“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready.”—Paulo Coelho
I’m quitting the #100DayProject.
It hurt to type that sentence. I don’t like quitting. When backed into a corner I usually double down on my efforts to prove all the shit my internal critic says about me is untrue. In fact, my plan for the week was to work my ass off catching up on everything.
But something happened.
I was reading a book in the early morning hours when I heard a terribly loud sound—a lot like a gunshot. It sounded like it came from upstairs where both my teenagers were sleeping.
My body went into complete panic mode.
“No, no, no…” I chanted as I ran up the stairs.
I threw open both their doors screaming, “Are you okay?”
They were fine.
I woke them up.
I scared them.
But they were fine.
After apologizing and reassuring myself nothing bad had happened, I went into the backyard and fell onto the ground sobbing. Hard. Harder than I have in years.
I started replaying the worst moments. The phone call. A woman found my son laying on the side of the road and called me from his cell phone to tell me he’d had a skateboard accident. The cop at our front door. He told us our son was hit by a car. He was holding his shoes. Yelling at my daughter for wearing a sweater in summer. I pulled up her sleeves to see her arms covered in cuts. The look on her face when she told me she didn’t want to be here anymore.
You are a bad mother.
You have made too many terrible mistakes.
It’s all your fault.
My body wouldn’t stop shaking. I could barely breathe.
I called my mom and told her what happened. I needed to say all my fears out loud. I needed to acknowledge the elephant sitting on my chest. I don’t want my kids to die. I feel like a failure. I don’t understand why this is our story. I’ve tried to be the best mom I could be.
I’m supposed to be watching the fruits of all my hard work pay off—proms, graduation, getting their driver’s license, first dates. Instead, it feels like one tragedy or obstacle after the next. Mountain after mountain. It’s all so horribly unfair.
She cried with me and said I’m the strongest person she knows. I didn’t want to listen, but I did. Eventually, I calmed down, but I was left knowing I had to face what I didn’t want to.
I’ve been living in a constant state of stress for many years. Too many. It’s been boiling under my skin like lava—hot, churning, angry.
A few weeks ago, facing the move of my mother out of state, the lava erupted in the form of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad rash. The doc gave me meds, but they didn’t work. It got worse. Much worse. I went on the trip anyway.
I tried to ignore it. It’s just a rash. I’m strong. I got this. My mother needs me. My daughter needs me. There’s simply no time for my nonsense.
But the rash got angrier and angrier.
I wanted to ignore it forever, but then the loud sound came.
Maybe it was an internal gunshot or a car backfiring on the road behind our house (the road my son had his accidents). Whatever it was, it forced me to stop lying to myself. I’m not okay and I need to take better care of myself.
Something has to change.
I got busy doing research and made the decision to cut out sugar, caffeine, and carbs—all things this rash needs to thrive (and I use to cope). I got different meds. I rode through the waves of migraines while sipping bone broth and taking naps. I oscillated between feeling like I’m doing the right thing and feeling selfish.
I didn’t feel strong.
I finally took the anxiety pills I’d been scared to take. I’m talking more openly with my family about my stress level. I’m not cooking for my family right now. I’m still taking naps.
It feels a bit like I’m doing nothing, but that’s not true. It’s important. I need to feel better.
I’m healing my skin, my gut, and my heart. I’ve got so many wonderful things to look forward to and I need to be my healthiest to enjoy them all. My teenagers may not look like the typical ones, but they are remarkable human beings. Extraordinary. They are the light of my life. They need me to stop simmering in the lava.
The reason I started this #100DayProject was to tackle my perfectionism and to think more abstractly. The guidelines I set for myself were:
- be messy and imprecise
- have fun with the process
- don’t overthink
- don’t plan
- don’t judge the finished painting
- be brave
Quitting fulfills these objectives quite nicely. It’s brave and messy. It’s not perfect. I can’t really plan what the future holds for me, but I’m taking the right steps to get healthy.
I’m proud of myself.
NOTE: I’m not quitting my blog, but I am taking some time to heal. I may be a bit less active for a few weeks as I start to feel better. Please don’t go anywhere. I appreciate you all so much.