Write Your Own Ending
So many things have changed since that last post, notably losing Milo, and then 13 months to the day later, losing Xena. I always knew that I would have to say goodbye to them both, but it hurt more than I was prepared for. Re-reading it, that feeling of profound sadness washes over me again. But the pain does subside, and years and years of happy memories filter into the void that their daily presence left - I miss them terribly, but it's a tribute to how wonderful they both were that K and I are now ready to adopt a couple more four-legged members of the family.
K lost his job, and we're once again dealing with the stress and pressure of unemployment. It's very difficult for both of us, but in very different ways. My job has been more stressful and difficult than I can ever remember, and I don't know when it's going to let up. All I know is that, with a family to support and a lot of debt to pay off (still - we're not accumulating new debt, but this is just taking for-fucking-ever and it's exhausting), I can't quit - I don't have the luxury of deciding to follow a dream I can't see anyway. I can't tell if work is really that bad (although most people I know seem to think it is), or if the feeling of being trapped makes it seem much worse than it actually is. The notorious instability of my field makes it that much more anxiety-inducing, because if I can't stay busy, I can lose my job. That thought makes it hard for me to turn down assignments (that, and my need to "help" people), and keeps me up at night. I make so many decisions based on fear these days. Or maybe I always did and just didn't recognize it.
K and I have, with great trepidation, started trying to have a family. When he was still gainfully employed, this was a much easier decision. I've gone back-and-forth since then, but since it's been a year and nothing is happening, and I'm surrounded everywhere I go by pregnant women or new moms, I'm starting to get a little sensitive about the topic, and I really, really hate that. I don't want to be the person that my friends tip-toe around when it comes to this subject. I don't want to be happy for someone and have that nagging twinge of sadness for myself. I just want to be happy for them. But I also want to be happy for me. My ambivalence on the subject only makes me feel worse, and my empty uterus makes the years and years of Nuvaring seem like a total waste of money (much as I know that's not a rational thought).
Some of our best friends have left the area, one couple temporarily and the other permanently. K's involvement in the music ministry at church was cut out from under him. My car is in need of repairs we can't afford and will have to be donated because we may really need that tax deduction when the time comes (we got screwed last year by unemployment). I just feel like a lot of things, big and small, are changing or ending. I feel very off-balance.
Someone asked me once what I thought the purpose was of this difficult time that we're going through. I thought about it for about half a second before I said that I thought it was about re-imagining our life. Mourning the loss of the life we're not going to have, if that's what needs to happen, and creating the life we want from our current circumstances. I think we both, either consciously or unconsciously, had a white picket fence-ish vision of our future. Modest house, two kids, two cats and a dog, vacations once a year (or twice if we were really lucky), him playing in a band for fun, me taking yoga classes a few days a week. Clearly that's not going to be it for us, and that's okay - that may not be right for us, we just need to release ourselves from that (at least some of that) and figure out who we are. What we really want. It's just hard some days, because I know I'm not always swimming in shit, but it feels like that a lot. So I try to drag my focus back to the things I have to be grateful for, and they're not inconsiderable.
At work, I have a fantastic boss who is really invested in my career growth. They pay me a good salary (and thank God for that), and I have good benefits (thank God for that as well). I have some wonderful co-workers that I really enjoy working with.
At home, I have a kind, loving, understanding, and supportive husband who would really do anything for me. I love him and I have more fun with him than anyone. We have a roof over our heads that we're still able to pay for, and we have good friends around us, even if a few very important faces are now missing from the crowd.
K is in a new band that just put out their fourth album, and it's been an amazing creative outlet for him. He's building and embracing his identity as an artist, and I couldn't be prouder of him.
There's a sweet calico cat in Virginia who will be coming home with us as soon as we can go get her, and there's a yet-to-be-identified kitty out there who will be joining her in bringing that kind of warmth and life back to our home. It's wonderful to be able to provide a good and loving home for an animal, but if my past experience has taught me anything, it's that they'll give us at least as much as we give them, if not more.
The Muppets is coming out tomorrow (or "later today" as I like to call it), and one of my nearest and dearest posted a line from The Muppet Movie on Facebook: Life's like a movie, write your own ending, keep believing, keep pretending. It may seem trite, but it's not. It's what I'm in the middle of right now, I just don't know what to write. We're trying to form a picture, trying to write our own ending. I have a vague idea now, but I don't know how to get there from here. I feel stuck, but I know that's also an illusion. I feel so burned out, I don't even know what I'm good at anymore - and I really don't feel like I'm doing anything up to my own standards. Unsurprisingly, this is adding to my stress at work. I don't know what will get me unstuck, but I have to believe that I can do it. I have to believe that there is more for us than this period of feeling like open doors are slammed shut and closed doors aren't opening. There's a window somewhere, dammit.
Keep believing, keep pretending...