Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Chains That Bind

The Renaissance Festival was not exactly as I had imagined it would be based on my memory of 13 years ago. It was a little less exciting, a bit more cheesy, way more expensive, and there were many, many more women walking around in chains than I had expected.

Silly me, I had expected to see no women walking around in chains. Who knew this had become standard Renaissance Festival garb? This is not how women dressed in the Renaissance!! Chain bustiers, possibly. Bare asses covered with fine see-through mesh? I don't think so. No serving wench or lady in her right mind - who wanted to keep her bodily integrity intact - would have let her privates hang out like these ladies pictured above, and no warrior woman (or man for that matter) would have dressed up in such unprotective "clothing." I don't know what these people were thinking, but I know they weren't particularly concerned about authenticity (or personal comfort).

In addition to looking at women's bare, chain-covered bodies, I also spent some time at the Renaissance Festival getting a tarot card reading focusing on questions relating to my relationship and career future. A very disturbing, depressing, and hopefully inaccurate and completely off-base tarot card reading. I knew I should have stuck with getting my palm read! Apparently, the cards, which are supposed to be a cosmic reflection (not a prediction) of things as they are in the moment that you shuffle the deck, revealed that things were not going so well in my relationship, which made me quite sad. They also, inexplicably, revealed that things at work were going well. According to the fortune teller, I will be getting a promotion in 4 months in the same company at which I'm currently employed, and a salary increase of $17,000. The cards predicted that I would leave my job in approximately 18 months.

Since, as you all know, I'm down to 64 days before I break out of this soul-sucking hell-hole, not 4 months, will be receiving no salary increase since I'm not going to be sticking around, and since I certainly will not, under any circumstances, be here 18 months from now, I think their may have been a problem with the cards or the fortune teller's interpretation of the cards. Actually, with every (wrong) positive thing she said about my current job situation, I felt immeasurably better about the state and future of my relationship.

What about you all? Do you believe in tarot cards? Do you believe the future can be foretold? Part of me believes there's something there, but a bigger part recognizes that to believe whole-heartedly in the predictive power of a deck of cards, you must also believe that the future is unchangeable and static. I believe in fate and destiny, but I do not believe we passively float through our lives without the power to grow and change as individuals, and to create our own futures. My image of destiny and fate is more on the big picture level. Like, maybe we are destined to serve the world in one way, and we will ultimately get there, but the way we get there is up to us. Our life journey is unscripted, and it's up to us to steer our own course.

Speaking of steering my own life course, things are rocky as hell at the moment. I'm confronted with uncertainty and the unknown on every level, and it's scary and overwhelming. I feel often like I don't have anything stabilizing me; no rock to steady and comfort me. I'm missing that confidence in the future that things will work out well in the end, and that things will work out for me. I think, in part, my uncertainty about my career future is because I have become so beaten down by the last two years, and mainly, my experience at this job. Almost every day, even when it's not that bad, it leaves me exhausted, drained, and unmotivated.

Since I started this blog back in February, I've been talking about positive life changes I've wanted to make. It's discouraging to report that I have managed to make almost none of the changes I've wanted to; at least not on a consistent basis. I do not go to yoga regularly, I still eat too much ice cream, I have virtually stopped going to the gym, I don't do a good job keeping up regularly with my friends and loved ones, I have not yet created a solid social network in New York, I procrastinate at work, I have not resolved my relationship issues, I have not worked out my own issues, I have not figured out what I want to do with my life. I have not gotten a grip on my emotions.

I know, deep inside, that I'm being a little hard on myself. Ok, really hard on myself. I have made some changes. I've worked out some issues in therapy, I no longer feel weak for hating this job and recognizing that it is not a good fit for me. I've looked inside myself and seen positive changes I can make both for myself and for my relationship, to be a better person, and I've started trying to make those changes. Raj and I have resolved some relationship issues, and instead of walking away from difficult ones, I have stuck with them, something I've never done in any other (non-family) relationship. I have made two new friends in New York and I've signed up for my first class since moving to New York. I made the decision to quit my job, which was extremely difficult, and have not wavered from that decision, despite the fact that I have absolutely no idea what the hell I'm going to do with my life come January. I've tried to make time for bubble baths and reading good books, and I've written consistently on this blog, which has given me a lot of happiness, another layer of connection with my little sister, a feeling of community, and a sense of creative accomplishment.

So, I have made a lot of progress, but there's still so much up in the air. There's still so many changes I haven't been able to make. It is often - like this morning - so overwhelming and discouraging to see how far away I still am from the place I want to be. And, that I don't even know where that place is, or how I'm going to get there. Now, I know that this feeling of being overwhelmed will pass, and that maybe as soon as a few hours from now I'll feel hopeful about the future again. Just a few days ago I was imagining the furious bliss I would feel upon waking up on a Monday and realizing that I did not have to go into work (at this place). I was trying to imagine the tremendous relief and happiness I will experience once the stress of this place is removed from me. I'm so used to functioning with the stress, I really can't imagine what it will feel like without it. Best case scenario, I will look back at these feelings of hopelessness and fear and realize that they came as a result of my exhaustion, and that once I had shaken off the toxicity of my job, the feelings vanished and I felt confident about the future again.

I hope so. I also hope that I will be able to hang on for two more months. I've lasted 25 months, so I should be able to get through two more. I'm very close to the end of my rope. I can feel the stress pushing against my head, making my vision feel small and strained. I feel emotionally vulnerable. I want to be out of here, and I want to know what's coming next.

* * *
As a complete aside, if you haven't yet listened to X-tina's "Hurt," do so immediately. Damn, that girl can sing! And here she is with Diddy on his new album, "Press Play."

Update: I just reread my Plan B is For Bonus post and ended up inspiring myself. I wrote that post when I had 106 days to go. I'm down to 60. I can totally effing do this. And I will figure things out, and things will work out fine in the end. I'm shelving my discouragement for the moment. I. Can. Do. This. I'm tough.

I need a mantra. If you know any good ones, do share.


wordnerd said...

Hey Buttercup...I was so glad to see the updated section of that post.

The mantra that I live by is cheesy as hell....but it has gotten me through some tough spots and I really do believe in it (as opposed to my husband who honestly, I swear, thinks that it is the worst saying that has ever existed, point.)

Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.

It's always worked for me in making me feel like the KICKASS woman that I KNOW I can be when I set my mind to it.

I look forward to seeing what others have to say about this....bring it ladies!

Tracy said...

Hi Buttercup,

My personal thoughts on tarot cards: Don't let yourself go there! The main problem I have with them is that buying into whatever the reader says gives a lot of your personal power away to that person and what they told you. Even the fact that what she told you made you sad reflects that on some level, you allowed what she said to effect your emotional life. Don't give a card reader that kind of control over your life.

You have set goals and are making changes in your life that are making you happier, not sadder. I think that is a much better place to evaluate your life from than what a card reader tells you.

"I feel often like I don't have anything stabilizing me; no rock to steady and comfort me."

The above quote is what struck me most about your post. Those are very legitimate and human feelings. And I think a great thing to evaluate. Where/who do you turn for stability? Who is going to be your rock to steady and comfort you?

In my life, I have found no equal to my relationship with God. He is my Rock and my Salvation. My Shelter in a storm. My Comfortor when times are tough.

I hope all this makes sense and doesn't sound too preachy, as that isn't my intention. Just sharing from a personal perspective.

Thanks for sharing so much of yourself on this blog. I really respect your introspection about all this. To give another often-quoted quote, "The unexamined life is not worth living." -Socrates

Gypsy said...

I think those girls have been watching a little too much Conan the Barbarian (which just so happens to be one of my favorite movies). I think the Ren Faires have become more about exploring fantasy than about exhibiting and embracing the fashions, speech, and activities of the actual era, which is a bit sad. Although I'm all for fantasy.

I think tarot cards and things of that nature can serve to help you explore options and your feelings about particular situations. They can bring up issues you might not have initially considered, they can facilitate exploration. But as a dependable method of predicting the future? I'm a bit skeptical. Then again, I did see this show "Lisa Williams -- My Life Among the Dead" last night on Lifetime (I think it was Lifetime), and wow, I'm totally a believer in her (she's a clairvoyant).

As for all that work/life stuff, I think you're being too hard on yourself. But I think that's understandable given your current working situation. With that misery hanging over you, it's no wonder you'd have trouble nurturing yourself in other ways. I think that once you find your way out of that miasma of a job you'll be better able to firm up your foundations and move forward with personal growth. :)

Buttercup said...

Wordnerd - Your mantra is completely true and I believe in it as well. I tried it out this morning on my way to work, and so far so good.

Tracy - You are right about the tarot cards. That's ultimately the place I came to on this, that I do have power to create my life how I want it to be.... even if the cards were in fact reflecting a sadness I may have been feeling at the time...

About your questions about a stabilizing force and comments on God: Thank you for thoughtful comments. I don't believe in God, and thus do not have the benefit of that type of belief or relationship from which to draw strength (but I'm happy for you that you do). I need to think about where I go to feel stronger. Often, it's to myself such as through writing and reflecting in a journal. I'll think more about it. Thank you for asking the question.

Buttercup said...

Gypsy, I believe in things like that too (psychics); hance my issue about the tarot cards. As far as the work/life stuff, that's what I'm hoping - that once I get out of this cesspool, things will brighten up on many fronts. Nice use of "miasma," by the way. :)

wood said...

This was a really thoughtful and wise post, buttercup. I don't have any answers for you, except to say that even though I know things are rocky for you right now, you are very self-aware and reflective and, well, that counts for a lot.

Ally Bean said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I think that the fact that you can articulate what is right and wrong in your world will help you get a feel for what's to come next. Clarity leads to clarity.

And as for Tarot cards, I like the new and different ideas they present to you, but I doubt that they determine my future. Isn't that what I'm here for? To determine my future?

Pas said...

Sounds to me like the Tarot cards served as encouragement for reflection. Did you say sixty days? Dude, that's nothing. And, for the record, I can think of no one tougher.

Buttercup said...

Wood, Haven't a been self-aware and reflective for like one whole year now???

Ally Bean, You're quite right. We do make our own futures...

Pas, How sweet of you! Can't wait to see you and your soon to be hubby!!!

InterstellarLass said...

Holy cow! The pictures didn't show up last time. I can't imagine that people would be allowed to walk around in public like that! Oy!