There was a point, five days before Christmas, where I was lying on a mat on my living room floor. I was trying to do pilates, but tears kept rolling into my ears, and nothing the relentlessly cheerful video instructor was saying was anything I wanted to do. “I don’t wanna,” I moaned over and over, in between wretched sobs. “I don’t wannaaaahhh.”
And that right there is what amounts to my internal mantra, anymore.
The past several weeks have been… trying. There’s the overlying pressure to appreciate the season, but it’s hard to do that when you’re continuously sprinting from one obligation to another. Throw social media into the mix, and it’s easy to think you’re the only one in the world who’s ever managed to totally fuck the holidays up. It helps to remember that for every steaming mug of cocoa, fireplace, and fairylit corner of the house uploaded to Instagram, there’s someone uselessly crying on an exercise mat somewhere. And that someone who has just finished crying on an exercise mat, or anyplace, really, can still upload a photo capturing a blissfully seasonal scene even as she mops the snot off her face with her sleeve. Because these Very Special Moments™ only come once a year, right? So you gotta grab them shits by the throat and choke ’em into submission when you can.
It’s not just the holidays that will cut you down at the knees, though. Life will do that any time of the year it damn well pleases. And all the threads of my life kind of came unraveled over the past several weeks. Not from any one big, bad, dramatic reason, either. I just realized one day that everything was wrong. I realized I was spending all my time on the things I least wanted to do, and I started resenting that. I started hating the routine I’d cobbled together, I started hating my job, I started hating all my clothes, I started hating all my stuff, seriously, why do I have so much of it? Maybe I should just burn everything down and start over. Blame faulty multicolored lights wound around a dry tree even as I stand grasping the gas can and a pack of matches, my face serenely lit by the inferno’s glow.
To add insult to injury, it appears I’m playing into the stereotypical narrative. Aren’t we all supposed to do this, aren’t we all supposed to limp across each year’s finish line panting and haggard and slovenly? Judging from the articles that circulate around the New Year, each one of us should be an epic train wreck from which we’re just beginning to cart away the debris. We’ve spent the last hedonistic months systematically destroying our self-moderation. We’ve been wrong, and dirty, and bad, and now we need to get right, and clean, and good. We’re all looking to Start Over.
Well, I’m sorry, but fuck that. I don’t want to start over. I like my life just fine, in its individual pieces. Trouble is, someone got eggnog-drunk at my mind’s holiday party and staggered into the table all my life pieces were siting on, sending them flying into the punch and rolling under the couch, and it’s pushing me to my limits trying to find them all and put them back together again.
I’d figured it all out before, my little life. I’d become comfortable with it. I shouldn’t have to figure it out again, should I?
Last week I tried to set it right. I worked reduced hours the first few days of the new year so that I could focus on my massive task list, and take some time for things I love that always get ignored in the crush of everyday life (like writing). You know what happened? I wrote for maybe an hour. The whole week. Tuesday to Sunday. The rest of the time, from when I got out of bed in the morning to when I collapsed in bed at night, was about Getting Things Done. And I’m sure that’s nice and all, and it’s less I have to do later, but for what? Why am I spending my life like this when I’m just going to die anyway? There’s no award you get given for most number of items crossed off a damn list. It doesn’t put you on the fast track to success. In the seconds after you get hit by that bus, you’re not going to stand there on a marshmallowy cloud nervously twiddling your thumbs as God hauls out a dusty book and pages through it, going hmmm and ahhhh and clucking his tongue before finally announcing, “Welp, we had you down for Hell, but I see here in January of 2013 you managed to plow through 34 tasks in one single day, so come on in!”
Everything seems like so much failure. I’m sitting here staring at this screen with all these words on it, words I started writing weeks ago, hence the “seasonal” theme. They’re not words I’m proud of, because they read like a diary entry penned to a soundtrack of Jimmy Eat World. I don’t even want to publish this, because I’m not sure what use it could be to anyone else in the world, ever. But what would the internet be without unwanted descriptions of feelings from strangers? I can’t even imagine. And so I keep typing.
This year isn’t looking good. There was already the rampant work stress, the impending upheaval of the move, and the looming Very Adult house/baby questions we have yet to answer. But then I found out on Christmas Day that my dad is likely going to lose his job and that my grandfather likely has lung cancer. 2013, you sure know how to bring the party.
But something happened on New Year’s Day, something very small in the very small hours. It was well after midnight and my good friend and I were sitting cross-legged on her bed like we were teenagers. I was telling her all my worries and fears and my friend, who has become significantly more hippie woo-woo after moving out to California from New York some years ago, reminded me the energy I put out into the world is what I get in return. Meaning that if I believe everything is bad, it will be so. And I don’t know about you, but the perverse part of me that loves a good solid funk always rolls my eyes at this sort of thing so hard they nearly fall out of their sockets. But another part of me gets it. So even if I don’t quite know what to do with it yet, I am putting that advice in my pocket and carrying it with me, onward into the unknown.
It’s the best I can do right now