Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How To Break It Down & Break Through Paralysis, Steps 1-4

When you are a million miles from the life you would like to be living, and you can't even imagine a life where you don't have to dig through the couch cushions to buy a roll of toilet paper, it can be very easy to grow disheartened. And once you are feeling disheartened, it can feel like you are wading through cement. You are never going to get anywhere anyway, so what's the point in trying?

I'm not going to feed you a line of bullshit. You are kind of stuck. Not only are you kind of stuck, chances are high that if you are digging through the couch cushions for a roll of toilet paper, it is going to be much harder for you to get unstuck than it is for someone who has a mommy and daddy who will float them until they get on their feet, or a great uncle Bob just dying to give them a family loan to get their new adventure of the ground. Yep. You're kinda stuck.

Well, that sucks, now doesn't it? Pity party for one. Go ahead and have that pity party. Really. Better out than in. Just remember to be a polite guest. All parties must draw to an end. Leave at a reasonable hour. Don't be that last hanger-on that all hosts dread.

I am not going to tell you what you should do for your own step by step process to break through paralysis. Because me? Give you advice? Hahahaha! I have an overwhelming amount of debt, live in a friend's house, can barely keep my phone on and my storage unit from being repossessed, and I am working sporadically. Who the hell would I be to offer you advice? And more to the point, who in their right mind would take it?

This morning, however, I am feeling decidedly unstuck. It feels vaguely familiar. Although it has been a good long time, I have had periods of unstuckness before in my life. This feels sort of like those. Only better. There is a whole new element to this form of unstuck.

So yes, no advice from this corner. I'm just going to tell you what my sticky unsticking has looked like thus far, and you can take the steps as they are, or revise them, or invent something totally different, or best yet, if you are not stuck, avoid like hell everything I did and don't end up here.

Step 1 I hit Rock Bottom - Oh, that! I went searching for a cliche, and this is the one whose siren song led me crashing into the rocks. It's not just for alcoholics anymore. What does rock bottom look like? That's going to depend on you. Being a complete mess with nothing left to lose is a very personal thing, after all. What does it feel like? Exactly like it sounds like it feels. The wind is knocked out of you. You can't catch your breath. Oh god, now they are filling up with water! Gonna die. Gonna die. Oh, but wait, it's not just that I can't breathe. My body. What happened to my body? It hurts. Everything is cut and bruised and broken and bleeding. I am not whole. Did I lose a limb? Oh shit, I'm not gonna die. I just wish that I would. Worse yet, I am probably going to live forever, and it is all going to be this painful forever. There ya go! Congratulations. Rock bottom. You're there.

For me, it looked sort of like this. Realize that business is failing and is probably not going to recoup any time soon. Realize that this is occurring after I spent years in training, working my butt off to be able to do this, and now I have been licensed for just over a year and my business is already failing.

False bottom.

Get kicked out of my house for inability to pay rent. Move in with friend who is also unemployed and trying mightily not to lose her rental house.

False bottom.

Walk away from business. End romantic relationship with person I am still in love with, but who hurts me continuously, on the same day.

False bottom.

The day after that, find out that my ex-husband got fired and I won't be receiving child support until further notice.

False bottom.

Find out my mother is dying.

False bottom.

Black mold and slumlord cause me to have to move out of house I share with roommate. Have to move in with a family I am friends with.

False bottom.

Mother dies.

False bottom.

Grovel to ex-lover. Beg her to take me back. Get rejected.

False bottom, but ooooh, we are getting close now.

Twenty-one year old cousin dies.

False bottom.

Realize that other than the deaths, this is completely and totally the sum of my own choices and that if I ever want to get out of this mess, I have to claim full responsibility. Oh god. I did this. I did this to myself.


Step 2  Everybody Panic -This step is very special, because it may not be its own separate step at all. It may happen side by side with step one, reaching an enormous crescendo once step one is fully complete. Or, you may be so numb from the battering on the rocks, that it takes awhile to sink in. Me? I rode it in waves. Sheer terror, interspersed with beautiful periods of feeling-free apathy. The worst part of step 2 is that you will have an overwhelming desire to escape, to improve your situation, to be better. But you will still be too beat up from hitting those rocks to swim very far or fast. Most likely, you will just feel really, really scared while you sit there, wringing your hands and talking about what you are going to do (but don't).

Step 3 The Pity Party - You know how I was talking about that pity party? Now would be a good time to put on your best dress. Or your most comfortable pajamas. Again, depending upon your own personal pity party style, this can look like a good many things. Some people eat themselves into a food coma. Some people can't drag themselves out of bed. Other people have inappropriate crying jags in public places. Some people spend a lot of time telling anyone who will listen about how unfair life is, and how it screwed them over.

For me it looked like this... I chain smoked like crazy. I holed up in my house and didn't really want to see or talk to anyone but my children or my roommate. I got quiet. I felt, almost constantly, as if I was on the very of having a panic attack. I got up early in the morning, took my kids to school, and spent the day compulsively cleaning, doing laundry, and cooking. If the rest of my life was a disorderly mess, that house was going to be one tight ship of order and cleanliness. It was my safe haven. The one thing I could control. And then, after my kids were asleep for the night, my roommate and I would start drinking. I don't mean a little bit. We became situational alcoholics. Completely able to control it when we needed to, no desire to control it when we didn't have to. I drank to the point of drunk nearly every single night for two months. It was the only way I could quell the anxiety enough to sleep. It was the only time I felt pain-free. It was the only thing I felt I had to look forward to. It was not healthy. At all. I highly recommend finding another way to get your pity party on.

Step 4 The Day of Reckoning - One day you are going to wake up and realize that while yes, everything sucks, and yes, you are still broken and hurting, and yes, this is going to be hard, probably the hardest thing you've ever done, if you don't want to be where you are, you are going to have to get off your ass, pick up one foot, and then the next, and... move.

In the next post I will tell you about my day of reckoning, and the steps that came after that.


  1. ummm....holy shit! Powerful, candid stuff here! I'll have to get back here to read more, (after I check the couch for change). So glad I found your blog. It speaks to me - LOUDLY!!
    thank you :)

  2. Thanks for dropping in, Boho Mom. Off to check out your blog now. :-)