6 Months ago I had an epiphany.
For most people this is an event thought upon with electricity, revelation, fireworks and general excitement. I always pictured myself in my “Aha” moment (to quote Oprah), as a cartoon character leaping two feet above the ground, light bulb zinging above my head, arms and legs stretched out in the air, bursting with enthusiasm. Then I remember being forced to do high jump in school and realized there really is nothing in this world that can get me two feet off the ground without leaving a 172 cm bruise along the length of my body. So no, definitely no leaps into space for this Betty Boop. I like my feet planted firmly on the ground. Or resting on the shoulders of a man. I’m a simple girl really.
This is why I’ve decided not to use the word epiphany. The word I’m going to use is a word many people around me have become accustomed to by now. What I experienced was a typical Carly meltdown. THAT is exactly how it felt. Like a thick molten candle slowly cascading down into a puddle of mushy wax on the floor. The floor, may I remind you, where my two feet are usually daintily perched, waiting to stride forward on my command and take over the world. To the general population who are not within my weird radius, the word meltdown could sound like deliciously melancholy term, maybe even a tad dramatic. Me? Dramatic? Pfft! Never.
Well you’d be wrong. To me, meltdown seems a perfect way to describe the calm feeling of surrender... similar to slipping into a hot bath after a long, long day. I need to say “long” twice to emphasize the exhaustion that was the prelude to said meltdown.
The only way to really paint the picture for you is to ask you to imagine you are watching one of those NatGeo specials where the Wildebeest is crossing a river full of crocodiles. As a spectator to this frustrating and somewhat tiresome journey you will now find yourselves in the very position that many of my family members and friends had found themselves in not all too long ago. Screaming and shouting (in the nicest way) at the TV like an invalid, trying to tell this silly mammal to get the hell outta there and climb up the bank to safety.
“Why are you picking the WORST, MUDDIEST, SLIPPERIEST slope to escape from this obvious disaster?”
“What is wrong with you?”
“Do you want to die Wildebeest? If you don’t do something soon, I may just switch teams and start routing for the crocodile.”
I didn’t want to hear those kinds of questions before I could reach a suitable and satisfying answer. In my mind I (the wildebeest), would turn around and in a very proper English accent (don’t ask me why) say: “Oh will you all just fuck off, I’m on it.” I wanted answers as badly as the next dude and I was doing my damndest to find them. Frantically I would look around on a daily basis, waiting for them to fall from the sky.
THIS is why you’ve been suffering. THIS is why your world is a gutter grey. THIS is why your heart is always empty and your head is about to explode.
I wanted answers to rush over me and infiltrate my pores like an army marching into battle fully equipped with certainty and facts. Then I’d do it. Then I’d sashay over to my podium and tell everyone (picture a president giving a press release) just what, why, when and how. Why I was in a job that no longer injected me with adrenalin every day. Why I hated getting up in the morning. Why I was in a relationship that parasitically sucked my bank account, heart and abundant contentment reserves dry. Why I allowed people to weigh me down and make me feel like I was treading through water. Why I was silly enough to think I’d live anything close to a happy and fulfilling life. Why, sometimes I’d get in my car and just want to keep driving nowhere.
If only I had the answers.
The thing about answers is that they usually present themselves in the most understated and curious of ways. Ever been driving and realized. “Oh crumbs! That’s where my red lipstick is!” probably not, purely because no one says crumbs anymore. But it’s the classic ketchup in the fridge situation isn’t it? Staring at you right in the face the whole time, if you’d just stop scanning the shelves like a mad woman and let IT find YOU. Sometimes just getting the question right unveils the answer.
Dishes. That’s all it took. I came home from a weekend away to a sink full of dishes covered in rancid and festering food. I sat down uncharacteristically calm and asked myself:
“If he can’t even scrape food off a dish for you, what CAN he do?”
The wax had begun to melt and I begun to unravel... finally allowing the questions in, that I had been too terrified to ask.
“What if you could live the life you actually wanted?”
“What if you could do something you really loved again? What if the fire in you wasn’t done yet?”
“What if one day, someone loved you in just the way you needed? Holding your hand beside you, instead of being dragged along a path they don’t want to be on, behind you?”
“What if you screw up, but it all works out anyway?”
It’s these questions that got me to the right temperature, where I could melt right down to the floor and just give in. Open my eyes and really see. Let go of any shred of control I thought I had. And get my Wildebeest ass onto that bank to find the first open martini bar in the Serengeti.
A little wobbly I stand on a new earth where everything is possible and there are no guarantees. I have shed the weight of a job, a relationship and an attitude that didn’t quite fit right anymore, digging into my skin like the waistband of a size 34 jeans (if I could get it above my kneecaps). I still don’t have all the answers and yes this scares the shit out of me. But finally, I’ve learnt to let myself ask myself the right questions.