• Ashlyn

mondays with phil: in my philings.

Updated: Aug 14, 2018

Kiki may not love me, but Phil sure does (Strict-ly clinically. The man is a professional.)

As I sit with my poke bowl, reflecting on my therapy session today, I feel—I don’t know—frustrated? Restless? Impotent? Hungry? Sleepy? Gassy? Those are six of the seven dwarves, right? We covered a lot of ground in a mere fifty minutes, and often, it’s difficult to parse the reality of our time together versus my perception of it. But perception influences everything we do, everything we are. I often say to my husband that intentions are only half of an experience. The way those intentions are received make it whole.

Today, Phil and I discussed how much I loathe wasting time. I will NEVER be the person who arrives three hours early for a flight. It’s exceptionally rare that I see any movie previews. I feel itchy on the inside at the doctor’s office, constantly refreshing my social media feeds in an effort to avoid staring mindlessly at the fish tank. I like activity, the stimulation of a mind engaged. As such, time management has never really been my gift. Anyone who knows me personally is aggressively aware of this. I’m honestly sorry to all of you. Really.

And truly, these last years have felt like wasted time, like I’m twiddling my thumbs until my real life starts—the one I imagine, with a family and career and financial freedom. Have I learned nothing in this struggle? Because I clearly haven’t learned patience, with myself or with my progress.

I spent the afternoon after Phil’s watching my niece, entertaining her as I met a friend for coffee. (It’s one of the reasons this post is a little later than usual. This may be a surprise, but it’s really hard to sit in contemplative silence at Starbucks for hours at a time with a sixteen month old. I’m shocked.) When my sister was my age, a meager two and a half years ago, she was pregnant, preparing for her baby’s arrival.

I am nowhere near a place to safely bring a child into our family. We can hardly afford health insurance for just the two of us, not to mention the hospital bills for delivery. We’ve yet to unpack the last box from our move six (count ‘em!) months ago. My life is not together, and were we to have a baby, it would fall further apart.

And as I played with V, softly running my fingers through her sweet blonde curls, I was filled with longing. Let me clarify—I do not WANT a baby right now. I thoroughly enjoy sleeping in and running errands uninhibited. I love sitting in a local bakery, quietly sipping coffee and munching pastries. No, my longing is for the type of life that could expand for a baby, for the circumstances that would facilitate that possibility. But we don’t have it, and I’m unsure when—and if—we ever will.

I feel some feelings about this part of myself. How dare I detract from the successes of my friends and family with my relentless comparisons. It feels unfair to them—and to me. Our journeys have been different, our paths diverged, and it’s no one’s fault but my own that I’m unable to process my emotions appropriately, to sit quietly in my progress, however small it may seem to me. I fall into the dangerous trap of wondering who I could’ve been had my anxiety and associated depression not inhibited my potential, hadn’t influenced the bad decisions I’ve made. And frankly still does.

It’s like trying to navigate through a minefield in the dark. I have a vague awareness of my triggers, but something unexpected may happen, and aggressive emotional discomfort will bloom in my chest. Just yesterday, I was cornered and sexualized by a man in the grocery store. I nearly broke down in the hair care aisle, forcing the powerful fear and claustrophobic panic back into the pit of my stomach. Afterwards, I lay awake in bed, imagining the many way I’m unsafe in the world, the limitless danger lurking behind every parked car and in every public place.

That’s where my true resentment lies—not in the businesses my friends have built, not in the squishy cheeks and rolling thighs and downy curls of their children. Anxiety is constantly behind me, looming against my back, silently waiting to absorb me back into its swirling depths. I’m always aware of its presence in my life, trying desperately to stay just one step ahead, lest I disappear into the mist. And frankly, I am angry about it. I’m angry with myself.

How dare it limit my potential. Tell me that I will never be all that I’ve aspired to, that I will never be more than I have been. Much like my encounter with that man, it has no right to impose itself into my experiences, to make me feel unsafe in my own mind. And the unfairness of it hurts. Not the unfairness of life. I think we all know by now that life is unfair. And if you don’t, well then I have some news, and you might want to sit down. No, what I resent is my inability to appreciate my reality, to just sit in my feelings (Hey! That’s the name of this blog post.) and let them wash over me without letting them overwhelm me.

Because whatever expectations I harbored, this is my real life. There’s no more waiting, no more thumb twiddling. There never really was, despite what my teenage self thought. Regardless of my future, of my ambitions, I can’t allow it to be wasted time, to be overcome with the rage and jealously and impotence and most of all, deep, abiding sadness. It seems I haven’t been taking my own advice. I’ve received my best intentions so poorly, and I’m disappointed in myself.

There’s so much more work to be done, a lifetime left to unpack. My own inadequacies are numerous and exhaustive. Do you want to hear all the things I hate about myself? I mean, probably not, but I assure you, the list is long. I won’t tell you how my legs are too short, or how my forehead is too big (a true fivehead.) I won’t mention my bad skin or my squat fingers or my thin, droopy hair. I will merely sit, quiet in these feelings as I let them wash over me, and know that none of it is wasted.

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