Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Departing from the norm...

I debated for a long time before writing this post. I might yet chicken out and not actually post it. So far on my little blog, I've pretty deliberately stayed away from the really personal posts. I didn't want (and still don't want) this blog to turn into my online journal. Also, I have a hard time letting my guard down and telling people what's really going on with me. I always have to make jokes, be witty, make light of things, pretend that I'm stronger than I feel I am so that no one worries about me. I don't like feeling vulnerable. And I despise whiners. Especially whiners who don't realize they're whining or try to do anything to change what they're whining about. I don't want to be a whiner.

But here's the thing--I feel really...bummy. Bummy is both the perfect way to describe how I feel and also completely inadequate. I feel bummy in the way that I fully, objectively, rationally understand things aren't really so bad--things are pretty darn good, actually, if I were to tally everything up--but I've just felt a base level of...well, blue-ness. For a while now. Like a sine wave of ups and downs, and the average is just...bummy. Unexplainable. Or maybe very obviously explainable. But in either case, I feel like I might burst into tears at any random moment.

All right. I'm a list-making kind of gal, so do that tally. Here are all the fun, wonderful, inspiring, exciting, awesome things going on:

  • Things on the romantic front with the Engineer are wonderful. And in fact...
  • A few months ago, the Engineer and I decided to get hitched (glee!)
  • I'm loving my blog and am constantly inspired to do new posts.
  • It feels really really good and very right to be doing some form of creative writing again.
  • After a lot of personal work, patience, and perseverance, things at the Noodle Factory ( a.k.a. my job) finally feel like they're taking a turn for the better.
  • I have so many knitting projects I'm dying to do that I've been looking into getting a third arm. Though I guess I'd need a fourth arm too, since you need two arms in order to knit.
  • I recently talked to Angelina over at Dustpan Alley and we're going to try selling some of my hand-knits in her store.
  • After 6 months of not taking sleep medication and struggling with insomnia, I'm finally (and more-or-less consistently) getting a solid 7 hours of good sleep a night.
  • I'm going to an info session at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts tonight to get some more details on their Professional Chef program, which I've 99% decided I'm going to start doing in the Fall.
  • Tomorrow, I'm meeting with a food writer who I contacted through a local writing program (the actual food writing class was cancelled, but that's on the list of bummy things), and am really excited to talk with her about the wily world of freelance food writing.
  • For the first time in my life, I can jog for 6 miles straight.
  • I'm really happy with my weight right now--something that's been a big challenge and source of stress ever since my teenage metabolism abandoned me.

Ok, I think those are the highlights. So here are some of the things stressing me out:

  • Feeling like I've got too many balls in the air--but feeling like the not-fun things are balls that I can't eliminate and the fun things I don't WANT to eliminate because they make the not-fun things bearable.
  • Even though things are better at the Noodle Factory, it's been a long haul and will continue to be a long haul and I'm tired.
  • I've been snarky at the Engineer lately and that makes me feel guilty even though when I apologize, he gives me a kiss on the forehead and tells me not to worry.
  • The food writing class that I was really looking forward to was cancelled.
  • While getting married and planning a wedding is fun, I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure everyone is happy with how everything is going (my parents, the Engineer's parents, the Engineer, our friends and family, all of whom may or may not get invited and may or may not be offended by that). I feel very anxious when I know someone out there isn't happy with me or the way I'm doing something. It makes me want to elope. Except I still want a pretty dress and a party. (See, there's the joking to cover up how stressed and anxious this really makes me.)
  • I feel like everyone looks to me to be the strong one and I'd like to take a break. (saying that made me start crying a little)
  • Money is really tight--not "Kraft Mac n' Cheese for dinner every night" tight, but tight all the same.
  • All my best shirts are getting pit stained. (again, the semi-joke)
  • Although that I'm happy with my weight and my health, I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to maintain it because I'm so terrified of losing control of it again, to the point where I worry that it's become unhealthy.
  • I worry that I drink too much.
  • It's the winter and it's bitter cold and it's dark, and I think this might have a lot more to do with the base-level of blueness than I realize.
  • I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen in two years when the Engineer graduates. And that makes me both incredibly excited and overwhelmingly anxious.

So there you have it. I could really sum my feelings up (and all my longhand journal entries of late) by saying that I feel stuck. Or maybe trapped is a better way of saying it. Well, honestly? I feel like I am in the grips of something beyond my control. I feel that I've been working my whole life toward this--this moment, this time, this life--and now things are in motion beyond my control. And I'm terrified.

This gets complicated in my head, so bear with me. My idea of perfection is not what you might think. My definition of perfect is more of the Buddhist idea of being groundless--of knowing that as soon as you think you're on firm ground, the ground is removed from you. And also the idea of open expectation--if you don't try to control everything that happens to you, you are ready for anything, ready to take whatever opportunities arise, ready to listen to your heart and your spirit. And compassion for yourself. Understanding that mistakes and slip-ups are all a part of learning, and therefore mistakes and slip-ups are a part of being perfect by this definition. In fact, by my definition, making no mistakes and behaving socially perfectly is, well, imperfect.

So it's ironic, isn't it? Here I am, completely groundless. Hurtling through space. Being pulled along toward this future destination in which I am just a simple passenger trying to make sense of the scenery. Objectively terrific things happening all around me. All the seeds I have sown by being open and ready and listening to where my heart was leading me are now all coming to fruition. And I'm absolutely terrified. I feel completely unprepared. Maybe I never really expected it to work--all that Buddhist and spiritual mumbo jumbo I've eaten like manna for the past twenty-seven years. All I can think about is how I can reach normalcy again. How I can get the ground under my feet and rest for a little while. How I'd like a break from constantly thinking and analyzing and never letting myself give in to being petty or uncompassionate or lazy or human. It's exhausting.

I don't know. I don't have a solution here. Maybe that's the point that I'm supposed to learn. Maybe that's the cosmic joke--"Ha ha ha, Emma! You thought you were doing soooo well! You thought you were sooo enlightened! Ms. High and Mighty. Well, try THIS on for size!" Having written this, I still feel just as bummy and blue as before--though I admit that I do feel better for having written it and confessed to my spiritual hypocrisy. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions and hugs. I've been carrying this alone for a long time, never quite managing to get it said out loud. I don't know if I've really done a good job of explaining what exactly is going on in my head, but if I waited until I had everything perfectly (!!!) thought out and reasoned, well, I wouldn't need to write this post anymore, would I?

Angelina--thank you for inspiring me to write this post. It's reading your blog that gave me the courage to be honest with my friends and myself. And also realizing that writing something like this (which people other than myself will see) can actually be really healthy and therapeutic. We humans--sometimes our thinking gets stuck in circles and we need other people to sort us out, eh?


crankopotamus said...

Having been involved in planning my own wedding, I can tell you it's impossible to please everyone. So please yourself, and try to please whoever is paying for it, and hope for the best.

Any time you need a hug, you know where to find me.


Angelina said...

I second what Dave said. As for weddings, let go of everyone else's expectations. Decide what the perfect wedding for you and the engineer would be, and try to keep it within affordable range. The biggest thing I've learned in my most recent round of tough lessons is that the world doesn't stop when you sometimes do things for just your own good. When you stop worrying about what your loved ones expect of you. Take care of yourself. They'll squirm, they'll maybe not like the change at first. But they'll feel the love in you still. And they'll return it if they are capable.

I love your personal posts best. The more of your personal self you put into your writing, the more I am able to get out of it.

I know exactly how you feel. At least, I believe I do. I have a lot of balls in the air too without the ground under my feet. I don't find it comfortable at all. I get scared a lot now. I keep wondering what I can cut out, and I don't want to cut anything out of my life. But I'm tired.

So, what you do is take it day to day. I know, how trite. But seriously, you need to get these feelings out. Go to a therapist if you have to. A cognitive behavioral therapist would probably suit you the best because you don't sit around moaning about how bad your life is, you tell them what you have trouble dealing with and they help you come up with tools for dealing with those particular issues.

You probably are blue because you're having a bout of low level depression. Which is nothing to be too worried about. And there's so much you can do about it.

The one thing that will definitely not make it better: holding it all in. I'm so glad you got this out. Let your friends and family be strong with/for you for once. I think you'll be happy you did.

It sounds like such good stuff is going on for you. So if you can just keep moving forward, I know you're going to come out the other end better than before.

One more comment on the wedding (and CONGRATULATIONS, by the way) if you want to elope but want the dress and it. Why not? Go elope, then throw yourselves a huge-ass party with a registration, cake, music, all your friends and family, and a pretty wedding dress too. That could simplify a lot.

Lastly, I'm glad I inspired you.

This is the longest comment I've ever left anyone.

Dominique said...

I think Angelina is right about eloping. You can elope and have a big party!

I think Dave has a good point though too about trying to be considerate to others who will help with expenses.

I have to say sorry if I have in any way added any un-needed pressure about the whole inviting people and stuff. I know I am not really a friend of both you and Scott and haven't been around during your relationship and so totally understand if I weren't given an invite. I most likely wouldn't be able to come anyway, so it would probably be a waste. Anyway, I think this is saying too much in a blog response. But I want you to do what is right for you, and hopefully I will get to see you sometime in the future.

I don't know if you remember me planning my wedding, but it was definitely the most stressful time in our my relationship! Money was soo tight and it felt like a lot of pressure. Getting ready to have a baby doesn't even compare to that level of stress. My suggestion: take the advice all the wedd. books tell you, and pamper yourself as much as possible! Find a massage school and get some free or cheap massages regularly, get some pedicures regularly, make dates with yourself, ie: quiet bath time, a special yoga class, running at a new, but safe, park. Get a regular hair cut, go out with friends after work regularly. Oh, definetly take some premarital counseling, that was a great help as well. And I know it's not good for you to do all the time, but a tan session might help with the lack of sun light thing.

Another thing I have been hearing a lot about lately is that you have to project what you want. I know it sounds a little hokey, but you have to remind yourself everyday of what you want by saying you are that. Like, me saying "I am a wonderful wife and mother," even if I feel so unworthy of the task ahead. Or "I am a successful woman worthy of fulfilling my dreams," when I lack confidence in pursuing my dreams of having a small business.

Another great resource to help process your negative thoughts is a workbook called "Mind Over Mood" by Greenberg and Padesky. It really helped me through a period of depression and anxiety after college.

Just some ideas. I am sending you positive thoughts! And lots of love!

Angelina said...

No way Dominique! I used that book too! It's wonderful. It's a cognitive behavioral workbook. I second the reccommendation.

Dominique is very wise.

Do we have a massage school around here I wonder?

Emma C said...

Oh, my friends, thanks for all your kind words and sage advice. It means a lot to know you're all out there corporeally and blog-o-spherically sending me brainwaves of support.

At heart, I know that what I need to do is stop trying to control things--stop trying to control the outcome of what happens. Not only because truly controlling it is impossible, but also because it's going to make me crazy in the process. The wedding, the writing, culinary school, my pit stained shirts--they'll all work themselves out. I'm not saying that I'll just sit back passively, but it's more about staying in the moment and not letting myself get carried away with obsessing how it's all going to turn out. Ya know? Big sigh.

suebelle said...


Anonymous said...

If you're worried that you're drinking too much, you're drinking too much. Which is not always a bad thing.