This past week and a half I have experienced a string of bad luck. Some would refer to the old saying “when it rains it pours” or the myth “everything happens in threes” to comfort and serve themselves a sliver understanding on a platter when the timing of bad events makes no sense. I’ve heard both of these as people have gently listened to me not-so-gently describe my past few days and how I feel about them. Now, I am no novice to pain. I’m not a first timer to a series of unfortunate events or sitting with uncomfortable situations for prolonged periods of time. I’m a seasoned veteran to the contents of “life happens” and more. So, why is this particular season sending me into panic, turmoil and impatience? As I sit on my flight back to Nashville reading “Love Does” by Bob Goff for the third time (no shame) and Hannah Brencher’s Monday morning e-mail about the season of Winter, my answer roars loudly over my headphones. Control and change.
Up to this exact hour, life handed me losing my grandmother, my car getting totaled, my doctor suddenly stopped renewing my daily medication, church hurt, adult friendships shattered, rent-a-car breaking down and scrutiny for charging to change my career path and then the other rocks, pebbles and stones. While this is all very frustrating, painful and anxiety provoking, I seemed to have forgotten where the core of my hurricane and emotions is rooted in. My need for control and anti-change lifestyle. I am guilty of being an addict for keeping things in my very grasp (like I am the actual master of control “HA” and “YIKES”…says the big man upstairs), and am obsessed with my scheduled, regimented routine that runs like clockwork. Some of my friends roll with it and are as calm as cucumber. I applaud you, but/and raise your hand if you are not one of these people (insert emoji of girl raising hand) c’mon, higher for the people in the front to see!
Being someone who struggles with mental health, specifically being a gal who has recovered from struggling with an eating disorder, lack of control is a MAJOR RED FLAG. Like the boldest, brightest, flashing flag in the world. Managing it is like trying to cover your ears and rock back and forth telling yourself “I am okay, I am safe, this will pass” and that bully on the playground yelling to remind you “HEY! NO IT WON’T. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. I’M STILL HERE, YOU STILL HAVE NO CONTROL, WHATCHA GONNA DO ABOUT IT?!” Putting a pillow over your head doesn’t help. Turning up your headphones won’t silence it, ignoring it CERTAINLY won’t shut it up it. It’s unavoidable. Screaming into a pillow only makes the voice speak back in mockery. I can’t outrun, out bully it, or out smart it. How incredibly frustrating is that am I right?!
I simply cannot cope and adjust to life of missing my grandma, afford a new car payment, insurance to go up (PLEASE COME THROUGH GOD), walk seamlessly through my day without my medication I’ve been on for 3 years, and stand in my own corner with a new, unpredicted calling in my hands without taking some of my control BACK. I cannot bring my grandma back for one more hug or kiss, I can not replace the top of my car and glue back the pieces of my shattered windshield. I cannot track down my doctor from Orange County who prescribed me this medication three years ago under different insurance. I cannot, will not fight people to force and persuade them to see that my change in career will be better and healthier for me. You know what I can do? I can go get some bangs. I can’t match the magnitude of change or drastic lack of control that’s been happening all around me. What I can do is build some change on my positive end of my spectrum and put even just my pinky back on control of my life. I can do something small to remind myself when I look in the mirror that sometimes, even though every fiber of my being tells me otherwise, change is good. Bangs are good. Tomorrow, I’ll wake up carless, grandmaless, medicineless, moneyless and I will look in the mirror at my bangs to remind myself that change can be good.
My therapist is the greatest, wisest, most bad ass woman I know. She taught me a truth perfectly suited for seasons like this; “At every moment of the day everyone is doing the best they can AND could be doing better all at the same time”. I struggled with this notion for a while because I was exceptionally too good at the “and could be doing better” portion. This is what part of the problem was this week. As these events were all unfolding I started a lot of sentences to myself with “I should have” implying already that I could have done better. I should have called my grandma more. I should have visited her more instead of taking those extra trips to see my friends. I should have saved up money for a new car earlier. I should have budgeted better. I should have refilled my prescription earlier or applied for a second job with benefits so I could just be re-prescribed medicine now. I should have just stuck with teaching for now to keep everyone else happy. I should have, I should have, I should have. The problem with “I shoulds” is that they get you nowhere except in circles. When “I shoulds” have you running in circles, it leaves no room or time to see the “I dids”. This is where the “everyone is doing the best they can” part of the truth comes in. I did call my grandma, I did visit her in her last days. I did take care of the car and couldn’t help what happened. I was just going to work. I did get myself into a job I really love. I did take my medicine Otherwise I would have never run out. I did make a “next steps” plan. I did my best to control what I could. Now that it’s “changes” turn to take the reins, one of the things I did to do the best I can was get bangs.
As the holidays are approaching I include this as a gentle reminder that some of your friends and family members are going through their own season of “Winter”. It’s storming, it’s a blizzard and there are no snow plows up ahead. Not everyone is living in Christmas music, holiday cookie, cozy up by the fireplace Winter. Hannah Brencher (my fave ever) talks a lot about this in her past Monday e-mail. I strongly encourage every single person on the planet to go read it, but, my point being is that her thoughts on “Winter” and how everyone is experiencing a different stage of Winter is right on the money. As you see your friends and family who are in their blizzard Winter. I encourage you to avoid conversations marinated in “I shoulds” or advice on how “they could be handling this better”, what they could be doing. Instead, be the one that sits with them in the storm. If you’re in your storm and see someone else in theirs too, grab a blanket and offer each other and hand to hold because sometimes the only way we can believe change is good is when we have someone who can discover that with us. So please, for love of all that is wonderful don’t “you’ve should’ve” your people, your tribe, your humans. Highlight the “You dids” because after all my therapist is (always) right: “Everyone at every given moment is doing the best they can, AND can do better”.