Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown(-through?)

Fifteen months ago, I began a deep letting go process.

I was very sick, suffering from an unexplained exhaustion that kept me housebound for much of the summer.

Coincidentally, for a year my husband and I had been waiting for a larger apartment in our building to become available. We were happy where we were. We just wanted another bedroom and a larger kitchen.

In the beginning of this “sick summer,” one of these larger apartments became available. It was being sold unlisted, by the owner, who would not price it. “What will you pay for it?” he asked.

And so I began to look around, to see what was in the neighborhood that was comparable, to get an educated idea of the value of the apartment.

And along the way, I began to see possibilities that I had never even let myself imagine for us.

I saw apartments, alright. And some not with just an additional room and larger kitchen.

I saw some with balconies and a gorgeous view of the river! With a seasonal pool!

What?!

For us?

Could we?

Who were we to have such niceness?

It was a real stretch for my husband and I to imagine buying such an apartment.

The move we had been considering before this exploration of what was out there in our ‘hood would have been almost lateral. If we’d gotten that apartment in our building, we’d have basically recreated the apartment we have had these 8 years since marrying. I am pretty sure we’d literally have just brought over everything, just changed the kitchen and added a room.

We’ve both loved the home we made together. Somehow, his furniture and the furniture we brought up from my parents’ houses in Texas after my Dad died three months before our marriage all blended into an eclectic, beautiful style.

We have loved our home.

But I now realize that even before the summer, I had been working towards this letting go, this deep clean, this moving on, this full-on “now” presence in my own adult life.

In January I did a sweep of all my things and let go of a great deal. Yes, I applied as much of the Konmari technique as I could, and it was amazing, and freeing. I even finally went into stuff in storage and let it all go…stuff from my parents’ house I had not been able to deal with or use that had sat there since 2010.

I thought, great! I did it! My therapist and I applauded my actions.

And yet. I was still surrounded by furniture and other things that were my parents’, my mother’s, my grandmother’s. And I could feel the heaviness of it.

And so somehow, unconsciously, this drive to move took over. We daringly made an offer on the apartment with the view. It was accepted.

Uh oh.

This was not a lateral move. It was a stretch up. Way up.

We hired an interior designer to help. What?! Who am I?

(I call him the wedding coordinator I did not let myself have. Brilliant call.)

And I made a Big Decision: We. Would. Get. All. New. Furniture.

All my parents’ stuff? Letting it go! But how?! Some stuff can go to the Salvation Army, but my parents’ stuff?? Most of our furniture I couldn’t bear to give to strangers.

In December, impulsively, my cousin, who loved my parents and has a wonderful wife and two little kids, happened to take a trip up here from Texas for a weekend. I asked if they’d mind looking at our stuff to see if they might want anything down the road.

Miraculously, they agreed to take most of it. They were thrilled! (I was elated!)

Other friends who just happened to be buying new, larger homes who were in need and interested are taking the rest.

It makes me so happy for it to go to people who will use and love it. To not have it sit in storage, unused.

I have kept just one item. An upholstered chair that had been my great grandmother’s, that I had climbed up into as a toddler in my grandma’s house. A chair that my mother had kept. A chair that I have always loved.

We have had it reupholstered and the wood frame repainted. It had to be basically remade. (My husband still thinks it a bit crazy of me.)

I cannot wait to see it with the beautiful new pieces that we chosen for our new home. It gives me a deep joy, and I feel love around it.

We are on the precipice of actually moving in now. We closed on the apartment one year ago. Began renovating it in January.

Most of the process has been relatively smooth: the getting financing, board approval in the new building. The renovation. The decisions. The shopping. The decorating.

Putting our current apartment on the market. Going into contract.

Our current apartment closes next week.

And so here I am, packing and sorting. The move is actualizing now. What has been theory up until now is happening.

I have let go of most things. The rugs/furniture are all spoken for. Most doodads have been given away.

But some I just could not part with yet. Things of my mothers that were in a china cabinet that will now go to my cousin’s.

I have these things in a few small boxes in storage. They won’t be in the new place. I really want to let them go. I just find it so hard to give them to a thrift store. But I am working towards it.

My mother’s china, my cousin wants. Yay! But these other things…

I now realize some part of me is afraid I will wish for them someday. When I am old and alone, won’t I want to be surrounded by proof I lived and was loved?

And deeper yet: if I let these things go, does it make me a bad daughter? Does it mean I loved my parents less?

Am I a bad person if I do not keep the little blue bird figurines my mother collected?

Will she feel forgotten or unappreciated if I just let them go?

Who am afraid it will hurt?

These are difficult questions. There is reconciling to do, which doesn’t happen overnight.

Maybe Konmari can do it swiftly, the way she does.

I am doing the Curry Technique for this final bit. I am in a life/shifting, deep dive excavation of my very soul. I have been living this process that has been 18 months in the making to get here now, on the verge of really letting go of all this physical evidence of my parents and brother, now dead some years.

Of really moving on from these years of grieving. These years of finding a new paradigm. Of finding a new footing in this world without three very key people in it.

It has gotten quite challenging here at the end. We’ve had some new apartment issues. The new wood floor has buckled in places. The central AC’s leaked.

What does it mean? What is it reflecting about our process? The floor is literally the very foundation of our home. The leak? Is it literal tears?

These issues at this point have felt overwhelming. Like the last 6 miles of a marathon.

(I have had fantasies of selling the apartment and all the new stuff in it as is and living out of one suitcase somewhere. Yesterday I had to force myself to drive home. Everything in me wanted to drive away and never return. Seriously.)

Yet here I am. Putting one foot in front of the other. Showing up. Letting go daily.

I am continuing to walk to the edge of this precipice.

Here I am. On the verge.

And soon, in just days, I will leap.

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On Strike

Sometimes, life is too hard.

I mean it. Sometimes, I just have to give up.

Not permanently. Not in a dangerous or devastating way.

But yes, I am saying that sometimes you just have to say, “Enough.”

Do not get me wrong. I am all for positivity.

If it were not for having learned to watch my thoughts and understand that I am not my thoughts or feelings, I would surely be dead today. My thoughts have a tendency to the dark side. The side that urges me to death. The side that has had enough of pain and sorrow and wishes for me a return to the void as soon as possible.

I have come to respect and have compassion for that dark side tendency of my mind. It is, its own way, trying to help me survive. But I have put it in the back seat of my psyche as a passenger on this ride through life. I do not let it drive. It would drive me off a steep cliff, like that last scene in “Thelma and Louise.” I observe it. I am not it.

Back to positivity. I thoroughly believe, after much personal experimentation, that there is, indeed, a tremendous power in our thoughts. Choosing life on a daily basis and choosing  how to respond to life and the thoughts and feelings that arise as a result of living moment to moment are a crucial key to my having a fulfilling existence with some degree of serenity.

I have learned I can direct my thoughts. I can see when they are in a groove, an old, habitual, familiar song. I can pick up the needle off the record (remember those?) and set it on a new groove. I can literally rewire my brain over time with consistency and commitment.

I believe in and have benefited from the power of mantras and affirmations.

These are all tools I use to co-create a rich and full life each day.

Yet.

I also believe, after many failed attempts to do otherwise, that there is a value and a necessity to having times where I can throw my hands up, literally and figuratively, and say to the Universe, to God, and, perhaps most importantly, to my Higher Self and all of my selves: “I give up!”

Somehow, for me, exercising my ability to say “Enough, I cannot go on another inch, I am done, that’s it!” has been very important.

Some part of my spirit, deep down inside, perhaps very young, very formerly traumatized, needs me to heed her desire to say, “No more.”

I tried to push away her voice for many, many years. First, I drowned it in food and alcohol. Later, I drowned it in positivity and recovery. Finally, I stopped and listened. Really acknowledged and listened.

I had to truly stop snd listen. Once I could hear her voice, it was very easy to find compassion for her pain and her suffering.

She did not trust me at first. Understandably, she had no reason to believe that I had any interest in her needs whatsoever. I get it. I’d neglected her for so long. Denied her existence, or worse, judged and bullied her. At first, I didn’t trust myself to be able to help her, make her feel safe.

But I made a commitment to her to always be there for her. To listen and help her. To make her the priority over anything else, as a matter of fact.

To parent her. And as a parent, I do not let her run the show. She is too young. Too raw. Too wounded. But I do honor her needs. I take them seriously. I give her attention, affection, acceptance. I give her my love.

And when she says “Enough,” we stop.

Not forever. Not in a dangerous or permanent way.

But we stop. I stop.

I unplug from the striving. The adult-ing. The New York City drive-ing.

I go on strike. I take a pause. I withdraw from the world.

I take a beat. I let her relax as fully as she can. I hold her hand and say, “I know. It is hard. I hear you are weary.”

And then, when she has had my attention and has been given a rest, when we both feel that it is time, I get back into my life and the world again.

She snuggles back into my heart, and lets me enter fully into the moments of my life.

And so I enter back into my life again. Awake. Ready to strive. To pursue. To stretch and grow.

Whole.

Stalled

There is such a thing as sitting on the fence too long

If you wait too long to make a choice to go to one side or the other

You might lose the impetus to move altogether

The impulse that got you up on the fence in the first place

Might die a quiet but painful little death

At the very least

You risk getting splinters in your bottom

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: fence

The Battle

Sometimes I struggle with life

With living it, that is

I love it, this life

But it’s hard sometimes

And when I am in the struggle

When I feel like life is against me

I forget I’m not alone in it

Everyone’s lives look so easy compared to mine

And I feel so weary

But eventually, the struggle passes

And I return to myself again

Everything is not rainbows and moonbeams

But I can feel the presence of others again

And I no longer feel so…

On my own against the world

And that makes all the difference

Inspired by The Daily Post Archived Daily Word Prompt: struggle

Unexpected Turns

I just discovered that I love directing!

This is after a lifelong love of acting.

I had never even considered directing. Always thought I didn’t have the brain for it.

(And who knows, maybe I don’t.)

But a fellow actress recently asked me to direct her in a one woman monologue play, and though I hesitated at first, something in me wanted to.

That part was almost drowned out by the voices that said what was I thinking? Who am I? I’ve no formal experience directing.

(Never mind decades of being directed, studying theatre and acting. Never mind helping fellow actors countless times stage and work on their auditions over those decades.)

But somewhere in the midst of the cacophony of negative voices, I felt a curiosity, an interest in the play, an interest in the actress who asked.

And so I said yes.

And it turns out, I am loving it.

Now, I have no intention of stopping acting.

But.

I want to continue exploring this new perspective within acting alongside my acting pursuits.

I want to do more directing!

Who knew?

(I’m so glad I listened to that quiet little voice.)

How to Move a Mountain

Every time I start a new project, I am terrified I will not be able to do it.

Every. Single. Time.

This terror is not my initial response. My first response is elation. Excitement. Passion. Thrill.

This is a delightful and short-lived phase of my process. Much sooner than I would like, the excitement and celebration morphs into abject doubt and fear.

Suddenly, I am overwhelmed by the work ahead of me. My mind makes it all seem like an enormous mountain that I am at the base of, seemingly without any equipment or wherewithal of how to surmount it. It is like some weird fog of “forgetting” comes over me and seduces me into believing that:

  1. I do not have any business embarking on this endeavor, and
  2. I do not have a clue as to how to do anything.

I am grateful to have a partner in life, my husband, who very fortunately has borne witness to my process over and over again. (He was actually the first person to point it out to me.)

While his reminder to me that this is “just a part of my process” does not in any way change my process, it does allow me to find somewhere within the knowing that “this too shall pass.” The knowing that this is not the end of my process. That this is actually letting me know, in a way, that I am on my way. As in, the fear and doubt kick in because I am entering into my creative process. It is a sign I am doing what I love.

That knowing makes moving through that phase a bit easier. Then I can recall, if need be, that I have felt this doubt and fear every time in the past. I can reference back and remember that every time in the past, I not only survived, but that I even succeeded in accomplishing what I took on in the end.

Awareness is everything, they say. That I have found to be true. If only awareness erased the anxiety! But I have found that only action alleviates the anxiety (to some degree.) I am lucky to have learned that as well.

My antidote to the fear and doubt is this: when it sets in, as it always will, I make sure to start the work right away. I begin the work NO MATTER WHAT, and as soon as possible, and I continue to work at it daily. I do it in chunks, and in this way, I navigate the treacherous waters of the part of me that wants to interfere with my creative endeavors.

The part of me that Steven Pressfield writes about valiantly fighting. If you are not familiar with his work, do yourself a favor and check him out. His books have been invaluable to me in my learning how to work with myself and my resistance.

And so I prevail. Not in spite of the resistance, but alongside it, through it, with it.

I am writing this as a reminder to myself as I have just begun a new project and after being very excited about it for a day or two, just about an hour ago, I got really scared and filled with doubt.

What the hell was I thinking? I cannot do THAT! I am not equipped. I cannot handle it. Reasons flood my mind as to why it was a bad idea. Dread filled my gut.

So what did I do? I took two actions in support of the project before I could fall into paralysis or start dreaming up ways to get myself out of the commitment. And I am writing this. And I am feeling somewhat better.

The jitters and the fear are still there, just waiting to take over. But for today, I have held them at bay and given more attention to my work. And somewhere in the mix I feel inside, there is a knowing.

After all, this is all just a part of my process. I am right where I supposed be.

The man who moved a mountain was the one who began carrying away small stones.

Ancient Chinese Proverb

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt June 10, 2016: mountain