Recently, Glennon Melton over at Momastery blew my mind, as she often does, with the simple suggestion to go off-script. To have the courage to say what I’m really thinking and feeling instead of: How are you? Fine, and you? Oh great! And blah be de blah blah. Her words came exactly when I needed them, as they often do, because I couldn’t stay on-script on that particular day even if my five o-clock glass of wine depended on it.
It was the day when the chaos of moving pushed me beyond the physical and emotional limit of what I could handle between coordinating with moving and car transport companies, booking rental cars and hotel rooms, negotiating with realtors and attorneys as a buyer and a seller in two separate states, managing home repairs, packing (effing packing!), attending end-of-the-year school conferences, graduations, and parties, going to doctor’s appointments, researching summer camps in two different regions of the country, and – oh yeah – keeping the boys fed and bathed and getting to and from school on time…with underwear on and shoes tied (mostly).
It was the day I reached the peak of moving insanity. The day I lost my marbles. At least I think it was. I didn’t consult any experts, but I have some evidence to support my theory, including:
- There were (and continue to be) endless and painful jolts of anxiety piercing my body day and night, especially between the hours of two and four o’clock in the morning.
- I couldn’t (and still can’t) take a deep breath.
- Pimples erupted (and continue to erupt) all over my face.
- Everything made (and continues to make) me cry.
- I re-chipped a tooth that I’ve had repaired twice already. That’s right, twice.
- Did I mention everything made (and continues to make) me cry?
Considering no one I know died that day, I think I did, in fact, achieve “hot mess” status, and I like to think Glennon would’ve been proud of me for wearing my thoughts, feelings, and uncontrollable tears on my sleeve. She might’ve appreciated my pimples, too.
The next morning, in an examination room at my dermatologist’s office – because even though the Earth should stop spinning on its axis while move my husband, two kids, and a dog from one part of the country to the other, it doesn’t, and it was time for a skin check – I read an article in a magazine about Robin Roberts, a woman as inspiring as Glennon who has survived (as has Glennon) way more than a long-distance move.
In the feature, Robin revealed this amazing nugget of advice from her mother. “Make a message from your mess,” she said. “When you’re going through a mess, find the message in it not just for yourself, but for other people.”
I want to tell you that my message is, “Don’t move,” but that’s silly (and rather unhelpful). People move all the time for all kinds of reasons, and most of the time they survive.
If this move has taught me anything (besides that I have way too much stuff), it’s that chaos is a living, breathing monster. It has unrelenting power, and it doesn’t need a good night’s sleep, a long walk, or a glass of wine (or two) at the end of the day to maintain its strength. It’s rigid, uncompromising, insidious, and unstoppable.
But people aren’t, so here’s my real message. Whatever your chaos is – a crappy job, a troubled marriage, a toxic friendship, a new baby, a chronic illness, the loss of a loved one, family separation, or a long-distance move – step to the side. Walk out the door. Close your eyes. Scream into a pillow. Stand on your head. Do something – anything – that removes you from it. Even it’s just for a few minutes, you have to take a break, because chaos doesn’t.
My time out was a pedicure, and on my drive to the salon, I passed a marina where I saw a mega-yacht named Bookends. I’m sure its inhabitants have plenty of help when they need to pack up their crap, but I also know that chaos doesn’t discriminate. We all experience it whether we own a yacht or a Ford. Driving by Bookends was the inspiration for the title of this post because Glennon’s suggestion to own my mess and Robin’s advice to make it a message gave me the motivation to dive back into the middle of it…just as soon as the polish on my toes was dry.