Life Writing

I Haven’t Relaxed In Two Years

16th December 2020

Maybe longer.

Stick with me.

You sit down. Maybe in the morning before anyone else is up. You’ve heard some sort of magic happens in the morning.

You haven’t found the magic

Maybe there’s a journal because you’ve heard that journals are good for something, too. You put a pen to the lined paper. Because you need lines. But there’s no ink in the pen. You have a million pens in the house, but none of them work.

You find a crayon. It’s yellow. You cry a little.

You write some words and cry some more. Whose idea was this journalling thing?

They say to use a journal to write through anxiety. Fine. I’m trying.

But I have discovered that writing out my anxieties makes me more anxious. Therefore, for me, journaling is bullshit.

Letters to people work, but there’s nowhere to send them.

I type to people at four in the morning. I know the kind of people who are awake at four in the morning. Those are my kind of people. Hi.

And because I’m awake at four in the morning, I’m not a morning person, so maybe that’s why morning journaling doesn’t work.

And the kid has 7 minutes and thirty-five seconds before she’s late for school, so there’s that too. Teeth, hair, sparkly boots, and some fart jokes. Out the door.

Into the kitchen with the giant desktop. Coffee far away and stuck to the table. Because you can’t use coasters. You contemplate one of those loopy, complicated straws.

The quiet is more like an absence of noise. The kid took all the fun with her. The dishwasher chugs. There’s that. You put on an audiobook or a podcast for conversation or something. The old desktop implodes. You might cry.

You could write, but writing is scary. Coffee first. Husband comes to unscrew the coffee stuck to the table. Reminds you of the official stuff you have to do. Tomorrow.

You might check yourself in the only mirror your face can reach. The gray streaks in your hair are impressive, slightly scary, and not designer. Screw it, old is a privilege. There’s some weight on you.

Saying that, maybe this stress comes from turning forty in three months, and as you’ve heard, WTAF?

You binge-eat and binge-write. There’s no crying in baseball.

You know you’re not the only one stressed. The world is stressed. But you had issues before. Issues that were nearly non-issues. You put some work in. On yourself. And then this year.

Screw this year. Except for your book. Or any project that saw light. But yours is a book. More, please. The plan is to finish the first draft over Christmas. Your husband’s Christmas present is your finished draft. He’s hard to buy for.

He loves me but he says if I don’t finish this draft I have to change all my social media photos to a ferret. I hate ferrets.

You sit down to write and the phone rings. It still does that.

It’s Dad and he asks what’s up, and you actually tell him. You feel betterish. Then he texts and suggests you smile more.


OK, fine.

It’s Dad, so a Dad thing. But you know if any other man suggested a woman smile more, they’d get some things handed to them.

And this morning I practiced said smile for an official photo for an official thing. My husband took the photo.

‘Less smile,’ he said. Even though he tried to make me laugh. Cool.

Maybe you’re stressed because you moved just before the world changed, and where is all your stuff? You miss your house, the one you moved out of to see more people you haven’t actually seen yet. Hi.

Your house sign is not yours anymore.

You try to think of new beginnings. Some day. But your current desk is crowded with stuff that doesn’t matter much. Except the kid’s drawings. Which mean everything.

Speaking of the kid, your phone does this new thing where it shows you a random old photo every day. Mostly baby photos. So you’re crying again. To take your mind off things, you design fake rooms in mindless games and match three lots of nothing.

The dishwasher’s beeping.

You should watch a movie, and then maybe blog about it, but that feels like work. You miss work. For money.

The kid comes home and calls out to you before the door is even shut. It’s a good day. She’s back to watching the cartoons she watched when she was a smaller kid, and it’s pleasant. But loud. There’s no longer a door between the kitchen and the living room. There’s no laptop to take into another room.

You sing old songs.

‘La la, no just me?’ you say. You laugh at yourself. Your kid likes you because you’re fun, she says so. You didn’t even ask.

There’s dinner. Six books before bedtime and not one of them is the one you’re writing.

The tabletop Christmas tree in your six-year-old’s room looks like the blue light of a TV.

How is she six?

I decorated that little tree, and she put the leftover ornaments on the doorknobs.

My wheelchair got some tinsel on the back. Getting festive?

All days are like that. My mind is crowded with thoughts all the time. Big ones and little ones and lunch. I do a lot to get out of my head, but not enough.

My phone reminds me every day to breathe. And maybe meditate. For real.

And one day I listen.

The kid has pizza and a movie and her Dad. So I go into the bedroom and use one of those meditation apps.

Am I comfortable? Have I let all the tension leave my body? Is this relaxing?

Three minutes are up.

My stats page, because there is one, says my last three-minute session was two years ago.

I’m so behind. Even chilling out has become competitive.

How relaxed are you?

I’m there breathing. With my eyes closed. Listening to campfire ambient noise.

The kid busts into the room as only she can.

‘What are you doing?’ she asks.

‘Relaxing, apparently. I don’t know.’

‘I’ll relax with you,’ she says.

She elbows under the covers in a way she rarely does anymore. Bring that back. Her elbows, which I’ve always thought were magical, are now magical and boney.

‘How’s this?’ Are we relaxing? Is this working?’

‘I think so.’


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  • Reply Tonia 16th December 2020 at 4:43 pm

    “But I have discovered that writing out my anxieties makes me more anxious. Therefore, for me, journaling is bullshit.”

    ^ ^ This, though. Never have I felt so seen.

    • Reply Lorna 16th December 2020 at 7:28 pm

      Well, you make me feel seen, so.

  • Reply Nicole 16th December 2020 at 4:48 pm

    I relate so hard to Isla trying to meditate. Is it working?

    Anya and I meditate together every day. I started the practice because she freaks out less over her schoolwork if we have a mindfulness session first. I continue because her early morning coincides with the the switch from Job 1 to Job 2, and I’m usually desperately in need of chill-out time by then. At first I tried to get Kai in on it with us, because the boy, like his mama, has zero chill. But trying to convince him to give it a shot added more stress (apparently breathing with your eyes closed is TOO HARD), so I gave up.

    I cannot make myself take time for me when it’s just me, but if it’s for one of the kids, I manage. Now my challenge is to convince myself that I, too, am worth a break. I have a whole blog post on this; I just haven’t had time to finish it. So it goes.

  • Reply emilydev9 16th December 2020 at 5:22 pm

    So beautiful! My dad has a similar thing: (to my kickass female boss): ‘Emily’s skill I’m most proud of is her cooking’. And to me, in the year 2020: ‘Do your nieces/my granddaughters know how to touch-type? Because that’s really important.’ And maybe if all of us were male he would say the same things but we’re not so… Anyway, high five on the Dad things! and enjoy the relaxation.

  • Reply Gemma - Wheelescapades 16th December 2020 at 8:16 pm

    I’m not the only one that hates a stick coffee cup then? Well tea. Those photo widgets, bring back memories I don’t always want right now. I got a weighted blanket a couple months back. It’s good. My email is always open for writing to.

  • Reply Angela 17th December 2020 at 4:30 am

    I can relate to a lot of this. My mind is crowded, too. Sometimes writing helps, sometimes it makes it worse. I have all of this time that I’m wasting (or feels that way) which makes it worse – this house has been too quiet (and was too stressful for a long while there). I also can’t meditate. I get antsy, even with a CD or something on YouTube to listen to, and follow. Either that, or I fall asleep, but only for a little while. 💙 my dad is really the only person that I have (close, and offline). I told him that he is the main reason that my life is good at all.

  • Reply Rebecca Moon Ruark 21st December 2020 at 3:51 am

    Oh, getting weepy over here. I feel all this so much! The crowded mind, the inability to sit with it in quiet. That’s why I write and maybe had kids. God love a kid–they save us, I think. Also, the fact you can start a sentence with “Therefore” and end it with “bullshit” is just beautiful. “All days are like that.”–yep, they sure are.

  • Reply Really Ninja 29th December 2020 at 12:19 pm

    “Letters to people work, but there’s nowhere to send them.”
    I gather you do have my address? Hm?

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