My previous life was not always miserable. I had many joyful times with my husband and children. Through the rough times, I fought for and found my happy, just like I am doing now and will do forevermore. It’s all about perspective, always about perspective. I got so good at adjusting my perspective, I began to lose sight of reality. Multiple things happened to open my eyes, and I’m grateful for those things, though they also caused pain to many people. I’ve caused a lot of pain for many people. Others have caused pain for me.
But I shall forgive, I hope they can forgive, and everyone will move forward. But how? That’s the question. Not why, never why. “Why?” is one of those fruitless questions as far as causes of pain and suffering, and asking it tends to just cause more. But “How?”, how do I heal, how do I protect, how do I move on, those are the questions I am working on asking, the questions worth answering.
People who know what’s going on with me frequently ask how I get through it and stay so calm and positive about it all. This always makes me smile. They only see me when I’m not alone. It’s that perspective thing.
I regain my positive perspective through self-discipline and because I just plain have to. I say regain and not maintain, because I am frequently slipping up. I consistently feel like crap, and have to dig myself out of the crap-hole. It feels as nasty as it sounds, and I hate it there. I hate trudging through the sludge of life, so I dig my way up. Some days it’s easier than others. Sometimes people help me, and sometimes they can’t or won’t. But either way, I dig, I climb, I make it out and grab that ledge, hoist myself back up, wipe off my wings, and soar again. Until I fall again. And climb again.
Lately, though, I’ve been wondering if it’s less about self-discipline, and more about self-direction. I’ve been watching myself and other people, as usual, and there is a difference between the two. Discipline is control; it holds one back. Direction is forward movement; it focuses and drives.
I have students and friends who don’t fit the mold society tries to force upon them. They have “chemical imbalances” that set them apart, or “disabilities” that make them different. I see some of them medicate themselves into mediocrity, and they find it quite comfortable there. They want to be “normal” and they feel it necessary to discipline themselves with chemical assistance. But then others use their idiosyncrasies to transform their own lives and the lives of people around them for the better. They are driven and energetic and certifiably crazy, but directing their crazy to create, build, inform, and inspire. One group is content, the other group will never be. Neither group is necessarily right or wrong, but my personal preference and tendencies lean toward the latter.
I still have my anxious energy, almost constantly. Some nights I sleep, some nights I maintain a hypnagogic state and consider life’s mysteries in a half-dream for hours until my alarm blares. Some days I eat, and some days food irritates me. Sometimes I am serene, and other times I can barely focus my attention long enough to fix dinner or help with homework or fold a batch of laundry.
I believe my intensely stressful life has actually altered my brain and body chemistry. This frightened me for a bit. I felt angry and frustrated that my normally calm, centered self had been stolen from me. Old me might come back some day, but I’ve chosen to shift my perspective while this new me is here and figure out how to use her to my advantage. New Me is less patient than her counterpart, which can only be a good thing, as the patience levels of my previous self reached ridiculous proportions. New Me is also more alert and prone to detest sitting still. New Me at times reaches the opposite extreme, where getting out of bed seems an insurmountable obstacle and it takes everything I have to lock my smile into place. “Fake it ’til you make it” takes on a whole new meaning those days.
Then I shift again, and I want to do much more than I have time to do and feel like something else is out there that I need to reach for but can’t quite see. New Me wants to find out what that thing is and grab hold of it with both hands and find out where it takes me. I start feeling held back by life and like there is much, much more than I am currently able to realize, but it’s coming.
It’s like standing at the edge of the ocean and feeling its vastness and power, recognizing an awareness of my own insignificance next to something so large and strong, but listening closely enough to hear the whispers that my potential is more powerful even than this, if I’ll only reach for it. Perhaps, with New Me, it will finally be within my grasp.