Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Limits of Escape

On January 6, 2009, over seven years ago, I showed up at this unfamiliar place on the internet, entirely alone, and started typing. That's a long time and a lot of words - 1,666 posts, to be exact, but for the past year I've been telling people I've been blogging for eight years. Woo hoo! I'm younger than I thought!

We're legit friends at this point, you and me. Blogging has made me a more open person. I've felt the exquisite beauty of truly beginning to live outside the shadows. It's made me reconcile certain things within me and wrestle with who I really am. If there's one thing I can promise, it's that the "me" you get here is the complete Shannan. It might even be the realer me, because I'm never more aware of the beating of my truest heart than when I'm sitting here with bedhead, tapping these keys.

(It sounds like I'm bidding farewell to blogging. I'm euologizing myself, and I don't know why! I'm not going anywhere. Just feeling a little nostalgic.)

The past couple of weeks have been a major downer.
Let me be more clear - the past couple of weeks I have been a major downer.

It's all so boring, especially when I happen to be a work-from-home, introverted woman with a bent for self-analysis. I'm sorta sick of myself.

I could blame a lot of things, and trust me, I've tried. We've had house guests (the kind the move all of their stuff in, wrinkle their noses at what I cook for dinner, then move all of their stuff back out a few weeks later. Times three.) We've had a short kid who has been struggling in ways that make me very tired. I've watched from close range while someone I love slips back down the drain of addiction and I've feared for her life. I've had doubts about church. Doubts about God. Doubts about the whole trajectory of my life and major doubts about my new phone, which autocorrects "Calvin" to my boss's email address from nine years ago and won't let me just be me, dangit.


The problem with these scapegoats is that they aren't really anything new.

So I tried convincing myself I was just feeling the pressure of writing a book and all the associated anxieties. I said I'd worked too frantically for too many days and just needed to completely decompress.

I took to wearing many layers of gray-grayish-black comfy knits, gave myself permission to work slow, and inadvertantly created a situation where I became unable to categorize what "work" even was. I spiraled into the mind-numbing terror of endless, meaningless busy work, where every day ended with the realization that I'd accomplished exactly nothing. I dreamed my eye tooth crumbled from my mouth by the root while I was out on a speaking tour and woke up stiff with worry over how it would be fixed.

I became a closet cynic for a short while. No one met my expectation, most of all me. The glass was three-quarters empty and everyone was in my way. I dreamed I was in prison with Cory, only it looked like a coal mine. I kept trying to hide behind him while a chipper psychopath threatened to cut off our pinkie fingers for no good reason. I woke up at 5 am, wiggled both pinkies, and curled myself around Cory.

I stopped making my bed.
I let a $10 coupon expire because the ten-minute drive felt insurmountable.
I threw out my back.

"You need balance." "You need margin." "You need to rest." 
"Your family needs a break."

Those are phrases commonly said to me, and I finally conceded they were right.

So, I read lots of books and drank lots of tea.
I didn't go anywhere.

Without meaning to, I nurtured myself into a low-grade, situational depression.

I saw it with sudden clarity in the shower - the most productive think tank known to man or at least to me.  I depend on the bang and clutter of community and the warp-speed of the everyday. I pulled on jeans, raged at my lifeless hair, made the bed, and re-entered the world around me. I drove to Target and bought $13 eye cream. I played "art class" with Silas, and let him teach me how to paint.

(print by katygirl)


I don't know how or when I'll ever be able to truly accept that my life feels best when it's cranking past capacity.

Last night, Calvin trudged upstairs around 8:30 like he does almost every night, seething with the injustice of a ten-year old who doesn't get to choose his own bedtime. "Goodnight. Enjoy your 'relaxing time'." (He actually did the air quotes, because daaaang, going to bed makes him grumpy.)

He wasn't two stairs up before I saw headlights pulling into the drive.

Just when the Littles end their day, our biggest kid shows up. It happens all the time. And though it sometimes makes me feel like <insert every exasperated emoji here>, I looked at him for thirty minutes last night in full-blown amazement. He nailed his evaluation at work. He bought a janky sword (a real sword!) for ten bucks and brought it in to show us. He's kissed dating goodbye. (For like a minute.) He's kind and handsome and good and maddening and so, so lovable. Just like the little ones up in their beds.

This is my life, and it really does look weird if I step outside it.

So I guess I'll just stay wedged inside. I'm at my best when I'm all-in, finding breaks and rest as they come without trying to manufacture them on my own or believing I'm entitled to anything at all. This is my tension, and it pulls me from every side. I need it.

Today marks blog post #1,667 and as a child of the evangelical 80's, I'm relived that I've steered this ship past the dreaded 666 marker. But more than that, I'm grateful I can still come here and lay my thoughts down, brick by brick. The road is turning out to be more winding than I thought, but I'm not a fan of straight lines after all.

And you know what? I didn't know that about myself seven years ago.

*Here's what life looked like 7 years ago!