or an unexpected expense comes in or the iPod went through the wash and it’s my fault because I am supposed to check the pockets. Then the peace goes out the window. But it was nice while it lasted.
I really want to know how to keep it. I want to feel calm in the midst of the storms that life throws my way and the only way I can think to do so is this…look at it like running a race. Parts of the race you are going to feel like dying, like your legs are going to give out and your lungs are going to burst but you keep going. And just when you feel like you have given it all you have and are thinking about sitting on the side of the road to wait for the “help van” to pick you up, something kicks in. Your legs don’t hurt so much and your breathing gets easier. You made it up that hellish hill and there is a flat stretch as far as the eye can see. So you continue to put one foot in front of the other and, in that moment, you have overcome. The scary part is that you have no idea what lies ahead but for now, that doesn’t really matter because you are focused on this moment. And you choose to go on even though the unknown lies ahead.
It’s a choice, this peace thing. That’s my big revelation. I have to choose it over all the other stuff. I have to let go of the things that are holding me down. It’s like being stuck in a net you can see freedom, it’s right there in front of you but all these little strings are tied together, holding you back, and you have to figure out how to cut them and untangle them so you can be free. No, it’s not easy and it can’t be done in an instant like some of these David Copperfield types make it look. There’s no magic trick that gets you out. It’s you, making the decision to release the strings one by one until they fall away. And what do you do when you look at the ground and you see a pile of twine around your feet? Step over them and try to leave them behind. Surely they’ll trip you up again, they’ll try to wrap themselves around your ankles and wrists and take away that peaceful freedom. But then you have to choose to cut them away again and again and again.
There’s always going to be something out there that’s going to try and trip you up. There are going to be days when you get caught in the strings and fall flat on your face and there will also be times when a net is there to catch you. And while you swing (helplessly) back and forth you realize that sometimes there can be peace in the fall especially when you see the ones that always depend on you, holding the net.