When the Going Gets Rough | Image courtesy of Death to Stock PhotosAs a result of health problems I’m experiencing and a concurrent growth spurt in my business in combination with the facts that my kids are out of school and unoccupied and several of my closest friends are gone for the summer, I have been feeling pain, fear, and sorrow along with some guilt, self-doubt, and a sense of isolation. There. I said it.
These strong emotions and circumstances lately converged to create intense fatigue which in turn produced a cycle of anxiety-driven fatigue. In my ungrounded state, fear hijacked me and I became a little delusional. Sounds dramatic, I know, but we’re all a little delusional from time to time, what with pervasive negative self-talk, doom and gloom attitudes, and subtle paranoia (I don’t think she likes me!).
I began to have fantasies (not the good kind) that fatigue would take over — probably as a result of cancer or some incurable form of chronic fatigue syndrome — and I would be rendered unable to work, my business would fail, and my kids would have to act as my caregivers (Ha!).
Under pressure to finish three proposals on a Friday afternoon, I ran late to a meeting and then hit traffic. The final blow came when, half an hour late, I waited another 20 minutes (at an admittedly swanky workspace) before receiving an apology email letting me know that something had come up and he had forgotten to let me know. I was being stood up!
To be honest, I was a little relieved. I decided, after spending the whole day inside (not good for morale), to walk the two miles home in hopes that it would clear my head. Walking home, now at relative leisure early on a Friday evening, I began to regain my senses.
It was a beautiful San Francisco day, the kind that always makes me glad I live here. Through my isolation filter I could still see and feel the city I love’s energy; beautiful people dressed and ready to celebrate, construction, traffic, architecture, and noise. I walked straight through the Tenderloin — a neighborhood I love for reasons that are about to become clear.
As I walked through I saw, as I always do, children, elders, gangsters, people in wheelchairs, bodies ravaged by drugs, and the men! “Hey, beautiful, will you go out with me?” “Can I talk with you for a minute? Just one minute!” I stop, smile, briefly chat. These are people, I know, who understand despair and, like me, do what they have to do to survive it. Their worlds are real and not dressed up in Lululemon.
The spiritual upliftment I feel as a result of being around this kind of reality carries me home and finally I am strong enough to acknowledge my struggle and the relief I feel that Friday night is here and I have a day or two to feel my pain, fear, and sorrow in relative peace. I do what the tough do when the going gets rough. I break down and cry.
Then the doorbell rings and my son’s friend’s mother is at the door. I am crying too hard to fake it or hide the tears, so I am exposed to everyone. And here’s what happens: They hug me. First the mother, then my son, then a group hug, and then more hugs before they leave.
I feel strong in my vulnerability and grateful for the love that comes my way via unexpected sources. A previous me might have felt shame, but the current me understands that when life gets hard, we of course feel pain, fear, and sorrow. It’s part of being human. The trick, if there is one, is to consciously and courageously feel these feelings. The miracle is to have the strength to keep going, one foot in front of the other, despite the difficulties.
I am a single, middle-aged, bisexual mother of two boys living in one of the most expensive cities in the world at a time of radical technological, environmental, political, social, and economic change. If we survive it, I know this period will stand out as one of history’s great turning points. Of course these circumstances are a challenge. What’s not of course is that I feel strong, beautiful, and intensely grateful to be alive, sharing this journey with soul mates near and far, known and yet to be discovered.