Jul 15, 2009

And then there were three.

Three lawyers, that is. A divorce lawyer, a real estate lawyer and a personal injury lawyer, if he takes my case tomorrow. This is two weeks after the accident, and my face is healing like a superhero's, but the rest of my body and spirit are struggling in a way I never expected. I'm waiting to bounce back, but I hurt, I'm exhausted, my brain is mush.

In the midst of all this, I've noticed that I'm frequently feeling an emotion that used to be quite foreign to me: envy. When I see pictures of people enjoying their summers, unencumbered by financial and physical distress, living normal lives and even thriving, the green feeling I have is acute — and extremely unpleasant. I hear about someone who's gotten a six-figure book deal or has a NYT bestseller, and I have to suppress the urge to scream, "What about me?" I see couples building new houses, adding another child to their already happy family, making plans for the future without fear, and I try to remember what that carefree life felt like. In many cases, they are people who have gone through hell and back before they found their way, and I don't at all begrudge them their happiness. But I want it for myself. I want the hard decisions I've made in the last year to end up being the right decisions. I want things to turn around for me and my family, and for all the other families I know who are going through difficult times. It's not just money; I could win the lottery tomorrow and still be just as lost as I am today (albeit lost while looking at real estate on Alameda Ridge).

What I really miss are those old feelings of success and self-sufficiency, perhaps more so because I haven't often experienced failure. There is a down side to having things come easily to you early in life, and I'm getting cozy with that uncomfortable suspicion that maybe I didn't really earn all the things I used to value; even worse, what if they weren't all that valuable? Now I have to figure out what I really want; what would make me truly happy; what I honestly value and want to share with Grace. Then I have to work my ass off, risking failure on each new front. Hello, real world. My name is Laurel.


Pirate Alice said...

oh my gosh that looks horrible. And I completely feel your pain. I don't know if you saw my latest blog post, but yeah, I got kicked in the teeth again. It's like the world is crashing down on me and I'm already in the basement, I can't get any lower to avoid being crushed. I need to avoid Facebook because there are too many happy families and engaged couples and pictures of children. Twitter has too many people happy about new jobs. I hate them all, and I hate myself for hating them.
I think I've been through enough for 38 years, when is it my turn to be happy?

Scott Williams said...

Damn girl, makes me hurt just seeing that, and I'm not sure what makes me hurt more for you, the picture or your post. I always cringe when people tell me they know how I feel, because dammit, they don't. BUT, if you pay any attention to the things I've posted or read any of the poetry I've put in my notes on Facebook, I teeter daily on the edge of a very dark place and often look at others and can't help but think that's where I thought I'd be at this stage. so while I might not know exactly how you feel I can certainly empathize. I think that one of the things that we both have going for us is that we do have the outlet of writing where others might not necessarily have that pressure release valve. If that doesn't work there's always a bottle of wine nearby. *hugs* and know you are certainly cared about and certainly not alone.

Laurel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edward J. Hermanson said...

Yeah. That picture is hard to look at. When it's someone close to you it makes you feel so helpless and mortal. I imagine you are feeling quite mortal about now. After my accident in Connecticut I can't say it goes away. You just kind of move away from it a little bit each day.

About the envy though...I spent my early years as you know, not at all successful and living life "close to the bone" as they say, and I did this in Los Angeles surrounded by rich and poor, and experienced my share of envy and fear. Then moving in to a phase of my life where I seem successful well beyond what I actually expected, though still not as much as I had hoped. I know that even when I was at my poorest there were many who looked at me with envy, and now, many who still look at me with scorn or fear or arrogance. There is always someone with a nicer bicycle, someone with no bicycle, someone trying to steal yours and someone willing to give you theirs.

You know that no matter who you are, your life can change in an instant.

I have had many jobs over the years and as I moved from one to the next, some supervisors would tell me I was a genius and they wanted to adopt me, and the next would tell me I was an idiot and should find another career. Neither and BOTH are reality. It comes in waves. Take it with a grain of salt. A summer job I held while I was going to college was where I ran into an old high school teacher who seeing me in my Wendy's finest, flipping burgers, said simply "You Lost." I did not bother telling him I was going to college. He did not deserve to know.

Living life "close to the bone" strips away illusions of permanence for a time, but it has the opposite effect as well; it forces you to dream big. Everything is more immediate and tangible. You finished your book, promoted and self published it, started a second, and write like a fiend now. Did you do this when you were "Successful"? Would you have? how long would it have taken you?

What Tonia said is true. Some things have been taken away from you. Open your hands now.

LoveFeast Table said...

Wishing you a speedy recovery. Just looking at these top few posts, I can see you've had some trials. Best wishes to you! (found you off Dooce surfing the web) -Chris Ann

Girlbert said...

Oh, dear Laurel. I've had a Not-So-Best-Week-Ever, too. I've had a case of the greens. And the blues. And the fighting-mad-REDS, too.

The greens are the worst, I think. They eat you from the inside out, and you don't even know its happening. I hate feeling like I'm just lying there taking it, thinking, it'll get better, life always balances out, and then I get kicked again. Then my friend calls to tell you the good news! They just got another boat! And they saved like, $100K! And all I can think is, I could pay off my credit cards, my medical bills, and pay next month's rent! How exciting is that?

So I guess trying to make you feel better - maybe not going to happen in this comment, from me, today.

But at least we can commiserate on the whole mushy brain thing. Do I ever feel you there. So take care of that brain, and your beat-up body. No bouncing, anwhere, allowed.

And let me know if you win the lottery. ;-)