I Don't Know How Much Longer I Can Handle All This Mess
And no, I don't mean the pandemic, or the election, or this insane year.
I admire writers who keep it real. Brave writers who share parts of their life and do it without apology. Writers like Shannon Ashley, Michelle Marie Warner, and Jason Weiland. Reading their life inspires me to press on, write on, and take risks with my writing career.
But let’s be honest, I am very insecure about oversharing. I am concerned about doing it in such a way that not only hinders my career, but destroys the faith others may have in me. In fact, some of my oversharing has recently destroyed or damaged my relationships. But that is not what I came here today to talk about.
I came to say—I am not doing well.
Sure, I am holding up. Sure, I started a writing business and have found reasonably impressive early success. (Success as defined by a broke-ass woman in crisis. The bar is low, folks.) While I am outwardly managing a very challenging crisis, inwardly, there’s a whole lot going on. It is beginning to affect my health. Both my physical and mental health.
Have you ever heard the metaphorical story about the frog in the pot? The water slowly and steadily reaching the boiling point? The frog cannot jump free when it is safe to do so and does not realize the danger until it is too late. Well folks, I realize I am that frog. The boiling point of stress in my life is taking a toll. All I can do at this point is work to get the temperature down and hope, pray, that somehow, I’ll be tossed a lifeline.
As a brief update, I am still looking for a place to live. My income is questionably sufficient to support a modest apartment, but most of them are out of my price range, do not allow pets, or will not work with me due to non-verifiable income. Purchasing a camper is still financially my best option but raising and earning the upfront money to do so so is proving slow and frustrating. Meanwhile, the temperature is rising.
This past weekend I stayed at my ex’s house. Alone.
He is struggling. Without going into details, he was nearly lost to this world recently and the fear, anxiety, and emotional rollercoaster of this past weekend has proved nearly too much for me to bear. While he was sorting out the event and receiving the help he so desperately needs, I held down his home, fed the pets, and watched over his daughter, whom I’ve only seen once since I left them back in July. Here’s an explanation if you missed it. I spent most of the time cleaning. In my heart, it was the only compassion I had to give. I felt I was helping, rather than “fixing” and and even still, it was a mind screw from one end of my brain to the other.
Remind me to do a personal essay on all of the “adventures in pet sitting” that occurred while I was there. Yes, I am being facetious. It was awful.
When he returned to his home last night, I was packing my things in the car and preparing to head back home: to my mother’s house where I am currently living. We shared a tender hug, a lot of tears, and avoided eye contact. It felt as if the past and all I’d ever felt for this man were choking me. Breath simply refused to satisfy my lungs. The tears shook me. Confusion and pain wrestled for my soul.
To say the event was stressful would be the understatement of 2020.
This morning I woke at 6 am, feeling the grip of anxiety so strongly in my chest that I rose from bed and took one of those anti-panic attack pills the doctor prescribed for me a few years ago. The “take 30 minutes before panic attack” directions I had thought funny at the time, but now I get it. I slept further and right through an onboarding training I was supposed to complete for a new company that has hired me as a freelancer.
When I finally was able to wake up, my blood pressure was reading 150 / 89, pressing in my head like a heavy fog.
I realize, the stress has caught up with me.
Today, I plan to take some time away from the computer. That is the plan. But I can’t stop checking my Truebill (an app that monitors my income) to see if there is some miracle there. I cannot stop checking my Medium to see if there’s a newly-viral article that will save me, financially, from despair. I can’t stop looking through ad after ad on Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, Apartments.com—just hoping to find someone that will rent or sell to me.
I can’t stop pacing the floor.
I think of the relationship I ended. No, the relationship that trauma ended. The years of laughter, love, and yes, happiness. I wonder if it was real at all. He was not well, and I didn’t see it. He was lying to me for most of the time—hiding his own traumas and trying to shove them all down, so he could pretend they didn’t exist. Trauma will not let you do that forever. Now that I know what he was really going through, I question my response. I left him to preserve my own mental health and to process. I left because I had to. Now, I don’t know what my future even looks like with the shadow of him looming there. The shadow of what was to be that didn’t come.
The uncertainty of my future is becoming unbearable. I need a place of my own to heal, to get my head together, to work on myself and my career. To rebuild that which trauma has undone. To give hope to the days ahead.
Today, I cling to the hope I have inside me. I cling with all I have left. But hope isn’t providing what I need. Hope drives me forward but with no direction, no real understanding of where I will live, what my life will look like, who will be there in that future, it feels more like a circular, tribal dance than a forward momentum.
The pot is nearing the boiling point. I dance and rage at the heat.
Thank you for reading this emotional update and for following me here on Substack. If you would like to support my work on Medium, you can find me here: Christina M. Ward on Medium. If you are a paying member, a portion of your monthly subscription fees will go to my account according to the amount of time you spend there reading my work. If you would like to support me otherwise you can do that at my Virtual Tip Jar.
Here’s is my latest poem which would also love to have a moment of your time:
Christina M. Ward