This week has been a really hard week, and I’ve been trying to keep myself grounded and at peace.
I’ve been wallowing and falling into the habits I engage in when I’m disappointed, resentful, and sad. I buy things I don’t need. I chain-drink diet soda. I eat entire bags of dried mango and pita chips, then wolf down a candy bar, handfuls of Starbursts, and a “share size” bag of Skittles, which I share with no one.
Thursday was the day I started feeling disappointed and scattered. That day, I told myself that it was important for me to stick to the basics; I thought about going over to my brother’s house to get a hug from my mom (visiting from NY) and to snuggle with my nephew and my nieces. Spending time with them is a good mood lifter and a distraction for me. However, it would also mean skipping my evening run, maybe going to bed later than usual, maybe eating something I don’t want to eat for dinner – and I told myself that it’s these times, when I’m in danger of falling into a rut, when I need to keep things simple and get back to basics. I drove home, I went for a run, I ate a sandwich with hummos, tapenade, and kale, I cried a little with Tee, and I got myself in bed with a crossword early.
Yesterday was a different story.
I woke up still feeling dejected and disappointed. I phoned it in at work, big time. I half-heartedly met with my clients and prayed that no one would have a crisis involving 100% of my attention and effort. (Even though, honestly, a crisis like that would have helped to pull my focus away from my dejection and disappointment; kids in need make me forget myself.) I ate oodles of candy and snacks, and I drowned myself in diet Coke. I got into a spat with Tee because I was caring more about soothing my disappointment in unhealthy ways than about being respectful and understanding of her needs; after all, my dejection and disappointment is hers, too.
Today is Saturday, and my hope is that today I can find my footing. Sometimes when I feel scattered and unfocused, I re-read a favorite book – a Harry Potter book, a J.K. Rowling Cormoron Strike mystery, one of Christopher Buckley’s novels, The Happiness Project, etc. I’ve discovered that listening to a favorite book, in audiobook format, can be therapeutic, too. Luckily, our local library has tons of books available that I can download for free on my phone. So a couple of days ago, when my anxiety and anticipation and hope and fear were rearing, I was able to download Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed.
Here’s a short synopsis of this book coming into existence. (Don’t judge me for accuracy; I’ve done no research other than reading the introduction to Tiny Beautiful Things.) For a long time, Cheryl Strayed was the secret author of an advice column on TheRumpus.net; the column was called Dear Sugar, and as “Sugar,” Cheryl answered letters about life, love, loss, grief, relationships – really, pretty much anything. Her responses were amazing and real and genuine and heartfelt.
My sister introduced me to this book a while ago, but I only read it from cover to cover recently. I find Sugar’s advice amazing and inspiring, her words beautiful and grounding. Even when I am listening to a letter and response that have nothing to do with me, I feel reassured by the core of her message – that life is long, that we are all flawed, and that we cannot know what is ahead for us. That we have to let go of what we imagine, to make space for the kind of joy and fulfillment we never dreamed possible.
I’m linking to a Ted Talk by Cheryl Strayed on radical sincerity. And I am praying that today brings me peace instead of chaos, that I live with strength and intention rather than falling into a rut of bad habits. I pray that I stop using unhealthy habits to distract me from disappointment. I am disappointed – but my faith can be bigger than my disappointment, if I’m centered and grounded enough to allow it to heal my hurting heart.