Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting Off Course. Climbing Back On.

I'm going through a rough patch right now. I can feel it. Sometimes it frustrates me. A lot. And more to the point sometimes I get frustrated with myself.


Do you remember when you were a little kid and you played the game Mother May I? I think it is known by a bunch of different names but basically the leader would stand with their back to the players as they would ask "Mother May I..." take steps forward. If the answer was "yes" you took the number of steps forward that you asked for; if the answer was "no", it was usually followed by an order to "take two steps to the left and one step to the right, hopping on one foot." The object of the game was to tag the leader and not get too far off course.


Maybe that's what I'm feeling these days: I am off course. The problem is that I have been off course for quite a while.


My health issues were the first thing to throw me off course back in 2010. ("Take four steps to the left with your eyes closed and your fingers crossed.") I soldiered forward and tried to meet the challenge of breast cancer which -- so far, so good -- I've been able to do. Ironically, it was after that when I think I let my guard down and my course veered toward the Bermuda Triangle. 


Someone who I shouldn't have been dating in the first place but who nonetheless became very dear to me over the course of several years and who saw me through my health crisis, exited my life. Gulp. ("Take three steps forward, have your head examined, and then five steps back.") One could argue that I went off course before that event (and not after) but we'll leave that one for the history books. 


Six months after finishing treatment for breast cancer, I was encouraged to take a lesser role at work because of the stress-level of my job and the responsibilities of caregiving for my Mom. Gulp. ("Take two steps back, put a smile on your face and suck it up.") While changing roles has been very positive, it was not without its own trauma to my ego. Then a few months later, my Mother passed away after a long illness and a downward spiral lasting about six months. Double-gulp. ("Don't move. Just sit down and try to breathe normally. Oh and try to remember not to fight with your brother too much.") 


Sam, the dearest human being to me on this planet, is next in my transition challenges. He is growing up. And the dream he has always had of wanting to work at Target -- a dream we never thought possible for him -- looks like a real possibility in the next few years. I couldn't be happier for him but some days I feel that I am going through the equivalent of Empty Nest Syndrome but under vastly different circumstances. ("Take three steps forward, give yourself an atta-girl and then try to figure out your next move. You may need some tissues for the ride.") Gulp and at the same time: Hooray for Sam.


And now, just when I had some momentum going to reach my fitness goals, I had knee surgery and a predictable fitness set-back. ("Take two steps back, gently. Careful with the knee.") Damn!


It strikes me as I write this that my knee surgery is really the least of it all. And that's a good thing to know. It helps me to see that sometimes I focus on the least of my worries because somewhere inside, I recognize that the greatest of my worries feel insurmountable -- too hard to really absorb and worry about. It's like the woman who escapes a car crash and says, "Oh damn, I broke a nail." So I guess that's where I am right about now. I can't worry about getting cancer again, or finding a new soul mate. Worrying will never bring my Mom back, and kids grow up and leave the nest, just as surely as the little swallows who are born under my eaves of my deck every spring. 


The circuits in my brain understand that I am going through a gang-bang of a transition here. And I know that going through just one of these things is enough to send anyone crashing toward the rocks. Some days I wish that the circuits in my brain would tell my heart to chill about all this, but I don't think it works that way. They are essentially heart things, not brain things. But some days I have a serious urge to rip my brain and my heart out of all of it faster than one of those Porsches' I covet can go from zero to sixty. I need to feel that I am moving forward and into the future even if some days I'm not sure I'm ready for that.



So for now, I am going to try to take one day at a time and one step at a time toward my dreams (writing a memoir, going back to tennis camp this summer, getting back to volunteer work, finding an available Mr. Terrific) and try to focus on the steps forward. But maybe until I have more confidence in the soundness of my course, I'll count each step forward and try to be patient with myself in case I need to take a few steps back. But I won't ask any one's permission. I'll just take it as it comes.

6 comments:

  1. Taking it as it comes is about all you can do unfortunately. Wishing you luck.

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  2. Thank you, Jo. Writing about it is highly therapeutic. I'm not sure why exactly, but maybe it's the process of taking it all in and putting it together in a way that makes some sense. I guess I will keep on writing!
    Denine

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  3. I'm catching up with my reading and just got to this post. Awww Denine, my heart goes out to you, though your post managed to make me smile broadly. You are one talented writer!

    Now back to the problem at hand... never make big decisions or expect big epiphanies when you're feeling physically run down. Give yourself time to heal, physically at first, then emotionally. Meanwhile, vent away if it helps, I'm listening :)

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    1. Hi Megan-I really appreciate the advice. I probably shouldn't do any of those things holding a vodka and Diet Snapple either, right? It DOES help that you are listening, and it helped to just EXPUNGE all of it from my head and put it out there. Yea!

      Would write more but that vodka and DS is waiting for me...lol. Thank you!
      Denine

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  4. This blog entry was my introduction to you and I'm really blown away. You must be such a strong person to be dealing with so very much. I'm glad that overall you have a really great mindset and that you're going to give yourself permission to just step back and take a breather if you need it. Hang in there, I'm pulling for you.

    ~ Rhonda Parrish

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    1. Thanks Rhonda! And as a new reader I want to assure you that I don't usually WHINE this much...:-) Seriously though,this post was highly therapeutic to write and publish. Something about the act of writing it and sharing it truly helped me move forward -- but if that's only temporary, I will be kind to myself. Thanks for visiting!
      Denine

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