I am in conflict hell.
I am nestled between 2 of the best pups known to man (okay, okay, known to woman… okay, sheesh, known to this woman). These beautiful creatures in my life serve as reminders that even in our deepest conflict, comfort and a quick shot of pure, unadulterated joy is only a scratch to the tum or lick to the face, away.
But this isn’t a piece about pups and comfort. This is a piece about conflict.
In my previous post I ranted about the many conflicts I am in. I decided immediately after writing that one that I needed to rid my mind of the anxious thoughts pounding the walls inside of my head by redirecting my focus to some tried and true, good ole’ fashioned, mind-numbing television. My guy and I ordered some Thai food, and selected The Umbrella Academy. After we ate, he dozed off triggering his nightly snoring ritual, as I pumped a steady IV of fantasy through my visual cortex.
But this isn’t a piece about The Umbrella Academy. This is a piece about conflict.
After hours of bored television gawking, I decided to sleep. We made our way into our bed and fell silent for the remainder of our night.
And this morning I woke up with that damn anxiety back with me. Heavy on my chest, my brain started to recognize the anxiety’s internal ruckus – the same as if one was slowly waking up to the hammering and drilling of a construction crew nearby. Great, here we go, my mind thought as I slowly climbed the rungs though my foggy sleep states…
I am often of the mindset, that the only way out is through; or rather, that the pain you feel is actually your compass… I typically learn my greatest lessons by darkness, and not by light. I softly thought about this, this morning as I begun the process of waking up. Skirting between states of sleep and the haze of consciousness, I decided to allow the anxiety I woke with, whisper it’s dooms to me.
Let’s see where this pain goes.
You’re stuck. Are you really ready to leave all this you’ve worked so hard for, behind? You’re going to lose everything. You can’t stay where you’re at. Is it really the job that’s the problem? What will make you happy? You’re never happy. What do you want? Who do you want to be? Are you happy with what you have? Are you happy with who you are? You’re going to be broke. You won’t find another job.
Good God, you’re all over the place, anxiety. At least have the common decency to torture me with only one fucking topic…
I decided it was going to continue its maddening loop over and over again, and chose to shoo away the thoughts for a bit. Here is an example of when the darkness is given too much attention, then the balance becomes distorted. I felt the sadness. I felt the loss of the fight creeping in. I felt the starting stages of depression. I needed another redirect.
I begun thinking of peace. What it feels like, what that looks like, and as I drifted in and out of consciousness I was met brief moments of release. As I intermittently thought on this peace, the weight of the earlier thoughts started becoming lighter. While they still persisted, I tried to zone in and go deeper in the peace.
Uhhh, Ash, you’re forcing it now. Let it go. LET IT GO. You don’t have to try so hard. Just sit with peace. Stop trying to grasp it so tightly. Just sit with it.
And that is when I realized. This is what I do… Like a dog with a bone, I find something that I think I want and I go all in, grasping that motherfucker with all my might. Here I was, in my bed, trying to force myself into peace. And if the damned buddha has taught me anything at all, it’s that we can’t hold anything too tightly (attachment theory, I think it’s called in the psychology world). We will suffocate that very thing we are trying so desperately to keep ahold of. Conflict is born of attachment. Suffering is born of attachment. Once we learn to let it go and let it be, find acceptance and gratitude for whatever it is and turns out to be, that is when we can be in peace.
I am only an infant in this line of thinking, so don’t look to me as the expert on this topic. But this morning, I am contemplating this concept hard. My guy said to me last night that I am causing my own suffering and that I am trapped by my “lifestyle.” He proceeded to tell me a metaphor of how my lifestyle is similar to one placing their hand through a hole of a box, and that once you grip the object inside, you cannot pull your hand out. And this is true. All that I am conflicted about is born of me trying to grip all these things tighter. Just as I did with peace in my waking state this morning, in my life, I am frantically clutching so rigidly my goals for financial stability that I can’t free my fucking hand.
Now let me clarify something at this point. I do not live a lavish lifestyle. I don’t make 6 figures, I am not rich. I drive a 2012 Honda Civic and I don’t even have bluetooth in my car. I shop at Ross Dress For Less, and I type this on a Chromebook, which for those of you that don’t know – it’s a poorman’s laptop. It just has internet capabilities. Sure, we eat out regularly, and are able to take trips, and pay off our credit card almost every month – but we aren’t rich. Yes, we make extra disposable income, and that is what I am so terrified to lose…
What I am clutching so hard is the goal to pay off my student loan debt and another small loan we took out in order to do some work to the house that we bought last year. I am RIDDLED with anxiety of paying this stuff off. And yet – as I think forward – why? We’ve already made one hell of dent in student loans that my monthly payment has actually been cut in half. And I am proud of this.
However, my conflict is in the fact that I am forced to maintain my same level of salary in order to accomplish these goals. And after previously having sat with that discomfort on why I hate this predicament so much, I learned early on that I value freedom – freedom to work in the manner I desire to work. And I can’t find that job at this pay grade… yet (hopefully).
So what did all this conflict thinking lead me to do? Well, it drove me right to my finances, of course, and just introduced me to another conflict that I can’t seem to find my way out of at the moment.
I don’t have any other job prospects lined up. Sure I have been perusing, but I haven’t found anything that I actually would wish to apply to – there isn’t anything out there yet that sounds like it would be better than what I am currently doing. After reviewing my finances, I estimated that if we pounded the pavement and put ourselves on a very strict budget, staying at my current job – We could have our debt goal paid off in 5 months. 5 months. But that’s like 3 dollar bottles of wine, keystone light, and PB&J meals, “5 months”…
That is so close, I can taste it… But… and there is always a but…
Can I hack it?
I don’t know. And I don’t know if that is even what I am supposed to be doing… I mean, it sounds doable… I can hack the cheap wine, beer and food, but the day-in, day-out grind of my actual job is a whole ‘notha issue. It’s the grind that is taking a toll on my well-being, my body, my mental state. And if I found a different job – my track record says that it’s likely I’ll just end up in the same situation.
And the loop starts again. Anxiety is back in the game…
So, here I am, trying to let peace sit with me as I pervishly grope at it, repeatedly getting my hand slapped, while taking in quick shots of puppy-licking joy – What do I do? Do I say fuck it all and stop my goal? Or do I work my ass off, compromising my other desired pursuits along the way (which I have been doing for years), knowing that in 5 months I could be in a better position? Do I stay but risk falling comfortable with new potential financial goals that could come up over these next 5 months, locking me further into this plight? Or do you take the leap and welcome the financial destruction that is likely to occur, but give all your attention to building something that might bring you greater joy?
I don’t have the answer to this yet. I am weighing the financial costs and risks to not only me, but my guy as well. I am also trying to determine if this conflict is birthed from much of the fluffy, happy, “find your purpose” bullshit social media mentality that is so prevalent today… And I don’t know. I just sit in the conflict, next to the peace and trying to sort it all out… but ever aware that my lack of action is an action unto itself…
My God, if one conflict doesn’t lead to another, I don’t know what does…
But we keep on.