Under Pressure

After graduating from college, I worked two jobs—at a music store during the day and at a restaurant during the evening. I was an English Major and had no career plans whatsoever. I was saving cash in a tin with a picture of an old Rolls Royce and Rte. 66 on the lid, trying to fund a solo trek to California. Of course, the money never stayed long in the tin as I also had to fund my bad habits. So, there I was. No plans. No money. No sense of responsibility. I didn’t really stand a chance, but at least I was having fun.

I wish I could say that I was a starving artist, but my party plans always took precedence over my art. So, I worked and worked and put a little cash in the tin and pulled a little cash out of the tin and stayed up all night and then did it all over again. I remember believing that I was handling the long hours and little sleep like a real champ. I was pushing CDs at the mall, delivering steaming hot plates of lasagna at the restaurant, and dancing and laughing and making everyone around me generally happy. Or, so I thought.

One night, when I was already a couple of sheets to the wind, my best friend/roommate and I got into some type of argument. I remember some back and forth, some yelling, some tears. I don’t know what sparked her anger or what we were actually fighting about, but I imagine the explosion of tension probably had something to do with my irresponsible lifestyle. Perhaps, I wasn’t making everyone generally happy. Perhaps my poor choices were no joke. Just a few weeks before, my sister found me slumped on the couch and called me disgusting. Regardless, I kept on keeping on. What else did I know?

Yet, this argument with my friend and roomie had some impact. It did not deter me from my life of “freedom,” but one comment did stick in my mind: “I am so sick of you! All you do is stay up all night and then complain about how tired you are!”

That isn’t really a stinger, but it for some reason it still remains. Maybe that comment is all that I could hold on to through the sieve of my brain. Or, maybe it meant something to me. Sick of me, eh? The life of the party? I remember thinking: You’d be tired too if you worked as much and as hard as I do. But, work really wasn’t the issue. I think I’ve illustrated that.

Now, twenty years later, responsible and sober, I have found myself in a similar conundrum. I like to think that I’ve come a long way. Okay, I have come a long way. But, apparently, I am still terribly moody. Apparently, I still can’t keep my feelings inside my brain and body where they belong. Apparently, long days of working (for real this time) and long nights of studying or writing, take their toll and I can’t keep the frustration from seeping out.

And, yet again, this time around I actually thought I was handling it well.

You see, I’ve been off of work all summer and now I am back to the grind. I just started a new position at work. I am taking a graduate class. I am a member of several groups outside of work and am the secretary for two of them. I am going to a weight loss clinic and have to see a doctor and nutritionist once a week. I have a therapist. I have friends. I have a partner. And, I am a mom.

I should be freaking out, right?

But, oddly, I thought I was staying rather calm in face of chaos. I thought it might the B12 shots I’ve been getting. You know making me thinner and dapper and all around chipper. Yet, I received the feedback tonight that I haven’t exactly been myself lately and I’ve been short and distant.

Shit.

I know that sometimes I clam up when I have a great deal on my mind. In the past, this was often an indicator that I was snowballing, mind swirling in some sort of negative whirlwind. But, I don’t really find that to be true anymore. I’m telling you, it’s the B12. Or, maybe it’s maturity. I don’t really know.

Still, I guess, I’ve been sort of silent and distant and irritable. Maybe I’m some sort of broken record: I have homework. I’m tired. I can’t eat tortilla chips. I have to be here and there. I don’t know how I am going to get it all done. Whatever. Whatever. Blah. Blah. Blah.

This makes me sad. I hate irritating people. But, I am tired. I can’t eat tortilla chips. I do have to be here and there. I don’t know if I can get it all done. But, I also know that I made this bed. So, now, I have to lie in it. I should lie in it with a smile. Even if the sheets aren’t washed. Even if I haven’t showered in a few days. Even if the mattress is lumpy.

Now what to do? As a mature, sober woman, I know that I need to reflect on my behavior and make it right. Instead of being silent and snippy, if I am jealous that my partner has more free time than I do, I need to admit it. If I miss my son when he is at his dad’s but don’t even know how I am going to get him to his extracurriculars when he is here, I need to own it. If I am avoiding my annoying financial mess and need help dealing with it, I should ask.

And, my more twisted thoughts and feelings? I should own them too.

I am only human. At least, I think I am. I can only juggle so many knives. But, I can juggle them with grace. I can keep from slipping up, grabbing one by the blade, slicing my palm open.

I can also be grateful that I even have these opportunities. I can be grateful that I have a son and a partner and friends and family. I can be grateful that someone pointed out my sour-puss to me. I can be especially grateful that I am not in the eye of the hurricane right now. I can just be damned grateful.

Be open. Be honest. Be true. And, smile, girl, smile.

 

 

 

 

 

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