action · career · despair · exhaustion · friendship · hope · hopeless · job · jobs · miracle · perseverance · persistence

"We Need Back-up!"

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I have no back-up, she said.
My friend with two kids, impending divorce, move, life,
told me a few weeks ago. Trying to figure out if she could go back east
for a family reunion and see her great-aunt probably for the last time. To
figure out if she should bring her kids, even though she couldn’t afford it.
Trying to figure out who would take care of them if she went, because “he”
wasn’t available.
She felt alone, lost, and hopeless.
When I was leaving, she picked up her phone to check a text.
The kids’ other grandmother would be happy to come up and stay with them, it read. No
problem.
Her eyes went wide. She laughed. I laughed. We laughed about
the energy we put into feeling terrible about things. 
A few days ago, I saw her again. She was telling some of our
friends how she’d found a house in the town she wanted to be in because of its school system for her son. I hadn’t heard this part yet. Only how pained she’d been in the
looking, months and months of looking. Fearing, wondering.
She regaled us with how she went online on Wednesday, saw
the house on Thursday, and on Friday, signed the lease.
She told us how there was another house that she really wanted for $800 more a month. The kind of dream house she “really” saw herself living in.
But guess how much the tuition will be for her girl at the
school she wanted to be in? $800 a
month.
The litany of things that lined up were astonishing.
Each little piece of it having fallen firmly into miraculous and perfect place.
Each need met, better than anticipated. And “right on time.”
My friend was ecstatic and a bit winded with all the
resolutions that worked out in her favor. Eventually.
I said that it was like the “Universe” was tittering with a
present hidden behind its back. “Oooh… Look how upset she is that she has
nothing, that nothing’s coming out right – She’s gonna be SO BOMBED when I show
her what I have for her!! What I’ve had for her this whole time — Ha! It’s
gonna be AWESOME!”
And it’s true. It’s not that these things just came about
“miraculously.” It’s that she had been reaching out for help, grasping at any
straws, and finally, some of those straws bore fruit (to mix metaphors).
Desperate and despairing though she was, really distraught
at feeling abandoned by the Universe, lost in this HUGE transition in her life, she was asking for help. She
was taking action.
And that’s what
produced the miracles… to my mind, at least.
I report this whole story, I think, for obvious reasons.
I am currently grasping at so many straws, I could line the Augean stables.
I am reaching out to places I haven’t before, and listening
when people have things to say. (Even if I’ve heard their advice or platitudes
before and are silently telling them to shut it.)
I am feeling so lost and desperate and hopeless and
wondering and flailing and floundering. In short, I am feeling just as she was.
I know that we humans are meaning-making animals. We, or at
least I, want to make sense of
everything, even the things that don’t. So, I know that I want to make meaning
out of her story, make it into a tale of heroic action and
divine
desperate
patience.
I want to make this story Job. Because if it is, then in the
end I get a flock of sheep, too. 

* Epilogue

Look. I know this sounds like a lot of self-obsessed, self-centered bullshit. I know this isn’t Rwanda, or even East Oakland. I know that no matter what happens, I’ll likely have clean water to drink.

I suppose, having always been a late bloomer, I just am getting an advanced jump on the whole mid-life crisis thing.

I think the argument with authenticity is an important one to have. I think the screamings of a soul that feels trapped is an important one to answer. I get that that looks like a lot of navel-gazing sometimes, and I get the pain all that staring causes in my neck.

But I just want to say that I see both sides, here. I see that I have it immensely “better” than a hundred million people around me. I get that my life is infinitely better than it was 10 years ago.

But, I also have the capacity to listen to myself at a level that I have never been keen enough to hear before.

Last night, someone recommended I read the chapter on Withdrawal in a 12-step book. I did. This “not quitting my job without having another one lined up” thing IS withdrawal for me. It’s causing me pain. It’s causing me to act out. It’s causing me to have conversations and intrigue with inappropriate people, and to eat enough cupcakes to stock a shop.

I’m in pain, and it comes out here. This is my place. I feel badly about putting it up so that you have to read daily about it. But, you don’t have to read. And I don’t have to feel.

And yet. Here we both are. Xo.m

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