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The Closer I Am to Fine

“I’m tryin’ to tell you somethin’ ’bout my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you’ve ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It’s only life after all, yeah”

The Closer I Am to Fine. We had a two hour delay yesterday morning, and we were all feeling aimless. The kids had homework and I had work.

The school had a two hour delay yesterday morning, and we were feeling aimless.

The kids had homework and I had work, but none of us could manage anything but lazing around and staring at the slushy wonderland outside. Astro was lying on the couch, face up, and as I got closer – he opened his four legs for a hug. He also made super cute grunting sounds. I joked that I was charging $5 for my place on the couch – for the warmth and the mental health boost. It got me thinking, though. What is it that gets me closer to fine? What makes me fine?

And have I always been fine, or on my way there?

closer to fine

“Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety ’til I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores”

It used to be that right before great change, I would suffer the symptoms.

I never really experienced anxiety the way others describe it – as thoughts. Sure, I have the spiraling funnels and the sandstorms and windstorms of the mind. I get dragged underwater, ankles first, more times than I care to admit. It’s always been symptoms first, though, telling me of something buried deeply underwater, before the surface can or will understand. DANGER DANGER. And that’s probably why it was later diagnosed – officially or unofficially – as PTSD.

The Closer I Am to Fine. We had a two hour delay yesterday morning, and we were all feeling aimless. The kids had homework and I had work.

It’s always been land mines embedded within me – detonating one by one – small to large and quiet to loud. I’d feel it head to toe sometimes, from headaches to shaky feet. Often nausea, and often closed throat and open, racing heart. Eventually they piled on top of each other. Going to college, experiencing graduation stress, and mean roommate trauma. Falling in love, or some things that looked like love, time after time after time after time. I moved four times and then my parents moved one time, which was worse – at first – than any other time. I moved to California and back. Enter a pregnancy and second pregnancy – and moving to a new home right in the heart of the weakened 1st trimester. I don’t know if I experienced morning sickness.

Or was it just the little earthquakes of land mines detonating?

land mines

“And I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine, yeah
The closer I am to fine, yeah”

It felt the way change always felt – queasy and unbalanced – as if on a rocking ship.

The only alternative to getting used to the rhythmic rocking was to fall in and get swallowed underwater, ankles first. Maybe you’ll succumb to the darkness, and maybe you’ll find that the smooth ground is right there – and if you stand – you’re stronger and taller than these wild waves. Maybe you always were? I was hit the hardest in life before Scarlet started kindergarten, and it started the January before. Eight months of feeling like I couldn’t breathe – not through the contractions of this rocking boat, and not through the ragged dark waves of this storm.

And so that’s when the hardest work began, but it didn’t finish. It’s only ever just begun.

The Closer I Am to Fine. We had a two hour delay yesterday morning, and we were all feeling aimless. The kids had homework and I had work.

“And I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a B-Grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
Got my paper and I was free”

It didn’t happen with Des, nor ever again. Not like that.

He started kindergarten and I could go pick him up without panic. What had changed? What is changing, still? Was it seven years of therapy? Was it moving closer to who I am and what I want, and loving who I am and what I want? Is it everyone else on journeys, intertwined with mine? Getting more love, giving more live, and with dreams realized and realizing, and phobias met and meeting head-on. First, the tornado, and not by choice. It found me huddled in my grandparents’ Westfield, NJ basement, praying I wouldn’t get swirled into the darkness. I didn’t get swept away, and the only victim was an umbrella stand that blew away to another house.

Or maybe another planet. Who really knows? The phobia had gone with it.

flying

The Closer I Am to Fine. We had a two hour delay yesterday morning, and we were all feeling aimless. The kids had homework and I had work.

“I stopped by the bar at three A.M.
To seek solace in a bottle, or possibly a friend
And I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I’d been the night before
And I went in seeking clarity”

The roller coaster phobia was deeply rooted and unmoving, until it was loosened and moving – sailing out of me as I whirled around and around the train coaster. I hated it, until I tried another coaster, hours later, and fell in love. When you let go, and truly let go – in your step by step, piece by piece, calculated yet random, patchwork way – you may find that you can truly, actually fly.

The Closer I Am to Fine. We had a two hour delay yesterday morning, and we were all feeling aimless. The kids had homework and I had work.

It’s amazing what no longer gives me (much) pause these days. Of course I know that the shadows are always lurking, and probably always will be, but sometimes it’s like they’re afraid to step into my light. It happens often. Now I can ride in planes, only slightly gripping the armrest when the wheels touch down at landing. I have expanded my roller coaster riding, and can go on rides I know have motion simulation – my true emotional AND physical Achilles’ heel for so many dizzying and loss of control feelings – because the alternative is too dreadful. Missing life.

“Yeah, we go to the Bible, we go through the work out
We read up on revival, we stand up for the lookout
There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine, yeah”

It’s amazing, these days, what I work through and around.

Kids growing up, dream home renovations, and plans for the near future that barely seem real. I get the email in shock. They want ME to go to the Bahamas for a resort press trip? Really?

Well, if you insist..

The Closer I Am to Fine. We had a two hour delay yesterday morning, and we were all feeling aimless. The kids had homework and I had work.

I worry that I let go in all the wrong ways – growing older and more jaded and desensitized. And maybe that’s why I don’t suffer in the same ways anymore? Other times I know in my heart that it’s the opposite – I’m growing older, yes, but less jaded and more sensitized. I’m not growing a thicker skin or thicker heart. I believe that when you face your own darkness and how it relates to other people, places, and things, you’ll let go in all the right ways. Let it go and let it grow.

The Closer I Am to Fine. We had a two hour delay yesterday morning, and we were all feeling aimless. The kids had homework and I had work.

I don’t know what’s next, and I don’t know how many landmines are still rooted in there, and how many have been planted in the last several years. New ones. Bumpier or sharper or more explosive. Maybe for the first time I’ve lost some of that deep fear of flying – in all respects. Just as there are no limits to the depths of grief and darkness, there are no limits to the depths of true joy and light. You can be bathed in it, and awash in it, and you can let it light your way.

Or at least know that you can always summon the light through your darkness.

The Closer I Am to Fine. We had a two hour delay yesterday morning, and we were all feeling aimless. The kids had homework and I had work.

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12 Comments

  1. Aw, absolutely beautiful and just the inspiration I need to get through one of my most unfavorite and darkest days of the year and know in my heart tomorrow be a bit lighter as I make it through today. Hugs <3

  2. Beautifully written and I love seeing all of the photos of the family on the trampoline! Thank goodness for trampolines and all the things in life that exhilarate us and lift us up! Happy Valentine’s Day dear friend!

  3. While I was reading l could feel myself connecting to your writing Tamara, and these Indigo Girls song lyrics. They blend so beautifully together here! I’m still trying to get closer too, and each new day brings fresh new steps in that direction. I first heard this timeless little gem of a song on a college radio station. It may have been Princeton University’s WPRB. Amy and Emily quickly became very popular among college students, then everyone else caught on. They’re performing in NJ next month including a stop at The Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown on March 21.

    1. Ohh! Do you think you’ll go? I can’t remember if I ever saw them live. I went to two Lilith Fair concerts but I just don’t think they were at either one.
      I love the song “Ghost.”

  4. You definitely aren’t growing older and more jaded. I think we are kindred souls on that one. Growing older, stronger sometimes weaker, but never jaded. Too many feels out there to ignore it all.

    We had the flu over Valentine’s day (BIG BUMMER) , 4 of us and are hoping to be able to leave for Disney tomorrow. We shall see. Fingers crossed and pixie dust, but if I am not over here visiting this next week, I promise to return!

    1. You just have fun! Don’t worry about returning here! Oh my, though. the FLU. Valentine’s Day is when I had my one and only true case of the flu. UGH.

  5. Lovely photo shoot, Tamara. How perfectly paired with the topic here. As usual, your writing is so beautiful. I don’t think we desensitize as we age. It’s quite the opposite—maybe? I have to tell myself to stop caring so deeply as it only brings me heartache for things I cannot control. 😛 We’ll figure this thing out. I feel closer to fine after reading your post. xx

    p.s. Congrats on the Bahamas trip!!

    1. I think you’re so right. If we’re lucky.
      My grandparents lived to 100, and so pretty much all of their elders and peers come and go. My mom once asked them how they cope with so much loss. Does it get easier? And my grandmother said, “No, it doesn’t get easier but you get better at it.”
      Whoa.

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