I wish I were more of who my husband wanted me to be. I know he wishes that I believed I am who he wants me to be. I remember being a happy child. Innately curious and generally hopeful. How is it that some are able to maintain a sunny outlook and others get clouded by life? I’ve discovered that I am a faux vase – believing that I had a certain design to me, but finding that it’s been chipped away over the years and that my real composition is different and blander than I’d always presumed.
There’s a general rule that the true nature of a person is revealed in crisis. I’ve never broken my neck or lost everything, but I’m no Joni Eareckson Tada or Job, grateful and worshipping in the most dire of circumstances. The worst I’ve had lately is being let go from a job and a ruptured Achilles tendon – both of which did not reveal much Christ-like resiliency in me. In fact, I felt rather sorry for myself in each instance and still sometimes do even two years later.
There’s another rule – one attributed to Anton Chekov – that goes something like this: “Any idiot can handle a crisis, it’s the day to day living that wears you down.” Daily living does indeed get me down. I don’t claim to be a realist, and I hate being labeled a pessimist, but I know I’m not all sunshine and flowers. I also hate being thought a depressive but, when shaving your legs, tweezing your chin, running out of milk, changing the cat litter, finding a parking spot, paying the bills, brushing your teeth, for goodness sakes, when all these daily things start feeling like the rock of Sisyphus, worn down is where I am. When so much of life feels like failure, how do I turn it around?
I want answers to why I am angry with the world. I want to know why I let that rather cheerful little girl get shutdown. I want to believe that she is still me but perhaps I’ve seen too much of the world. Correction – I’ve actually led a relatively mundane life compared to the tragedies and adventures that lives can hold. Though comparison gets me nowhere, what I look at does affect what I see. Rather than deciding that life has beaten me down, it is perhaps more accurate to say that I have spent a disproportionate amount of time looking at the beatings. My focus guided by the mistaken belief that if I scrutinized them long enough, I could somehow learn to avoid them.
My mindset has been very honorable and diligent. It’s even more alarming then to realize that my approach has been worse than ineffective – it’s actually been counterproductive. It has taught me instead to see and anticipate beatings at every turn, creating instances of unnecessary failure and atrophying the skills of victory.
I’ve become an expert in my weaknesses and fostered them, rather than championing my strengths. I know what I don’t like, what to avoid, what I’m no good at, what I need to try harder at, and where I really fell down. Even in the things I do well, I mostly know the areas that I could have done better.
It is incredibly difficult for me to say what I want, what I like, or for what I hope. And I wonder who I think this serves? I’d always envisioned it as being humble and self-effacing. It is a sort of self-erasing but it makes the scrubbed marks more noticeable than the pencil sketchings all around. Others, too, are wiped out by my efforts to make myself innocuous. I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know how to live in my own skin and admit that, while drying my hair and vacuuming the floor seem relentlessly tedious tasks to me, there are things I can get lost in. (I’m panicking right now, saying – think, think! You must know what they are. It can’t just be Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. That’s just a phase; it can’t be as little as that!)