Friday, May 11, 2012

Blasted Fig Trees

I have typed five different blog titles and I've run through five different topics for this blog.  None of them were very good.  
  • One would involve me acting ridiculously chirpy and bright and prattling at high speed with ten-layers of snark and sass.  It would have been terrible Gilmore Girls vaudeville.
  • Two would involve me caring immensely about something I only feel vaguely "meh" about and so would have been boring and disingenuous. 
  • Three would involve me making a dull list.
  • Four would have been grossly unprofessional as in I would have explicitly detailed everything I hate about my job.  It involves a fair amount detailing the unprofessional, stupid, hypocritical, and hyper-annoying aspects of my job.
  • Five would have been maudlin at best, ridiculously self-pitying and selfish at worst. (EDIT: I really hope I didn't come off as maudlin and self-pitying)
So I don't necessarily have anything to say of importance and worth or the things I think I need to say are  disastrously negative and monstrously hurtful.  One of the differences between myself at 32 and myself at 22, or even 27, is that when I see vast amounts of negativity in everything I have a different reaction, or, at least a different way of interpreting my reactions.
  • 22-year-old Amanda would find the wrong in everyone else.  Pinpoint injustices.  Valiantly fight for what is right.  Bemoan the fact that other people won't change or get with the program.  Spend a lot of time reenforcing my own "rightness."
  • 27-year-old Amanda would pick battles.  Firmly take a position.  Let some things go.  Fight tooth and nail to battle perceived wrongs.  Focus a great deal on principle.  
  • 32-year-old Amanda realizes that there are a lot of stupid people, many things that suck, and a billion impossible situation and know that I most likely will not be able to change most of them.  Realizes that the wrong actions my be perpetrated by others, but my reaction is equally wrong.  Works on changing self.  Discovers that -- oddly enough -- sometimes I am  not correct and makes mistakes.
So instead of 22- or 27- year-old Amanda we have my current self figuring out what the hell is wrong with me.

I have this pent up restlessness fluttering just under my breastbone all the time and it isn't coffee.  Something needs to change.  Something isn't right and I can't figure out what it is.  I truly don't think it is anything external.  I'm frustrated, restless, anxious, unsatisfied, and perpetually waiting for something to happen.  I'm extremely sensitive:  I perceive things as hurtful when they aren't intended to be hurtful (emotionally sensitive) and noises, smells, light, space all bother me (physically sensitive). 

I've done some thinking and I've realized several nasty things about myself and I am working on those monster flaws, but I'm not nearly gutsy enough to talk about it here.  I've also realized that part of my problem is my age or my perception of who I thought I would be at my age.  I figured that by 30 I'd be well on my "life path."  My career, family life, hobbies, etc.... would all be pretty much figured out.  I'd be settled in a community and then I would just continue with my life -- one day at a time -- until retirement or the empty nest or something like that.  It isn't so simple.  Do I want to be in the same place in 20, 10, 5, or even 2 years?  Truly, Esther Greenwood from Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar had it right:
I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.  From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.  One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.  I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose.  I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.  ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Chapter 7
I want so much from the life.  I'd like to think that when I die I will go to heaven, but I feel like my life is speeding up, going too fast, and I'm just hurtling towards the end and there is so very much I want to do.  I want my family to grow, I want a career that is intellectually stimulating, I need creative outlets, I want to read everything and then read it again, I want to do something with my life that matters.  I want to know that me being on this Earth has meaning and substance. 

There have been other times when I've felt this way and each time has led to a major life-changing decision (some good and some bad).  I usually go through this period of super-sensitivity, pondering, and vivid dreaming, I make a decision, and then most of the time the results are positive:
  1. When I quit using meth (January 1998)
  2. When I decided to keep Hope and become a mother (June 1999)
  3. When I attempted suicide (February 2003) <<<< Obviously the negative decision of the bunch
  4. When I ditched my ex-boyfriend (September 2007)
  5. When I first started dating Sam (May 2008)
As you can see, I haven't had this "panic-bird" urging me to make a change in about four years, so I am definitely due for a shake-up.

I would, at this time, and because I know that some friends and family may be reading this, like to say that I am not depressed.  This not that creeping, chilly depression that knocks me down so completely.  I've been able to pinpoint that what I'm going through can sometimes lead to depression.  Depression is very passive, or rather, it renders me passive.  I let it take me down and wallow in the lethargy and negativity.  I can't make decisions.  I can't change.  I can't do much of anything.  When I do that I end up making decisions like trying to off myself. 

This period of unrest and dissatisfaction is very active:  reflection, reading, writing, researching, blogging, making plans.... it is all very purposeful and driven and when I indulge in what would seem to others as "moody over-analyzing" I end up making good decisions. 

I'm going to spend the rest of May looking inward.  Figuring out what is bothering me and making me the world's biggest bitch.  Discovering what I want and need for my future.  Then, the rest of the year will be used to determine A Plan.  I'll be blogging about this some here and there. 

First of all; there is something I know with certainty: I love Sam and our children.  I will always have that.  Plans, decisions, and changes must be beneficial for the entire family.  Secondly, I know that I need a place to be creative, to serve, and to use my intellect.  This goes for my career, my community, my friendships, and my hobbies and aspirations.

Okay.  I didn't know I would write any of this.  Once I tossed the fakey fake "blog topics" out of the window and decided to write whatever the hell was on my mind all of this came out.  Hum....  At least I feel a bit less restless and I may even be able to sleep with out nightmares.  At least there is a plus in that.  


Catherine said...

Girl, you summed it up so well, with the fluttering just under the breastbone. I get that, and everything you're saying. If nothing else, change your hair, whether cut or color while you work out the big stuff. That's what I have to do when I feel change coming on...let a little pressure off in my hair. You'll get it sorted, even if the process is messy.

Chris said...

Oh Amanda, you are an amazing person. I hope you know that. I don't comment nearly enough over here but I read every post and can empathize with so much of why you write. I turned 31 today and had many of the same feelings with it. I hope your journey of change is a good one. And if you ever need anyone to talk to, know that I'll happily lend an ear

Anonymous said...


the passage from The Bell Jar is a place i think we've all been.

brent calls them my 2AM, biannual existential crises.

i'm with Catherine. don't just cut...SHAVE YOUR HEAD. How are you coming on that?

Lindsey Sparks said...

I feel you on the summary of how you responded to things at different ages. I can feel myself changing right now. It's like since I turned 30 I'm accepting that I can't control everything and am in fact not right about everything. I also catch myself when I'm being defensive or annoyed with others and try to stop, not that it always works. That passage from The Bell Jar is one of my favorites becuase it's so true.