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I Don't Think You're Ready for this Jelly

What was the last thing that sent you flying down country backroads at 12:30 am on a Thursday morning?

Mine was totally normal…you totally would have freaked out like I did if you experienced my “last straw.” You’ll never guess what it was…so I’ll just tell you. It was jelly.

Were you expecting that? Yeah, me either. But sure as shit, I was starving after an extremely long day at work. I had gotten home around 9:30 or so, and before I knew it, the clock was reading 11:30 and I was beyond hangry. But, I was so tired that getting up to get food really didn’t seem worth it to me. I had made the responsible decision to not go to Taco Bell. I was fully convinced, but I had told myself that I was going to save money and try to eat healthier, so I decided to check and see what my parents had in their fridge instead. And that’s when it happened. I opened the fridge door, and PLOP! The serving tray of jelly that we had used the night before hit the ground, and set all hell loose in my mind.

I immediately started cussing as I picked up the tray and chucked it across the room into the sink. I turned around and all I could focus on was the mixture of three different types of jelly smashed together between condiments on the door, drawers in the fridge, and all across the floor of the kitchen. I was so mad that I was pathetically half-crying half-whining and bitching to myself as I cleaned up my mess. I just started throwing bottles of spicy mustard, pickle relish and maraschino cherries toward the sink because I wasn’t about to sit there and wipe down every bottle in the frickin’ fridge. When I was finally finished, I was even more exhausted, hungry, and done.

Maybe I was done because I was on my hands and knees at midnight cleaning up stupid jelly instead of eating dinner. Or maybe it was because I was beyond frustrated that I’m still not moved back in to my own house…or it could have been because they found yet another leak at my house (meaning more renovations and more time without a place of my own). It definitely could have been because of my long work days followed by a long commute home, or it’s possible it was because of my constant feeling of being at war with myself lately…feeling like I’m not moving forward. Or  backwards. Or at all. It possibly could be because I feel like I have little to no consistency in my life right now. But, we’ll just sum all of those up with: jelly. It works…all these different flavors signifying all of these things that I’m complaining about that make my life sticky…they all combine and leave me feeling like I’ve hit the floor and need cleaning up.

So, what’s your jelly? What’s your clean-up method? I took to one that I haven’t in quite a while. My parents were sleeping and I needed to get out of the house so I didn’t wake them up with the freak out I was about to endure. So, I tossed my exhaustion, hunger, and dish rag over my shoulder, grabbed my keys, and hit the road. I didn’t even care what time it was, and didn’t care that I had no idea where I was about to drive to. I was tired of looking at the same things that I see every day as a drive through on my way to and from work. I hadn’t gone on back roads in a long time, so I just started to drive.

I started driving down a road that my ex and I drove down a lot. I felt claustrophobic as I drove down it…and I felt a huge pain that filled my whole body. I felt so sad — sadder than I had felt in a long time. Memories started to flood in and were taking over in my mind. There’s a feeling of helplessness I experience when this happens because I feel like I’ve made solid progress, but when my tires hit a certain road all of that headway suddenly gets thrown out the window. Then I question myself because I don’t understand how I could be so sad about a person that did what he did to me. I feel like I should know better. I don’t blame myself for what happened and never will, but I do experience moments of sadness and anger that are easily translated in to weakness at the time I’m feeling them. I don’t miss him. I miss our friends more than I’ll ever miss him. “Him” doesn’t exist…never did. When people asked how I was “so okay” during the early stages of the separation, I simply answered, “You can’t mourn the loss of someone who never existed.” I wasn’t okay, but I was okay with not being with a person who saw no wrong in his actions.

When I’m out of the haze (or in my therapist’s chair) I know that it doesn’t mean I’m weak, it means I’m human. But, being human also means that we’ll easily flip to a negative thought about ourselves before we even think about uplifting ourselves first. So when I say I feel at war with myself, I mean it. These moments happen frequently, and randomly, but this time was more intense and I immediately felt like I had to escape it. I’ve learned that while these flashbacks and thoughts rush in, they can’t and shouldn’t be avoided. Instead of running from these experiences and memories, I choose to drive (speed) through them. Avoiding them only puts off the inevitable. I know that I’ll eventually feel them, whether they build up and consume my life, or if I face them and conquer them right away. Neither is an easy path, but I force myself to always choose one. Every day I face or flee a memory or obstacle. If I choose to flee, I know it doesn’t mean it’s forgotten. I know it’ll circle back around and I’ll confront it the day I know I’m ready to.

For the past couple of months I’ve felt a little off kilter. I went through an extremely high time after (what would have been) the one year anniversary of my wedding, all the way through when I launched Dearly Divorced. I slowly started to feel that high trickle out of my system, and now I’m caught between feeling content and being angry…a lot. These feelings seem all too familiar to me. But as I write this, I’m realizing that this is just the circle of life. Everyone experiences these highs and lows. That’s something that people are really quick to forget — everyone is going through their own roller coaster of highs and lows. Mine aren’t worse than my neighbors or a stranger’s on the East coast. Everyone has their own setback…whether it’s big or small, temporary or permanent, but we could all use a little perspective…and let’s face it, hearing about other people’s shit makes you feel better. It’s like, okay, thank God I’m not the only one going through this right now, or thank God that’s not me and you feel a little better about your life. Anyway, this low that I’m in is kind of freaking me out…I’ve felt extremely grounded for the past year and a half, but right now I feel like a stranger to myself. I know it’s not permanent, but it’s a bit of a shock to have to adjust to life in a new state of mind.

In this low I feel trapped. I feel like I need to get out and explore. I feel like I need to shop. I feel like I need to travel. I feel like I need to go to therapy every week instead of every two. I feel like I need to get in the car and just drive. I feel like I need spontaneity. I feel like I need my own space. I feel like I need myself back.

When I lived in Columbia and was test driving vehicles, my car salesman put me in a car that had sport mode. Me being me, I asked, “Hey wtf is this ’S’ on here?” His reply, “Sport.” Me, “Okay…when would I ever use that?” Him, “Whenever you’re really pissed off…” Damn, he’s good. I went ahead and dropped GiGi into sport mode on my midnight cruise the night of my jelly incident. Once I hit that back road, I left all of my anxieties and burdens in drive and let sport mode take control. As I was driving, I remembered my salesman’s words about being pissed, but it was weird because I felt the opposite. I knew I was pissed and was having a shit night, but when I was in sport, I felt free. Even though I was driving down stupid memory lane, I felt like I was zipping through it, and that I’d get through it, and I’d be okay. It put things in perspective for me, and gave me and idea for getting myself through all my triggers in life…I just have to imagine I’m in sport mode! Acknowledge the moment, buckle up, zip through it, be pissed but realize you’re free, and get out on the other side with a little less gas, but a lot more peace of mind. P.S. I know my mom is going to be reading this, so yes, mom, I was wearing my seat belt, and no I wasn’t going too fast. (And neither should you, friends! Don’t be reckless!)

Okay, so I drove for a long time. I was tired and hungry as hell, but I kept driving. I drove in silence, I drove with music blaring, and I drove and sang. I rolled my windows down before I hit gravel roads, and I used my sunroof for the first time so I could soak up a little moonlight. Even though it was pitch black, I was happy because I knew I was somewhere different, and it felt fun and adventurous. I had to turn around a couple of times because I hit a dead end or if the road looked too scary to venture down. (Woah, another life analogy!) Again, it was dark so I really didn’t know where I was, and I seriously had no idea where I was going, but I was okay with it. I didn’t feel nervous at the time, but when I finally reached a spot that I recognized 100%, I felt relieved. REALLY relieved. I felt more than just my hidden anxiety from my location escape. I felt lighter! I think if we get to somewhere (mentally or physically) that feels comfortable or familiar to us, we can experience a new, satisfying, temporary form of relief in our lives. We have to do whatever we can to get us through these moments. Until I’m able to actually travel and explore, I need to figure out ways that I can cleanse myself in my everyday life. Fleeing won’t always be an option, so I’m really dedicated (#NoPassionNoDrive) to teach myself how to find comfort in the here and now, because that’s just life.

I was in the middle of a gravel road, knew exactly where I was, and also knew that I was ready to go home afterward. I put GiGi in park, turned the music off, laid my seat back a little, and stared at the sky through my sun roof. It was silent, beautiful, sad, a little pathetic, and needed. Yes, it felt lonely, but I also felt like I was with myself again, and that overcame that feeling of loneliness and took precedence. I’m going through a period of learning how I function in a new life. Things are different — I’m different. I am who I used to be, but I’m finding that I change every day. I don’t think that makes me a different person, I think it means that I’m growing. I have to remember to leave space for this growth, and not let life consume me whole. Earlier I said that we all have highs and lows. It has been over a year now since he left me, and I go back and forth with feeling like that it’s been a long time to feeling like it just happened last week. I’m a year out, but I’m only a few months in on this version of my life. There’s no adrenaline from finding out my husband is texting older women, cheating on me, marrying then leaving me, trying to get money out of me, or lying to everyone around us. It has all died down. It happened, and life is moving on. People still ask about it, but it’s not as frequent. I still get constant support from others (thank you, all!) but there’s not a fire that’s fueling it anymore. I lived the past year in sport mode. This year I’m just in drive and learning to cruise at a normal pace. I’ll stay in this lane till the next jelly tray hits the ground, and I’m back in sport.

As we fly through life, no matter what gear you’re in, choose the healthiest options for yourself. The healthiest won’t always be the easiest, but in the grand scheme of things, the healthiest are the safest. Life is hard no matter what. I’m not approaching this year assuming that I’ll always be happy, and that if I choose healthy options nothing bad will ever happen to me, but I’m stating that I know for a fact: making hard, healthy choices will create ease in your life, whether the results are immediate or slightly delayed. Hopefully those choices will put you on a path toward stability and happiness. Although we cannot control what happens, we can control the outcome of how we handle what happens. You are your own tool, lifeline, enemy, friend, and teacher. Men suck, adulting is hard, God is good, and sport mode exists.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Lalah Delia: Remembering who you are is how you neutralize triggers. I’m learning every day. Trying to figure out who you are, let alone remembering who you are is easier said than done. If you get confused or lost en route, back track and see what you’ve overcome over time. You’ll quickly start to realize who you’ve become as you start to own your victories. Everybody go find a gravel road, open your sunroof, breathe, think about who you are or want to be, cry a little, buckle up, and go home. You’ll figure it out one backroad at a time.