I have had difficulty sleeping all week. Partly it’s the Very Bad Incident business on Tuesday and partly it’s the craziness of work. I have been putting in more hours at my part-time job at the law firm trying to help out and keep the work flowing. However, as is typical, the rest of my client base is suddenly restless and blowing up my phone with texts and voice mails and I am feeling certain my email must be close to full by now.
It is not a terrible thing, and I am juggling and keeping busy on all fronts. Besides, I am a capitalist at heart and making money because my clients need me to do more work for them and their businesses is a good problem to have for the self-employed.
But the schedule I have been keeping has caused all kinds of weirdness in my head to go along with the crazy busy work schedule. There is gym time before work, and Thursday night there was off schedule gym time as well. We were supposed to have dinner with G and K Thursday to celebrate her birthday, but she and G were both feeling crappy and we postponed to Sunday instead, along with the cake. That I still need to bake. Wednesday night I was out with coworkers at the kava bar. The other nights I was working straight through until after well after 9. When you try to be in bed by 9:30 week nights, that is late to still be working..
Obviously most of my free time this week has been spent working, including today. Well, that’s not precisely true. I have carved out blogging time to download the near constant storm of brain flashes.
When I am at the gym practicing, the cueing soundtrack is playing in my head, I am counting and trying to stay straight on reps and sets, and I am thinking about any number of other things. When I am driving, I am watching traffic and my speed and everything else to stay safe, ticket and accident free, yet I am looking at the cars and traffic around me and thinking about other things. Even when I am working and concentrating on what I am doing in the moment, there is back burner perking going on behind the scenes. The brain never stops – I always seem to be mentally wrestling with something.
The busier and more jam-packed the rest of my life seems to be, the faster the thoughts tumble and spin. My wonderings and curiosities about the people I see where I wander tend to spike. It’s ridiculous and it’s silly, but I cannot seem to help myself or my imagination going on walkabout. Dreams, nightmares, night terrors – all brain on overdrive. Kava helps slow it down to relax and allow me to sleep, and I have sworn off caffeine for awhile and am taking a sabbatical from watching or reading the news. The constant 24/7 news cycle tends disturbs me once I reach a saturation point. Election cycles send me to saturation quickly. Even with less brain fodder brain refuses to got to sleep.
But I am resolving to try and stop wondering about other people and what their lives are like. I suspect it contributes to negative girl’s screech. Because in wondering about their lives outside of the few seconds our pathways cross, my head always gives them the benefit of a normal life, average life. Probably they have the usual issues of jobs and bills and families and relationships, but they never have my particular brand of baggage. While I have it neatly packed and locked down right now, I am rarely to never able to predict when the suitcase fasteners are going to give way and the entire thing explode, all my stuff flying through the air and making a mess when it sprawls out everywhere and takes over.
Thinking about that this morning at the gym – it was a big step up from the misery I am capable of generating while doing core exercises – I was wondering if this is my quest:
While I know I have never been or ever had a normal life, truth is I do not think I have ever been truly average either. Most of my life I have felt like I was so busy chasing normal and average that I have never stopped to consider what it means for me if and when I finally succeed and become camouflaged inside that herd
Part of what brought this up was a phone call with an old friend and buddy last night, someone I rarely see and only speak to a few times per year. And I kind of like it that way. Too much time together and I am tearing my hair out in frustration or have truly hateful, mean, yet truthful things just burning a hole in my tongue trying to get out. Our lives are different. Our personalities are very different. Yet our unspoken need for space and distance from one another is akin to a mirrored image.
Anyway, we were chatting last night and catching up on things (she does not know I blog). I updated her on my job and self-employment changes and of course my recent health successes and the training, the learning new things, and the daily practices. I thought she would be more interested and excited, being a pretty healthy and fitness-minded individual herself, including regular strength training as part of her overall triathlon competition training. Primarily she was supportive and happy for my good results. But then she said something perplexing yet somehow typical.
She suggested I am now to a level where I should be in the driver’s seat about where I want to go with training. I should have ideas and curiosity, goals and objectives, all the things I want to accomplish with my body and my health and directing J to do whatever it takes to get me there. As she put it, I am no longer a “lump of clay” to be sculpted by some trainer who has no idea about my life and interests and pursuits. On top of which, I am apparently way too passive and put too much of the onus on the poor trainer to do well at his job – she is of the opinion he cannot or should not have to work that hard. My protestations about throwing away the plans and goals and simply pursuing exercise education and mastery were met with dismissive pronouncements that my progress will stall and I will quit.
Apparently I am the blandest, mildest mannered, spineless person of her acquaintance, a fine example of a milquetoast woman. Where I believe I am taking a bold and brave step by starting and sticking with the training she sees me as timid and blindly following. And she wonders why we do not talk more often. Frankly, every time I hang up the phone I wonder why we talk at all anymore. Then remember why we became friends all those years ago.
Square pegs in a society of round holes, I was happy to stay invisible and slink around under the radar, she was angry and brash and bold. In our unique ways we protected one another from the school yard bullies and stayed close through grade school. My family moved when I was 12, and we attended different junior high and high schools. We kept in sporadic touch and then became closer in college, only to drift again.
Adulthood changes friendship, and ours in better and worse ways, yet I value that tenuous connection with the little girl I was. Safe friends – she was my only one. She has no idea what I was enduring while at home, at my little “job” for the man down the street, and I will maintain that barrier. It is the best and worst of times, and mostly I choose to spend our communications in the best of that spectrum.
While I did not really appreciate the direction of our conversation, at least it is familiar and not unexpected. As I frequently think after we hang up, she can take her opinions and ideas and choke on them. But as always, my irritation with her gets me thinking. Perhaps that is the whole point of dancing on my last nerve, implementing a devious master plan?
The spheres of influence are all around me, and I always think that if I can get to and stay within the ballpark of normal I would be okay and safer. But what if I am never going to be normal or average? I understand that I never have really been either, for reasons well beyond my control. Yet I chase that. I chase that safety with a well-honed herd instinct.
In my imaginings of this process, there is this herd of gazelle running across the savannah, away from a pack of hungry lions. There are some in front, a few stragglers at the outer perimeter of the herd, and then there is me, a baby wildebeest or some other bigger, slower, less fleet and graceful beast, running with all my might to keep up alongside the herd. Despite my potential for big huge lumbering size and strength, I am uncoordinated and have no idea how to protect myself. I am easy pickings for any and all hungry lions and want desperately for safety of being part of a pack, any pack.
But I made it out, made it this far in life. I never deny that I had help along the way, that I am grateful for everything that has gotten me here, but in truth I survived on my own in more ways than I care to admit. Because that means I had to do it on my own, doesn’t it? Does that make me less? Less worthwhile? Less lovable? Less other good qualities and traits I desire to demonstrate? I do not articulate it that way often, but in my head I understand the roots of the way I process and think.
I like quiet invisibility, the freedom to just do my job and live my life. Mine is a relatively uncomplicated life if compared and contrasted with others in my age range and phase of life. We are financially stable enough to indulge in some of our wants while covering our needs and saving for future expenses and our even older and grayer years. Family drama is primarily the excitement and planning for both kids getting married this year.
As time passes and I put more effort into trusting myself and shutting down the negative voices that keep me anxious and insecure, I am starting to allow a little confidence to be planted. With work, I have been doing so much of what I do for so long it feels much like autopilot and reflex than actual thinking and brain engagement. I often minimize what I do as a product of long experience rather than the ability to think and learn. Essentially I see myself doing my job more as more a trained seal than a skilled professional.
Thinking about this throughout the day, I am starting to recognize the signs that I feel unsuccessful in my aspirations for the safety of normal and average because it is the equivalent of me dumbing down to maintain a relationship. I am not pretentious about my intelligence (surely someone would have called me out on it long before this if that were the case) and not really a brains snob, but it does become a challenge to develop friendships with those whose interests and passions seem superficial to me. I like the challenges of engaging and interacting with smarter people or even those who have different ideas or intellectual pursuits. I enjoy people and conversations that make me think. Sometimes I walk away feeling like the village idiot, but more typically I am engaged enough to want to learn more, so I am prepared if the topic comes up again. This is why I think my brain seems to be busy all the time. Even when engaged my mind seems to be scurrying around to satisfy its curiosity and to discern something new, even if it is only about complete strangers all around me.
So tonight I am evaluating the ways the voices in my head have mislead me again and again. The appropriate answer for me could be to stop chasing after the gazelles and instead find some other wildebeest to run with instead for safety in numbers. Or maybe I need to kick and stomp a few lions until they agree to be friends or find easier meals to mess with.
The moral of the story for me, at least for tonight: perhaps I am smarter and more powerful than I have given myself permission to believe. Trying to find normal, hoping to be at least average could simply me setting my sights far too low. Perhaps I need to stop chasing that and starting looking upward to find my own unique, comfortable place in the world.
Definitely more food for thought at the end of a long week, long Saturday.