Tuesday, January 27, 2015

None Of It Mattered In The End



I had a huge flashback when I went to the restroom at Target yesterday. As I was walking out, I noticed a Clearblue Easy wrapper in the trash can. Immediately I pictured a young, possibly teenage girl, freaking out, believing she might be pregnant and being desperate enough to take a test while still at Target. I was never that girl though. My flashback was of a different girl.

I was a 32-year-old girl who had been trying to get pregnant for two years and who very desperately wanted to have a baby – desperate enough to lie to my co-workers about what I had to do at lunchtime so I could ditch them and go to Target during lunch, buy a test, and take it right then and there. 

My hands were shaking as I tore open the package. I hadn’t peed all morning and I hadn’t had a lot of water so as to not dilute my urine. (Tricks of the trade) When the test came out negative, I began to quietly sob in the stall. I put the stick back in the wrapper and back in my bag. I didn’t dare have the courage to walk out with it in-hand and throw it away there. I took deep breaths trying to regain my composure before walking out. 

When I got to the car, I called DJ and cried my eyes out, explaining that I had wanted to surprise him, believing that THIS was THEE month I would have good news. But I never did get that kind of good news ever again – It only happened once on July 1, 2000, so very long ago. (Gabriel would be turning 14 this March. )

I thought about the mystery girl off and on all day. Was the test positive or negative? What is she going to do if it’s positive? Does she have the means to raise a child? Is she a teenager? Or is she someone like I was? Does she want to be pregnant? (I highly doubt she is a 30-something with infertility issues, trying to conceive, but she could be. Anything is possible.) I thought about how life just changes from one second to the next, no advanced warning, no time to prepare. Just BAM.


I thought about how with every passing stage of my life, it always seemed like “it”, whatever “it” was, was the worst thing that could possibly happen to me. It always seemed like catastrophe was lurking around the corner waiting for me. I lived a lot of my life wondering when the other shoe was going to drop. Life was one big giant stressor and I was in a perpetual state of worry. I also wondered if the worst has actually already happened to me or will there be something else in the future that I will refer to as “the worst”. So much of my life I spent feeling like the world was over. It’s hard to break old thought-patterns. It’s hard to accept that my life is just fine and dandy and for the most part, worry and stress-free.

*****
If there is anything I’m going to make sure to teach my kids is to NEVER switch jobs just for the money. I’m going to instill in them the importance of choosing to do something you enjoy versus something that pays well. Because let me tell you…working eight hours a day at The Automobile Club in the Records Retention department as a File Clerk was more boring that watching paint dry. I hated that job more than any other job I’ve ever had. It was like my brain was rotting all day, unused and unchallenged. 

To make matters worse, my boss hated me as much as I hated the job. I don’t know why she didn’t like me. She just didn’t…which is weird because most of my life, my bosses have always really liked me. I’ve always been a boss’ favorite at most of my jobs. This might sound conceited of me to say, but I think she was jealous.

This was the "large file" section.
The department we worked in was mostly young guys. Anita (her real name because I don’t care) was probably in her late 30’s (though to me at the time she seemed so old). Anyway, she was divorced and desperate for male attention.  She played favorites with the guys and flirted her charming little ass off with them. She was not a fan of Clarissa and me, but she liked her better than me though.

I’m a very talkative, social person. This job, however, prohibited any socializing while working. When we arrived in the morning, we each had to take a cart (like a library cart) filled with files that needed to be filed. The file room was the length of a football field (or maybe longer. Maybe it was two football fields. I remember using the football field reference to describe it back then but I don't remember exactly how it related.) and about just as wide. You could get lost in there. Rows and rows and rows of shelves from floor to ceiling, packed with insurance claims. There would be six or seven of us in there at the same time and you could hear a pin drop. That’s how quiet we had to be. Having to file in silence made a shitty job even shittier. One of the guys was a music lover like me and he would turn on the radio in a central area of the room, but if you walked too far from it, you couldn’t hear it. Eight hours seemed to drag on like 18. On my first day on the job I have written in my journal that I filed 225 files (which was considered peanuts for the experienced filers). W.T.F.  It was torture for chatty me.

I regretted leaving my job at IADE. I missed the people and the actual work. The manager hadn't wanted me to leave either. In fact, when I gave my notice, he called corporate and got me a slightly higher position making more money ($7.00/hour) but I still turned it down. The Auto Club was going to pay me 59 cents more an hour and to stupid me, that was worth leaving a job I enjoyed. (Kids, don't do what I did!)

It was against policy to take pictures in here.
Rebel me did it anyway.
This was taken standing at the very front of the room.
You can't even see the other end, that's how far it was.

One of the hundreds of rows.
Life at home was still miserable. It may seem odd, but up until this point, my dad and I had not had a conversation about my imminent move. Felicia gave me notice on January 24. Here we were in early March, talking about it for the first time.

My journal… Tuesday, March 10, 1992…

“On Sunday I was completely depressed ALL day and night. I cried to my dad over having to move for the first time. (He hasn’t seen me cry in a long time.) I even told him that none of this would be happening to me if my mom was alive. He disagreed saying that lately before she died we had been fighting non-stop and that by this age is she were alive, I would have already moved out. And I said ‘Yeah, but because I wanted to. She never would have kicked me out.’ Anyway, he talked to me a while and kinda made me feel better. But not really, cuz he says no matter what I still have to move out. He says he really has no say in any of it. “

My dad went on to open up to me about his negative feelings toward Felicia and that he wasn’t sure if they were going to make it. What made me happy about this conversation wasn’t necessarily the content but rather the fact that he opened up to me and shared his feelings. It made me happy that he had trusted me enough to share his thoughts with me. I ended that journal entry feeling really good about the conversation with my dad, even if the outcome wasn’t in my favor.

The next day was a different story. My dad showed up at my WORK to scold me for being rude to him and Felicia that morning because I left without saying good-bye. He informed me that Felicia had also complained to him that I was cold and rude to her when I came home from work the day before and that it upset her very much.

My journal…Wednesday, March 11, 1992…

…Well, too f*cking bad. It upset ME very much that my dad had the balls to come all the way to my work just to scold me. Shit – I’m not a little girl. Also he told me that she wants me out soon and she even suggested to him that she and my dad help me out. I’m not sure what that quite means, but I get the feeling that it must mean she wants me out bad – like NOW…Shoot, I WANT to move out so BAD but I just can’t financially. My dad suggests I offer her $300/month so she’ll let me stay longer. He said she’s very money-hungry and that if I offer her more money she’ll probably let me stay. Bull-f*cking-shit! If I give her $300 a month then I’ll never save up to move out! I’ve already given her $800 in rent since I've been here. If I had been saving that money instead of giving it to her, I’d be able to move out by now. But I was only making $400/month. My expenses were almost $300/month and I was paying her $100/month. There was nothing left for me to save! That’s why I’m in this shit. I feel so trapped. I realized that my dad isn’t going to be able to save me in this one. Maybe God will.”

A couple of weeks after that conversation with my dad was my two month mark to move out. Obviously, I wasn’t going anywhere. In my desperation and unrealistic fear of ending up living in my car, I took my dad’s advice and I offered Felicia $300/month until I could move out. The greedy bitch accepted with the promise to return it all to me when I had saved enough to leave. (She said she would act as a savings account for me. I haven’t read the part of my journal when I actually moved and I don’t remember if she did in fact return the money to me. Something tells me she didn’t.)

My journal…Tuesday, March 31, 1992…

“I am soooooooooooo excited! Today I bought my very first item for the apartment. It’s a white 6’ tall halogen floor lamp. It’s AWESOME! And it was only $30! I feel so excited. I feel grown up. I feel…I don’t know what I feel. I also found the bed I’m gonna buy. It’s a Sealy King mattress and spring box and it’s on sale for $314. Just now when I got home I put together my lamp all by myself and I almost peed when I turned it on, I was so excited. My FIRST purchase for my place!...I’m just on cloud 9. I never thought a lamp could make me so happy. Jesus, you’d think I never saw light before...I can’t stop smiling.”

Reading that made me want to cry. I can't believe how excited I was over a lamp. A lamp! A lamp that would heat up the room to about 100 degrees; a lamp that would scald the skin off your hand if you touched the bulb; but it was MY lamp and I was so proud.

In the meantime, I was still trying to find a roommate. DJ was definitely not going to move out with me but that didn’t stop me from trying to convince him. The more I tried to convince him, the more we argued and fought and the more I got my feelings butt-hurt. It devastated me that he was an obvious candidate for a roommate but he wasn’t interested. 

DJ got a new job. Here he was in a new
shirt and tie he bought at Mervyn's with my help.
And what is up with my outfit???






My only other option for a roommate (besides a stranger in the Penny Saver) was Clarissa. In April, she told me she’d move out with me. YAY! Then in early May she bought a car and told me she couldn’t afford to move out. BOO! Then at the end of May she decided she was going to go for it anyway. YAY! We started looking at apartments and I was the most excited I had been in a very long time about anything in my life (besides the lamp and my bedding). Things were REALLY looking up for me! 

The other thing that was beautiful in my life was that on May 28, 1992, my dad and Felicia left on a road trip to Mexico for FIVE weeks. Halleluiah! Thank You God! Five glorious weeks without the wicked witch around. I was ecstatic to see her go. If I had thought of it, I would have made her a nice big care package with some sweet sentiments to open each day like “See ya never again, hopefully!” “Here’s to the cartels kidnapping you!” “May a rattlesnake poison you in the Mexican desert!” “Hoping my dad ditches you on the side of the road!” "Make sure to drink the water in Mexico!" Or the most poetic, most eloquent of all would have been a simple “F*ck you!” However, I was NOT happy to see my dad go. My journal entry about the day he left says I was terrified of something happening to him while he was driving to Mexico; that I would die if something did; that I couldn’t live without him. Plus, what terrified me even more was to stay home alone in the little shoebox shithole in a not-so-nice area of Anaheim. Who knew what could happen to me?
I'm pretty sure this prom pose was on purpose.
and I think it was taken in a Denny's parking lot.
 *****
Sometimes my son gets in the car after school and complains to me about what an awful day he had. He gets worked up over a bad grade or over a misplaced assignment or an unfair judgment from the teacher. I listen and let him vent. Then I tell him how all this seems so huge now and such a terrible thing to experience but that ultimately, it’s unimportant. I tell him that in the grand scheme of life, this may seem like the end of the world, but it’s not. He argues that if he gets a “C” on another test he’s not going to get into college. I laugh and say that he’s only in 4th grade! Colleges won’t care that he got a “C” one time on a math test. He settles down and takes a deep breath. He laments “Life is hard.” I retort with “No, life is beautiful.” I assure him once again, ”It’s ok. It really is. Your life isn’t ruined because of this. It doesn’t matter.” I tell him what DOES matter…

What matters is being a good person; having a good heart; being kind; being compassionate; having empathy; being forgiving, generous, and thoughtful; being fair; not judging others; having grace; living life with purpose and meaning; having good intentions; knowing that you did the best you could. I tell him those are the things in life that matter the most. He listens. He asks me if I’m sure; how do I know? I tell him that I know because I used to worry and stress over the silliest things. I used to let so many things wear me down and I would beat myself up emotionally over any little thing, but that I finally realized that it’s not worth it. When you look at the big picture of life, the little stuff really doesn’t matter in the end.

I learned this during my trip to Miraval in Tucson, AZ in September 2012. I took a class with Leigh Weintraub, a therapist. The class was called “Reflect & Transcend”. She had us do a variety of written exercises. One of them was to close your eyes and imagine your wise 100-year-old-self on her deathbed, talking to the current you. What words of wisdom would she impart on you before she leaves this earth? I sat with my eyes closed and envisioned myself on my deathbed. Immediately, I heard myself say “None of it mattered in the end.” (Do this right now. Close your eyes. Picture your 100-year-old-self. Listen. What do you hear yourself say? Make it your mantra.)

All the small “stuff” I have stressed, worried, and freaked about in my life…none of it will matter in the end. It’s all trivial and insignificant. The sleep I have lost over people talking trash about me; what others think of me; people hurting me; things not going my way; things not being fair or just; things going awry…none of it will matter in the end. I’ve made an entire mountain range out of 1000 mole hills. None of it matters. I’ve cried and banged my head against the wall over misunderstandings and miscommunications; over misconceptions and assumptions. None of it matters.

What will matter is how I lived my life; how I treated others; how I gave my heart and soul to my loved ones; how I learned to forgive and to let go; how I made peace with my past and my misfortunes; how I tried to do my best. The rest of it…none of it mattered in the end. 

(Someone please stamp that on my forehead next time I stress, worry, or freak out over something menial.)

Disclaimer... I am not referring to the big stuff in life. We each know in our heart of hearts what matters. The big stuff DID matter to me and changed me forever (the loss of my mom, loss of my baby, infertility, learning of my adoption at age 30, etc.). I'm referring to the petty stuff - my dad coming to my work, DJ not moving out with me, Felicia speaking ill of me...That's the stuff that didn't matter in the end.


I did this in May at the Strawberry Festival.
I was cracking up reading the handwriting analysis.
Pretty damn accurate!
AND I found this AFTER I wrote this post.
"You tend to worry over imaginary problems." YES!

A biggie - DJ and I opened up a Savings Account together.

5 comments:

  1. Everything seems monumental to the person experiencing it at the moment. It is often the benefit of time and distance from the situation that allows us to see it as insignificant in comparison to the larger picture. Some things really are huge, though, and do impact the rest of our lives. What matters is that we can put all things in perspective and take away from them what we need.
    Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Lisa - Oh yes, I absolutely agree that some things are huge and are not to be minimized. My infertility, the loss of my unborn baby, the loss of my mother, and so many other tragedies in my life...those DID matter and those did affect me and change me forever and shape me into who I am today. I wondered when I wrote it if I needed to clarify that there is a difference. I may edit. :) Thanks for your thoughts. I so appreciate them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK. Done. I added a disclaimer. HAHA!!

      Delete
  3. I have totally taken a test and sobbed at Target. And I was not the teenage variety either, so your sharing of that lesson was not lost on me.

    For me, every time was huge.
    Every time still is.

    With blessings,
    Dani

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dani - Thanks so much for sharing. I'm so sorry for your struggles. I feel your pain. Although my infertility journey finally ended 3 years ago with the adoption of our daughter, I will carry the scars of my loss and my infertility forever. Those were the most painful, saddest years of my life. I am grateful for all of it though. I always say if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. The life-lessons have been invaluable and the people I met along the way too. Those are the blessings that came from the torture. You're in my thoughts...

      Delete

Hello Dear Reader:

If you comment, I will buy you a cookie. Not really. But we can both pretend I gave you one. To get you started...what's your favorite kind of cookie? Mine is chocolate chip. I especially crave them when I'm PMS'ing.