I have a bad habit of waiting for my life to begin.
You would think that, after going through what I’ve been through, I would be one of those people who would have living in the moment down pat. That I would be able to live each day to the fullest because I’ve had front row seats and witnessed how fragile life can be.
But I’m not. It takes serious effort and concentration on my part to live in the “now” instead of borrowing the trouble that could be waiting for me six months down the road. My main problem seems to be, when faced with a long-term problem, I think to myself, “When that’s over then my life will really start!”
Seriously. It’s a wonder I sleep at all.
This is really one of my least favorite things about myself…this inability to live in the present. What’s even more annoying about it is that I know I do it. I just don’t know how to fix it.
As with most things, I think I have my parents to blame for this personal flaw. I come from a very happy, very normal upbringing. Suburbia, parents are still together, very few major incidents to speak of.
I’m sure it’s quite obvious to you now why this has completely screwed me up.
My parents did an excellent job of parenting (and I appreciate it even more now that I am a parent) and both my sister and I turned out okay. Well, really she turned out better than I did, but I can live with that. (I had to put that in here because she’s my financial planner and has given me a smokin’ deal these last few years.)
I’m thinking that because of my uneventful upbringing, the last few years of emotional turmoil have made me feel a little bit like I’m waiting for things to calm down before I really dig in and live my life. Because “normal” for me was always…well…so damn normal. And since I have found myself suddenly adrift in the insanity that is widowhood, needless to say…I’ve been desperately looking for dry land.
I’m sure I’ve probably always been this way but the first time I really noticed it was right after my husband died. I somehow got it into my head that once I got through the first few months or past the one year mark, my life would suddenly start again. Things would calm down. People would stop looking at me with pity. And for some really odd reason, I had deluded myself into thinking that after the first year…people wouldn’t even see me as a widow anymore.
I know. What the hell was I thinking??
Part of my problem is that I’m not a procrastinator. I was always the one in college who had her essays done 3 days ahead of time. When my oil light goes on, I can’t sleep until I get it changed. Before I had kids, I was known to set a table a few days before a dinner party.
Well…you know. I could have had a napkin emergency or something and then where would I be???
So telling someone like me, “Give it time! Time heals!” just doesn’t work. Because when I found myself suddenly widowed, waiting for normal wasn’t something I was prepared to do. I don’t wait. I do.
(And as we all know by now…if what I’m holding out for is “normal” I better make myself comfortable. ‘Cause I got a long wait ahead of me.)
I’ve always solved the problem. I’ve always gotten on with things. And I’ve always done it way ahead of schedule with minimal complications. The messiness of life has really never applied to me until now.
I mean, think about it. My husband died when I was so young, I hadn’t really been exposed to how complicated things can get. My friends and I were (for the most part) too young to be taking part in the divorce revolution that seems to hit everyone in their mid 30s and 40s. Our kids were too young to be smoking pot (although I do sometimes have my worries about my 4 year old). I hadn’t even been married long enough for our first pet to die. So you could say I got thrown into the deep end of the pool on my first attempt at swimming in the complexities of life.
Since my husband’s been gone I’ve had the startling realization that I’m a grown up. And being a grown up means dealing with messes. Not just juice-spilled-on-the-floor messes. I mean, adult-like messes that can’t be corrected with the swipe of a paper towel.
I know that this “waiting for life to begin” is basically a habit I’ve acquired. Like nail-biting or smoking, I’m addicted to waiting for a life with minimal problems. Unfortunately, they don’t make a patch that helps you deal with complexities of reality as they come at you. I wish they did. I can’t help but feel like I waste a lot of valuable time, waiting for my life to begin.
Because, the truth is, I always look back after a few months and realize...
...I’ve been living my life all along.