Pick a metaphor for working hard and getting nowhere. That’s me. Three steps forward, three steps back. The light at the end of the tunnel that you can never seem to reach. Personally, I think the hamster wheel sums it up best. Because at least there’s some comedy in it. And the rodent is cute.
The last six months have been a never-ending string of are-you-effing-kidding-me moments in the Val in Real Life world. It’s mind-boggling really. If you follow me on Facebook or in the newsletter, you know the process of becoming digital nomads has been an utter shit-show for us.
And I’ve been spent for months. Here’s the thing—I’m strong, resilient, tenacious, and flexible. And all of those qualities have been tested to the nth degree during this. It’s an unsustainable amplitude and I’ve had nothing left in the tank to pull from.
Certainly obstacles and hiccups happen in life. That’s normal. What’s not normal is that we’ve been scrambling to manage our basic living situation—food, water, location, waste, mechanical systems—one day at at time for months. Almost every day has had some element of damage control to undertake along with the learning curve of managing life on the road full-time. We’ve been reacting, reacting, reacting—without enough space to reset in between.
That’s not healthy. And it means we don’t have enough mental bandwidth to absorb the normal hiccups of life. Molehills become mountains and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to triage everything that needs attention.
And so I’ve fallen woefully behind on basically everything. My path is littered with the mangled carcasses of the mistakes I’ve made while living in a constant state of reaction. Which requires yet more layers of damage control. You see the cycle?
And before we could get our feet under us as full-timers, we found ourselves having to react to a pandemic and having nowhere to go as parks and campgrounds closed everywhere. When you wake up one morning and you realize you’re a refugee on top of it all, that’s the rotting cherry on top of the shit sundae. This was definitely not in the brochure.
A trickle of bandwidth
I’m working on writing the whole, very long, sordid backstory of this shit-fest. The Cliffs Notes version is that everything happened way much faster than we anticipated. There was simply no time to prepare properly. Throw in extra unforeseeable obstacles and a you have a recipe for disaster. I am the poster child for how not to become a full-timer.
The writing is proving quite cathartic, oddly enough. It feels like watching the dust settle around me. Or taking in the world in a fog after coming out of anesthesia. You blink your eyes. Your senses slowly return. Your brain starts to make sense of where you are.
This tiny bit of space to get back to work and writing feels like a new world after the ordeal. Granted, it’s not even remotely over yet. But with our travels on hold and settled into living in the side yard of gracious friends for the time being, we’re finally regrouping. Little-by-little. I think.
Because I’ve thought that countless times already in this wacky little journey, I hope I’m not wrong again.
The good news?
We are who we are. We’re strong but damn tired. And we’re positive, resourceful people. In spite of everything, we know how to appreciate life and each other. When there is a moment to take a breath, we do, replenishing our bucket even if we only get a few drops. And daring to hope that our efforts are paying off and life is finally turning around.
We’ll get through this, of course. As my therapist often reminds me, I’ve done harder things. But for fuck’s sake already we could use a little actual forward momentum. The hamster wheel is getting really old.
“Spinning your wheels” was not in your list of descriptions for what this situation feels like. That is my personally favorite metaphor. At least I have a view out the windshield while I’m spinning my wheels. Hamsters don’t have that view, so please join me here in the front seat and we’ll spin together. Bring J of course and the manhattans. I tell people all the time that I’m privileged. I’m comfortable. I’m working at home. I want for nothing. I think it is harder for you and others in your situation. My heart goes out. It kills me to have friends out there in this shit storm. But your therapist is right. You’ve been through worse. Now get out of that cage. There is plenty of room here in the front seat. The mud will dry and we’ll eventually have enough traction to move. On the other hand, the view from the cage will never change. Hugs, baby!
Val Weston says
Thanks, Stevie! It’s funny, I’m not afraid of working hard. But to put so much energy in and just keep getting knocked back has been a lot to take for so long. We’re making a little bit of headway though. I hope that means some real traction is ahead. So I think I will join you in the front seat.
Now to put out all the fires that have cropped up for everything I put on the back burner. Metaphors galore here in Val in Real Life land. 😀