I was watching Station 19 last night, when I heard something that completely resonated with me on the topic of being overwhelmed. One of the characters, Pruitt, as he was packing up his belongings and trying to decide which coffee mug to keep, said:
“A few months ago, I was sick. A few weeks ago, I was Interim Captain. A few days ago, I was a homeowner. And now…”
It wasn’t a lightening bolt of clarity for me, but it reiterated something I had thought about all day.
A few months ago, we were picking strawberries to make jam. A few weeks ago, we were planning our summer vacation. And a few days ago, I was power walking 3 miles on a busy highway listening to ABBA so that I didn’t go stir crazy in our empty apartment.
Experts advise not making any major decisions in times of stress, but that is really hard advice to follow. When the floor falls out from under your feet, you suddenly find yourself bouncing all over the place and you’ll try anything (well, almost anything…I haven’t completely lost my mind yet) to find a way to get back to some semblance of normal. My knee-jerk reaction since deciding to cut off contact with my mother has been to enact every escape plan I ever dreamed up in my head – all at the same time.
So I bought a van. It was beautiful and the people who sold it to me were so nice. In my mind, it was going to be the thing that made it all better. It was a home on wheels, a way to get back out into the world, and find “belonging” again. Except folks, it wasn’t any of that. It was just a van – a vehicle with four wheels, a motor, and a bed in the back, a vehicle that has been sitting at a repair shop 50 miles from here for 8 days now, while everyone gives me advice on what to do next.
There is only one thing to do next. Stop.
A few months ago, I started seeing a therapist. A few weeks ago, I wrote my mom a letter explaining why I could no longer be around her. A few days ago, the van I impulsively purchased died on the road to a different life. And today…
Today, I am going to take a shower. Today, I’m going to do some laundry and pack for vacation. Today, I’m going to go to work, and eat a peanut butter sandwich, and call my dad, and stop trying to plan out the rest of my life.
Today, I’m going to step off the path that goes around this broke down mountain that is my life right now, and I’m going to put on my hiking boots and climb the hell up to the top…because then, and only then, will I be able to clearly see the road ahead.