Have you ever had one of those days where you think “This is it. This is the day I’m gonna snap.”?
So…this happened. And I had to take a picture of it. I wanted to record the moment because I knew without a doubt that it was a critical decision point on my path to become an unshakable woman of dignity and grace. A test of my strength and determination to not let anything sway me from my “everything is just fine” platform of pseudo-sanity. Everything is fine. Everything is fine Say it again and mean it…everything is fine.
This picture captures the remnants of a day’s sanity…the shards of a Ball jar that once contained the most delicious homemade pickles I’ve ever tasted, the remains of a brand new bottle of Lea & Perrins and the sad little poorly engineered miscellaneous parts of the refrigerator door shelf that once held these bottles safely suspended above my kitchen floor. On any given day this little mishap would be annoying, maybe even frustrating. On the day this picture was taken, however, this little mishap was damn near a therapy session…maybe two. Because on the “day of the pickles,” I was ready to throw in the towel and just let my crazy flow unfiltered and unfettered.
The day had started off pretty well. It was a Saturday and I love Saturdays. The weather forecasts had called for “soaking rain” throughout the morning and the skies were opaque with pregnant clouds, but the rain held off and the unusually warm December weather continued that Saturday morning. So I got to take a morning walk with my pup and I love my pup and I love to take morning walks with her. And I was cheerful and all “praise God” because that’s so easy to do when you’re feeling groovy. It was a wonderful two hours…truly. I loved those two hours.
Unfortunately about halfway through my walk, I remembered that my car had been making a funny sound as I drove 70 mph down the Interstate the night before and that funny sound had changed to a ominous metal crunching and grinding sound by the time I had arrived home. The change in my mood was immediate as I remembered the events from the night before. The resulting dialogue in my head was a full-pendulum mood swing in one stream of consciousness. “Oh wow! Look at that beautiful cloud. I love this song! My dog is awesome. I want chocolate. Chocolate is good. Life is good. My friends are awesome. I had such a good time last night with…… Ooooooooh f*****ck! My car! My car is breaking down again. Oh geez. Ok. I need to get home and take it into the shop while it’s still open this morning. How am I going to pay for this now? Why does my car hate me? Why does the world hate me? Life sucks. Everything sucks. That cloud is ugly.”
Later that morning, I left the shop with my car only because I promised my mechanic I’d limit my driving to one trip to the store for essentials and the trip back to the shop first thing Monday morning. And on the way home from the store with groceries I wasn’t sure I could afford, I thought about the car repairs that I definitely knew I wasn’t going to be able to afford and I started feeling sorry for myself. And then I started feeling the panic…how was my son going to get to school this week and take his driver’s test next week? And my schedule for the week? How was I supposed to finish Christmas shopping now? And as the “soaking rain” arrived just seconds before I arrived home, I acquiesced to my absolute self-pity and started to cry. Finally, after carrying everything in, I stood dripping on my kitchen floor and tried to collect myself. “Everything is fine. Unload the groceries, straighten up the house, get some things done. It’ll be ok. Everything is fine, Everything is fine. Everything is fine.” Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
I almost turned it all around. I almost calmed my panic, claimed my emotions and battled down the theatrics and wailing drama. And then I opened the door of my refrigerator. And suddenly, almost as if by malicious design, there were pickles on my floor.
I’m sure we’ve all had those moments when it almost seems as if the Universe is just messing with us personally. When so many bad things happen in a quick succession, it’s hard to believe that it’s not personal and there isn’t some malignant force just toying with our emotions simply for the opportunity to watch us melt into puddles of “f*ck it.” I was almost a puddle on the day of the pickles….I felt the “f*ck it” rising up in my throat like vomitous vile and could almost hear the adrenaline pumping in rhythm with my raging emotions. “You wanna see a mess? I’ll show you a mess!” Just as I was reaching into the fridge to add some more glass and mess to my floor, I was suddenly struck by a thought. “Really? Pickles? After everything you’ve been through, pickles are going to break you?”
Call it what you’d like. Hallucinations. Overly-third-party self talk. Split personalities. Holy spirit intervention. Delusions. Wisdom and maturity. Whatever brought that last thought into my mind got my attention. Because no…pickles are not going to break me and rain isn’t going to shake me. If I weren’t so frugal, I would have spun on my heels and walked away right then and there. Instead I picked the refrigerated groceries out of my bags and carefully waded through the puddles of glass, pickles and Worcestershire sauce to put them away. And once that bare minimum was done I took a hot shower, curled up in bed next to my pup, put on my headphones and pulled up my “In a Mood” playlist. Three hours later I woke up feeling refreshed, recharged and even a little re-joyed. Thirty minutes later the sharp sticky mess in my kitchen was (sort of) cleaned up and the whole incident seemed almost comical; impressive considering how just hours before those pickles on the floor seemed to be the proverbial straw that would break my impressive “normal range of behavior” streak.
My car is still in the shop and my checkbook should just be set on fire at this point. And I’m still struggling not to panic over the unfinished Christmas shopping and other important errands that are looming ominously on my list of responsibilities. But the struggle has been made easier by my phenomenal friends who have carted me and my son around to several doctor’s appointments, band concerts, banking errands and pharmacy runs. Just today, three separate friends from our small community called me to see if I needed a ride to my son’s out-of-town wrestling meet and two others texted me to offer rides for Christmas shopping. I guess it really is a matter of perspective. I may not have a car and I may not have a lot of money, but I have a “village” of friends who genuinely care about my family…and that’s a beautiful thing. I am an exceptionally wealthy woman in all the ways that count.
I’ve been shown, and reminded, many times that things which can’t be bought are the only things worth worrying about. Love, faith, friendship, family, hope, loyalty, kindness and health…these are the things that will sustain us when money and pride fail to maintain us. And in the end, everything else is just pickles on the floor.