Tag Archives: change

Alone, Not Lonely

Consistent effort toward a goal is more reliable than a whimsical wish. (1)I have another dissertation for you. It’s one that I need to get out of my brain so that I can move forward. This subject has been tugging at me for a few months, and because it won’t leave me alone, I know I need to write about it. Lucky you, you get to read it. Or click out of this post and not read it – the choice is yours. The choice is always, always yours. Right?

So here goes.

I spend a lot of time alone these days. I think that for many, this way of life would be a problem. I will say that I definitely do not enjoy being “cooped up” and away from the world, but I do enjoy solitude a great deal. I tend to protect that solitude, as well, meaning that I can be pretty selective about who I let into my space. For me, it’s important to be able to settle down and just be quiet for a little bit. These moments of solitude bring a sense of calmness and clarity, and I remember envying those who had these moments when I was so wrapped up in a go-go-go lifestyle. I was right to envy. This has been very good for me.

There is something else, though, and this is what I need to tell you. I realized something in these last six months that I’ve been out of the go-go-go: Alone does not necessarily mean lonely. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but it’s a very important realization for me.

Here’s where it gets super real (turn away, if you must).

So, as a regular reader or personal friend would know, I was married once before. The man that I am married to now is quite different from my first husband, and our relationship is of a completely different nature. It’s so dramatically different that I have sometimes wondered what, in heaven’s name, shifted so forcefully inside of me to allow such a relationship. I’ll tell you what shifted; it was my perception. It was the way that I looked at life, the way that I saw myself, and the way that I wanted the world to see me – and my marriage.

I lied a lot back then. I lied to myself, mainly, but I lied day after day to friends and family and strangers and the Internet, trying so desperately to convince myself and everyone else that every single thing was perfect. It wasn’t. The untruths weren’t the trivial white lies that most folks are good with, they were bigger than that – they were whole misrepresentations by way of skimming right over the terrible truths in order to only show the good and happy moments to the world.

I clung to the bright moments and brushed the bad ones under the rug as best I could, but eventually, that rug got awful lumpy. There came a point when I couldn’t lie to myself anymore, and that meant I had to tell everyone else the truth, too. I knew I hadn’t failed, but I truly felt like a fraud when it all came to light. After you’ve been telling yourself and the world that you have the perfect marriage for 18 years, what do you think the reaction will be when you let down the façade and say, “Just kidding”?

For much of the marriage, I was lonely. I was dreadfully lonely. There I was, surrounded by my little family, complete with two kids, dogs, a cute little house down the street from my parents, a rental property, a 401k, and a job I loved. We had dinner with my family every Sunday, we went out with friends, we took fun vacations. It was everything I thought you were supposed to have in order to be happy.

But I wasn’t. My then-husband and I fought a lot, and we fought fiercely. Our arguments were always about the same thing, and they always ended the same way. Even when we weren’t fighting over this one particular issue, it was always there between us, and it shaped our relationship very distinctly from the beginning.

I’m an optimistic gal. I see things in a way that most folks don’t. For many years, I forgave easily and tolerated irrational and seriously inappropriate behavior well – and not just from my then-husband. From everyone. I think that what I had done was build a wall around my heart, if you’ll allow me to be dramatic here in this space. Everyday, I was protecting myself, my heart, from harm. And that’s a damn lonely place to be.

After one particularly rough argument, I remember lying in bed and staring at the wall thinking one word over and over: Hopeless. I don’t even remember what that feels like now, to be honest. I haven’t felt hopeless or lonely since the day we separated, and I think that says a lot about what really makes us feel lonely in life.

First and foremost, I believe that we are responsible for our circumstances. If you’re unhappy, choose again. If something has brought you to your knees, stand up. When I hear folks say that they don’t “have a choice” in a matter, I find it so upsetting. Yes, you do have a choice – you just aren’t comfortable with what you believe a different decision may bring. Maybe you’re afraid. Heck, I sure was. Terrified, really.

Remember in the beginning up there when I said the choice is always, always yours? I believe that with all of my heart. I made the choice to stay in that relationship because I thought it was the right thing to do for several really big reasons, though time and time again I was shown otherwise. Because of my choice and the circumstances that came with it, I felt lonely and hopeless. Only when I let go and was willing to be alone did I see hope. Only when I embraced the truth did that heavy blanket of loneliness lift.

God’s Honest Truth

I’ve been waking up early every day this year to write. Okay, not every day. But a LOT of days, in my defense. Stop being so judgy. Sheesh.

Anyway, I’ve been waking up early to write, and I’ve been taking workshops and classes and reading my heart out because I am committed to Baby Love. I don’t want to write a mediocre novel; I want to write something worthy of print, you guys. I’m not trying to churn something out just so I can say to the world (and myself), “Look y’all! I wrote a BOOK!” Nope, nope, nope, I want to write something that people want to read, and then after they read it they think, Wow, let me see what else Natalie Novak has written that I can consume. Delicious! I’m on a mission.

God’s Honest Truth: I already wrote Baby Love. I wrote it in a creative writing class in college a whole bunch of years ago, but then it was just a paper for class – which I aced, by the way and of course. Now, Baby Love is a novel in the making, and I’m gonna let you in on a little secret about the way I told the story back then. There was some truth to it. There was a lot of truth to it, actually.

But now, as I am re-writing it in novel form, I have taken ginormous liberties, allowing the story to become a pure work of fiction. Very little truth is left on the page anymore, although as I am developing characters, I am finding that everyone I write about is somehow based on multiple people I already know. I recognize myself in some (a lot) of the characters, but I also recognize my sister, my high school best friend, my daughters, my ex-boyfriends. None of the characters in Baby Love, however, are based solely on any one person I know. There is a little bit of a whole bunch of folks all wrapped into every one. It is so strange to see it all coming together and to know that I’ve created these individuals who have such distinct identities. I feel attached to them, even though they aren’t living, breathing, flesh-and-blood people. I hope you do, too, when you read this book.

I’m not sure how to translate this post into something meaningful. I guess I just wanted to tell you.

I think a little part of me is afraid of what people will think (I’m so laughing at myself right now – “a little part of me is afraid.” Hello, understatement of the century). I’m finding that it takes a lot of courage to be a writer. I thought it would be so easy, doing what I love. But the truth is, writing feels far too close to a confession, or at the very least an indicator of the true depth of your creativity. Hey, we all want to be intelligent. Most folks think they’re pretty smart, wouldn’t you say? But believing that you also have enough creativity in your soul to be entertaining for more than 500 words is either really super brave or really ridiculously silly.

We’ll soon find out.

Cry Baby

I’m not really that into crying. It’s kind of a problem, really, and one that I should probably address at some point. But the whole act is just…. it’s just yucky, you guys. It makes me feel terrible on the inside, and it sure doesn’t do much for the exterior, either. The puffy eyes, streaky make-up, red and runny nose, these are all of the physical discomforts that come from what many call “a release.”

But for me, crying doesn’t solve anything, and it sure doesn’t make me feel better. What you see on the outside is pretty much how I feel on the inside when I succumb to a crying jag – MESSY. My heart hurts, my head aches, and I feel nauseous almost immediately. Crying is not good for me. I always regret it.

I’m not a normal girl. I know.

This has been a tough year. It was supposed to be the best year of my life – and in many ways it was – but my career had taken on a life of its own, and not one in which I felt comfortable or even welcome. I really came to understand that I needed to make a big change around mid-summer, when I couldn’t quit crying. At one point, I actually thought I had some terrible disease that required attention, so I went to the doctor.

Oh, be certain: I was afflicted. After a very long visit and many, many tests, my kind-hearted and appropriately thorough physician prescribed Xanax and a book about dealing with anxiety.

I refused a regular regime of Prozac. “No thank you!” I exclaimed indignantly. “You don’t know me at ALL,” I thought to myself. We settled on the as-needed Xanax and a regular discussion about “how I felt.”

He explained that because I had continuously run at such a high level of adrenaline for so many years (what’s a vacation?), I had exhausted my adrenal glands – and they were now completely out of whack. The sudden and extreme crying spells were actually anxiety attacks, and they were my confused and exhausted body’s way of begging me to listen, begging me to slow down.

I was embarrassed. For a while, I was in denial. I carried around the little pills but knew I would never need them. I read the prescribed book and laughed and laughed over how melodramatic people can be. And then I had a full-blown panic attack on Saturday morning at work, ahead of a day when I needed to have my head on straight.

I could feel it coming on, the same way it had so suddenly and inexplicably one day when I was simply cooking dinner in my own kitchen. My heart was racing, my head became very, very hot, and soon I knew that I would lose my breath and those terrible, uncontrollable sobs would follow. That had never happened to me in the workplace before, and it scared the shit out of me. “This cannot happen, this cannot happen, this cannot happen,” I started saying to myself. But it was happening. I rushed to the bathroom as quickly yet casually as I could, and I splashed cold water on my face. Tears were starting to flow, but not sobs, and so I felt maybe it was a little bit under control. I tried to breathe through it, taking deep breaths and focusing on a memory of my husband taking my face in his hands and telling me firmly, “You got this, baby. You got this.”

I composed myself enough to look the part and returned to my work station, where I took out one of those dreaded pills. It worked, but it pissed me off that it worked. I wanted to be in total control of my emotions; I didn’t want some little white pill to regulate them.

This was an important moment, though. It was suddenly 100% clear what could no longer be ignored or delayed: I needed to make a change. I knew what the change was, but it was a big, scary change.

As soon as I realized what I had to do and that it was, without a doubt, time, I began taking steps toward it. Guess what happened.

The anxiety faded, and then it went away. In its absence flowed ideas and plans that I transcribed relentlessly in my little blue-green notebook. And now I’m here, working the plan.

In a way, I think I was in battle with myself because I was afraid. The fear was centered around not wanting to disappoint anyone. However…….

Disappointment is inevitable. They say that you cannot make everyone happy all of the time, and so I assessed who I really wanted to be happy. Of course, I want to be happy. But the happiness of my husband is equally as important, if not more so (again, a blog for another day). The happiness of my children, the happiness of our ‘granbaby,’ the happiness of our home and lives together – these people and these things are what matters.

The happiness of paying clients is important to getting paid and keeping a shiny reputation and knowing that you are doing good work, but one thing I learned through this whole experience is that paying clients are paying clients. They are not, actually, your family. And sometimes, even if you are convinced otherwise for a moment, they aren’t even your friends. It isn’t personal. It’s business. But that isn’t the kind of business I want to be in.

So, I’m charting a new course. I’m writing a new chapter. I’m in control of my destiny. This is my game. This is my show. This is my life. This is my business.

I’m in the business of encouraging focus on what matters most.
I’m in the business of changing lives.
I’m in the business of inspiring.
I’m in the business of happiness.

See you out there. xo