I recently read that I love my life. It took me by surprise. Those four words are not four words I ever remember saying. I do recall exclaiming the opposite—either muttering to an empty room or yelling, “I hate my life,” when I’ve felt completely out of control. I’ve wailed and railed ad nauseam about my dissatisfaction—and not about the big stuff—like cancer. No, it’s the nagging, can’t-quite-solve issues that get me riled. This is when the terrible hate word pops easily out of my mouth. So do swear words. Those powerful one-syllable words that pack a punch. They are sure to be noticed. They are sure to have impact. They are not pretty, but I have to admire how accurately they can hit a moving target.
But what about love? Specifically, loving our lives and ourselves. I have been the guest of honor at my own pity party many times—a party few others are invited to attend. Handpicked for their listen-ability, my guests are privileged to hear my woes. Needless to say, not too many are motivated to RSVP. My all time best commiserators are also my all time best laughing buddies. It’s fortunate we balance each other out. We’ve laughed hard and cried hard.
When I’m feeling less than lovable, I’m fortunate to have my writing first aid kit. My pen is a tool that digs deep into a festering hurt. The ink is ointment for prickly feelings. The paper—like gauze—sops up the mess and softens those one-syllable words, making them a bit more palatable. Some of my best poetry and short stories are born in sadness and confusion, or are so damn funny I have to share. Writing helps me find clarity. Lovey dove, feel-good messages, wrapped in tinsel, aren’t near as fun as the insertion of some wallop words or writing about hilarious events. I love to hide behind funny. I can relate to comedians who do the same, though their silliness often makes me uncomfortable. From my hiding place I see them hiding too.
How odd to be so hung up when I’m blessed to have many people who love and care about me. Fun little messages from people on social media are like crack to me. I cannot get enough affirmation. Odd, because I don’t think I suffer, greatly, from low self-esteem. I’m fairly confident there are some things I do quite well. Certainly—and thank you for indulging me—I’ve got talking about myself down pat. I’ve had a lot of time to study me. That being acknowledged, I am trying to be a better listener. I don’t know who pointed it out to me, or where I read it, but the letters in the word listen are the same as the ones in silent. Well, duh. It all makes sense to me now. Becky, shut up and listen.
I can get so fixated on things. Easy peasy for someone who struggles with OCD. Yep. There. Said it. OCD. I hate to admit it even to myself, but there have been clues—and you know ‘em when you do ‘em. The checking for off off off. Is the oven, the curling iron, the toaster, off off off? Does the envelope contain only the words intended for the recipient? Better double check. Check. Check.
I obsess over things and am not able to rally as quickly as I’d like—as I’m just sure everyone else is able to do. I worry about how my words, both written and verbal may have hurt or confused or fanned flames. I want to fix things. I want to throw out anchor before crashing on rocks that I see as I emerge from a fog, but I often have to crash before I can set a new course, which is a process. It can take years of sitting on my couch, pondering things, waging war on depression demons and anxiety apostles that nip at my heels, always trying to drag me into the depression pit. I’ve camped there at times; comfortable in the discomfort of a dark place I’ve known well. It is difficult to explain these feelings to anyone who has not experienced debilitating depression. Maybe it’s not that misery loves company. Maybe it is that misery understands misery.
Besides writing, I’ve been trying to find comfort beyond the high-backed upholstery of my sofa—finding beauty in the big mountains over yonder—or walking ten paces across the living room and stepping outside to love my flowers or throw a ball for my pups, who’s joyful faces could only elicit a smile. There are so many things in nature I looked at but never really saw. What fun it is to take pictures of things that make me happy (who knew I would like my phone better for its camera than its communication abilities?) to share those pics with friends who say they love them—friends who unwittingly contribute to my healing process simply by giving me a thumbs-up. How lovely it is to find joy in the little things instead of the unattainable.
Imagine my surprise to read in reviews about my book that I shared a lust and zest for life. That it was clear I love my life and that my words inspired folks. How can these affirming words do anything but make me sit up, get up, and take inventory of all that is good?
It’s a process, you know.