the strength of my stomach

A few days ago, I completed a task that had been assigned to me a good two months prior: some paperwork related to my inheritance that my attorney needs in order to finish the estate administration. I stalled and stalled and procrastinated with the passion of an undergraduate English major who's read the book, loved it in fact, but who despises/fears research and is therefore hamstrung by the "outside sources" requirement, and who would rather blow the paper off until she's on her second extension, which she obtained from her all-too-compassionate professor by utilizing a cunning mixture of half-truths and appeals to pathos.

A vaguely familiar feeling, in other words.

My resistance to this assignment was all twisted up in emotions that made it easy for me to minimize the shame I felt in failing to just fucking do it. Like, I really resent that my brother has done precisely fuck-all to help with any of this, and here I am about to write him a six figure check. Anger, in other words, with a deep and storied genesis. Also: finishing this final chapter of things related to my father's death makes it bracingly clear that he is, in fact, quite dead and gone. Grief, in other words, that creeps through the crack of a door I keep thinking is good and shut.

Plus I just plain dreaded it, because it promised to be colossally boring and tedious - and I wasn't even sure how to go about it.

Anyway, carrying around the pressure of needing to do this paperwork has been, for the past couple of months, like toting around my own personal storm cloud. No matter how bright the skies around me, every time I looked up with a smile to take in the sunshine, bam! A bolt of lightning would crack above my head, and the downpour would start. Oh, you think you deserve to feel good and happy, do you Ellie? THINK AGAIN, you lazy, incompetent girl. 

A normal person would just do what needed to be done. A normal person would draw the logical conclusion that Hey, this feeling sucks. I can make this feeling go away by just doing it. But when it comes to things that I'm anxious or fearful about, normalcy isn't even a card in my deck. (Queen of Neurosis, yes. That one is always somewhere near the top...)

Well, something shifted inside of me the other night, and I think I just got tired of how exhausting it was to feel that anxiety. So I pulled out all the documents I needed, jacked myself up on caffeine, and invited my friends Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane over to keep me company while I worked. And then I sat down and faced my fears.

What I thought would take me days to finish took about two and a half hours, max. Fucking ridiculous. And the worst part? All the relief and release of pressure that I thought finishing it would afford me were nowhere to be seen. I just felt stupider, in fact, than I had before. Like, Uh, well, good job Ellie. You made a mountain out of a mole hill, completely unnecessarily. Maybe now that you've tasted adulthood, we can move on to embracing other responsibilities, too. 

Though for added lolz, I apparently didn't do it right, anyway. My lawyer told me this morning that it needs to be x, not y, so at least I get to sulk over the semi-failure a little bit while I fix it.

In the past year, I feel like I've made some breakthroughs, emotionally. I have true self love for the first time in a long time, and I've gotten much better at self-soothing, and looking for comfort within. Time was, when a depressive spell - or just plain grief - would knock me down, I'd clutch at anyone around me, nearly drowning them in my pain. Now I'm able to just sit there at the bottom of the rabbit hole, concentrate on breathing, and know that it'll pass. That it may be a bad day or bad night, but it's not a bad life. And self love has a big stake in this, because it's what allows me to say, Hey, it's ok to be you Ellie, with the extra serving of saddies you've been built with. It's just who you are, and part of your experience of this world. It sucks sometimes, but that sensitivity to life has a lovely silver lining that, at other times, buoys you up to unbelievable heights. So just breathe. You're ok. 

(Though if you think I wouldn't like to be laying with my head in my mother's lap and hearing those words from her, ha!)

That self love and self acceptance have been tools to help me puzzle through other challenges in my life, too. Like determining my boundaries with other people - being able to say, No, I can't do that, or No, I won't accept that behavior, because it compromises my emotional well being and damn it, I deserve to be well. It's also what allows me to forgive myself bad decisions of the past, and stop beating myself up over what's in the rear view mirror.

So I'm trying to channel that newfound strength into areas I still struggle with - such as estate paperwork that I dread, and other things that sit on my plate, staring up at me balefully like overcooked brussel sprouts that I would much rather feed to the dog than choke down with my now-warm milk. Because there's nobody else to make sure I eat those brussel sprouts which, I have to admit, are chock full of nutrition. There's no one left at the table but me. Just me, staring those motherfuckers down. They're smirking at me, doubting the strength of my stomach. Hell, I'm doubting the strength of my stomach.

But somewhere deeper than that, there's something inside that's rooting for me, saying No, they don't taste good. Yeah, they're mushy and bland. But they're good for you, and they'll make you healthy, and healthy isn't necessarily a quick-fix sort of happy like you're addicted to, but it's a very, very important kind of happy nonetheless. And you deserve to be happy, because you're awesome.

Jesus. This post may constitute a new record for most tortured metaphor, sorry. But come on - they're brussel sprouts. They were totally asking for it.