Fighting Back


I’ve got a lot going on in my head today.

The past week hasn’t been easy. I can try and pretend that my life is trendy, well-adjusted, and easy. But no part of it comes even close.

There are lots of blogs out there written by women my age, in similar stations of life, who pride themselves on portraying this image that I see all too often in the blogosphere of a young twenty something who has the luxury of working and writing from home while fitting in 9:00 a.m. yoga sessions and coffee dates with girlfriends and shopping at Banana Republic, while taking pictures and blogging about it all every day. And I’m always surprised (and secretly envious) of how often they vacation and get paid to travel around the country and can afford shopping at J. Crew and Whole Foods every week.

While my superficial self feels jealous of these women, my cynical and more rational self knows their lives aren’t perfect, but when shrouded in the flowery facade of materialism, self-absorption, and narcissism, it can appear that way. I’m not going to say I’ve never been guilty of this myself. However, one thing I strive for in my writing is to expose my imperfections and show that I’m not normal, perfect, or happy all of the time.

As a matter of fact, I’m a pretty big mess of a person. But I’ve accepted my mess and I’m learning how to sort through it all and give it value.

Sometimes I think my life is falling apart. Over the past week, this has been particularly true. I am having neck pain, may be due to lack of sleep and using a bad pillow. I think everyone feels at some time in their life that they’re nearing rock bottom or are already there. And it feels like hell.

Last night I was laying in bed listening to Feist’s new song Come You Never Go There with the back door open and the screen door shut to bring in the cool breeze as I cozied up against my pillow and wondered about life.

There’s a lot of hate and evil and pain in the world today. There always has been. But as I layed in bed last night well after midnight, questioning my own heart and begging God for answers, I couldn’t help but feel defeated by it all.

I can’t watch the news without wanting to punch my fist through the TV. It amazes me that while our country faces a crisis, crazy people like Rick Perry can take our country’s attention off of the real issues we should be focused on as a nation. Like helping with the deadly famine in Somalia. Or helping the homeless and jobless in our own country by feeding them and sharing our provisions. Yet we continue to give the tea party more news coverage as morons like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry talk about why they think global warming is a hoax or why Obama is an evil Kenyan socialist who wants to take your guns and money.

Everything going on in the world and in our country, coupled with what’s going on in my personal life, has done a good job of knocking the wind right out of me.

But even though it feels I’m hanging onto the cliff with raw, bare hands, I’m relentless in not letting go or giving up the struggle.

I recently e-mailed a great mentor of mine for advice. In their e-mail response to me, they wrote:

“The only way to keep your sanity is to ignore this stuff. They only way to keep your self respect is to fight back like hell. An older friend of mine, who grew up in the tough Ohio labor halls in the 1930s, once told me, “J, they’re going to pound us down in the end, but what we’ve got to do is to keep our backbones straight, like stakes anchored in the ground and spit in their eyes all the way. Of course, there’s a psychic and physical cost to fighting. I’ve fought a lot over the years and don’t think it was time wasted. You’re not alone.”

I’ve been reading this over and over a lot in the past few days. The context is different, of course. But what I’ve taken away from it is that I can’t ever stop fighting back. When life pummels me to the ground, I have to get back up. I have no choice, it’s in my blood to do so.

The end goal or prize isn’t to be problem free or perfect. Nor is it to appear that way. There are plenty of people who live life like that and are never truly happy, despite what their blog says or what their facebook status would indicate.

Instead, the goal for me is to stand up and swing back with everything I have, knowing that I won’t always win, but if I fight hard enough, sometimes I will.

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