Stuck in Chicago

You would think that in our current pandemic reality I would have plenty of time to write. In truth, I do have more time; however, I am still “working” in my ghost town daycare that just won’t seem to shut down. I teach art at my son’s new daycare. I am used to 90 or more kiddos coming in and out of my studio all day long. Since Monday, I average 20 kids total. So, I do have more free time, although, it is not the same as many other people sheltering in place.

Where do I start with everything that has happened? I started school shortly after the holidays and applied for a job at a fancy daycare to supplement my income. For a while I was working full time, attending graduate school part time, and retained my old job part time. It was incredibly stressful. I eventually broke down. I stopped attending regular meetings and stopped calling my sponsor. I relapsed in a new and terrifying intensity. Everything got very bad very quickly, and I was ready to watch it all burn. I was done with life and didn’t see any coming back to it. I can still remember how I felt, and how much it hurt. I was exhausted and alone in my mind. As my new sponsor explained it, it was like having my soul sucked out of me. It was a profoundly painful experience. I was pushed further towards the edge in my insanity. The paradoxical nature of this was that it wasn’t such a scary place to be in the moment. Living is hard. Dying is easy, and I was tired of fighting.

What was I fighting? I suppose it was a false sense of control over my life and my disease. I was running myself ragged trying to do it all and ignoring the most important parts of my life. It makes me wonder if any of it is worth the trouble. Money comes and goes, and by the time I’m done with grad school I’ll be about $60,000 in student loan debt. I thought that finding a career path that would allow me to be of service to people would complement my spiritual program. Now I’m having doubts.

I don’t know if I would have made it out of this relapse alone. Thankfully, my partner called me on my bullshit and quickly got me to a meeting. I got a new sponsor right away, and my partner and I were able to go on our trip to Florida. Six days in Florida bliss felt like it lasted six seconds. We haven’t even been back for a full week yet, and it feels like it has been months. I hate living in Chicago. I am not built for the lack of sunshine, the oppressive overcast skies, air that hurts your face, and weather that confines me to my home. I can’t hack it anymore, and I’m just plain tired of living this way. In Florida I was filled with hope and inspired by the possibilities of the future. As I sit here in my empty studio, watching the rain on the sidewalk outside, I just want to cry. That feeling of wanting to get away from here creeps back in to my heart, and I wonder how long I will last this time.

 

Don’t Look Down

I cannot say I understand why a person would choose to run with the bulls. I suppose it is a cultural value difference. I feel like I am running “with” the bulls every day. Among the galley of major life changes currently on display, I have been displaced from a home multiple times, recently worked with three different lawyers regarding three different legal matters, received a crash course in finance and real estate, and, most recently, am starting a new career while simultaneously going back to school, losing my car, and trying to find a more permanent living arrangement. Problems and issues and changes; oh my!

If you are out of breath just reading that sentence, my point is made. It is exacerbating living this way. I am in a constant state of sleep deprivation and stress. I do utilize various support systems to help keep me going, none of which include relying on blood “family,” and somehow I just keep on plowing through it all. Helmet on, head down, one arm out in front and the other clutching everything I hold dear in life; I run, jump, and spin through the day searching for that place I can collapse to the ground in victory. I can’t see it, but it’s out there ahead of me somewhere.

When I start running out of steam, after it all starts to weigh down a little heavier than it should; I try to steal a glance at the hoard chasing close behind me. I loose focus and momentum. Often I trip, struggling to maintain forward motion, and sometimes I’m tackled to a bone grinding halt by my own terrifying emotions. Gasping for air with tears streaming down my face; I can either get back up or dare to lie a few more moments before I’m crushed by the weight of my heart into oblivion.

I don’t even like to take the time to describe these moments of break down. They don’t last long anymore; mostly because they annoy me so badly. Also, I know I am flirting with death if I wallow in self pity and anger for too long. It’s a waste of energy anyways. But if I don’t at least acknowledge these moments, I’m setting myself up for a catastrophic meltdown. So here I am, processing, evaluating, and moving on. I’ll keep running past the edge of the cliff with the drive of the road runner and the warning of that coyote to not look down… Just don’t look down.

Unwelcome

Today my soon to be ex-husband and former abuser gets to “survey” the condo to compile a list of what he believes to be his. My stomach is in knots, and all I can feel at this point is anxiety. I will not be there when he is, but just knowing he will be in my home leaves me feeling violated. There’s no other way of putting it. He is an unwelcome stranger in the place I, for now, call home.

It’s hard to wrap my head around how I used to live with his person. It was misery every single day. I feel like an idiot for being in such deep denial for so long. I don’t even know who that person was anymore. I value myself, my life, and the people I love today. That other person, the person I used to be, lived in fear and constant anxiety. I lived under the control of an abusive narcissist. Isolated by a sociopath, I was too afraid to leave and too miserable to stay. Every second around that person had me tearing myself apart inside. I hated it.

I fought harder than I ever had to get free of that. My home is now my haven. My place of safety and love. A place I share with my partner and my son. A place where we learn and love and cook and laugh. It is not a place for him to be.

Yet here we are. The day has come, and I suspect many more uncomfortable days will follow. I will have to focus on taking care of myself and the people I love. I will try my best not to let this intrusion bother me. He may be able to briefly step into my home, but he may no longer step into my heart. He was banned from there many years ago. Now, it is a fortified place, where only genuine love can dwell.

Honestly, as I am thinking about this, my condo is just a place. My home is elsewhere. I really shouldn’t worry about it, and so I think I won’t.