One of the podcasts I listen to always asks guests “what is saving your life right now?” It’s a good question. Frankly, a better question than I’m about to answer.
I have complained bitterly about some of the challenges of living with my mom (I mailed some of the pointless mail when we were out just the other night, actually! But she doesn’t send me with it alone regularly— brings it when we’re out together. I can deal with that.) But yesterday, we had such a reasonable conversation— when I got home, I told her my plan for dinner and said “are you hungry? Because I can start dinner now if you’re starved, but if not, I’d like to take care of a few things before I do that.”
I don’t spend a lot of time, anymore, worrying about whether I’m smart. That’s not to say that I’ve never had insecurity in this area, or that I think I’m smarter than everyone (or even anyone), or that I know everything about everything. But generally speaking, I’m not afraid that I’m stupid. I’ve satisfied any insecurity I had on that score.
After college, I came home and lived with my folks for 13 months. I swear I wasn’t a nightmare. I worked, I paid them a little something when I was able to do so, and it mostly went well. I did notice that even though I had been living off-campus with a roommate my senior year of college, I reverted somewhat, when I came home, and I felt bad about it.
This is not about what’s right or permissible for anyone but me. I am related to hunters, I understand and respect (for the most part) their argument, but I’ve always known that I didn’t have it in me to follow that path myself. There have been times that I wished that I did. The dog mostly killed a rabbit last year. It wasn’t moving, but I could see its eye looking around, dilating with fear when it saw me, seeming to cloud with pain. I knew that my job was to hit it with the shovel I had brought to move its body to where he couldn’t get to it. I really, really tried to hit it with the shovel, and I’m ashamed to say that I could not, no matter how much I was clear that it was an act of mercy meant to shorten the terror and suffering the rabbit was enduring. I used the shovel to move it as gently as I could away from where he could get to it, I put it someplace peaceful, and I came back later to confirm it was dead and to dispose of the carcass. Which was followed by a horrific stretch involving repeated encounters with maggots that I’ll just spare you.
One of the things I figured out, blessedly, before my dad got sick and died, was that my previous strategy of “I’m not going to deal with that right now” was twisting things up inside me, such that it was difficult to figure out, when emotion popped out of that cauldron in my gut, why I was feeling what I was feeling, let alone how to get past it.
Yesterday, a cute guy walked with me into the office. We were parked near each other, and talked about the parking garage. It was nice. It seemed like he went out of his way to bump into me, and to keep talking to me, and to find out where I worked and to make sure I knew where he worked. It was lovely, and it made me smile.