The North Carolina State Legislature is back in session (as of January 12, 2009) and my time is no longer my own. I'm not complaining, well not seriously bitching, because I like my work and my co-workers. Besides, in the current economic crisis, I feel fortunate to have a job.
There are so many things that I want to write about but this entire weekend has slipped away like a wisp of smoke on a summer breeze. As usual, I've spread myself far too thin, agreeing to take on tasks without taking a personal inventory as to whether or not I have the time, energy, or inclination to complete the task. I'm on the board for a nonprofit organization that opposes the death penalty, an issue that I fully support. However, I've also committed to working with another small nonprofit in administering a dropout prevention grant. I wrote the grant a year ago and the organization was awarded $82,000 to run a pilot dropout prevention program for one year. The only problem is that the director of the program is very skilled at working with children but she has no skills in administration and management of the business aspects of the grant. When I agreed to write the grant, I thought that was going to be my primary role--to write it. I support the efforts to lower the dropout rate, so now I find myself taking on more and more responsibility.
I have a need to be needed that has caused me to become overextended once again. I've been doing this my entire life. I swim out way too far from shore and then I realize that not only do I not like to swim, I'm drowning.
One of my resolutions for 2009 is to be honest, to tell my truths in a way that I haven't done before. I'm not certain if it's a by product of being the oldest child or just a quirk of my own personality, but I have always found it difficult to share who I am with anyone. I've gone through life hiding pieces of myself, carefully making certain that no one has a complete picture.
I think that I am afraid that if anyone knows me, really knows me, they won't like what they see. My life has been rooms of darkness with the occasional period of light. There is no need to worry about me. I am able to write this because my mind is clearer than it has ever been and I'm choosing to live in the light. I'm done with hiding.
I don't have any big secrets; I haven't murdered anyone or robbed the 7-Eleven. I've just led a life of half-truths. I've created a persona for every occasion and sometimes, even I can't tell who is the authentic Sheria.
My time in California was therapeutic. I was relaxed and happy. No one expected anything of me and simply accepted what I had to give. I laughed a lot, slept well, and didn't worry about what expectations others had of me. I want to feel that way all the time.
I realize that I've got to peel back the layers that I've been using to protect myself. I have to be willing to disappoint others, because I can't be everything to everyone, and no one should expect it of me, least of all me, --especially me. I want to be happy.
Over the years, I've mastered the illusion of happiness; sometimes I even fool myself. I insist that I like being busy, the thrill of the work, the excitement of deadlines. There is some truth in that, but I also get bone-weary tired of the responsibilities that I take on, professionally and personally. I want to be irresponsible sometimes. There's a Joni Mitchell song lyric that goes, "I want to be strong, I want to laugh along//I want to belong to the living. //Alive, alive, I want to get up and jive. //I want to wreck my stockings in some juke box dive." I've often felt that Joni was writing my life in her songs.
I don't know where this journey will take me, but I plan to write about it here from time to time. I'll leave you with a poem by Stevie Smith that has always spoken to me.
Not Waving But Drowning
by Stevie Smith
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.