Crossroads: they’re part of life.
We all experience them at different points in time. They are the stuff of coming-of-age, meeting our destinies, and in many instances, confronting truths. I suppose that I could make an argument for life itself being one big crossroad event, but I’m not feeling that philosophical today.
Crossroads can be a brutal, bucket of suck. I have reached one such crossroad, and let me tell you this: any crossroad that involves being brutally honest with yourself about who you are is never going to be a fun-filled retrospective of memories. When you have to face certain realities and confront a less than optimistic truth, it is easy to bog yourself down in self-pity and sadness. You want to wallow. You should wallow. But not for long. No one wants to hear that, see that, accept that; not from themselves, and certainly not from others. We are an increasingly insensitive, isolated, narcissistic species and loads of us absolutely abhor the feeling of responsibility for someone else’s sadness. By responsibility, I don’t mean that we created it, but that we feel the need to “fix” it. We tell ourselves we’re just too busy, we have too many of our own concerns. We may even be so inclined as to actually be concerned and sad for them. We will attempt to quickly divert them with phrases and pithy responses. We pay lip service to their misery; “Cheer up! It’ll be fine.” With that in mind, you must choose your method of wallowing carefully, so as not to offend any of the dozens of easily-offended people in your immediate realm.
While my initial reaction to those who seem personally affronted by my wallowing is to say “Fuck all y’all” I know better than to do that. It is better to choose which direction you take without the bitter resentment at others’ indifference to your personal pain. Irrationality can color a situation in an unrealistic way. In my stubborn way, I am always tempted to insist, “I can do this on my own.” The truth, though? I shouldn’t.
I am a writer. Always have been, always will be. It doesn’t pay the bills, though, and hasn’t been a possibility due to other life events taking up my brain and my time. I began my adulthood working toward a career in writing but was quickly sidetracked. I faced a crossroads: continue with my education or drop out to follow a man and raise his children. I can never, ever say that I chose wrong.
Throughout that journey down that road, I often pondered returning to that life of study, if only part-time. I wanted to be something, someone. I was convinced, though, that writing wasn’t going to put food on the table and help our situation. My biggest influence in that life was my husband, and he treated my desire to write as if it was just a childish indulgence. Better to focus on something else I had always been interested in: nursing. I would get catalogs from the local university and plot my course. Invariably, though, something in life would force me to focus elsewhere. A few job losses (his), a natural disaster (flood), and the reality of raising 5 kids becoming more and more expensive. There will be time later, I would silently tell myself. You’re still young.
Later, when the children were getting older and the next crossroads loomed ahead, I made another choice: to love someone else. Thoughts of nursing school would surface, bobbing quietly in my stream of consciousness, and then eventually disappear. Life was so busy. Life demanded that I put out fires constantly. I began to write again, blogs, poetry, little story ideas. I was good. I knew it. Friends, strangers, family told me so. This was still possible.
The nursing thing, though? It was always there. I have always taken care of others in some way, from childhood to now. It’s been not so much a calling as it is a part of who I am at my core. I’m a nurturer, an empath, and apparently amongst the 1% of personality types classified as an
INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types.
How wonderful for me, right? It’s actually a pain in the ass to be this way and to be depressed. It’s probably why.
Be that as it may, nurture is what I do. Putting out fires is what I do. Combine the two, and you get a nurse. And it pays well, too.
The idea was this: go into nursing. Write in my spare time. Certain events coincided in such a way that it suddenly became possible. At 50, I was going to work in a subordinate nursing position and go to school. I was overjoyed. This, I told myself, was finally The Right Time.
Until it wasn’t.
No pity party here. I am 50. I have tried to be healthy, but my body has always had other ideas. The neck birth defect, the spleen compromise at 16, my heart deciding that it wanted to be a rock star and beat to its own, eventually dangerous rhythmn. The depression. The fucking depression!!!!
And now, this eye condition. We don’t know what it really is or how it began or if it will eventually be cured. We don’t know anything, really, except that I don’t have tears. None. I have tried everything, even watching The Notebook. On the one occasion that I cried because I had no tears, I ended up crying harder because I had no tears. (Cue Alanis.) My corneas are damaged. I can’t even get new glasses because my eyesight has degraded to a point where a new prescription is not possible. I am in pain. Discomfort. And I need to put drops into my eyes at an hourly rate. Sometimes more, if the sun and moving air get to them. I exist most days in the dimness of subdued lighting, venturing out only to do what is essential. My opthamologist has been less than helpful, and quite unavailable most of the time. We fired him. Next at bat is my PCP, and I admit, I have way more faith in her. She at least shows up for our appointments.
The point is, I can’t work in a healthcare setting without eyesight, and certainly not while being a slave to a bottle of drops. It’s not sterile, hygienic, or wise. If it corrects itself eventually, yay for me! I’m pragmatic, though, because have you met me? Nothing is ever simple. If I won the lottery, it would most likely coincide with the fucktard-in-chief deciding to raid all 50 states of their lottery coffers to pay for his goddamned Wall. I’d end up with an engraved brick somewhere along the Texas state line.
The neck has spoken, too. Because it can’t just be one, simple, mysterious eye affliction, can it? At 50, the neck has decided that Fuck this shit. It may tolerate some more shots before going kaput, but behaving as if I am not in pain when I am not, in fact, in pain is apparently baaaaad because when the pain eventually returns, it is worse. My left side is significantly weaker than my right. That means being careful. And that limits how much physical activity I can safely get away with. Bottom line? No joining Cirque De Soleil. No Wayne’s World, Bohemian Rhapsody-esque headbanging. And no nursing.
Crossroads: they suck sometimes. And the thing about dreams is that that’s all they really are. You can work hard and do everything right and sometimes, they just don’t happen. And so you wallow, and then you put drops in your eyes and it may take you three days of pecking away at this blog but you do it because guess what? You still have this.
I am a writer. No one can take THAT dream away from me. None of the roadblocks, and all of the five-gallon buckets of suck that life has dumped on me, can take this gift that I have away. If my eyes are fubared? I have a voice. There’s Braille.
Whatever it takes! Maybe all the crossroads I have found myself at were necessary to get me to this one. To the true path. I have options along the way, too.
So let’s get going, shall we? Bring a pillow for your ass – because riding with me is bumpy. Bring your sense of humor – because it will save your life. And bring pizza. And nachos. And wine. Because why fucking not?