Clarity in Rough Waters

On the inside of my elbow on the right arm I have a stress rash. Those fun little hives pop up every now and then through the years, but they haven’t been this bad for as long as I can remember.

I’m starting to get panic attacks in my sleep. The 3:00 AM shot of adrenaline that pulls you right out of REM sleep and has you sitting straight up in bed with the shakes. Those suck. Especially when you have to be up in 3 hours and now there’s no way you’re going to get any more rest, and work is just going to suck in the morning - no navigating around that.

My employer recently had a round of layoffs that included people that were very important to me. Especially a mentor who I owe my career to. I’ve had family in and out of the hospital for varying reasons. Also, on top of that, there’s the whole point of this fucking thing; which is that my wife walked out on me a month ago for a stack of bullshit reasons that I’m not sure she really understands either.

When all this hits me like an avalanche of garbage, I have to stop for a moment and plant my feet firmly on the ground. I close my eyes. I breathe in and breathe out. I count the seconds for each breath and make them longer and longer. When I open my eyes, the world seems settled, at least for the moment. It will all trickle back though. Text messages with updates from the hospital, passive aggressive messages blinking on my work laptop, and the quiet of everything in my house. My love, my shoulder to cry on and my pillar of support and compassion and empathy isn’t here anymore. Everything around me is a morgue, and I’m living with the corpse of my present and future.

While I try to navigate this tornado of emotion and bad luck, I usually begin by venting my frustration at whatever deity I’ve managed to piss off, and wonder what other cosmic Voodoo bullshit is waiting for me. My initial default is thinking that I need to stand up straight, crack my knuckles and brawl whatever falls my way. I get fired up and wait for the bell to start another fight in the middle of this 10-round match with Karma. No matter how hard I push and no matter what strength and patience and optimism I can muster, at times it’s like trying to punch back waves from the ocean. It’s overwhelming and pointless. The universe is hell-bent on subtraction, and all I can really handle is what’s left.

Because you can’t un-scramble an egg.

Because the only way out is through.

And to get through, an objective is needed. I need to know who I want to be in a year. I need to know what I want to do in a year. And I need to take steps to make that happen. Figuring that out is the hard part. Knowing what I will have to stand on is even harder.

This is a Sunday night. There’s another week ahead of me bringing who knows what. The only thing to know for sure is that whatever waves from the ocean come, they will pass. The tide will recede, and I will remain. I will be standing on the beach, soaking wet and with muddy feet and hopefully with a dry phone, and know this too shall pass.

That is the only mantra I have left.

This too shall pass.


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