Tuesday, March 16, 2010

This is so not gonna work...

... what an awful blog record! The last time I've been here was about a month ago. I could go the same route - where did the time fly? Yes, true, where did it fly? But at the same time, I know I've slacked. I watch every Friday roll by and then I am so busy I go, promise I'll do it Saturday. Then Saturday rolls by, and life is shaking me around like a rag doll.

That's how I feel on most days lately. Like everything is shaking up around me and I can't do a thing about it. You could say that's an easy excuse out, but I have nothing else to propose as reason. Everyday is like a rollercoaster and a struggle fit into one...

Most of you people know me as a chirpy, carefree, easygoing girl. But that's not who I am. Not really. It's a facet of me, the one I take on to face the world. I'm not sure anyone really knows me. People look at me and see wat they want to see. Now if you people are good at reading between the lines, you may have read me like an open book.

Who am I? Writer, editor, mother, wife, daughter, woman. Sum total of me? I don't know.

Why am I getting so heavy this time around, and the post is not even a weeks' type roundup I usually do. The reason could be that change is inevitable.

Around this same week 5 years ago, my life changed completely. I had been married for 3 years, mom of a 22-month old toddler. I'd just turned 22 years old. And I was a complete spoilt brat. March 14 marked the start of a turnng point - while showering I felt a hard lump in my breast. Strangely, I didn't panic. I called doctors, went for a mammogram, booked myself into a clinic to have the thing removed on the 17th. Was I living in a bubble? Maybe. It would burst on March 22 (yeah, that number again. Hadn't realised it was so prominent in there!). On that day the pathology report came back - the lump was malignant and spreading fast. Yes, it meant the word: cancer.

I had received the news in my parents' living room. The doctor in question was my cousin who apparently didn't think of patient confidentiality and just announced to the world, before I'd even heard it, that I needed to have surgery and chemo and all the hoop-la. No, I haven't forgiven him, and never went back to see him ever since. My husband said he'd take me home. I said no. I didn't want to be in the bubble of a car interior. I just stepped out and walked back home, 3 blocks away. The 10 min walk turned into a 20 minute stroll. I was still in pain from the first surgery, still had its gigantic dressing on my left side and its stitches itching and burning me. But in that moment I felt nothing. I stepped on the road, and I listened to traffic, people, felt the air on my face... I didn't talk for the whole day, I remember. The one thing I also clearly recall doing when I got home was that I sat down and prayed.

And then I decided to write. I had been toying with a story, one of those literary types that analyses every detail and can put a teacup on a pedestal so much it was heavy and symbolic and yes, boring. I remember writing on the eve of my surgery, because I couldn't sleep. I remember writing on the eve of every chemo session, because I again couldn't sleep.

And I remember growing up in that 20 minute walk. I remember becoming a writer consciously on that day.

A few weeks later I would meet a woman who would change my life again. Her name was TJ Killian. A confirmed author, she became a CP, a friend, a mentor. I remember she asked me - where do you want to be in 5 years?

5 years have gone by. Am I where I wanted to be? In a way, yes. I'm a writer, I'm published, people are starting to recognize my work. Strangely, it is Nolwynn Ardennes, born just 2 years ago, who is getting more prominence than the 5-year-old Aasiyah Qamar who was born back then.

I am starting to ask myself whether every 5 years is a lapse that prompts you to take stock of your life and reassess your priorities. I am asking myself questions.

Like why did I think of getting a degree? Seems like 8 years ago when I took on that program, it was more because it was what everyone was expecting of me. A good student my whole life, why did I 'cop out' and get married and have kids when I could've had a bright future before me? Sadly, I bought that crap and now that I'm one semester away from completing this darn degree, I cannot cop out and give up. I've invested too much, not just financially but emotionally and time-wise in there to give it up now. Sad, I know...

On some days I regret other decisions I made in my life. If I'm not regretting, I am second guessing. And yeah, that's personal. I'll never regret writing - that has become my life in a nutshell.

What I'm getting at is that - I may be a writer as you people know me, but I am also a person. And that comes with a whole load of sh*t. No other way of saying it. Why haven't I blogged? Because life has a way of catching up with me and twisting me around. Yes, it's a life I chose,  but had I known, would I have chosen it? I am not so sure. Lately I am feeling completely washed out, tired, and in over my head. I feel as if I've lost myself in there... for you see, one thing I hate is conflict. I prefer to dodge issues rather than address them head on because that'd be a further stress I completely don't need on top of everything else.You could say life dealt me a dodgy hand of cards and now I gotta play it. Tough but you gotta bite that bullet... Well, on some days, that gets a bit too much for me.

In the past weekend, I haven't gotten anything done. I've sat down, walked around, lost sleep over where I am at in my life. I've even asked myself if I was having a depression, a break down, a melt down, whatever.

One conclusion I  have reached is that while I may not want to disappoint everyone, I can't please everyone at the same time. I have to pick and choose my priorities, pick and choose my battles, and get over the crap. Would it make a difference if I said at some points, I've wondered if it weren't all crap that I'm living?

Might sound pathetic but in the past week I've received 2 reviews for my book Storms in a Shot Glass. 2 women, total strangers to me, who have enjoyed the story and told the world about it. Would it be strange to admit that this was what gave me a sense of validation? That this support was what kept me going?

Yes, I know - that's sad. I'm sure I've scared a lot of people today, and no, I'm not thinking of ending it! Not my life, not my writing, not my relatonships, and not this blog (lol there, for I wonder if aside from a few dedicated regulars who read my rambles more out of loyalty and friendship than because I have something to say, people don't really give a hoot about what I have to say).

But no, I'm not giving up. I'm just realizing that I need to give a new direction to my life. Face things head on instead of trying to smooth everything and please everyone and in the end hurt myself in the process. Strange - last year I wrote one such woman in a story, and it never dawned on me that she was me in a very big  part...

Change... welcome it, trash it, dodge it? It's here whether we like it or not. I may not like it, but I have to accept it in order to be whole again.Yes, it's 'that' time again...

5 years ago I grew up, but I guess I didn't grow up enough. I still have a lot of work to do in that light, especially now. This morning I cried after I dunno how long, and I think the tears cleansed and enabled me to move forward, even if that forward is a bramble of thorns. Are there a few roses in it? Very few and far between, I'll admit... Some things I'll need to do will break my heart, others will be relief after the initial storm. All of them will redefine life as I've known it so far. I'm scared, and I'm torn, yes. I don't want to be in my shoes... Funny in a twisted way, innit? If this were one of my heroines, I'd have her path all plotted out. But this is real life, sadly, and is there such a thing as HEA?

So if you're still around after reading this, I'll see you soon. And yes, not just every Friday (that I dodge and escape!). I am hauling a lot of stuff, but one thing I cannot give up on is my writing and the connection that gives me to the world. To you people.

Thanks for listening, and the ones who are there - thanks for being there.

And in the meantime, don't forget;

Live. Laugh. Love.

Yes too, I'm gonna take my own advice!

17 comments:

Carole Gill said...

First thing is take a breath!
Z, you always struck me as the best kind of person to be. You want to be everything wonderful to everyone who knows you. You're an over-achiever, you do your best in whatever you are involved in.
Okay, let me tell you something--TAKE A BREATH! Do what's best for YOU.
Sure, you're a Mum and a wife and a daughter too (and your fab at each of these things) you like to write and you have goals with regard to education, but Z! Your health is important. Think about removing the stress from your life! There's good stress and LOUSY stress. Don't be so driven. If you don't have time to blog--don't blog for goodness sake! OR BLOG ABOUT THE NEW, STRESSLESS APPROACH TO LIFE WE ARE GOING TO SEE!
Tell us jokes on the blog, don't explain yourself to the world. You are only accountable to you, girl!
Love you Zaynah! Please, please stop and think about how you can not only slow down but be happy you did! Look after yourself, okay? Much love!

Rae Lori said...

Oh Z! Big huggs to you for a brave and truthful post. Life loves to kick us down and it feels pointless to get back up for another beating but you right there have shown what you can accomplish when you keep going. It's tough (and chipper Rae has sort of left the building this week since yesterday--for personal reasons) and I know what you mean about sometimes you just want to hide out and recharge. We'll always be here for you lending a hand, shoulder or a cheer. I'm so blessed to have met you because you're one of the bravest women I've met! Seriously. I don't know how you handle it all at times. If ever you need me for anything, I'll be here for you. With chocolates, Thomas K or Sam W. Okay maybe just the chocolates hehe.

Chicki said...

Z,

I believe all of us go through something like this at certain times in our lives. Don't take this the wrong way, but you are very young and haven't yet reached the point where you can say "No!" to people without feeling guilty. That comes with time. As women we have the proclivity to try to please everyone, and it can kill us emotionally, physically and spiritually.

There's a wonderful old book (1985) that I think will bless you. You can get a copy for under $1.00 here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_11?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=when+i+say+no+i+feel+guilty&sprefix=when+i+say+&x=13&y=25

I love you, and I'm praying for you.

Annie Nicholas said...

What everyone else is saying + I understand your comment on the reviews :) I wanted to add my HUGS.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Z--the best thing I can say is that life resets itself every so often. You can only do what you can do. Eventually, you'll find the path you need and want to be on. :-) Don't worry about the rest.

Hugs :-)

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Thanks everyone for your warm and lovely comments.

Yeah, it is a step, 'that' point in life. You realise a lot of things, or a few things, but moving ahead is tricky and daunting.

I know I can't do it all, and that's what hurts! I can hear Carole going, overperfectionist. Lol, I agree. I am gonna slow down, and put some order in the junk trash yard.

Rae - thanks for the chocolate, and Thomas K and Sam W! Yup, sometimes you need a breather and you're already half out of air when you realise it.

Chicki - wise words indeed, and yeah, I am still too young. I need to grow up, but that ain't easy. Coming to grips with that is the hardest part.

Annie - thanks for the hugs!

Sandi - what a great way of saying it. Life resets itself now and then, so very true.

Many many hugs and thanks for listening to me whine. I needed a vent and I'm so glad I have you all in my life.

Hales said...

Hugs Z,

You've had a busy and full life, it shows in your post. You are a survivor. Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs we navigate carefully through. How others think of our accomplishments weigh heavy, heavier than even our most trusted friends and family members realize. Education is never wasted because it gives us other avenues to explore. I applaud you for finishing your degree and I sincerely hope you'll find your way to balancing both. You house a world of talent in your writing.

Take a breath and force your brain to slow down. I was out of breath catching up with your very insightful post. Thank you for giving me a glimpse into the woman behind the writing.

Many hugs

~Hales

Rebecca Royce said...

Hi Z,
Just reading this now because I am temporarily without power or heat. Boy did your post hit me like a ton of bricks. It really was like you were given a 'do over' a huge wake up call about time moving. But here's the thing...when I read the line where you asked if you were you wanted to be five years ago and you weren't sure...
You're answering that question as the person you are now, not the person five years ago. You're looking at the last five years and feeling like maybe there should be more...but that woman five years ago would be hugely amazed at what you've done. You're amazing, you do a HUGE amount.

Take a deep breath. There is no balance, I'm convinced. It's always about trying to find a path through the chaos.

You are the best.

Hugs and Kisses
Rebecca

Gemini said...

I read your post top to bottom. I just had a lump scare too. You are an inspiration, in many ways. And I say that with no added pressure! Thanks for sharing your ups and downs.

Sandy said...

Dear Z,

You may get two comments from me, but the other one didn't show up for some reason.

Sweetie, as soon as you graduate, which is soon, you will eliminate that stress. Yes, I know you as bubbly, but I also knew you had your other times.

We all go through these periods of ups and downs, and those downs sometimes seem to last forever, but eventually they'll smooth out.

Remember how T.J. used to call me Miss Perky? Well, I have times when I lose all of that perkieness, but eventually I get back.

No, you can't give up your writing, and I hope your family supports you in that decision. If not so be it. They need to deal with it because it will be a part of your liveihood. I know my hubby would like to see me quit because he believes I'll never make any money at it. My gut tells me I will, but even so money isn't everything.

Honey, I know you want to please everyone, but you can't do everything. Sometimes you just have to say no. Don't take on so much. You don't need the stress.

Hugs and love.

Erin said...

the one thing i love about blogging is that you can ramble on and on without being interrupted and at the end you feel so much better. I think every woman at some point in their lives has felt lost among the shuffle of kids, husbands, chores, bills and other responsibilities that require we take care of someone other than ourselves. While i haven't gone through what you've gone through, i can relate to what you're saying

erin

Bella said...

I feel you, Z. I don't know how you did it, but you deserve a lot of kudos. I had a lump scare two years ago and thought my world had ended. Hang in there, don't worry too much about pleasing anyone, but yourself and your family.

You're strong, a reed that bends and springs right up.

Cheers

J Hali said...

(((HUGS!)))

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Amazing comments from amazing people! What did I do to have you all in my life?

Hales - yes, it's been full and busy and lol, I have another 5 years of shaping before that interlude that made me who I am. Im glad you liked that I showed the person behind the writing. I wasn't too sure about doing that but it seems it was the right thing to do.

Rebecca - you are so right. I had never pinpointed it down to this but I am no longer the same person. Maybe I was trying to cling to her, when I'm not her anymore. I am looking for my path through the chaos. Not easy but do-able. Especially after a good cry, a good vent, and a few hugs!

Gemini - I am so sorry about the lump scare. That totally twists you around, innit? Glad you agree that sharing the ups as well as the downs is good, because that's life.

Sandy - darling, yes. You've known me through good and bad. Yes, the downs seem to last forever, and they're awful. I'm not gonna give up writing, and the pressure wasn't about that. It was more like juggling an eclectic mix of people and realizing that oil and water cannot mix however much you stir it. I've come to grips with that, and though it was painful, I am moving on.

Erin - lol, yeah. Blogging lets you talk and get it out and you do feel better afterwards, especially when people you care about reply to you and show you they care about you too. Yes too, it is a 'woman' thing. We're peacekeepers, but life isn't about that kind of peace we want to bring on. So we have to resign ourselves to dealing with the conflict that is never gonna go.

Bella - ack, never knew you had a lump scare too. It is a life-changing moment. Sometimes I wonder how I got out of there alive and in one functioning piece. Lol, I hope to be on the mend, the reed springing back to stand upright.

J - Hugs right back, darlin!

Big big hugs and thanks to all of you!! I love ya!!

Angela Guillaume said...

Z - Today was one of those days when I woke up with a feeling of dread. I woke up crying, thinking I may be depressed. This has been going on a while, though I never was able to pinpoint why. And I haven't told anyone - only my mom noticed something a bit amiss, nothing escapes her. I checked my emails this afternoon and when I read your post I felt like I had been hit hard by an oncoming truck. This post of yours hit home in so many ways! Not because of the cancer - I can't imagine what that feels like; but because of the taking stock, the thinking of how life passes us by and what have we to show for it. I realize I always thought of you as extraordinary, someone who is above any stress, someone who is more than a cut above the rest. I always think, Z has time for everything - she creates meaningful relationships, finds time to comment on every blog, educates, and does everything that needs to be done. Next to you I always feel like a bit of a failure, believing that I could never keep up with what you do - I'm not saying this for sympathy, it is the honest truth. To me, you have always been Cyclone Z. Today, I confirmed that you are in fact extraordinary as well as a cut above the rest, more than ever. I also realize though that you're also very much human, with faults and disillusionments that pepper the good times. And you want to be recognized as such. So Z, I want to tell you this today - it's OKAY. It's okay to disappoint people sometimes. It's okay to send everything to hell to think about yourself sometimes. When you feel like putting others on a pedestal and grabbing that dust cloth to polish the base think hard - who are you pleasing? And if something happens to you, who's going to suffer? This is a tough question to answer but know that without a wholesome you, a lot of people would find themselves sh*t out of luck, out of happiness, out of something truly and inherently good. You are good, and you are pure, my friend, but - take this as advice borne of affection - you don't have to prove it. Recently our mutual friend told me I tend to take on too much then realize I can't handle it. She's absolutely right, and even I now are taking stock of things, thinking about where I want to be in 2 years when my 5 year plan is up. I do a lot of things, and my writing lately seems to take the back burner. I've created excuses for a year, and now I feel like I went off my axis, that I'm not living my true purpose. At the same time I need my son. I'm miserable about the whole thing, totally washed out. So I tell you, do not overwhelm yourself. Please listen to your heart NOW; get rid of all the superfluous, get rid also of some useful things, but things you can live without, and don't be apologetic about presenting the new you to the world. Come hell or high water, insist on this. Stop trying so damn hard to be extraordinary. Just be you, and know I LOVE YOU just the same. I never met you but I love you, promise, and I always will. I want you to be healthy. Your health, your happiness depend upon your choices. Be wise. Be my example once more my dear Z - this time, do it by making yourself happy.

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Angela,
Thanks to me being out to lick my wounds and put my priorities straight, it's only now that I am seeing your lovely, warm and totally heartbreaking message. Thank you so much my dear friend!
Know that I love you too, though we have never 'met'!
Big big hugs, and thanks again!

prashant said...

I understand your comment on the reviews
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