Waiting For That Other Shoe

When I sit down to write Project Wednesday posts, I feel a little bit like George Washington and his cherry tree. I have to be truly honest with you guys. And honestly, I’m a detrimentalist. Is that a even a word?

I didn’t get the little red squiggly line under it so I’ll take that as a yes.

I do not think of myself as a Negative Nancy. Truly I am a very positive person. I am the person who can find the silver lining in any cloud and I live by the motto that the glass isn’t half full or half empty, it’s 100% refillable. But I wait for the other shoe to drop. Always. And I’m constantly stunned when it doesn’t.

I wasn’t always like this. Actually, I was exactly opposite of this. I never thought about bad things happening. I saw bad things happening in the United States: September 11th, the Sandy Hook Shootings, the Boston Marathon Bombing. Those all affected me but not in a personal way so even though I was emotional about them, I still carried a rosy outlook on my own life.

What changed? Why did I become this jaded person? My ex-husband suffered a massive stroke six months after we were married and my world flipped on its head. He is okay today. He, against all odds, made a full recovery, and although we are no longer together, I am grateful for that.

But that shit will fuck you up. And it did, for me, for a very long time.

For years I couldn’t sleep through the night without hearing a ringing phone. You see, what made the situation worse was that I wasn’t with him. He was traveling for work in Texas. And I got a call at 3:30. Sometimes I still wake up midsleep, broken out in a cold sweat, though it happens much less frequently these days.

It made me numb to medical situations. Now when I hear about people getting procedures, needing therapies or being hospitalized; I’m expressionless. Not that I’m not sympathetic or empathetic to their situation but having sat through daily batteries of testing, procedures, therapies, and 30 days of hospitalization, I learned that you can’t worry until there is truly something to worry about.

I’ve dehydrated myself through tears, done a plethora of yoga in waiting rooms, and will probably live the rest of my days with chronic back and neck issues from sleeping in chairs that are flawed by design and are not meant for the long-term use I put them through.

We, as human beings, are not meant to handle situations like that. Or at least we shouldn’t be forced to, in my mind. Yet in some strange way, we’re built to do it. Our endorphins and adrenaline kick in and we just do what needs to be done.

But at what cost? For me, I’m so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of me that I don’t take the proper time to enjoy where I am.

I don’t believe I do this as much anymore, although my life hostage may tell a different tale. I try to make a conscious effort not to. I know I drove him nuts when we first started dating, waiting for that other shoe. I’m pretty sure I almost drove him away a time or two. I was waiting for the secret family in Utah, the crazy skeletons in his closet, the 3:30 phone call.

And now? Now I enjoy his smile. The laughs we share when we have a joke between the two of us. Sunday mornings when we sleep in and make waffles. The text messages in the middle of the day because we’re busting at the seams to tell the other something menial. Cooking holiday dinners. The life we’ve built and the promise of more.

I’m not cured by any means, if you can even call it that. What’s ahead of me? I just tell myself that’s tomorrow’s problem. Today, I savor every moment.

Rachel Olszewski

A hot mess held together on a daily basis by dry shampoo and probiotics, Rachel is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up but for now is a communications professional by trade. A true Chicagoan through and through, she is an East Coast transplant trying to set down roots. Although the height of her high heels may be getting shorter, Rachel’s expectations are not getting lower and she is on a mission to change the world one person at a time.

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