Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Recently, someone I allow to speak into my life told me I had impressive coping skills. I believe it was supposed to be a complement and since those are few and far between for a battle axe wielding force of nature like me, I took it as such…for a moment.
Last night however, as those damnable chili dogs vied for space in my gut; I fought that disturbing wave of life on planet earth induced, sweaty browed, palpitating, vertigo laced anxiety and I considered the ramifications of “coping skills.” Of all the skills to possess: American ninja warrior, competitive ice cream scooper, power shopper at Costco, coping skills is such a consolation prize for the daily attendance I endure on this spinning blue orb.
Age and gravity encroach on my physical persona in the form of belly fat and pain, and I cope. I try to eat right and move my hulk around only to experience that gnaw of dissatisfaction and additional pain using muscles that just aren’t meant to do what I ask them to do. I get a diagnosis of sleep apnea and I cope by using the Vadermatic 2000 every night, even when it smells like a gym locker, and makes my face puff up like a bloated goat. I’ve traded lapses of breath in the night for chronic burning dry eyes, and neck cramps. I still cope with palpitations (the heart knocks politely now, it doesn’t thrash about in an escape attempt. Progress perhaps) and dizziness and if I consider all the things I “cope with” there is that specter of anxiety poised to pounce…
I try to keep it light by posting a plethora of pith and kitsch on Facebook and click shaky leaves on ancestry as a distraction but still the dreams of my heart are deferred in the face of responsibilities and deadlines and myriad things delegated to me because others simply cannot cope.
I know there’s no such thing as the “Fair” card in this game of 52 pickup chaos and I know there are others out there who cope with crises much worse than my own bland blend of controlled hysteria but the little girl in me is tired of being the adult. I just want the lollipop, the teddy bear, the release. I don’t want more opportunities to develop my “coping skills” I want a reason to rejoice. I want a victory. Here. Now. While I’m still sane enough to encourage others with it.
The real me, not the socially awkward, pleasantly forgettable, middle aged mom/copeep/benchwarmer you see day to day, is a writer, an artist, a musician. A perfect day would involve lavender, and tea in a translucent china cup. A canvas wet with beautiful images, guitar music and birdsong in the background. Poetry and lace on my table. Kind words and a gentle hug…for no reason. A perfect day would end with order – and completion. The simple satisfaction of knowing that I had the opportunity to create beauty, that I nurtured another soul. This coping only means I don’t ever disconnect from the chaos, the deadlines, the stress, and the displaced raw emotions of others who are just as frustrated as I am with lack, and pain, and fear.
I get what you may be thinking. Tam hasn’t played the “God” card yet. You’re right. There is no answer for that. For the prayers that go unanswered, for the image I keep of a benevolent Father even when I still cry in the shower, or on the way home, or on the way to work – because if I cried anywhere else I’d have to explain the pain He already knows.
And so for the most part I refrain. I get up, show up, and keep it up because that’s who I am. I cope. But success? Not by any definition in my heart am I successful. And that is the thing for which I pray…and for which I am perpetually deferred.
What is the uptake? Don’t cope. Coping sucks. Coping is what we do when we’re too scared, too trapped or too late to make the change we so desperately should have made before the trench we dug with our own small steps engulfed us. I don’t have permission to do anything but cope – but you do. So take it. The saddest moment is never the loss of something or someone else but the loss of yourself and of who you know in your heart you should have been. Grace may be new every day, but opportunity is finite and dreams? They have an expiration date.