Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's Not a Tunnel. It's a Cave.

I've had some moments over the past few months where I take deep breaths and think, "I can do this. I can totally do this!" Then, there are the (increasingly more frequent) moments where I think, "Um, actually no. No I cannot." I have had quite a few of the latter moments lately. Moments where the enormous undertaking that is full-time school and work, and the thought of supporting my family, and the disgustingness that is my house, and the rarity that is a home cooked meal or a full-night's sleep just build up to this crescendo of immensity and insanity that threatens to swallow me whole.

It happened again today as I registered for next semester's 14 credits worth of classes. And made the HUGE mistake of actually reading the syllabus for each of the classes. Silly, silly me (or "Fool of a Took!" as Gandalf would say.) I haven't even made it through this semester yet. Although I am dangerously close to barely surviving it. Emphasis on barely. And I'm already stressing out about next semster?? Why yes. Yes I am. And then the thoughts come. The dark, dark thoughts:

What if I can't do it? What if I can't even pass these classes? What if I picked the wrong major? What if I don't have time to get a master's degree? What if my family can't live for 4 more years on Top Ramen and love? What if I can't even get into graduate school? What if I can and I spend all of this time abandoning my children and home to get my degree and I can't even get a job? What if it turns out that nobody wants to hire a 45 year old school counselor?? (Even if she is ridiculously young looking.) I start to think about how much my kids need me and what was I even thinking going back to school. And then I think about the fact that my husband is leaving in 3 weeks to live in Salt Lake for 2-4 months (to get some training for his low-vision that he desperately needs.) And who will make my (totally disgusting) protein shake every morning and wake up our middle-schooler at 6:30 when I can't possibly pull myself out of bed? Who will wash my picky 4-year-old's laundry 3 times a week so he always has a selection of Shaun White pants to choose from every day? And it's going to snow while he's gone. And not that I am not capable, but I absolutely hate shoveling snow. ( I pretty much hate everything else about snow, too, but that's a story for another time.) Not to mention checking the mail. I don't check the mail. I don't even know which mail box is ours.

The dark thoughts are real. And they are like a big, hairy, slobbering monster sitting on my chest and making it almost impossible to breathe. Except to hyperventilate. Apparently I can still do that just fine. It is at these dark moments that I think maybe that illusive light at the end of the tunnel gets a little bit hard to see because it is not actually a tunnel. It's a cave. There is no light because there is no end. This so called "light" that everyone talks about, maybe it doesn't exist. I am walking endlessly on and on to try to get to the other side of this tunnel only to find myself finally reaching the back of a deep, dark cave. And it sounds horribly depressing, but it might very well be true. And what if it is? What if my life never gets easy? What if there is not a point where I can sit back and say, "Wow! I can't believe I got through that." Because when this is all over, chances are that something else will take its place. And what if that's just life? What if it is?

Not everything about a cave is bad, right? I mean, there're bats and creepy stuff like that, but sometimes there are also breathtaking stalactites and stalagmites. And doesn't a cave also offer protection from wind and rain and the elements? So maybe it isn't a tunnel. Maybe there is no light at the end.

But, hey, I can do cave. And I have a feeling I'm not alone in here.


  1. I can't believe I have to type over again what I just typed... I hit "Preview" and lost everything. Here goes, from my woefully malfunctioning short-term memory: Your cave is filled with wonderfully ghostly "what ifs" and stalactites and stalag mites (from Stalag 17, "Hogan's Heroes," I believe). Your doubts and dread are real, but I know you can overcome them all--you are stronger than you can ever believe, and you are one of the brightest lights Terry and I know. If you ever become an orphan, let us know right a way--we'd like to adopt you quickly, before you become famous and win awards from Sweden.

    Knocking your head against a wall may seem like a futile activity, but if your head is hard enough and you persevere, the wall will come down sooner or later. As for the dark thoughts, I'm afraid I'm not much help with those--as it is, I keep trying to sit on the lid of mine so they won't leak out and hurt anyone else; I think you're safe all the way in Utah! I really believe you are doing the best thing possible with your darkness by submitting it to the exorcism of your blog posts. Make friends with everything in your cave; who knows? Way at the back, just to the left of the hole where the dwarf who threw the axe at you disappeared, there may actually be a tunnel, with a lamp, and a map. Love, Fred and Terry

    1. Fred! I love you guys. You made me cry. Real tears and everything. And I don't do that very often. Thank you for your love & support. It means more to me than you could ever know.