Stages of Life
December 6, 2012 § 1 Comment
I got lunch with my mom today. We went to our usual place (Surin) but instead of diet cokes, we both got glasses of red wine as toast to celebrating the insurance company’s decision to total the truck. It’s the second car of theirs that has been totaled this year, but considering the ridiculous amount of money they’re getting for that crap bucket, no one is complaining. Hopefully they’ll use the money to get a decent car for my dad to drive, now that he’s driving again. There was a year or so where he couldn’t drive. It’s better for him to be able to drive, I think.
Anyway, I was telling my mom about how tired I’ve been, not just from recent events but for the last few years. I take on so much. I know other people take on more, but for me, I think I’ve reached my maximum level of stress and responsibilities. I want my life to be simpler.
She reminded me of something that I already know, something I’ve been hanging onto, though it’s easy to forget in the fray. She reminded me that this is temporary. My life won’t always be this.
I’ve made some important decisions about my future that will help, I hope, to prevent my life from returning to the color-coded overload that it has been for the last….. ten years. I’m not applying to grad school again if I don’t get into somewhere this round. I can’t keep killing myself trying to fluff up my resume, trying to somehow make my application stand out. I’m done. This is the last time I’m trying. If I don’t get in, I’ll use my Master’s degree and just try to get a job, try to find a life that’s simpler, that’s just 40 hours a week. A life that doesn’t involve a constantly grumbling belly and a fear of checking the mailbox for the knowledge that yet another bill has been delivered. I can live on so little, it makes any salary seem wonderfully high. But it’s exhausting living on so little money, and it’s exhausting taking on so much. I’m at maximum capacity and it’s time for things to change.
I just have to make it through the end of my Master’s degree, that’s what’s really the big push. I need to find a job since I still haven’t been given word about whether I’ll get to keep my job at the museum after Rockwell closes. A new job is not something that I want, but a girl has to pay bills and my student loans (dispersement date is Jan 9!) will only go so far. I want to stay at the museum. It’s grown to be somewhat comforting, like a dysfunctional, on-the-verge-of-self-destruction kind of family. But getting attached to anything right now is dangerous. This stage of my life is temporary.
I used to do this thing, when I was younger, where I would think through a situation or relationship so far that I would refuse to pursue it because I saw that it would end. One can understand why I did it, especially considering how deeply sensitive I am despite the walls I’ve built. I avoided people because I couldn’t stand the thought of losing them as much as I couldn’t stand the thought of them turning out to be a disappointment. When I left alec in DC, I tried to let go of that way of thinking, maybe just because I’ve been wrong so many times or maybe it’s simply wisdom that comes from growing up. Since I’ve been home, I’ve tried to be open to whatever opportunity presents itself that I think might lead down a road towards happiness. There’s a good chance I’ll be leaving Alabama in 6 months, but I can’t say for sure what will happen next year, I can’t say for sure that I’ll be leaving or staying or moving or changing. Being open is living life, not being caged by the worst case scenario.
Being open is scary, though. I’ve been hurt a lot since I’ve been home and I do worry that the damage goes deeper that I am willing to acknowledge. What is perhaps most surprising about it all, though, is that I don’t regret anything. In general, I think regret is a waste of energy, one of the most unproductive emotions we possess, so I try not to do or say anything I will regret. I made a lot of questionable decisions when I first moved home, primarily because I felt totally numb and was desperate to break out of that fog. I did break out of it, and looking back on the past six months, I understand the decisions I made and I can’t regret them. I did the best I could for myself and things have turned out fairly okay. I’m in one piece, I still have my health, and I ditched the people in my life who didn’t make me happy.
Damage has certainly been done, but I feel an indescribable relief in knowing that deep down, there’s still a person who wants to love and be loved beneath the bitchy, judgmental, arrogant shell I live in. The shell is in integral part of me, so please don’t think that it’s some kind of shallow construction. For lack of a more attractive metaphor, I’m like a turtle. That shell is as much a part of who I am as my soft, sweet insides, even if it repels people as often as it attracts them. I have to protect myself and I see no shame in having a decent set of walls that have to be scaled before someone can wheedle their way into my heart. I thought that when I left alec, that that part of me had died, or become completely inaccessible. Despite the hurt I’ve felt, it’s nice to know that that is not yet the case.
My body has an innumerable amount of scars, yet some people still find me beautiful. I don’t see why I should assume that my heart would be any different.