Thursday, December 13, 2012

On One Hand

I have been so overwhelmed lately. And I'm not sure what it is that's overwhelming me.

My house overwhelms me.

On one hand, it is my security. I have a home to come to after a long day teaching, I have a place to come in out of the storm, literally and figuratively. If the housing market ever rebounds, I will have some financial security.

On the other hand, it takes a lot of work, time and money to maintain. And the weight of the responsibility can be daunting, and I'm not always sure I know what I'm doing in terms of the minor repairs or exactly how I want to decorate. And I am the only one to take care of it.

My dog overwhelms me.

On one hand, he is very loving and sweet. He is sitting in my lap as I am writing. We have to have family time every night before we turn in to sleep. I love sitting on my bed reading a book, playing on my iPad, or watching a DVD with him lying next to me, after his compulsory hand licking.

On the other hand, he is very needy. He is sitting in my lap as I am writing wanting to lick my hand in order to satisfy his compulsion. He may have developed this need because of the divorce, I don't know. He also gets nervous easily. Few people come over but when someone does, he wants to be held and reassured he will be safe. He is also aging, which requires medication and a strict diet. And I am the only one to take care of all his needs.

My cat overwhelms me.

On one hand, she is very loving. Sometimes. After all, she is a cat. She gives kisses when SHE wants to.

On the other hand, she is very demanding. After all, she is a cat. She wants attention when SHE wants it. She sometimes joins me and my dog for family time and then tries to come between me and my book or my iPad or even between me and the dog. She is also aging, is allergic to chicken and fish (just try and find a cat food without chicken and fish by-products in it!) and she also requires medications, and attention to her litter box, which is not always pleasant due to her bowel problems. I know, gross. And I am the only one to take care of her.

My job overwhelms me.

On one hand, I enjoy interacting with the students. I like hearing their stories, I love seeing their progress, I love watching them learn HOW to think. I appreciate it when they confide in me. I am also the Gifted Coordinator because gifted students are very often a misunderstood and oft overlooked sub-population of schools and advocating for them is a cause very close to my heart.

On the other hand, I dislike hearing from the students, like when one student described how she found out last summer that the man she thought was her father really wasn't. Or I hate it when the students describe how a relative was gunned down right in front of them. I hate being the strict disciplinarian when the students act out and interrupt my lessons. While I get an extra stipend for the coordinatorship, it is not enough for the amount of time and energy in addition to my regular teaching that I put in in order to advocate for this group. And the current trend in public opinion toward teachers, especially those of us in public education, is very dispiriting.

Life overwhelms me.

On one hand, I am learning to be me again after so many years of surrendering myself to my two former partners. I'm not sure who I am and what I want or need from people, especially from a husband, or even from myself.

On the other hand, I am enjoying what I am discovering about myself even if it is painful. I am learning to let go of the past. I am discovering I am stronger than I believed myself to be. Had I known my ex would leave me and with all he left me with, would I have believed I would survive? Probably not. But, I have and I am. And I will. And I am the only one who can make the journey for me.

The thought of a roommate overwhelms me.

On one hand, it would be nice to have someone other than my dog and cat to talk to. It would be nice to go out with a friend who lives closer than 25 miles away, to just go to Starbucks for a cup of coffee. It would be nice to have someone help me ease my way back into the gay community. It would be nice having a little extra money coming in to add to my new budget. It would be nice knowing someone is in the house if I needed assistance.

On the other hand, it is nice having my house to myself where I can listen to the music I want when I want at the volume I want. I don't have to worry if my dog barks at 6:30 in the morning when I leave for work or take out the trash at 7:30 at night. I just turned my guest room into a meditation room and don't want to have wasted the time and money for nothing. And knowing that I have twice fallen for the wrong man just because he was convenient makes me a bit nervous.

The thought of a relationship overwhelms me.

On one hand, it would be nice to lean back against his chest, sip some wine while watching a DVD together while sitting on the sofa. It would be nice to walk hand in hand on a beach. It would be nice to know he would be there if I needed help. It would be nice knowing I am loved.

On the other hand, it can be a pain having someone underfoot all the time. It can be emotionally taxing trying to negotiate household chores, decorating and sex. I'm tired of compromising. I've compromised myself too much for far too long. I refuse to be taken for granted, AGAIN.

The thought of dating overwhelms me.

On one hand, the idea of meeting new people intrigues me. I like people. I enjoy learning their stories, their histories. I could always use new friends.

On the other hand, I have great fears of dating. I am extremely guarded right now, I don't trust men easily. I hate trying to figure out what he is trying to tell me with those secret coded messages he sends. Grow a pair, cut the crap and just effing tell me you want to get to know me better! With everything else I am trying to sort out and take care of, do I even have the time and energy to get to know another man while getting reacquainted with myself? And knowing that I have twice fallen for the wrong man just because he was pleasant and said the right things at the right time makes me very fearful.

Sometimes I want to throw both hands up and just scream.

And sometimes I just fold both hands together, take a deep breath and try to let it all go.


  1. Jeff, if you think of all the things that you feel overwhelmed with, turn them into positives. Such as, I'm thankful for the two pets who respect me and love me. I'm thankful for the home that keeps me warm and dry. I'm thankful for the job I have, I'm fortunate not to be among the unemployed. I'm thankful for the peace and solitude my home offers after a difficult day of work and traffic on the road. I'm proud of my accomplishments and I know one day I will have that someone very special in my life to take away the loneliness I sometimes feel. Till then, I'll walk the beach alone, listening to the gulls, feeling the breeze on my face, inhaling the salty air. Till then, I'll be patient and love the life I have.

    1. Nancy, I sincerely appreciate your positive outlook and the time you took to post it here. I do think of all the situations above in a positive way. Yet, even with all of them, and the outside difficulties and stresses, especially around work, that I cannot change, it does become difficult to remain positive 24/7/365. As many different facets of my life are transforming, it is the transformation itself that can also be overwhelming. I do see myself transforming into a more positive person as I plant my feet firmly back on the ground to walk this new path.

      Thank you again for your comment!

  2. Jeff, I'm so grateful for your heartfelt, and always so beautifully written honesty. Your words seems to convey what most of us, on some level, feel and experience. Most of us, "on the other hand," just don't take the time to think about, and deeply experience life, recognizing all the ways we play out a sort of never ending tug-of-war within. Thank you for normalizing the human experience, as it brings comfort to know that we are all on this journey together.

    1. Evie, It is always good to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time to reply. I appreciate your comment and support and if my words along my journey are helping others, I am happy.