I pulled out of the field in the campground I’d been going to with my horses for the past nearly two decades, the place where I grew up riding snowmobiles in winter. My steering wheel was crooked in my truck – the stabilizer is going bad and I had some issues with death wobble on the way up – and the truck was having turbo issues and as I drove slowly down the campground road on the way to the exit, I cried. I don’t know what hit me, but it was like the air was knocked out of me and I was just so overwhelmed. I had an idea of some of what was wrong with the truck, and I almost wanted to call my dad to talk to him about it and make a plan to work on it together when I was home. It was the first time in longer than I could remember – since long before he died – that calling him had even been a thought in my mind.
Lately it feels as if I’ve moved through the stage of grief where you’re angry or pushing through but where you’re finally just accepting things. I pushed through the awful memories and the hurt and fear and pain and all of the broken things I was because of my childhood and had dealt with most of that already, though I know some pieces will linger for years to come. What I didn’t expect was the recent nostalgia. That hit me in some ways even harder because it felt like I went from mourning the father who I could never be good enough for and never quite got things right, to slowly remembering little bits and pieces of the good times. Glimpses and glimmers of the past where my father inspired me, where we did fun things together like go to air shows, or where he taught me responsibility (I’ll buy the parts and work on your truck but you’re going to help me and learn how to do it yourself). And all of a sudden I was that teenager with a truck issue wanting to call her father for advice and man, that stung.
It stung not because of the memory. It stung more because I don’t know what experiences my siblings had and we don’t talk often about that stuff. Please, the past few years have been hard enough without rehashing the past as I was the most isolated from them growing up already. It stung even more because it made me mad that my father never had the chance to meet my kids – in those good memories I’m finding of him, Morgan and he would have a blast organizing the garage together and working on vehicles and I’d have loved to be a part of it. I should hang the old clipboard that Morgan found in my father’s garage from when I was his age with the list of all the repairs we did together on my old K-Blazer just for the laughs. I still have the end of the drive shaft where it hooks to the u-joint on my nightstand. Yeah, it stung because for so many years I forced these memories out and fought with the man that was still alive as if they were the same person. He always was a bit Jeckyl & Hyde.
I wonder how that makes me look to my siblings and at the same time wonder how different all of our experiences must have been. I wonder if things would have been different – but quickly move on knowing that the past is not something worth wishing to change. I wonder if my life actually sounds as crazy to others as it does to me, or if the way my brain can ricochet through a hundred different things and still store and organize thoughts and streams of consciousness like my computer can toggle files between memory and dropbox and google drive is normal to anyone other than me. And probably my father.
Sometimes I’m sitting here late at night, trying to wrap up work, not entirely tired despite sleeping like shit lately. Between my neck and shoulder and back issues, and who knows what, mornings have been extra super hard and if you know me, you know that’s really a struggle. Mornings are hard for me as it is most days. Getting out of bed can feel like the most overwhelming part of the entire day because I know that once I’m up, I have a million things to do, followed by a million more and if I just work harder, faster, smarter, do more, then I’ll have more time/money/freedom/insert whatever it is we’re striving for here.
Of course that’s not entirely true, but I’m manic so that’s what my brain tells me. Fortunately I know better. But add to that already-there almost every day performance anxiety of all that I need to do, massive neck pain triggering headaches and a feeling of wooziness / heavy headedness that lasts anywhere from one to a few hours in the morning and it makes them pretty much unbearable. My neck works its way out of whatever crick it is in eventually and then my day begins in earnest. By nightfall, I’m at my best, often doing my best work, having the most fun or, if my sense of accomplishment outweighs my sense of anxiety, I’ll simply sit on the porch swing or steps and look up at the stars.
Life is good here. Life is really good.
I often wonder when I’m stressed about finances and work, and growing the agency and travel and scheduling and being there for the kids and the animals, and sorting out priorities on what vehicle or farm equipment gets fixed first and when and how and why and how do I budget for it…..(and there you see a beautiful example of how fast my manic mind can run with things) how my life must look like to others.
My social will tell you I have it all balanced and am extremely grateful (I almost do, mostly I think and I always have a plan and yes, I am extremely grateful). Depending on my anxiety and where my brain is at in any given moment, I may also be fighting panic, considering selling everything and disappearing, or being totally completely content with everything in that moment. I’m all over the place and I’m all of those things, and more. I just don’t always know what that means.
I do know that I write. I always have, and expect I always will. It’s the best way I know to keep my thoughts sorted and quiet my brain. And then I take a step back from myself and take a look from the outside, in, while stopping to remember how amazing I perceive the lives of everyone around me to be and just think.
Could you imagine if we could see ourselves the way others see us as a means to help each other grow? How truly amazing the world could be looking from the inside outside in.