This past weekend, after my entire life appeared to engulf in fiery, explosive flames, my mom, sister and I sat at the kitchen table and joked about our stress levels.
Yes, we laugh to keep from crying. Although we cry a lot, too.
Most of the jokes we threw out are not entirely appropriate for this blog, or life in general, but that’s us. Brazenly inappropriate, borderline offensive. Sue me.
But then, in the midst of promising to not play in rush-hour traffic, Kasey suggested we write down our “stress mess.” I asked her what the heck she was talking about, and she said it’s a little activity she thought up where you write down everything stressing you out at the moment, then you rip it up, burn it, keep it, whatever you want to do. It’s supposedly therapeutic.
I can’t exactly remember why we didn’t get to our stress mess list this weekend—probably another house flooded, or a pet tried to prance off to the rainbow bridge, or Dad was in more excruciating pain, or AG was throwing an epic fit, or LC was busting his tooth on the tile floor—but it didn’t get done.
So, now I present you with the Stress Mess list. Go ahead, make your own! It might be fun. And then, once we’re done, look it over and pick out the items that you have absolutely ZERO control over. Try and tuck those away in a quiet place. Because why give them power over you when they’re out of your control?
And believe me. I know this is hard. To not let the crap in our lives swamp us. To not give in to the crippling anxiety and stress and end up wasting your day under a mountain of blankets, bra-less, with greasy hair and a glass of red wine.
We can do it. I think. I hope. Shit, I don’t know, but dammit, I’m going to try.
Here it goes…
My Dad’s Health
It’s terrifying to watch your parents suffer and struggle. It’s a cruel reminder that life doesn’t always give, it takes. It’s a lose-your-breath reminder that you’re an adult and your parents won’t always be around. Dad has had a rough few months. Guillain-Barre Syndrome, pneumonia, kidney infection, and now as of last week, neck surgery. A surgery that has left him in unbearable pain. Watching him scream, writhe, and cuss is horrible to watch knowing there is nothing to be done. Knowing we gave him his medication and just have to wait the sloth-like 45 minutes for it to kick in if it does at all. And the stress of knowing he runs his own company. We’d all love for him to be able to relax and focus on healing, but work continues. The phone rings, the email inbox dings. And who is there to answer?
Last Thursday night, we had a water leak in our house. Water ran from the time Jimmy left for work that morning until he returned home late that evening after going to the Cowboys game. We’re out of our house for the foreseeable future until we get the floors, walls, and bathrooms fixed. I’m struggling with being displaced. With the unknown. Will insurance provide us enough money to fix things up? How long will we be out of our home? Right now, it’s a hectic mess of needing to find contractors, making lists of lost items, and hoping we come out of this on top. Also, and I know this is beyond stupid, I had just put up all our Christmas decorations. Nothing makes me happier than settling in at night, Christmas tree lights on, a cup of tea in hand, a Hallmark movie on the TV, and enjoying everything about the season. I’m sad I can’t do that. Silly, yes, but it’s how I feel. I am so thankful, though, that Jimmy’s dad is kind enough to offer up his home to us during this time.
Last Friday night (yes, one night after the flood), Jimmy and his dad noticed that Gus was not acting right. He was slobbering buckets, his body was hunched over in a weird position and he seemed uncomfortable. They took him to the emergency vet around the corner, and after some tests and x-rays confirmed that he had a condition called Bloat (or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus). It’s a medical emergency for dogs requiring immediate surgery or they will die. Bloat is a strange condition with no real cause in which the stomach fills with air, twists, cuts off blood flow to the stomach, spleen, and pancreas, and leads to shock and eventual death without surgical intervention. Well, I was down in Houston helping Dad out after his surgery during these two shit-tastic events. Jimmy and his Dad made the quick decision for Gus to undergo surgery. Gus Gus survived the surgery, spent a couple of nights in doggie ICU, and then came (home) to us. Stress mess: the surgery was hella expensive, Gus is 6 years old (senior for a Great Dane), and I worry this took a huge toll on him, his Wobblers seems to have been exasperated and he’s not walking near as well as before surgery. I’m glad my fluffy boyfriend is still with us.
The journey of being a traditionally published author goes something like this. Write a book, edit, edit, edit, edit some more, submit to literary agencies, get a ton of rejections, get an agent (woot!), edit some more with your agent, submit to publishers, wait, hopefully, get published. Welp, things were going along swimmingly until we hit a bit of a bump in the road this week. Because of course, this will now be known as the week from hell. Anyways, we sent my book out to the first round of publishers, and got some nice feedback and even a possible publication, but it fell through. I’m now in a sort of revise and resubmit situation, which is hard. But my agent team is determined and so am I. I love this story, and I want to share it with the world. We know it can get published, we just need to find the right home. Being a debut author is hard. It’s hard to get a publishing house to take a chance on you when they have no idea how you’ll sell. So, all I can do is give them a fantastic book they have no choice but to say “YES” to.
My Future (apart from writing)
I love writing. LOVE it. It’s brought me a sense of peace and happiness that I have not felt in a long time. But it also is not exactly bringing in the dough at this time. I need to contribute to our family, especially in light of expensive surgeries and home renovations. But I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to return to bedside nursing. I know there are hundreds of options for nurses out there, but I’m unsure of where I fit. And if I’m being honest, I feel like I’ve failed. Failed in making a career out of what makes me truly happy. That’s the hardest feeling of all to reconcile.
My Physical Future
I’m chubby. There, I said it. I hate PCOS. I hate that my hormones are insane. I hate that my body does not react like a normal womans' does. I don’t ovulate. I don’t have normal periods. I can’t (shouldn’t) eat dairy, bread, or sugar and what kind of fucking life is that? I want to lose weight. I’m terrified to do IVF because I don’t think I’m mentally strong enough to take care of twins or triplets, and what if I get either? Oh, and where the F are we going to get money for IVF now? Now that all of our emergency cash is going to the two emergencies we experienced in the course of a weekend? Blah. I just don’t know.
Well, those seem to be the major stresses in my life right now. Lovely. Which brings us to…
Things I CANNOT control:
-My dad’s health. It’s his body, and all I can do is support him through the pain and discomfort of the last 3 months. Nothing he or we did led to GBS or neck surgery.
-The house flooding. It happened, it’s done.
-Gus trying to kick it. Freak medical issue, out of anyone’s control. He’s alive.
-PCOS. I have it. It’s not going anywhere. I need to get over it. Or learn to accept it.
-The publishing world. I have no control over publishers. All I can do is continue writing and offering up wonderful stories to the world. And keep believing.
Things I CAN control:
-Writing. I can keep writing.
-Researching contractors. Picking out floors and vanities. Getting quotes.
-Snuggling with Gus Gus while he heals. I definitely can do that.
-Exercising and saying a tearful goodbye to my best friend, bread.
-Figuring out the extensive options nursing has to offer this world. And thinking about where I fit.
What would your stress mess look like? Would writing it down help? And remember, it’s your life, your list, your stress. Own it, don’t feel bad or guilty. Just pick away at the items you can control.
Thanks for reading!
Until next time,