Out of Control

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I like lists. Schedules. Planners. Being prepared. As much as I appreciate order, though, life continues to teach me that I can’t control everything.

Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.
-John Lennon

Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do other than let go and focus on the things you can change.

I’m learning this more and more lately.

Because I have anxiety, I can easily spin out—especially when there are too many what ifs hanging over my head. I’ve always been observant and curious, which are both my best and worst qualities. I see everything. I always have. Sometimes it’s a bit like being the psychic in a Stephen King novel. You just know shit’s gonna hit the fan, but no one will listen to you because you’re weird.

I can be stubborn and pushy, which almost never works, but I have a really hard time letting go and letting be.

Especially when it concerns people I love.

But more and more I’m learning to focus on me. Even when it feels selfish or wrong. Because, at the end of the day, the only thing I can control is what I do.

I can’t make my autoimmune disease go away, but I can keep track of my pain levels and try new medications.

I can’t force a loved one to get help, but I can be a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen with.

I can’t fix my country’s social and political issues, but I can get my own affairs in order, while being kind to everyone.

Because the truth is, no matter how observant I may be and how much I might worry, I still don’t know what the future holds. Not for sure, anyway. By working on myself, though, and making sure my own world is stable, I can be more available for others—and whatever comes next.

My worry list is long, but the more I work on myself, the more capable I am of coping with those worries.

Refresh. Reset. Renew.

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via Unsplash

That’s been my mantra these last few days. I’ve clung to it through this storm, repeating it to myself over and over.

Refresh. Reset. Renew.

I first heard those words years ago at the Connecticut Business Women’s Forum. They were the theme of the 2010 forum. I spent a lot of time emblazoning those words onto graphics, coding them into a website. The keynote speaker was Paula Abdul. I honestly can’t remember a single word that she said. But the other speaker, Jill Blashack Strahan, said something that has carried me through the last five years:

Start. Know where you’re going. Don’t stop.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that forum lately. Those words blew my then twenty-two-year-old mind. I think even then I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. At the time, I was part of the team that designed and developed the 2010 BWF website. My days were filled with writing code. At night, I longed to be writing stories.

Jill Blashack Strahan’s words gave me the courage I needed back then to pursue my dream of being a writer.

Right now, I could use a double dose.

“Fear is the gatekeeper to strength.”

-Jill Blashack Strahan

The last eight years have ravaged me. Chronic pain, loss, and more loss. I’ve only just been skimming the surface, barely keeping my head above water. Lately, I’ve hit a wall. My depression has been at its worst in over ten years. I haven’t written in weeks. The medication I was on only made me worse. Honestly, I’ve wondered whether I would be better off dead.

Depression is a good liar.

I’ve been running scared for the last eight years, barely staying ahead of the ugly monster inside of my head. In the last two years, it’s worn me down. Today I am but a skeleton of a woman.

But not for long.

I decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.

-Anne Lamott

I’m working on making some changes.

For one, I’ve decided to give all of my work to my publishing house, to be re-released. This takes an enormous amount of pressure off of me. It’s also slightly terrifying, because in order to re-launch everything, I won’t be releasing anything new for a while.

I’ve also basically cancelled October. I had a lot of things lined up this month, but had to take a step back and evaluate my priorities.

And right now, getting better is my first concern.

I’m working on being less ashamed. I have a mental illness, but my depression is not me. My whole life, I’ve spent more energy on trying to appear normal than on getting better.

I’m also trying to be more present in my life. I’m always rushing to the next thing, running to the future. But I recently realized that if I keep going this way, I will end up looking back and not having truly relished any single moment in my life.

That’s no way to live.

If losing two of the people I love most has taught me anything, it’s to live life to the fullest.

It’s time to start living.