People who equate truth with fact are missing the point.

Life Is Difficult

Life is difficult.

M. Scott Peck opened The Road Less Traveled with that line and I don’t guess I know anyone who’d disagree. A few weeks ago, when my family was in the midst of yet another minor crisis, my dad asked me, “Aren’t you glad you gave up on waiting for life to finally calm down and get easy?”

Yes, I am. Very glad. That was exhausting, when I thought that eventually, the universe would finally bestow upon me the easy, angst-free life to which I would like to become accustomed. It was like hiking, and I’m climbing the hill, and I’m convinced that when I reach the summit, I’ll finally see the lake spread before me, but no. Every hilltop grants me the view of another hill to climb. Surely this one? Nope, another hill. And another.

The hills are less steep now, the hike less arduous, but I don’t quite know how to stop climbing.

If I had to guess (It’s really only a guess; I used to think self-awareness was an achievable thing and now I know self-awareness is the narrative I tell myself, about myself, and as soon as I think I have myself all figured out, something will change and I need a new story.), I’d say I’m in a very late process of growing up. My adult life has been defined by nothing so much as chaos, some of which happened to me and some of which I happened to create. The past three years have been the calmest I’ve ever experienced and while that doesn’t mean life has been easy or quiet or calm, it does mean I’m face-to-face with myself. For two decades, my life was dominated by turmoil: a bad marriage and the subsequent divorce; single parenthood; trying to get an education while parenting; blending families; unemployment and financial challenges; our youngest son’s disabilities; alienation from my two eldest children; protracted, bitter battles with extended family; and my own mental illness.

Now. Now, for the first time, though life is still difficult, we’re not living in perpetual chaos. When the crises come, they recede. Life has as many challenges as ever, but far fewer emergencies.

I am grateful. Deeply, extraordinarily grateful, but I don’t know how to live now. I’m not depressed, exactly, but I’m lost. I have what I wanted all along: for life to stop demanding I put out one fire after another after another and give me some space to breathe and create a life that revolves around spirituality, family, and creativity. Now that I have that space, though, I find I’m calibrated all wrong. I don’t know how to show up for life when there’s no air raid siren demanding anything of me.


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9 comments to Life Is Difficult

  • Beautiful and relatable. We’re in a kind of parallel place? Maybe? Or maybe somewhere just behind you on the road from chaos? Where the emergencies have faded and now it’s just a string of little papercut setbacks that make it hard to remember that things are actually better now.

  • I love giving up the idea that life will ever calm down, will ever get easy. This winter, and now into spring, has been so particularly bad, crisis of the week variety, and yet I’ve kept thinking, next week will be better. I am so very tired.

    You will find your way back, but I hope it doesn’t come at your expense. Don’t take on more just to fill the void.

    Now, how to take my own advice?

  • Kathy

    Hmmm… might be time for a change? Not a challenge, necessarily, but a change. Something you get to pick. Of course, that’s a whole new kind of scary.


  • So many of us, can relate to this and are also in the midst able what you are going through. So many of us, in the midst of chaos, think the grass is always greener on that other side, but once there, it’s on us to fill the void when we get there. I felt this when I finally quit my corporate job, became a stay-at-home mom, and said “I’m going to figure out what I REALLY want to do” now…and guess what? It’s hard. A stop that I thought would last a few months lasted 5 years. What do we want to do? What will make us happy ultimately? Us, not our kids, families, etc….give yourself time to think, breathe….it sounds like after all the years of chaos, you need that to heal and allow yourself to this, and be thankful for the relative quiet.

  • Jerri

    I have been going through this for a few years after 15 years of chaos. My main goal has been to get my own life. I didn’t know what that would look like at all. I tried to remember what I used to enjoy, and when I did remember, I realized some of it didn’t matter to me at all. So I’ve tried some new things. Movies – used to love, now “meh.” Yoga – didn’t care for before, am crazy about now. I cook differently for myself, listen to different music – was classical, now I find indie pop enjoyable.
    That anything matters is a pleasant surprise, because I still feel exhausted most of the time. Some days are harder than others. I have to believe it will get better and better.
    Thank you for sharing <3

  • Such relief in knowing I’m not alone… Your honesty, and ability to relate that honesty clearly, is so appreciated. I’ve been experiencing this, too, a sort of adrift feeling peppered harshly with guilt that I should be happier, since my son’s move in January to a better adult living situation. But… now what? Who am I now that I don’t need to worry so much, to live each moment in the angst… That’s what I’ve known for so long.

    Thank you for continuing to share your journey. Here’s my own take on these feelings:

  • Stephanie

    I,too, worried that I had become addicted to the adrenaline rush of crisis and chaos. It’s exciting and thrilling. And I am quite competent at handling a lot. Gradually, as my son has gotten older (and me, too!) the disturbances have receded. But I wonder if they will return and I remain vigilant. I also am learning to cope at a slower pace. Letting the world unfold is a simple pleasure. I am certain that we will meet these challenges, because we always do!

    love, Stephanie

  • I hear you. My heart still skips a little and my stomach bottoms out when my phone rings even though it has been months maybe even 2 years since anyone has called out of crisis.

    I thought you might like to read a life in the day of me and my son

    and the second part

  • I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop constantly. My kids have had some many health issues that it almost feels weird to make it a month or more without a doctor or hospital visit. As the lung issues seem to be slowly backing off and the other issues are being taken care of with medication or maintenance, I almost don’t know how to act. I actually had real, sleepless, hands shaking anxiety about taking 2 vacation days from work for actual vacation time because I’ve had to guard my time so carefully over the past 8 years to make sure it wasn’t going to run out before the end of the year. It’s a strange place indeed. Wishing you much more smaller hills and some flat beaches, too. 🙂

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