Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Lost

It wasn't a coincidence that I named my blog "Windlost". That idea, of being lost, being blown about in the wind perhaps, of being not entirely "found" always appealed to me. It summed up a lot of my interior world, an ever-present feeling of sadness, and not fitting in, and of something being missing, which has always been present in my life. Something missing has always been present, as funny as that sounds. I don't know why, but I carry sadness around me. I am a serious person, a deep thinker, a worrier. I mull and ruminate, and consider things, and think about myself and why I am the way I am, and I am hyperconscious and always trying to grow and improve and be a better me. It is exhausting.
*
I am a perfectionist too, and I want to be many things that I am not, and the harder I try to achieve them, the more I realize that we cannot push ourselves to be who we are not. No matter how much we might want it, we cannot will a new life. As much as Oprah or "The Secret" says differently. Life is preparation, years of hard work. It isn't wanting. Wanting isn't enough. You need to set all the cards in the right order, that is assuming you possess all the cards in the first place. You need to have an idea of what you want too, to know which cards you might need. And then you need to scabble about to find the cards you need to get you where you think you might want to be, only to find out when you finally get all your ducks in a row that you don't even like what you thought you liked, and want to be someone different. Then it takes 10 years to become that other person, and we run out of time. So we compromise. We take the best we can find of what is available and make the best of it.
*
And if we are lucky, our "chosen" life (i.e. mostly accidental life) is bearable. And our boss doesn't take it all away by firing us. And our husband doesn't take it all away by walking out on us, or we don't take it all away from ourselves by falling in love with a stranger, perhaps. And our kids don't turn their backs on us when we are old and decide they never want to see us again, and don't bother to visit us in the old folks home. In a perfect world, we make perfect decisions, have a perfect house and husband to go with it, and beautiful smart kids who don't exhaust us with special needs. We have fulfilling jobs and we volunteer and are lauded as successes in our community. We are surrounded by people who love us. Who need us. Who make us feel valuable, every single day. We are cared for and phoned. We have meaning to our days, if it is even to feed a warm meal to our families.
*
And if we are lucky, we find hobbies and side-interests that are glorious and don't make us feel inept and useless. We learn how to sew or scrapbook, or write, or take photos, or bake, or something that makes us happy with ourselves and makes people admire us, if we are lucky. If we are lucky we also find friends who really care about what we have to say, and who say nice things about us when we aren't around. And if we are lucky, we also figure out how to be thin and beautiful, which is what a woman is supposed to be (she says, sarcastically), and make it look effortless. We learn how to starve ourselves and not feel deprived, and somehow contort it into something that gives us power instead of what it really does...which is make us into mindless conforming pathetic machines. The worth of a woman is not in the size of her body. Yet why can't I will myself to feel good about myself? Because a thousand advertisements a day tell me I am a failure, that's why, because I am over 20 and no longer have the body of an adolescent. It's a crime, what we women put ourselves through, what the world holds up as a standard for us. It is an even bigger crime that clothing seems only to be cut for teenagers. But that is clearly our fault, and we add the guilt onto our pile as well.
*
Oh, and it's also a crime to get older. How could we let ourselves go by ageing? Time for Botox, or anything to hide the mortal sin (for a woman, anyway) of getting older.
*
The reality is that life sucks, and we are lucky if we can manage to live in a positive-thinking little dream world. If we are lucky, we have three or four people to love, and who love us. If we are lucky, we have a face we love or a body we love, but not both (and often neither). We usually always feel guilty about not being thin enough, or young enough, or stylish enough. We don't want to go on holidays because we need 6 months to prepare for a bathing suit. We are reliant on husbands who if we are luckly are amazing, but who usually aren't half the people we are. If we have our own jobs, chances are we hate them or something about them. We hate meetings or whining customers or having to be a corporate butt-licker over-achiever all the time. We just want to do our job and be left alone. We hate the politics or our office or our boss or usually our colleagues. We work harder and someone else gets the credit. We don't get the raises we deserve. And there is always someone at the office who is smug and who climbs the ladder and who we'd like to strangle in the bathroom, or at least kick in the pants.
*
And if you are blessed to love your job, chances are you are single or a failure in your personal life, since these are one in the same (I know, I was single a long time and it was like being the Scarlet Woman). Perhaps you are a jealous person, or a control freak, or manipulative, or passive-agressive, or emotionally closed, or maybe you avoid conflict. Chances are you have some personality deficit that your willing partner is only too happy to point out, again and again and again. Over time, you work on these things, one failed relationship after the next, until you work through all your demons, only to find that finally you are in a happy relationship after all. You are perfect. Except of course, you don't recognize yourself, because every shred of who you are is now hidden and fixed and silent.
*
Life is complicated. My life is complicated. It looks easy from the outside but it isn't. I don't enjoy my job, and I miss my family, who are all very far away. I am no longer in the great shape I always was and don't know how to re-motivate myself. I worry about the future. I worry about money, children, what decisions one should make in life. I wonder how I will find work that I love which pays a big salary and has a nice pension. I can't find a path, so I realize I am stuck doing what I am doing for the next 30 years and it eats my soul. People think if you make a lot of money, you are happy. I think that if your work is rewarding, you are happy. Money is secondary. Yes, I can buy everything I want, loosely speaking, but I feel miserable sitting at my desk, with my soul slowly eroding.
*
And home life isn't always easier. My partner and I have a remarkably good and sweet relationship, and we are luckily pretty evolved, but we have our issues. We have places where we need to do work. There are always gaps in how much love you feel you deserve and how much you get. It ebbs and flows. Sometimes you feel needed, sometimes you don't think anyone would notice if you disappeared.
*
I also have chronic headaches and have a hard time keeping my medications working at a comfortable level. It is always up and down, bad weeks and good, nights of insomnia and days of wanting to sleep all day. Lately I just want to sleep. A new drug keeps me up all night but another sedates me, so I lie in bed all night physically exhausted while my mind races. I got to work and try to be productive but all I want is to escape into about 72 hours of sleep, from which I re-emerge refreshed and without a headache. In 2007, there was never one single day that I didn't have a headache of some level. The small breaks I get come in hours, not days. I have problems with my body's pain management system and have developed a fibromyalgia-like syndrome where my body sometimes aches so badly it is unbearable. I have chronic neck and back pain to add to the mix. My doctors call it fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue or hyper-sensitive this or that, but my chemistry is out of whack and I can't get it under control. I hurt all over. And I work 40 hours a week, still.
*
It is hard to transform your life, take courses, excel at the office, be a better person, be a better lover, daughter, friend, and run marathons and be a perky little girlie girl when you feel like this every day. When you are so spiritually worn down from physical pain. The pain becomes intrinsic at a point, sewn like a fine thread into the fabric of your being. You walk around a shadow of who you were.
*
Even without pain, life is hard. There is always something that needs fixing. Or maybe it is only me who's having an identity crisis right now. A crisis of confidence. It's been coming for a while, this existential who-am-I-supposed-to-be and what-am-I-supposed-to-do-with-my life crisis. We all hit these walls. If we are lucky the feelings last minutes, hours, days. We yell at our kids, we cry in traffic, we are rude to a sales clerk, but we get over it. For me, it has been building and building and I am not getting over it. Accumulation. It feels like the top will blow off me. Or I will throw my monitor out my 5th floor office window. God, that would feel A M A Z I N G!
*
But in the end, there is no quick fix. No monitors out the window, unfortunately. Real, serious life change takes years. I remember reading a quote that when you want to master a new thing, to give yourself a good four years to do it. You need to choose a limited number of these things, because you can't be good at everything. I am trying to choose my things, to find something that might make me happy. Half the battle would be to figure out what it is I am meant to do. And lose that 15lbs I gained since meeting David (he's a good cook).
*
In the meantime, I go to a job I hate, in pants that are too tight, riding a train with fellow zombies all of whom I hate for one reason or another (mostly that I have to be forced next to them at the beginning and end of my days, when I am most vulnerable). My skin is peeling and red and I am full of winter static and my hair is flat and I feel pudgy and I don't like any of the books I'm reading and all my clothes are ugly. I want the world to stop, so I can get off for a while.
*
I want to go home for a month and visit my Mom, and stay with her while she gets used to living alone, while she adapts to seeing her husband adjust to life in a nursing home. I want to visit him and just be there with him too, because he is sad and lonely but slowly adapting. Mom says it is One Day At A Time. AA was right. This is an excellent life philosophy. Mom and Dad are both afraid and in pain. She is lost, very sad. His family has done almost nothing for him or her in years, but at least they are visiting him now. Mom bore his care all alone for so long. It is like she is shell-shocked right now, that he is gone. I want to go home and be with them, where I should be, fulfilling some role I understand...that of daughter.
*
But I can't take off that much time. So I am left here in my empty life, when I am needed elsewhere. I have David to love, which sometimes feels like the only good part. I love my parents and have a great relationship with my Mom. I have an adorable cat. I have you. But I am still feeling lost and empty. And I have nothing interesting to say about decorating either.
*
I know I will find my way through. It is hard being lost, and not knowing how to get yourself unlost. I know all the things I love. I know what I adore. But I don't know how to transform my life into becoming and possessing and engaging those things. How do I become new again? A fresh, shiny new me? How do I get un-stuck? Un-lost? Sadly, buying new dishes is not enough.

15 comments:

  1. wow...that is such an intense outpouring. i hope you can either find happiness in your job, or save enough money to quit. a year ago i knew i had to quit my job. now I make less than half what i used to but i am happier and it is a life that is more free and authentic. i really feel your pain and i wish you could go be with your mom. what is more important? your job, or her? the problem is always money, but you can find ways to need less.

    i'm sorry this is so long but i read your post and it really touched me.

    i love your style and how you've decorated. i too have a collection of smooth stones in my window.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, Terri, my heart breaks to read this. I can really feel your pain. Physical & emotional pain can cloud your vision and make you feel like nothing is right in the world. You sound a lot like my husband, he tends to feel much like you do at times. And here I am little miss walk in the sunshine thinking warm fuzzy thoughts to stay out of the rain, I think I drive him nuts. I've missed you around my place, so perhaps I drive you nuts too! But it sounds like not much IS right in your world, it isn't just emotional or physical pain. It is real understandable unhappiness. While I tend to be a positive can-do kind of person, I do tend to worry and fret and be a perfectionist, and I have been prone to anxiety. I understand a bit of how you feel. I've had times where I wanted to get off the merry-go-round of life just to collect myself and try again. But, life just keeps spinning and spinning. All of what you said is true. You are such a smart lady, you really are! The thing that keeps me "unstuck" strong and steadfast in spite of life's pain and difficulties is a faith in God. Even when everything else falters and falls apart around me, He is the one thing that remains just as He says. I know this is not PC to say, but as I see it, Oprah and The Secret try to repackage God. The world would be a lot better off finding out who God really is and what He says about life instead of relying on Oprah to misguide them into what Oprah wants you to think life is about.
    OK, enough from me. I talk too much, I know. Just wanted you to know that my heart sunk to hear of your slump. I am sending a big hug your way. I admire so much about you. You are asking all the right questions my dear. That in itself is half the battle to finding true meaning and purpose in life.

    ReplyDelete
  3. There are always plenty of other jobs Terri.... quit; go home. Severance or holiday pay should carry you for two weeks and David can handle things for the other two. If he can't or won't...get a get a line of credit if you have to. It's not the end of the world. It seems to me that your sanity demands it.

    Come back feeling refreshed and happy that you went. Your Mom will not always be around... now is the time to go. Find a job you love. This is Calgary... there is so much work here right now you should be able to have your pick of jobs.

    You have so much going for you and are so fortunate in so many ways.... honestly, you need to find a way to be happy and to stop beating yourself up because you are not what YOU perceive perfect to be. Sometimes it is as simple as being happy you are not one of the kids at the Children's Hospital .........

    I bet if you were less hard on yourself... had a different job.... you could alleviate plenty of stress; muscles might relax a bit...and there will be less headaches.

    Just my two cents worth.... when anybody puts a problem out there...I toss out some of my thoughts on how to fix things. I am more like a guy than a gal in that respect... I never feel the need to just commiserate.... lol...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh wow Terri, how I wish I was there to hug you in person. You tell your story so well, even if it is heartbreaking at times. You have such clarity, although you may not see that at the moment.

    I feel your pain but at the same time, there are some little glimmers of hopefulness in your words as well. It sounds as though you already know the answers to some of the matters that are causing you sadness. Now it is a matter of taking action. Not easy to do, I know.

    The one thing I have gone through is serious sleep deprivation and it just made me see everthing in a cloud of sadness. I can't imagine what sleepless nights combined with cronic pain must be like.

    Be gentle on yourself Terri. You are truly an amazingly beautiful person...inside and out.

    ReplyDelete
  5. A biggg hug Terri. Well, sometimes, there is nothing you can do but feel all these things you said. No matter what people say, or however much they love you, you feel alone and need to pass through this phase on your own. The key thing to remember is that - It will end...one day, the sun would be bright, and you will want to smell the flowers :-).

    My personal therapy: I clean. Like Mad. Declutter, rearrange, even clean my laptop folders.

    On another note: for the pain, have you tried yoga? I am myself not a regular yoga person, but I have seen so many close family and friends benefit from very simple yoga breathing techniques. Google for "Pranayam" and see if you want to try it out...It is also extremely good for relaxtion of mind.

    Hug

    ReplyDelete
  6. We're united in wanting to take it all away...the distress, the pain, the struggle.

    Somehow, I have to believe that it is all being worked out for the very best. We can't imagine how when we are in the throes of whatever-it-is, but faith in a better day coming ( and, hopefully, before Glory) sustains us.

    Thinking of you and standing in awe of the power of your words and the willingness of your heat to write them down.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I admire your willingness to put out there what many, many people are feeling these days. I know where you are coming from, my trip was similiar. I broke down finally, last May ~ a mini-breakdown if you will. I was forced out of my job and watched it happen, yet was helpless to prevent it although I tried. I was under threat of being disciplined or fired due to being absent for small periods of time from work, because of my son's disabilities. My employer knew but one person had the power ~ and the desire apparently ~ to ruin my life. I started to develop type 2 diabetes, my blood pressure zoomed up and I developed what the specialist says is Fibromyalgia. I have problems sleeping still, I ache all over on some days and get debilitating headaches from the muscles in my neck and shoulders.

    It is a terrible place to be. It seems forever when you are in it and no end is in sight. Thus begins the transformation within ourselves - that period of self-discovery in our late 30s early 40s where we reassess our lives and decide what the next course of action should be.

    One year ago today I would NEVER have believed I'd be where I am today. We were living in Alberta, far away from family, stuck in a very difficult existence. I reached a breaking point when I realized that my job was killing me, slowly and bit by bit. I remembered a seminar I'd attended where I learned to say, "what if" instead of "I can't". What if became our mantra last year when hubby looked for work in our new province and underwent 2 months of testing, interviews and flying across the country. I took a big step and left my job. What if, indeed.

    Life is not perfect and we don't dance through our days. But I'm no longer worried about my health - my blood pressure dropped 80 points, my blood sugars dropped to normal. We now live closer to home and enjoy popping in and out to say hi to family. I am looking for work and after 6 months' of a break, can honestly say I'm looking forward to trying something new and different.

    I'd love to lose a LOT of weight...and do plan to, slowly. I'm more interested in being a role model for younger people, girls in particular. You don't have to be thin, rich, etc, to be happy. I recognize that I am an overweight, average Jane and I'M content with that now. I want my family around (some of them, anyway), a few good friends...etc.

    That sad, empty feeling also comes from what society says we should be and what life really is. Your world was shaped and formed before you were even aware of living; I'm talking about the early years. It affects you the rest of your life and some things we learn to live with but cannot ever overcome. Some members of my family tried to kill themselves on xmas day when I was 5 or 6. I remember it well although I didn't know the exact date until 2 years ago. I suddenly understood why xmas has been such an "empty" time for me; unfortunately made worse by my son's disabilities. In fact the last 8 years at xmas have been bad enough that we aren't doing xmas anymore. It is so damaging and stressful....why keep knocking ourselves on the head because it's a society thing? We are now going to work on WHAT WORKS FOR US. I feel such relief.

    Daydream a little. What if...? What are the possibilities out there? How scary are they?

    What if...????

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh Terri, we have all been to the place you are currently residing and I know there isn’t anything that one can say to make you feel better. But when I have been there, it has helped for me to simply say to myself that “this too shall pass”. I also find that daily long walks listening to my favorite music helps. I know this is silly and not a solution, but it has been my saving grace at the most difficult times.

    As far as a solution to the “ick” that life can bring, maybe make a list of what needs to change with action items to do it and do a bit of the list each day. My gut feeling is telling me you should quit your job. Sometimes we have to shut doors for other doors to open (I believe this wholeheartedly).

    The deepest place of being lost is often when we find our way.

    You will be in thoughts. Big hugs.
    Calie

    ReplyDelete
  9. Terri, this is the most honest and touching thing I've ever read. And I cant tell you how many of us, although for different reasons and situations, if we were honest enough, would say the same things about our own lives. I dont know what answers or options you'll find in the months to come, but you have to believe that you will find them. If your like me, the worst feeling of all is hopelessness. I sometimes drive to work on the freeway (on my 40 minuted daily morning traffic packed commute) and stare at the sky and ask God, "Is this it?" Every time I hear that Peggy Lee song "Is That All There Is" I want to nod and say, "Yep, that's how I feel." But for me, I can handle the stress, the depression, but I cant handle the hopelessness. The sense that nothing in my life will ever change, nothing good is going to happen.

    It's funny, b/c here in blogger world we all put our best faces forward. I dont really put a lot of my 'real' self on there, for a variety of reasons. But mostly b/c it's hard to admit I'm really unhappy with my job. I'm really unhappy with my financial situation and my lack of options. I have no financial way to even think about planning a family, and I already have friends who are on fertility drugs b/c thier eggs are dying. Sheeze, I blinked and suddenly realized that maybe I dont have all the time in the world. And I'm only 27. I can only imagine how pissed I'll be at 40.

    I'm never one to force religion down anyone's throat. And, I dont know how you feel about it so I hope I dont offend you. But there are times when I know without a shadow of a doubt, that if I didnt have faith that God was somehow creating a purpose for me in all this, I dont think I could get out of bed in the mornings. Religion presents a scary God, lightening bolts and thundering voices. But the more I read in the Bible, the more I realize that he is a faithful God. He knows us, really knows us, and follows us around our whole lives, faithful and and wanting to know us better. I read this the other day, and found a lot of encouragment in it:

    Jeremiah 29:11 on it: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

    I wont lie and say there arent times when I pray angry. I pray those, "I know your soveriegn, but I'm miserable down here." But I know he hears me, and I know someday, I'll look back and 'get it.' Once again, I hope you arent offended or feel preached at. I HATE when people make me feel that way, and believe me when I say I'm no super-Christian. Frankly, I'm a big mess.

    Anyway, I'll be thinking of you Terri. I hope that you have a good day today, that solutions will make themselves known. Please let me know if there's anything I can do.
    Liz

    ReplyDelete
  10. Terri my dearest, I read it once and I read it twice, My english is not really good enough what I think in Swedish and want to write u.

    I am thinking of u, sending u strength from cold north, If I could I come and give u a long hug.

    Many hugs
    Katarina

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is one of the first times that I have visited your site. I just wanted to say thanks for being so real. Your post was very poignant and I could relate to much of it. I believe that you are canadian, correct? I am am too and I work at an Alzheimer's Society in Ontario. I just wanted you to know that you are legally entitled to a leave of absense from your work if you are required to care for a family member (including parents). It is similar to taking a maternity leave. You may want to explore this as an option. Jill from foreverandeverhouse.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. fredsworld1:15 am

    Hi...what a heart felt post..im 42 overweight, have medical problems and a disabled daughter..this is life! we all have so much crap to deal with its not worth worring about it my dear...love your man, eat his wonderful food, red wine will help you sleep!!! and wear lycra! voila all sorted...and no buts....life is not a rehursal its a journey, all you can hope is that your ship leves the harbor.God bless you..regards fred in the uk x

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous9:19 am

    For pete's sake, Terri, quit your job or at least take a leave of absence!

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Terri~
    just want you to know that you're in my thoughts and I'm sending positive vibes your way.

    I left a miserable soul-sucking job in 2004, and was terrified witless about jumping from what was "known" and miserable to what was unknown and possibly more miserable. Quite possibly the most terrifying thing I've ever done.

    I loved the next job, and I knew I'd made the right decision right away. Sadly, the place closed in 2007, and I'm now just doing something to pay the bills and searching for another job I will love.

    You spend more of your adult life at work than you spend doing ANYTHING else, including sleeping. For me, it is more important to love what I do than to be making scads of money.

    Your writing is amazing; maybe you should think about doing some writing, freelancing writing about home decor. I hope that things get better for you.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I lived in Stockholm for almost ten years with my family still living in the north part of Sweden, over 650 miles from me and then I finally decided to move back home four years ago and my only regret is that I didn't do it much, much sooner! There is so much more I would like to say to you but my english is so bad and I can't write here. I know what you're going through with the lostness, I feel the same way and I also have fibromyalgia and cronic fatigue decease so I know what you are talking about. I'm sending you warm energies, can you feel them! Lots of hugs!

    ReplyDelete