I always struggle with how to start these things, no matter how many times I start a blog. I am frequently overwhelmed by the cursor sitting idle at “Add a Catchy Title” at the top of an empty page. It is here where I usually drift off into a catatonic state as I start to question everything. “Why am I even writing? Who reads anymore? I barely read anymore! Maybe I should vlog? No, I can’t vlog. I despise my voice! The camera adds two chins! I should challenge myself to do it anyway.” Then I involuntarily sigh to decrease the mounting pressure in my cerebrum, walk away, and tell myself whatever I need to justify my avoidance.
Still, I feel called to write. I cannot control the urge. I always enjoyed writing and I don’t struggle with writer’s block usually. I have physical and digital hoards of the scraps of my mind over the years as I tried to “find my way”, sort out my identity and heal from various traumas, most of which express pain we universally experience yet seldom share. My problem is two things: I have too much to say, and I am usually too afraid to say it. So, here I am, taking a chance on me so that you keep taking chances on YOU.
The past two years have been absolute hell for everyone but if we are being honest, it was all going to hell long before that. I don’t even know how far back it goes or if I am just “getting old” and these are just things I say now, or what. I have reached "elder millennial" status and there is no turning back. Shoutout to comedian Iliza Schlesinger for coining this term. It is burned in my hippocampus. (No, she is not sponsoring this mention but if she or Brené Brown ever saw this blog, I think I would quite literally shit myself.)
I’ll admit, I didn’t really notice, much less care before the last two years elapsed. I was just one of the “sheeple in the herd”, living the consumer lifestyle and throwing money at all my problems. I was an instant-workaholic as soon as I entered the workforce at the age of fifteen.
I prioritized work over academics, avoiding college initially after high school graduation and so began the journey of trying to keep up on the “chasing a paycheck” hamster wheel. At my peak, I was putting in over 80 hours a week and commuting an hour each way, sometimes 13-22 days in a row. I was driven by the factory goals and ignored the toxicity because the money was addicting. I have been abruptly given the gift of time in the past two years, for the first time in my working life, like many others and the was much like I imagine hitting a brick wall whilst traveling at accelerated speeds. The extended gift of time has been a double-edged sword, but at the end of the day, it is still a sword, which is pretty fucking cool on so many levels, so I have been on a mission to use this sword productively albeit safely.
My first task, given this double-edged weapon was to learn how to handle it without injuring myself before I tried to take on the proverbial demons that started to creep into the frontal lobe when I was home alone. I couldn’t hide behind the excuse, “I don’t have time for that” anymore, although luckily for highly introverted me, I got to cling tightly to “Sorry, social distancing” regardless of all the conflict in my head and heart about all that. I was a little scared, confused, and still don’t know what to believe but I do know that I have an auto-immune disease, so I made a deal with my employer at the time to stay home, putting in some remote hours, slowly burning some PTO hours and taking the rest completely unpaid. This lasted roughly three months, but it would not be long before I was thrown back to the shark tank of my solitude. That’s another story, for another day. I will resist the urge to diverge! (Note to self: this is your new mantra)
Early on in this whole pandemic thing, a large part of me went all “doomsday prepper” mode because I could easily foreshadow the economic impact this was going to have on our society watching the pandemonium in the media, which I work terribly hard to moderate in my life. I wanted to get a head start on providing my own food mainly. I decided to pull the trigger immediately on one of my lifegoals which I put off for the first 4 years of owning my house because of my career choices and if we are going to be completely honest, partner choices. I knew in advance that I was probably going to self-destruct (again) given all this time, alone with my thoughts. So I became a crazy chicken lady.
I have struggled with depression for the entire duration of the life that I can remember, and I get a little better at anticipating and mitigating each time but will always begrudgingly accept this dark passenger when it arrives inconveniently with full suitcases at my door, as a blessing in disguise. I knew raising chickens would slow down the barrage of thoughts, emotions and insecurities that were coming at me by giving me an immediate daily purpose, as well being a productive step forward toward disaster prepping. It did. It wildly surpassed my egg-spectations (sorry, not sorry) for easing the impact of what was to come. I was learning more than I bargained for, creating cool data projects and quickly became obsessed. Looking back today and recounting it even on a surface level warms my heart but during that time I was also using chicken husbandry to band-aid afflictions brought about by these invisible “time demons”. I harbor no regrets for any of it and would not change a single thing in the progression that was to follow, but I do call myself out on my own shit from time to time and hope to teach others to do the same.
I didn’t know what else to call them, so I am just going to roll with, “time demons”. They are invisible shadows that whisper the most deranged messages that tickle the hairs on the back of your neck, things you'd never dare to mutter to another human being. There is a reason why solitary confinement is used as a punitive practice in prisons and I feel it to my core after my brick wall encounter with my time demons. Obviously, I was not in a full punitive solitary confinement by choosing to quarantine for a few months, because I had access to the outdoors, exercise, and informational resources but I could not help but to feel imprisoned inside my body and/or mind some days. I get the kind of depression that paralyzes me and makes me stop dead in my tracks. All concept of time disappears, and I catch myself sighing more and more as if there is an external force compressing my rib cages. Chores go largely undone and clutter starts multiplying. I recede further and further into myself and the comfort zones I have established. All my social media pages go dormant, as does my body while I make desperate attempts to hide in every possible way from every possible person, place, or thing. I cannot recount the number of drugs, diagnoses, articles, and levels of self-help resources that have found their way to me throughout the years as I frantically sought help, understanding, and somewhere to fit.
After all the years and after all my personal experiences I started to feel like a ping-pong ball in every dimension of my life. I am asking myself, “What kind of shit is this?!” and “How do I get to be in “the player’s” club?” because I am sick of being manipulated by each set of players! At times it was corrupt corporate honchos, spineless colleagues who harvested trust for future exploitation, friends who weren’t and other times the players were my own family.
I love painting pictures with metaphor because it invokes the emotions that we cannot even begin to describe with solitary words. I haven’t got everything figured out in my quest, but I have found an indelible inspiration in the form of a Woman (yes, Capitalized, underlined and bolded because she is that deserving) whose decades of emotional research are lining up with the conclusions that I have found myself hovering nearest lately invigorating that aforementioned “calling” to write and giving me the tools to reinvent my foundations by clearing the landscape through courage and vulnerability. She is just the kind of woman that makes my misogynist father huff, puff and *cue ocular muscle spraining eyeroll*. This is another divergent path we are not traveling down today. I only needed a few words to paint the gist anyway. I mentioned Brené Brown before and I will mention her infinitely, here, there and everywhere. Her work is monumental.
The moral of my 38-year story is that I have tolerated toxic behaviors from others everywhere else because they were deeply familiar and seemed like an inherent genetic predisposition which only raised my level of tolerance for it when I stepped out on my own. I never knew to seek behavioral accountability in others or realized the importance, let alone the existence of this behavior because I never saw accountability taken growing up, only distributed. I was certainly held deeply accountable, at times through corporal punishment growing up so I know how to BE accountable to a level of loyalty beyond abuse but there has been a deficiency of others taking accountability around me. Admittedly, I was a spitfire growing up, always questioning authority early on, or finding other ways to learn and express myself when I was publicly humiliated by being laughed at for something I did wrong but therein lies the root cause of my deep shame. I understood accountability measures in other areas, like all my leadership positions held. There were metrics and teams built all around accountability, productivity and tiptoeing around those conversations. Accountability is uncomfortable though. It is tough truths, seeing past your own psyche and going against all you have known sometimes to modify your way of thinking. It is moderating who you allow near your fortress and standing your ground come hell, or high water. I am grateful for the channels of courage that I have been able to tap into and I hope you found value spending time here today.
Thank you for joining me for another blog entry if you are returning and welcome if this is your first time.
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