As crunchy granola as I can sometimes be, it might surprise readers to know, I play dumb little puzzle games on my phone. My therapist said they might help with my anxiety and panic disorder, and you know what, they do. I play them before bed instead of laying there in the dark thinking about all the ways I could lose the people I love. I play them when Im in a place where there are strangers and my social anxiety is making me squirm. I play them when Im mad at my kids and I want to yell at them, which, maybe makes you think I check out when I should be parenting, and I would argue its better to go hide in the kitchen and play a game than it is to launch into a tirade at a seven year old.
Lately, life has reminded me a lot of a game of Candy Crush, or Scrubby Dubby or whatever. Each level you’re given a few objectives to accomplish, light up 5 lights, fill 6 jars, get 25 of this and 35 of that. And then there are the obstacles that you have to maneuver around while simultaneously reaching the goals. And then there is the limit on how many moves, and how many lives you get before you have to stop for a bit, then go back at it, until you get to the next level, which will of course be slightly harder, and you do it all again. Sometimes there is a particularly hard level, what gamers would call a Boss Fight, that happens in life too! What a metaphor!
So, life right now resembles a level 110 of Candy Crush. A lot of obstacles, not a lot of moves, and tons of goals to reach. I am still waiting to hear if my appeal for more tuition assistance for my girls school will go through. Im still searching for a summer camp I can work at that my kids can also attend, so I can earn money while theyre with me, so I can pay school tuition and not also have to pay for additional childcare. Im working 5 hours a week at their school, 3 hours a week with another kid, and anywhere from 4-15 hours a week cleaning houses, and throw in about 15 hours a month of freelance writing and editing.Im also now a student in an online Waldorf teacher certification program, so that maybe someday I will be able to get a job working full time at the schools my kids go to.
So Im doing all that stuff, meanwhile parenting two girls for the bulk of the weekdays, keeping up on house and bills, and doing a couch to 5k. See? Just like Candy Crush.
But just like Candy Crush, though I go through endless cycles of failing the level, trying different approaches to solve the puzzle, running out of moves and lives and having to wait an hour ( or days, or weeks) to replenish my stores, I know the puzzle is solveable. I know that I felt like the level before this one was too hard, but I eventually beat it and I will beat this one too. I just need that magic combo of timing, random happenstance, skill, patience, and observance. Plus the occasional “boost” that I get from friends, family, and other helpful folks that give me advantages like a few extra moves or a magic gummi fish that erases an obstacle.
This tenacity and assuredness towards the current obstacles definitely comes from knowing the obstacles Ive crushed in the recent past. Since my last blog, oh…. more than a year ago, life has changed in so many very important ways. Sure, on the surface, everything looks basically the same. I take care of my kids, I do stuff, weekends are fun,… blah blah blah. But the meat and bones, they are fortified. I made huge major changes in 2015 and 2016. Lasting, epic changes.
Last June, I had finally totally weaned the little one, and as soon as I had, I made an appointment to see my doctor and address my anxiety and depression. A few trials and errors later, I have medication that allows me to be a better parent and wife and self. Ive stopped compulsively picking my skin, Ive curbed my emotional eating patterns. I havent had a panic attack in 6 months. I havent had a really bad one in over a year.
Once I got out from under the funky blanket of my anxiety with meds and therapy ( which Im still doing) I was able to tackle my next Boss fight. My weight. Now, I accept myself at any size. But I was not healthy and thats not good. So I got my shit together and over the course of a couple of months, lost just shy of 50 pounds. By BMI standards Im still overweight, but fuck the BMI, its bullshit. I do now have a waist in the “safe zone” of under 35 inches. Im no longer snoring, my digestion is lots better, I feel amazing, I like what I see in the mirror, shopping is fun again, and this year Im getting a bikini.
So if in one year I can get a grip on my anxiety, lose 5o pounds, and go back to school, all while working and parenting, yeah, I got this level of the candy crush game of life. It might take me a few dozen tries to solve the current puzzle, but I will, and then I’ll be ready for the next one too.