Of late you could say that things have been hard. But before you take some kind of pity on me, let me say that these have also been some of the best times of my life. It’s a paradox hard to come to terms with, and one that has left me deep in thought. If you have been following my blog, you know the story, or at least parts of it.
So let me enlighten you a little, and see if in doing so I may also be able to help you when you are going through tough, but awesome days as well.
Love and Marriage
Finding the woman I love and getting married has been the most wonderful thing on the planet. I mean, Abby is the light of my life, and I have never loved anyone as much as I love her, and never had as much fun with anyone either.
At the same time, she has an incurable and unpredictable disease. One week she is fine, the next not so much. It is a much tougher position for her of course: she has to go through the pain, the lack of energy, and the frustration.
I knew early on the role of caregiver would fall heavily on my shoulders, and because of the love I have for her, I don’t object at all. But that does not mean it is not hard sometimes. The unpredictability is the hardest: it is really tough to plan anything other than tentative events.
Still, we’re growing together and we are having some really fantastic times together, and I would not trade being by her side for anything. Times are good, and times are hard at the same time.
In the last year I have gone from being 100% freelance to part freelance, part day job. Things I thought would be long term parts of my career have taken a back seat or disappeared altogether, and it looks like I am headed a whole different direction.
Fiction writing has been slow. The unpredictable thing mentioned above, along with balancing the interests of a really cool and really involved teenager and all of us coming together as a new family, have combined to make setting aside consistent time to write difficult.
I’ve come to a crossroads where I need to make more money, so I really need to decide what direction I am going: am I going to get a Bachelor’s and head for a Masters? Am I getting my real estate license and doing that on the side, while continuing with my writing and hoping to make some investments in property? Or do I stay where I am and get on a career track balancing them and freelance work?
You see the dilemma I am sure. Where do I go to school, and how do I find the time? What happens if Abby gets sick? Do I have jobs I can keep working, classes I can attend online? How do I balance all of this and still have time for a life?
What About Friends?
I used to be heavy into writers groups and out with my friends all the time. But with the new job, the new family (where I actually like staying home and spending time with them) I have been doing the typical newlywed isolation thing, even when Abby is well.
So I have not been getting out as much. I have been a pretty shitty friend, and I miss large parts of my friend group I have not seen in a while. There are times when I just feel overwhelmed with it all. I miss that one aspect of my life, while other parts are going really well.
It’s hard, and it is good. I almost feel depressed sometimes at how much I want to get back into the social and writing group swing of things, and yet euphoric at how our son is blossoming and how wonderful spending time with my new bride is.
So how do I handle these things? Well, I do not always handle them well. But thanks to counseling and many things I have learned over the last few years about self-care, most of the time I try to use the RAIN method something taught by Tara Brach.
Recognize: Check in on yourself and see how you are feeling. This is something that takes some getting used to.
A few times I check in and find that in a positive situation, I am actually feeling a little down, as if I am missing something. Others, I am feeling frustrated and angry due to some event from my past similar to the situation I am in. The emotion is triggered in the present by those past events, and I need to recognize what the emotion is, and if possible what is causing it.
Allow: What we resist, persists. So it is important to give space to the emotion, and allow it to exists. It is okay to have negative feelings about a situation.
What is more important is how you react to them, and what place you allow them to have in your life. However, simply pushing down or denying an emotion seldom works long term. You need to simply allow the emotion to be.
Investigate: Determine where you feel the emotion? Is it in your head, your gut, your heart? As you deal with or process through the emotion, does it move? Does it hurt less?
Nurture: Realize in a non-judgmental way that the emotion exists, but that it is simply a passing cloud, and does not need to define you.
Last, have a safe space in your mind that you can go to. A place that is peaceful and calms and soothes your spirit.
Is this a perfect way to make the best of hard but good times? Maybe not. Is it hard? Yes. Does it work for everyone? No, probably not.
But taking the time to follow RAIN has helped me deal with these issues better, at least mentally. As for the rest, all I can try to do is be the best husband, worker, and friend I can be. And if I fail, forgive me. After all, it is the best of hard times.