Allow me one more entry in this vein, and then I’ll move on to happier things.
I sit, and write while I can sit. I'm not feeling my best; stomach cramps and other symptoms of a stomach bug are bothering me these last couple of days. It's maybe a good time to sit with myself. Usually when I'm sick I sleep through it, which is fabulous. Sleeping for 36 hours straight is a dream come true. Yesterday I slept until noon, then got up and putzed around. Today I got up around 8 AM, so there's no avoiding myself or my life.
Last November I challenged a couple of friend of mine. Barry has been an artist (a jeweler) for 35 years, and he is searching for a new direction for his art. Our friend, Tamara, is a graphic designer, but when we met almost 30 years ago we were both aspiring artists. It's our bond. She has always, ALWAYS, been naturally more talented than I. I make up for some of it through persistence. Barry wants to take his art in a new direction, Tamara wants to take her life in a new direction—as do I. So, I suggested that the three of us together work on an exhibition of artwork. Barry suggested the Elgin Art Studio Tour in May 2019.
At first we sat together with 15-30 minute sessions, then we critiqued. We talked about what we wanted to accomplish, gave suggestions about where we thought each other's work was going. We worked. Tamara came to the studio regularly and it seemed like this was going to be taken seriously. We took field trips to art supply stores and came back to work on our stuff. I live here and am able to work during the week. Tamara has come during the week, but it's mostly weekends for her. Barry works every single evening of his life on jewelry.
This has to be taken in context of my life. My previous post about beginning on the path is not separate from this art that I'm working on. It's all connected, especially in my mind. My thoughts about what I wanted to accomplish were very much addressing the demons that haunt my mind. I've addressed these demons off and on for most of my life; it appears that it's going to be a lifelong battle.
Sometimes I feel that perhaps there is a problem when we keep things together. This made itself apparent in my last job. We all worked very hard (and learned so very much.) But, perhaps our working to keep things together, however tenuously, was enabling the company to continue to put off investing in the necessary infrastructure changes. While we worked (“Did whatever it took”) to help the company fulfills its promises, the company kept promising more and more until the balance shifted and we couldn't keep up. Most of us felt, though, that we HAD to keep up, that we HAD to make it work, and as we lost more ground, our stress increased to dangerous levels.
I think about that experience in my current job, where I keep a more firm stance on what I can and cannot do. And major changes are happening because things are not working as they should. Departments are being created and facilities are being established to handle the mountain of paperwork that we work with, to eliminate the problem of lost documents that has plagued us. The phone center is being beefed up and redesigned to allow the processing teams time to do our jobs, rather than spending our days answering calls. Things are changing because problems have been brought to light. This, as opposed to us working furiously against time and logic, blaming and flagellating ourselves to "make it work".
But, what of myself? I look at the years that I've wandered through life making choices that I knew were wrong and that I would one day pay for. But, I have not ever been homeless. I've not ever, really, been hungry. I've always taken a loan from my future self to pay for sloth and gluttony in the present, knowing that at one point it would all catch up with me. I've always managed to keep it together just enough to get by. What's catching up to me now is anxiety—paralyzing anxiety that has an affect on my daily life. I feel I'm losing my grip. Some days, for no reason I can put my finger on, I can't get out of bed. I literally get sick and tremble under the covers. It's coming for me.
A few years ago a person very close to me surprised me. I got a call that there was a problem, a possible drinking problem that I was clueless about. Before the evening was over, that person had been arrested for DUI, and a couple of weeks later was in a rehab facility. At the time I was so overwhelmed and under so much stress that the idea of going into rehab seemed like a vacation. But, I had managed to keep it together enough to put that off, for the time, anyway. This person continues to battle demons and alcohol, two years later. Nobody said that it would be easy or that change would happen overnight. And I have moved on to a better place of employment and a better place in my life.
Was holding it together really the best thing for me? Its' all catching up to me anyway, have I just been putting off the inevitable? I wonder about that as I navigate a job that is going through an incredibly stressful transition, and as I work on the paintings and mandalas that will be a part what I present in the exhibition. As I barrel toward a nervous breakdown, I listen to Chill-out Lounge Music and imagine that I am on a beach, in a cabana listening to the sound of the waves and watching happy people enjoy their vacations. I wonder what my therapist would say about this. Maybe, after all, it is time to finally fall apart.