Wrinkle Cream and Lounge Wear

What a year this has been. Holy freaking cow.

I like to blog and take stock of my life on my birthdays, but this year I don’t even know where to start.

I usually get a massage on my birthday, but that didn’t happen. (There is a part of me that just wants to say fuck it and go do whatever I wanna do, but the rule follower part of me won’t allow that fantasy to become a reality.) Even though holy crap I could really use one because I can literally feel the weight of junk that’s been collecting and that I’ve been dragging around with me. After said massage, I usually go and sit in a Starbucks where I drink coffee without kids and I blog and read. As I type this, I’m sitting in my car in the parking lot of a park overlooking a river. I have my Starbucks and I just inhaled a birthday donut. At least it’s quiet and there are zero kids in the vicinity.

Usually, my birthday evokes feelings around my long-ago cancer diagnosis. This year, I have some (because how can I not), but mostly I’m struck by how covid/the pandemic/quarantining has shoved my cancer history to the back burner. Comparatively, it’s made my cancer feel more like a distant memory than ever before. Not sure how I feel about that.

It’s been exactly a year since I’ve had a date night out with my husband. I haven’t seen my parents in 15 months. I haven’t seen my brother for even longer. I can’t count how many face masks I own now. It’s good to acknowledge loss and take time to grieve, and I do that from time to time, but….how do I keep doing that when the trauma isn’t over? And this is me, who’s specifically trained to help heal trauma.

I often wonder how time and perspective will shape how I feel about this experience, this season in my life. How will I remember it? What stories will I tell? How and when will this all end? How will this shape how I live the rest of my life?

I’ve realized that it doesn’t take much to make me happy. Or content, at least. In a time when I’ve been stuck at home and can’t have nice things, it’s been the little things that have gotten me through. Kickball with my kids. Watching disaster movies with my husband. Reading really good books late into the night.

At the same time, I feel like it also doesn’t take much to trigger my anxiety. I anticipate having to retrain myself what safety feels like once this is “over” and we decide we can be social again. (Notice I didn’t say “normal,” because life won’t go back to the way it was before. In many ways, we’re forever changed.) About 3 years ago I went back to therapy for severe postpartum anxiety and in many ways I feel like the progress I made then has been shredded by covid. Covid is my anxiety’s best friend. Fuck you both.

I’m getting to the point where I am craving human contact and mentally crumbling under the cumulative weight of this crisis. Two of my peers lost their fathers recently, one to covid and one not, but both can’t grieve the way they want. I still don’t know anybody personally who’s died from covid but it’s getting closer and closer to home. It’s unsettling and I don’t like it.

I’m getting so sick of my family. I love them, but we’re always together. I have no opportunity to miss them. It’s a blessing and a curse because I wouldn’t have it any other way, but sweet baby jesus I’m ready to travel and go to the movies and hug my friends and have more personal space. I have never wanted a shot in the arm so badly in my entire life. I still have hope, of course, but what I need is some relief.

I know that many can identify with me that this year of deprivation has lit a fire under my desire to get my adult life started as soon as this is over. Life is short, and I want to go back to work. I want to see the world. I want my kids to build lives of their own, apart from me. I realize this will all happen in good time, but right here, right now, we can’t do it and I’m getting tired of waiting.

This morning, instead of a massage, I bought wrinkle cream and lounge wear on the internet.

So. I’m weary, I’m anxious, I’m hopeful, and now, I’m 38.

There is no Island. Only injustice.

You know what?

I’m a little grumpy today.  For a few reasons.

Firstly, it was hard to get out of bed, as it’s Friday.  But today is National Donut Day, and I knew my place of business would not disappoint.  So maybe that evens out.

Sometimes I find myself lollygagging around WordPress just as the magical Freshly Pressed Gods are sprinkling out their fairy dust for the day.  I read the first blog at the top of the page because it looks funny or heartwarming or delicious.  By the time I am finished leaving a witty or kind or delicious comment, I return to the FP page and see a few more new blogs have popped up.

For a moment – just the briefest of moments – I hold my breath.

Is it there?  Is one of them mine?  Have the gods smiled on me this day – O, this day of days?

I hear the quiet whooshing sound as air rich with shame, inadequacy, and carbon dioxide leaves my body. 

Today is not my day.

And then, something catches my eye.  Something familiar.

Haven’t I seen this one blog up here before?  Yes, I did.  Just a few months ago.

The lingering shame quickly morphs into a rabid beast of rage.  I think some of the sinfully delicious fat and sugar from the donut I just consumed is also fueling this rage, to be fair.

And that’s just it.  Is this fair?  I remember once reading a blog where the author had calculated the odds of getting Freshly Pressed.  Spoiler alert: they were low. (If I remember correctly, this was a blog that had actually just been Freshly Pressed.  Oh, the irony.)  I wonder what the odds are of getting Freshly Pressed twice?

I feel like that stout, bald dude in The Island.  You know, the one who was friends with my future husband’s (Ewan McGregor’s) character while they were at work.  This guy had figured out, with very fuzzy math, that the game was rigged

I feel a mixture of the above description with the sting of injustice that induces a 5-year-old style tantrum.  Only I don’t get butchered for my vital organs and I don’t get sent to my room without dinner.

So what do I do about this injustice?  I blog, of course.

And I eat more donuts.