November 4, 2017

A Protagonist You Like

I spent about two hours delaying the inevitable of having to get out of bed this morning, chewing on thoughts and enjoying the weight of my down comforter.
I used to have this fear of frailty. That I'd be "less than" because I get migraines, that I have a trainwreck of a back and neck thanks to choices in leisure activities, exacerbated by actual injury. I've got a brain that doesn't quite fire right, meaning it spins off on its own path, too fast, too dark, and too anxious. I'm a packrat, and have historically carried around extra body "just in case I came up short", which is the dumbest thing to hoard, ever. I'm well versed in pain, spending weeks a year whispering curses into ice packs, leaking pain inspired tears into pillows, and being pickled by epsom salts and opioids. Part of my identity has historically included the word, "broken" on some level. Empirical evidence and some other bullshit I'd talked myself into.

This morning, with the duvet pulled up to the tip of my frosty little nose, my logic and my emotion stood akimbo over me, and in unison said, "And?"

That's a pretty big deal, actually. They squabble like siblings more often than they agree. So, in unison, to call me on my shit? Record scratch. You mean, I can acknowledge the truth in those flaws, that they exist, and still feel pretty damn good about myself? Fuck yes, I can!
How many times have I talked about Kintsugi, the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with veins of gold, creating something "more than" in the doing? How many copies of the book that resulted from Oriah Mountain Dreamer's poem, The Invitation have I purchased and loaned out/given away to friends who needed to hear her words? Thanks to a new therapist earlier this year, I was able to stitch together my logic and emotion in places they'd been having a blood feud since childhood. EMDR is a pretty amazing technique. Despite it sounding like magic or hoodoo, I have nothing but good things to say about it. And the further away from my experiences with it, the more I see new growth between sections of self that had withered ages ago.

Is been a year of upheaval. More so than last. 2017 quite literally turned into a country song between about April and October. Don't believe me? Let me give you the abridged version in approximate order.

  • The car batter died on me, leaving me stranded. (Granted, 8 years is a good run!)
  • The garage door literally fell off, barely missing the cars parked under it
  • The central AC in the house stopped working right as summer was starting her rolling boil.
  • Thunderhead drank his way into being kicked out of the house by getting the kind of drunk where it's apparently ok to make threats to set fire to your car and your house.
  • When the police failed to remove him from the situation because he was drunk and violent, I packed my shit in a hurry and fled the house for a week so he could get his shit and get out.
  • I ended up surrendering one of my dogs because it became clear she needed more from a forever home than I could provide. As a result, she was dangerous to me, and anyone who could visit my home.
  • My car Donovan, my best buddy, saved my life when I was rear ended by a 94 chevy half ton pickup who didn't even attempt to brake. The driver was distracted, and his me at full speed. And after nearly 9 years together, he was totaled out as a result of the accident. I was devastated.
  • Car shopping. While it's a pain when you're not under a time crunch, it's a fresh ring of hell when you've only got 10 days in a rental and have to pull the trigger before you're stranded.
  • My fridge stopped working and I had to scramble to get the food into another fridge/freezer to avoid losing it all, and then to find a replacement ASAP.

Don't get me wrong, there's been plenty of good to come out of this year too.  

  • I've managed to make a clean break from the drunken arsonist.  
  • I've had excellent results with therapy and feel like my mental health is the best it has been in my entire adult life.  
  • Difficult times bring out a person's true character, and I learned that my friends, while I might not see them frequently, step up and haven't forgotten me. I'm humbled and reminded that I'm valuable.  
  • I've taken my difficulties and turned them around, creating a place online where friends can ask for help in a group where the members know they'll be called upon and are willing to lend a hand.  
  • I've collected up clothes I no longer need or can wear and rather than donate them to a thrift store, I've taken them to the local YWCA for their emergency closet. I didn't pack enough when I left the house at 11:00 PM on a weeknight and ended up at a Goodwill to pad my temporary wardrobe. Not all who flee their homes can do that, and I want to make it a point to pay it forward.  
  • I've re-met, befriended, and gotten sweet on a wonderful young man who's been as supportive as he can be.  
  • While I didn't *want* to replace Donovan, Veronica is certainly a welcome addition to my driveway. She's a beautiful red 2017 Mini Cooper S. I would have sworn she was out of my league when we first met, and I'm truly glad that I was wrong.
  • I was promoted to the next level of responsibility in my job.  
  • I'm re-learning how much I enjoy my independence, and how deep my reservoirs of strength, patience, and resourcefulness are. They're finally refilling again after having allowed them to be bled dry just to maintain a bad relationship. 
  • I'm learning to ask for help. That vulnerability isn't disgraceful, and I have several very special people to thank for that. 
  • I'm grateful that Learned how to live lean during bankruptcy. Having lost half the household income when I threw the drunken arsonist out, I've had to scale back. Then when I went from no car payment, to ridiculously low car payment, I had to come up with even more per month once again.
  • Financial stress aside, I still managed to pay everything in cash, continue to invest small amounts into an investment account outside of my 401k, and bump my credit score up to levels where banks fight over me when I want to buy something large. When we filed for chapter 13 all those years ago, I thought I would never get back up to the 715 I had at the time. Welcome to the 800 club, kid. Feels pretty good to be wrong now and again, doesn't it?
  • Lastly, and perhaps the lest important is that I'm learning to enjoy what I see in the mirror. I've dropped about 40 pounds since the start of the year. The best part about that is that I don't hurt like I used to. That daily body pain doesn't exist on the same level as it did even a year ago. The not unpleasant side effect is, I'm discovering I like the look of the new, smaller me. I still prefer the aspects of me that tend not to fade as quickly thanks to time and gravity, but there's nothing wrong with looking into a mirror and enjoying what you see looking back at you.
In all that thinking, I came to the genuine conclusion that I'm pretty close to the complete package as I can get. That my flaws don't keep me from being worthy, giving back, or mean my needs aren't valid. Would I want to do 2017 over again? That's a resounding Fuck No. But I made the choice to build rather than destroy, and here we are, in many ways, better than ever.

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