Life is seldom without detours
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Finding Peace in the Detours of Life

“Dammit!” I poured water down the sink drain and it leaked out the pipes into the cabinet below, again.

Four hours into my repair of what I thought was going to be an easy fix, I felt deflated. I had to stop or be late to pick up my niece and nephew from school.

The day had started out optimistically enough writing a blog post. Maybe I was becoming too cocky about the life peace I’d been experiencing though. Ever since writing Freaking Out! Again. I’ve been trusting more in the voice inside me, taking each step as it comes, and not worrying about what’s next or if it’s the “right” step.

Fixing the leak had been part of listening to that voice. Puddles had been mysteriously appearing under the sink intermittently for a few weeks. That day, though, I’d finally understood the cause and felt impelled to repair it immediately despite having plenty of “higher priority” tasks. So why wasn’t it resolved easily if I was following my inner voice?

Had it just been me, my frustrated attempt would have been disappointing, but not stressful. Because I had a housemate, however, I worried about inconveniencing her. Thus, even though I realized early on that I needed a different part that I couldn’t obtain until the next day, I kept trying to work around that reality.

Despite my worry, off to school I went, snacks and water bottles in hand. My four-year old niece ran to hide when she saw me. I thought she was playing until I caught her. Her face crinkled up as if tears might erupt momentarily. “I want mommy to pick me up. I miss her.”

After I wrangled the kids into the car, my seven-year-old nephew said, “can you just drop us off and leave?”

Already feeling defeated by my plumbing failure, my perception of being unwanted dragged me into the muck. My niece chiming in, “I want you to stay,” wasn’t enough to pull me out.

At home, the smiles came out when they saw their mom. Normally, when I pick them up from school, I help the kids with baths, dinner and reading stories before bed, but tonight I thought, I should just leave.

I stayed anyway, allowing their mom, after spending some quality bonding time with the kids, to get some work done. At the end of the night, the kids and I cuddled in bed reading books. When I left, they lavished me in hugs and kisses. The outpouring of love didn’t alleviate my funk, though. What was I doing wrong?

When I sluggishly arrived home, I discovered a Medium publication had rejected my last blog post with what I assume was intended to be a kind note. “It’s personal, but the format needs more love.”

What does that even mean? This day sucks. Why am I even bothering? In defeat, I went to bed.

When I woke at 3:30 a.m., I hugged myself and whispered, “I love you and accept you just as you are.”

I reminded myself, you know what’s wrong with the drain and you’ll fix it tomorrow.

The kids were just tired and hungry after school. It’s understandable that after their Dad dying only seven months ago that they’re especially wanting Mom. Their actions showed you that they wanted you there and that’s what matters.

Rejection is part of the writing process. It just proves you’re trying. Keep going! It’s just a bump in the road. In any case, you committed to this path for a year. I felt a little better and fell back to sleep.

Then I woke to the internet being out. Whatever improvement in my mood I had woken up to disappeared. I tried to figure out how to resolve it, but after ten minutes, I still had no idea and I was late for group therapy.  Once again, had the problem been only mine, I probably wouldn’t have worried, but I knew my housemate would need to use it so I felt guilty leaving.

At therapy, I told the group at the end, “I feel like I’m stuck in some pattern in which I find peace, but then I get stuck and sad. It feels like nothing is going right. I wonder why I’m even bothering?”

Back at home, I struggled with the Verizon troubleshooting app, and eventually, I received a message, “I’m happy I could help you solve your problem.”

“You didn’t fix my fucking problem you bastard!!!!!!!!!” I forcefully gave my middle finger to my phone screen.

The automated phone line troubleshooting went no better. “You suck Verizon!!!!!!!” I shouted more expletives and, again, shook my middle finger at the phone.

From the phone I heard the syrupy woman’s voice from a world in which no one is ever in a hurry or frustrated, “I’m sorry. I’m having trouble understanding you. I’ll forward you to someone who can help.”

Finally.

Then the automated man’s voice, also never in a hurry and always sorry for inconveniencing me came on, “the anticipated wait time is 35 to 40 minutes.” I thought my brain might explode.

My basement tenant texted, “need help?”

You know you’ve lost it when you’re so loud that the person living below you checks on you.

Eventually, I managed to schedule a technician for the next day. My housemate said she would go to the café next door. Knowing she was taken care of, I calmed down. Nothing more could be done at this point and the lack of an internet distraction would probably be good for me.

So I left for the vaccine clinic for my dog, bought the plumbing part I needed, and had the leak fixed in less than twenty minutes after I arrived home. I started to feel significantly better.

That night, I ran into a former colleague who told me, “I hope you continue with the blog. You’re so honest. You write my thoughts that I’m too afraid to say out loud. It means a lot to me.”

I went to bed feeling hopeful and woke to renewed faith in the voice leading me on.

The two days of detours and their ultimate resolutions reminded me that fixating on how I think situations “should” go rather than simply addressing their reality leads me down a stressful path. It holds true whether it’s how I perceive rejection or in how quickly I’m able to resolve a problem.

Stress around problems increases exponentially when it affects someone other than me. I feel compelled to emphasize my concern and up my efforts to fix the problem, even when there’s little I can do; as if staying patient and at peace in these moments will be perceived as if I don’t care. Yet my housemate was capable of understanding the situation and my worry and rage accomplished nothing. Each situation resolved in its time. I’m reminded in these moments that I can only find peace if I stay present in reality rather than descend into my stories of how life should be.

Sometimes the detours even lead me somewhere better than I had envisioned. Once Verizon fixed the internet, I discovered that a publication with a significantly larger following than the one that rejected my story, a publication that I would never have thought to submit to, had left a note asking me if they could publish it. I immediately said yes.

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