When He-Man and I were first married, I remember freaking out anytime we were expecting company. Everything down to the throw pillows on our couch had to be perfectly placed. Heaven forbid anyone think I wasn’t perfect at my chosen role of homemaker. I’m sad to say, that thinking, the desire to create the perception of the perfect life, has followed me for much longer than I care to admit.
The past few months have pretty much beaten this particular tendency out of me. Sometimes growth is difficult. Sometimes it seems nearly impossible. And then there are moments when it becomes clear you’re making progress. Tonight, armed with a bowl of ice cream topped with Snickers bar pieces, I’m showing how far I’ve come because I’m about to say it…
It has been a very unperfect, extremely difficult, intense summer.
Like, a crying-curled-up-in-your-bed-covered-with-blankets sort of hard summer. I’ve learned that sometimes those worries you hope will be resolved after a ‘good cry’ don’t actually resolve and hoping for a quick fix only makes you ever more devastated because it doesn’t come.
A week into summer, we received pretty devastating financial news both on a personal and professional level. I wracked my brain for days wondering what we could have done differently to protect ourselves. We were warned about this in the last semester of grad-school. They told us, “Don’t plan for your business to be in the black within two years of starting out”. You’d just be setting yourself up for crushing disappointment. I’m a dreamer though so naturally I dreamed we’d be different somehow. We’re not.
While it doesn’t change anything, there is a peace that comes from knowing you’ve behaved with integrity and don’t need to question your own conduct. It still hurts to know there are entities out there that are evil. Perhaps the people employed by these are not but they are set up to intentionally screw over individuals they perceive as a threat to their bottom line. They can be especially destructive to small business owners. And those businesses in the medical field often times are faced with multiple factions dealing what could potentially be death-blows to their businesses. Unfortunately, we’ve had to deal with several in the past few months.
In the middle of this, He-Man has been offered the proverbial carrot-on-a-stick. He is one of the final candidates for two different career prospects he’s spent his life working for. But progess is slow and we’d be fools to plan for something that hasn’t been promised to us. The evening after he received news of this, our landlord sent us an email informing us of his decision to sell our home. It’s time. The market is right and this could be one of the best financial moves he’s ever made. He very generously gave us the option of ‘first refusal’.
After a year of yanking weeds, trimming neglected rose bushes, clearing out and creating a spice garden, home improvement projects and various little upgrades our budget could support, we were given the option to purchase the home we were already planning to make permanent.
And then, that plan fell through. Not because anyone did anything wrong. It just turned out not to be the right choice. For this reason, I’m writing surrounded by dozens of cardboard boxes.
Life is SO not perfect right now and I’ve lost the energy to pretend that it is.
But here is the amazing thing I’ve just learned. Things feel like they’re falling apart and it is okay that I’m not okay. No one is expecting me to be. (And the universe didn’t just implode.)
While I will continue to stand by the idea that life doesn’t suck…Okay, so maybe it sucks a little right now… THIS. IS. HARD. I’m tired both mentally and physically. So is He-Man. I’m heartbroken that we’re this far into our adult lives and dealing with this situation.
There’ve been moments, almost every day this summer, when I’ve either wanted to scream, cry or curl up in a corner and disappear.
But then comes the ‘But’.
For any optimist fighting for the ability to look on the bright side, there comes a moment. After the mascara is smeared and dried, the tissues have all been used up and there’s no more tears or snot left, the clarity comes.
This summer has not been all bad…
We just became lifelong friends with a lovely girl from France and her amazing family. The entire month of July was an adventure. In fact, it saved the summer and gave us something, someone else to focus our energy on.
We planted a garden. We have tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini coming out of our ears. We even grew potatoes. And peppers. And a cabbage. Plus some freaky looking melon that may or may not give our kids worms.
We have family and friends who love us.
Case in point: I have this best friend. She also happens to be my sister-in-law. We joined the family within 3 months of each other and have been each other’s favorite ever since. She’s awesome. She has this amazing super power of telling me exactly what I need to hear at the same time making me feel ridiculously loved and adored. She celebrates all of our victories and will hold me while I cry. She also loves He-Man. She knows us both better than just about anyone other than our mommas. She knows both of our M.O.s when we get stressed out. She knows He-Man turns on auto-pilot and becomes a machine. She also knows I cry. A lot. And get really, really mad at my adoring husband who, in his autobot state, is not very snuggly.
Once this summer I was particularly miffed at him. After it all, I can’t even remember why and He-Man is smart enough not to bring up the possibility that hormones could have been even remotely involved. But whatever the reason, the fact that he could sleep peacefully while I was SO MAD made me want to tie him down and pluck every single stupid hair from his eyebrows just to see his eyes water. I slept on the couch for two days.
Then comes the amazing part…my best friend, Wonder Woman, who’s known about everything from the ‘Summer of Suck’ appeared out of nowhere. She came baring the best gifts a girl could ask for: cheese and flowers.
Yes, my bff knows me so well she knows that next to chocolate, Havarti Dill is the best way to bring cheer to my heart. And the flowers? They were from He-Man. FOR REAL…Even after I was secretly plotting to temporarily disfigure his face. Apparently, he had performed a physician’s exam for one of her children trying out for sports earlier in the year. Instead of receiving payment, he requested she randomly bring me flowers sometime.
And so she did. They came with the admonition, “When your husband is doing his very best Mr. Spock impression and you want to punch him in the throat, just remember, he’s always thinking of you. Everything he does is for you because he loves you that much”
This kind of revelation turns things around. I could have had a bff who’d let me complain about my very most favorite person in the whole wide world. Instead, she helps me remember why he’s earned that title.
Life can’t suck that badly when you have that kind of person in your life…and when Havarti Dill is sitting in your refrigerator.
I was also reminded of something else. I had a private
conversation with a dear friend. He’s battled debilitating depression several times in his life. I had just posted a mission statement of sorts on Facebook. It said, “Be so happy that when others look at you, they become happy too”. He quietly reminded me that sometimes, it’s okay not to be happy. Sometimes, you’re not okay and it’s okay. Sometimes, ‘white knuckling it’ through has to be good enough.
The thing about it is, we perpetually happy people always find a way to be chipper and cheerful again. We will vomit our rays of sunshine and sing along with the early morning birds. People will want to trip us as we skip down the street and draw moustaches on our perma-smiles. But with the challenges our family has faced this summer, I’ve been reminded of important lessons about compassion and being sensitive to those who hurt, who feel pain every single day. This kind of summer has reminded me that for some, life, as a rule, generally sucks. Crying under the covers is a regular occurrence, always. And those bouts of extreme sadness and disappointment don’t just go away. To have a glimmer of that daily struggle means we might be able to find a way to sincerely and meaningfully help somehow.
Pretending everything is perfect, especially when it’s not, just makes some wonder what is so wrong with them that this sort of eternal sunshine eludes them. I’m not saying it’s inappropriate to be happy and to share that happy with others. It absolutely is the right thing to do. Just be real and honest and admit it when you’re having a hard time.
So, yes, I’m having a hard time BUT come to think of it, this summer hasn’t been a complete wash. It hasn’t been perfect, not even remotely, and I’m finding myself desperately seeking a reprieve from all of it. But there’s been so much good too. Looking back on it I bet I’ll be grateful for all of it…eventually. I guess, ‘2016: The Summer of Suck’ may actually go down as ‘The Summer of Learning It’s Okay For Your Throw Pillows to Be Covered with Peanut Butter, Your Floor Smeared with Baby Poop and Someone Packed a Moldy Sandwich in a Moving Box…But Mr. Spock Still Loves You’.
That’s a long title and I want to sleep for two months until we figure out what we’re going to do. Rolling stones gather no moss but the packing paper starts getting expensive. I’m not okay yet but I will be and that’s really, really okay. I promise.
PS…Mom, I’m sorry for using the word ‘suck’. I know, I know…you raised me better. Also, He-Man’s eyebrows aren’t really stupid.