"If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there." I don't know who originally said that, or where it came from, but I used it often when doing substance abuse counseling. I also think this could serve as my life motto; never knowing where I'm going and always taking the scenic route to nowhere. Life decisions are never easy, and having some sort of plan is always helpful when making them. Planning is not my strong suit. I remember many times calling planning the "P word." For many years, that has been literally and figuratively a four letter word to me. Meandering through life taking in the scenery is my modus operandi.
Last week I talked about "Emptying my Bag." That seems somewhat counterintuitive; emptying my baggage before I plan my trip. In a lot of ways, life is like a road trip. Traveling on foot with a backpack can become tiresome and the backpack becomes more cumbersome the longer it is worn. If you try to travel carrying a backpack, two suitcases, three gym bags, a tent and your favorite rock collection, the load can become unbearable. Progress is difficult and resentments toward the load pile up to make them even heavier. Every trip we take, relationship we have, mistake we make, bridge we burn adds more and more weight. Myself, not only do I insist on carrying all of that baggage, I refuse to drive my car, because that would be far too easy. At some point in life, the weight of the baggage must be shed in order to make forward progress.
I'm not sure if it is the weather today, the changing of the seasons, or the pre-holiday funk creeping in on me. Today is one of those days when every mistake I've ever made in my life keeps jumping out at me like a monster behind the scenes in a haunted house attraction. "Look over here! Remember me? I'm that relationship you ruined!" "Hey! Don't forget me! I'm every mistake you ever made as a mother. Remember the times you yelled at your kids? The parent/teacher conferences you missed because you were too 'busy'?" "Hi! I'm all the awful stuff you ever said to your mother that you didn't mean." I don't know if anyone else ever has those days or periods in their lives, but I do, far too often, and I have been in one lately. I made stuffed bell peppers for supper last night. My youngest son, Michael, was excited about supper, which was unusal. He told me that he'd had stuffed peppers at a friend's house and he loved them. He couldn't wait till supper was done. About halfway through fixing supper, Michael came into the kitchen and saw what I was doing.
"What are those things in the pan?"
"Those are the peppers I'm going to stuff."
"Those aren't peppers."
"Yes they are. I'm 40. I've seen peppers, and those, sir, are peppers."
"But they aren't what K's mom made! I want stuffed peppers, Mom. STUFFED PEPPERS!"
I still have no idea what I was doing wrong. I asked if they were jalapeno peppers he had and he said no. K's mom also fixed hash browns with hers. I was doing it all wrong.
Then I wanted to cry. What kind of a mother doesn't fix the right stuffed peppers? How much of a failure am I? Michael will never get into college with a mother like me. He will be standing in line at a soup kitchen somewhere telling the others in line about how all he wanted was stuffed peppers and his mom refused to make them. That was where his life went downhill. Next came the bad grades, bad friends and the inevitable coke habit. This can't end well.
Like with any trip, It's impossible to get from point A to point B without some sort of effort between the start and finish lines. The trip becomes even longer when you decide to hit points C-Z before coming back to B, which is what happens without the proper map or trip planning skills. Here we have exhibit A: My Life. Point A to B in 15000 easy to follow steps. Grab your rock collection and here we go.
Now that I have lightened my load, so to speak, it's time to begin the planning stage. At 40 years old, it seems ridiculous to me that I should just now be in the planning stage. According to the script I had formulated in my head at the ripe old age of 9, I should be well on my way with point B in sight. I should be cruising around with the top down, wind blowing through my hair with my husband, 2.5 kids and a couple of dogs in tow. Perfect picture completed by the little stick figure family on the bumper of the convertible. In reality, I have the convertible. That's where the similarities end. My travels look more like a rusty old pickup with one working headlight, kicking up dust on a one lane dirt road , ten dirty kids in the truck bed and three dogs chasing the truck.
In order to figure out how I will travel, draw my map, so to speak, I have to figure out my destination. Fifteen years ago, I was sure it was becoming a social worker. I quit my job and started school to do just that. Once I met that goal, I wanted to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, which I did. Then I wanted to work in forensics. Another goal accomplished. Now, I am sitting here figuring out where I want to go yet again. Social Work was great while it lasted, but I'm not sure I want to follow that map at this point. It's really funny how life works like that. You pick a destination, make the trip, only to get there and find out it's not what you wanted anyway.
I have spent this past weekend stripping wallpaper. This wallpaper was wicked stuff. I believe it was stuck on the wall by the devil himself, using the strongest gorilla glue he could find. Tedious work, removing wallpaper. Lots of time for introspection and lots of time to rehash a blog entry in your head and decide you have no idea what you are going to write next. I have no idea where I'm going at this point. I know I am going to move back into my house and continue to work on rebuilding my family. The decisions to be made next are regarding my career and finances. I remember when the toughest decision I had to make was what to fix for supper. For now, I will continue to plod along, taking one day at a time until I decide how I am getting where I'm going. Or even decide where I'm going for that matter. One thing I know for sure, I will be asking K's mother how she makes stuffed peppers so that I can save my son from that horrible coke habit he hasn't developed yet.