My Sh*t is All Apart

I feel tired lately. In a subtle, general sort of way. I feel worn out by life. Something in a book I was reading this morning made me remember a person I used to be. The man described his wife as this energetic, vibrant, confident woman. And I wondered suddenly, where has that woman in me gone to? The one who was excited about life. Excited about new adventures and exploring and learning and growing. The one who always felt hopeful and - even in the midst of fresh widowhood - fucking determined to make a good life for herself still.

After five years of trying to figure out how to build a business with my art, and five years of crawling and fighting for this new life without Drew, I feel lately like the only place I have gotten after all of this effort is just more tired. And that’s where that woman has gone to… the one that used to be vibrant and energetic and hopeful. She has given every ounce of herself to trying to figure out this new life.

Endless amount of energy are spent daily trying to fulfill everyone's expectations of this new chapter of my life... expectations that my life is so happy and full and beautiful just because I have a new partner. Expectations that my business is flourishing and thriving and even some expectations that my artwork to be "happier" now because I am apparently happier (um, what!)

Then there is the enormous and completely new expectation of being a mother figure... and constantly trying to be "enough" in that role to make certain that everyone in Mike and his late wife's family are pleased with me being here. To make certain that no one ever doubts me being in this role in his daughter's life. There is even the expectation of being a good enough partner to Mike, and a good enough friends to all of my friends now that we live so far away from each other. With the exception of a few people's dumb comments, all of these are in my own head. But it's enough to leave me totally depleted after 2 years into this new life. 

Somehow with all of that, I actually feel like I shouldn’t be this tired. I feel like I should have all of it more together. That things should all be running more smoothly than they are. That I should be more financially successful with my art business. And that I should have energy and be vibrant and alive like I used to be. But when I type that out… I realize how completely insane that expectation sounds.

I have no idea where that assumption comes from.

Probably Facebook, where everyone’s lives seem so much more together than they really are (including my own). Or my inescapable instincts as a woman to please others. But the truth is, as one of Drew’s favorite personas, Henry Collins, says… 

“my shit is all apart”

Nothing else describes how I feel quite so exactly as that statement. And it reminds me of times in my old life, when either myself or Drew were using that phrase often. Life wasn’t perfect then either. But somehow, after they die, you seem to make everything now worse than before. Like everything you have to deal with now is the result of that horrible loss. And that none of the awful in your current life would exist if they hadn’t died. Um, wrong! In fact most of my current struggles are probably things I would have in one way or another faced. Particularly trying to build a business, moving away from Texas, and motherhood.

I don’t know why it is that I seem to always feel I should be doing more or better or be calmer or more loving or more outgoing or more anything. And it’s exhausting not accepting where you are currently and not listening to your needs.

The truth is that I’m so tired from trying to create an online business because it always just feels like some persona you have to put on. And then you have to be consistent, which creates expectations. And still I make very little money with all of it. All of this has been building for a few years now I think. So much so that I am ready to just walk for a while. Just take a damn break from what everyone expects of me and go create whatever the hell I want to. After all, the time in which I was doing that very thing was my most successful and creative and enjoyable time. The one exception for me currently, is writing here. Because what I write here is from my heart, and I always feel able to be my true self here without any expectations. So thank you all for that! 

So last week, I did a few things to try and counter this awful tiredness. I opened up a second Instagram account to share only my black and white photography. And not because I feel like I need to, but because I want to. Not to make money or gain followers, but just to share the stuff I make. I did not tell anyone but my closest friends. I will not share it all over Facebook and with my email list of followers. Nope. I will allow it to be a place where people can just stumble on me randomly. A place where I can just share whenever I feel like it and don’t have to worry about expectations.

A place to play, instead of work.

The other thing I did was to sign up on a paid site to do virtual assistant type work for people. Mostly 5-10 hours a week, or short term jobs doing a variety of things from booking travel arrangements, blogging and uploading images online to photo editing and design work. The thing that is appealing to me besides helping some other people out, is that I can be invisible, it is flexible, and I can choose the jobs. I don’t have to market myself and send out updates to a mailing list and beg people to support me and a billion other things - which I never have any idea will pay off financially. I just apply, do the work, make someone happy, and get paid. 

It probably sounds odd that my version of a sabbatical right now might just be taking a break from my own business to do some for others… but it does sound refreshing. More than that… I feel hungry for it. Hungry to be of use to others with my skills again. Who knows, maybe this will end up being a better balance for me.

Whatever the case, I am hoping that making a shift for a little while will help to bring me out of the fog… will help to bring back that energetic, vibrant person that I truly miss spending time with. In the least, it might help to renew my confidence in my abilities, and enable me to get back to creating without all the expectations. 

I really do think, after we are widowed, a switch should just be turned off inside us that enables us to be unaware of everyone else’s expectations. How marvelous would that be!!

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  • Patricia Timson
    commented 2017-07-25 12:56:57 -0700
    Sarah, I can really identify with you re being tired. For me, it is only 6 1/2 months since my husband suddenly due to an accident. I don’t think I have ever been as tired in my life. I suddenly went from being a very vibrant, capable woman to this tired out, old looking person. I have aged at least 5 years. I now look like I am 80 and not 74. I still get all the bills paid, keep up the house maintenance (our son and I just finished re-finishing a 20×10 ft. sundeck), gardening, etc. And yet I wake up tired and need at least one, maybe two naps each day. I refuse to see myself as this weak grieving widow and yet that’s how it feels sometimes. The grief is so raw sometimes, it is almost crippling yet I have my private cry and get on with life. That is what Ken would want me to do and yet I have yet to have a day when my insides don’t ache for him and I will be so happy when I get back some of my enthusiasm for life that I used to have. Happily, no one seems to expect me to be any different – only me.