It’s been a deep weekend.
It was around this same time last year, that I was questioning where I was headed in my life. I was asking myself when I’d get married, when/if I’d have kids and how either of those things would work with a demanding job.
I guess I have to admit, I was asking myself if I wanted either of those things, too.
These are hard questions to ask and answer objectively. I’m not actually sure any of us can. It’s so hard to extricate what we want from what we think we should want.
These are the thoughts that I believe exacerbated my already stressful state and led to my first bout with panic attacks.
Thankfully, after the first two attacks, and with the help of my loving boyfriend, I found ways to listen to myself. To the tingling; the shortness of breath; the hypochondria, etc.. I learned to face them as friends before allowing my fear of them to turn to panic. It’s been over a year.
But the questions, the stress, the fear…those things don’t go away. Perhaps they don’t ever go away for anyone.
Lately, and perhaps it’s part of turning 30 & part of the fact that this was a deep weekend for me, I’m wondering how in the world I can marry the two seemingly warring sides of myself before I’m either too old or too cynical.
That is, there’s the creative anti-corporate side of me who detests capitalism, the “grind” and working for anyone other than herself. Then, there’s the risk-averse, eager-to-please side who is frightened to death of not having the means to survive and thrive. I suppose what unites both is the fear that being one of these will lead to nothing but unhappiness.
As an introspective person, I can see clearly why I have these sides and why I’ve chosen to do the things I have in my life thus far. At around 13 (yes, that impressionable coming-into-adulthood age), the walls around me came tumbling down, figuratively. Though, literally, we almost lost our house. To protect those involved, I can’t get into many details. The gist is: my family life became its most unstable. I remember being awoken by my mom in the middle of the night as she furiously counted the cash she kept hidden in a sequined purse she hung in my closet. I became her husband, so to speak. And I’ve never forgotten the fear of having the rug ripped out from beneath me and made a pact to never rely on anyone but myself for my safety.
As we all are, I have been colored by the parental portraits I have hanging in my consciousness and both warn me that I can’t be “just” a self-indulgent artist or a corporate drone. There’s too much to lose in either–the ones you love or yourself.
I feel like I’ve done a pretty good darn job at finding some balance between both sides–I have the job & the side consultancy business to ensure I’m taken care of financially (at least somewhat). And, for a while, I was making music and working on a book, both of which allowed the creative expression I’ve always needed.
This year, however, my artistic expression has been spotty at best. My band has pretty much dissolved.
This is heart-breaking because we had something so extremely special. And, it was such an outlet for me.
Happiness caught on camera while recording in New Mexico.
Yet, it’s also easy to accept. We are four adults with big jobs, lots of responsibilities. Two have kids. We’d been together 6 years; we change. This is what happens. It’s like an amicable divorce.
That said, I recently watched the documentary Fame High, which follows a group of LA-based art students with big dreams to become musicians, actors and dancers, and it ruffled up all sorts of hard-to-pin feelings. It occurred to me..and I’ve never realized it before…I have never ever really dreamed BIG. And, perhaps I’m wondering…is it too late to dream big? If I’m 30 and want to get married & have kiddos while I’m physically able (that is, I’m guessing/hoping I am), how can I also give everything I have to my artistic desires. And, even smarter of a question: do I want to?
I think I’ve played it safe thus far in adulthood. Of course, some would say majoring in and getting a master’s in English is not playing it safe But even in doing those things, I’ve always protected myself by learning as many marketable skills as possible.
I’ve never wanted to make a living off of music. I’ve just wanted to do it and, I suppose I’m just missing it.
Anyhow, these are the questions and thoughts I’m grappling with.
I feel like the rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”
Something that’s truly affected me is that my mom and I have been having very honest conversations about our mortality. We’ve discussed how both of us wants our remains. We’ve discussed her will. I’ve told her where I want my ashes. She’s stated casually that, based on her parents’ ages of death, she probably only has 10-15 years left.
I can’t even begin to navigate how devastated I am at the thought of ever having to be without her. And, of course, I then think — knowing that I’m her only daughter and how close we are and how much she loves her current grandchildren–that she’d love to see me become a mother. All of my attempts at rationalizing my need for artistic creativity and financial security seem so small. Thinking about her makes me just want to have a baby, quit my job, and spend every waking moment with her veganizing Costa Rican recipes, sipping wine, and dancing to the Gypsy Kings.
Maybe my first step out of this crazy cluster-f of emotion and thoughts is to simply take a deep breath. Put the clock down. And relish in the beauty of having so many viable choices. Of having my beautiful mother today. Of having the luxury and privilege to fear that I can’t find balance between so much professional and personal opportunity.
Have you been here? Why does everyone seem so sure about what they want and who they are? Is it all a facade?
How do we millennials even begin to come to terms with the fact our parents won’t be here forever?
The Cranky One
Tags: panic attacks