Earlier this week I was in tears about getting my son to school late, again; meeting my friend for lunch late, again; and generally continuing to suck at life, again. I was walking around with a terrible sense of shame. I felt like one of those cartoon figures walking around under a raincloud, except the raincloud wasn't above me; it was my brain. Yesterday morning was more of the same.
But something started to shift.
Oddly enough I think the change started while I was pulling garbage out of my car in a donut store parking lot. I was late for an appointment at an auto-body shop. It was a pre-repair assessment of an insurance claim that I'd made two years ago, so I was a little nervous that they might balk on the basis that I'd waited so long to get the work done. For no reason, except that it took me two years to get around to it. Some people don't get that. I'd planned to be extra-well dressed and groomed, totally presentable and in no way resembling the sort of shifty person who might be trying to do something... shifty.
I'm not shifty. I am, however, totally disorganized, overwhelmed, and shockingly unmotivated. I guess I nailed that look, since I had bed-head and no make-up, which is not a good look on a forty-something mom.
Any how, in my effort to appear presentable and encourage the collision shop to the repairs that my insurer had agreed to fund two years earlier (and just generally preserve the ragged edges of my self-esteem), I stopped at the donut store parking lot to clear all the garbage out of my car. As I carried multiple handfuls of crumpled cups, snotty Kleenex, and God-knows-what-else from my car to the garbage, under the bored eyes of the drive-thru lane, I was mildly aware of the police car parked behind me. "No, officers," I brain-messaged them, "I'm really not discarding evidence of a crime here... Trespassing maybe, but I promise, I'll be right back here to buy coffee as soon as I can."
Somewhere in that humbling process the fresh air, activity, shameful thoughts, and slightly-less-gross car interior, started to distract me from the shameful thoughts of the past few days.
When I got to the body shop, the long line-up made me feel less-bad about being at least 15 minutes late. The place was full of worried customers and exceptionally calm and friendly service people. Smart business model. No one's happy about needing collision repair. (If it weren't so predatory, opening a bar opposite a collision shop might be a great idea.)
More outside hustle and bustle shuttling to the rental car place and back and then wrestling all the crap in the back of my SUV into the tiny rental car. You know, the dirty dry-cleaning. The two lampshades I've been meaning to drop off at the thrift shop because they're fine, but not fine in my house (and I finally got them off of my dining room table and into my car this week). And the two child car seats I've been hauling around for two years, because they're unusable post-accident but if I can just find my receipts and deliver the car seats to the right government safety agency they'll reimburse me...they say. Seriously, I ask myself -- they'll need to fix the body of my car from the inside? Why wasn't I informed about this?
Finally, 45 minutes later, I'm in an immaculate, tiny rental car, full of my crap, and I'm free! Free except for my crap. Back to the donut shop for breakfast and some calls to figure out where to unload these child car seats. I do have the receipt in my wallet. Google tells me that the automatic reimbursement program was discontinued a year after my accident. Hmm... I sit on hold for a while until my tea is done and then hang up. Because... that's who I am???
Whatever, I'm, "on a roll." True, I had accomplished nothing, but that's how I felt. Which is a far more productive feeling than usual, so I'm going with it. I resist the temptation to drive straight to the thrift store and stick with my plan (I know!!! This never happens!!!) to deliver a health-insurance form to my psychiatrist's office. I open the form and realize that I have to complete the first two parts. I make two calls to get info that I need to complete my parts. I complete them, add a note to my doc, and deliver it, three months after receipt. I am relieved. I may be reimbursed for hundreds of dollars in prescription medication sometime this year. I need the money. Badly.
Next stop: thrift shop. It's mid-Chanukah, three weeks before Christmas, there's a light snow, and I'm not the only one at the donation doors. We're all parked at crazy angles, like we rushed there to defuse a bomb or something... and we smile crazily at each other after unloading -- We did it! We unloaded some of our crap! We feel good!
So good that I remembered and did not even avoid dropping off the dry-cleaning.
So, yes, I still had two unusable infant child seats wedged in the rental's hatchback, but my psychic load was a little bit lighter. Exactly two lampshades, one bag of clothes, a form worth several hundred dollars, and the start of an old car repair lighter.
Anyway, then I got home, I got waylaid (that means I lay down and reacted to whatever had arrived in my email inbox), I didn't do the important work that I'd promised my husband I'd do, and the auto-body shop forgot(?) to call me when my car was ready, so I had to drag my son along for the rental-return-and-car-pick-up process, dinner was late, and I was late for the PTA meeting, where I volunteered for yet another task (why the #&*% can't I think before words come out of my mouth)...but, but, but, the good vibe from accomplishing just a few little tasks, it endured, beaten and bruised, but still faintly glowing.
And so today, though my son was late again, and I hang my head in shame about that, and I really want to do the right things, I also wanted to take 5 minutes to note how mood-changing it was to accomplish just a few little things.
That was at least an hour ago, and it's past 10:30 already, so I better get at it. Today, I am cleaning my office. It's a biggie. And buried within it are financial docs that we really, really need. (Involuntary sigh.) Wish me luck. I'm going in there, for a good, long, productive haul. I think i can, I think i can...