Four years ago when I was beginning to date again after my divorce, I was a bit of a crazy person.
For several weeks now, I’ve been struggling with anxiety around the idea that 2014 is going to be unbearably hard, like worse than trying to hold my awful cats Livre and Lola at the same time.
There are real and real-ish reasons to think this:
– I have an incredibly challenging job leading a startup organization with a new business model, using skills I am still developing. (That is a politic way of saying that while I’m convinced we have a great idea, and I know we have great people, I AM TERRIFIED TO NO END that I’m going to screw it up before I figure it out.)
– My daughter is turning 13. I remember being her age. I was many things. Rational, consistent and even-tempered were not among them. Some closest to me might say I have been rebooting my 13-year-old self lately. Thank god my hair is not my 13-year-old hair.
– Mom and Dad are getting older. I’m not worried about their health; Dad makes more unsolicited comments about their sex life than a 15-year-old boy would about a lack thereof. But I do worry about their obligations to others. They’ve more or less moved in with Mom’s mom (my last living grandparent and anxiety soulmate; related: when I am my grandmother’s age, I expect my daughter’s daughter to soothe me with iced Bailey’s and her handsome boyfriend). Anyway, selfishly, I miss my parents and wish they still stalked me on Facebook like they did the year I was getting divorced. More on that in a bit.
And also right now, it is negative a million degrees outside. It is awfully hard to imagine, at the moment, a day in spring when the 400 bulbs I planted in October will have arrived for the kind of party with sundresses and asparagus dishes that I love.
But to my saving grace, I have been writing woe-is-me stuff since I was about eight. I can pull a random journal off my shelf from pretty much any year and read for very little time before I’m reminded of this amazing pattern: The times I thought were hard – indeed, the times that were the toughest – turned out to be the best.
Take this one, from March 2011, two months after my divorce was finalized:
I have never been more focused on the future than when I have needed time to pass.
Ten more minutes until I’m done with this run.
Two more hours and we’ll be out of the car.
Four days and these cold sores will be gone.
Three weeks and this report will be filed.
When fall arrives, the house will have sold.
When spring is here, my heart will be healing.
Next Christmas, I will have found someone to love.
In times of pain, fatigue, anxiety, mourning and longing, a knowingness that time will pass – that circumstances will change – has buoyed me. I’m an optimistic person, though, with plenty of reasons to believe that if life isn’t so great right this second, it will be momentarily.
I have very generous and supportive parents.
I live in a place with plenty of resources and access to them.
I am healthy.
And I have thoughtful, creative and fiercely loyal friends who – for the most part – also have good families, good health, and live in strong communities.
What if I didn’t?