A Trucker’s Tale

I had a lot of fun with the last photo blog I posted, and I thought it would be a great idea to try it again. This time, however, I thought it would be fun to follow Murdock throughout his day.

Then I remembered that I have my own job that I’m financially obligated to return to on a daily basis. So I asked Murdock to entertain one of my wild hairs, and supply me with pictures of his day, but without context. It would be up to me to fill in the blanks. If you know Murdock, then you know that any opportunity he has to use a camera (or camera phone) he is happy to oblige. He did not disappoint.

I don’t think it’s necessary to state here that Murdock is a truck driver by trade. I have driven him to work a few times, but every time I’ve dropped him off, his truck was outside. I can only assume his truck was being fueled up in this shot, unless the company he drives for has a special garage reserved only for their best drivers. Of course Murdock would have VIP parking.

It’s been a while since I got to call Murdock early in the morning, but I used to all the time, and I would always ask if he got his coffee. Neither of us are casual coffee drinkers, but Murdock, especially, needs a steady supply. I’m not sure exactly where he was delivering to in this shot, but it’s obvious that he knows the man on the forklift. I suspect that the forklift operator is one of Murdock’s many connections. He knows lots of people who also know lots of, usually, important and prominent people. Mr. Forklift Operator probably has connections to President Trump and Steven Spielberg.

I’ve never gotten to ride with Murdock. I want to one day. Maybe then he can show me what all of these buttons do. I’m fairly certain at least one turns his semi into a rocket ship and another is for the ejection seats.

Murdock insists that I work harder than he does. He is constantly getting in and out of his truck to unhook and hook up trailers, turn in paperwork, cleaning out trailers, and dozens of other things that can’t compare to my retail job. He is by far the hardest working man that I know, and he is genuinely good at what he does.

I have a knack for calling right when Murdock has to unhook a trailer. I’m pretty confident this is what he was doing when he took this shot. I’m sure he perfectly backed one of these trailers up to the dock in record time, gave himself a pat on the back, and drank some more coffee.

He even smoked a celebratory cigarette.

Murdock has been driving for a long time. I know that he hates it. I would give anything for him to be in a studio and behind a camera instead of on the open road. In spite of that, I’m a little jealous that he has these moments of quiet, open road while I’m stuck in a building dealing with actual people.

I am equally envious of views like this. This is everything I love about the South. You can drive a mile or two in almost any direction and find farmland. It’s a peaceful break in the urban waves. It’s a reminder that the kind of life we want to have is still there.

Murdock always tells me “I’m at my second home” when he goes to Sandy Springs, but whenever he says he’s going to Michelin, I assume he’s going to Greenville. He probably delivered a ton of pallets of rubber strips or something tire related.

I can only assume this is part of a loading dock or something. If it is, how in the world is it so clean??? Where’s the scuff marks and scratches from less skilled drivers backing in too hard?

He was probably dropping a trailer somewhere else at this point. It looks like some sort of chemical plant. Murdock probably also knows tons of important people here, too.

Did I mention how amazing he is at his job? He parallel parked this big truck like it was nothing. I can’t even park straight in a normal parking spot! And he wonders why I always hand him my keys when we are going somewhere…

Apparently he had his truck converted to rubber materials while at Michelin. I’m sure this will make his tight turns so much easier. Why he hasn’t bragged about this at all is beyond me.

I love Murdock’s perspective of things. When he takes a photo, he is able to give it meaning. This one, for me, causes a sense of nostalgia. This one is one of my favorites.

I will always argue that he works hard. He doesn’t belong on the highway, and I feel at ease when his hands are holding mine instead of a steering wheel.

I’m not sure if he dropped this trailer there or if that’s where he found it. I would like to imagine he didn’t know what to do with it, so he casually ditched it in an empty lot so he could go home sooner. “This is fine,” he would say, with a shrug, and drive away as if nothing happened. “Nothing to see here, guys!”

He probably gets tired of holding this. I’m pretty sure he was almost done with his day at this point, ready to drop his last trailer, turn in his paperwork, and clock out.

Safety first. No “Jerry Alarms” here. That’s an inside joke. In all seriousness, I’m glad he’s safe at work. It means I’m worrying for no reason, and that’s somehow relieving.

I’m almost certain this is what the trailer hookups look like. I think he’s talked about it enough that I don’t have to see it to recognize it. I could be wrong. It could be some high tech top secret something only truck drivers know about.

I hate it when it rains while he’s on the road. Driver’s around here seem to forget everything the moment the sky turns gray. Murdock is amazing at what he does, but he can’t control what other people do.

I was excited to receive this photo. Either the interior of his truck underwent a sudden transformation, or that’s the dash of his car.

Murdock isn’t always home before the sun sets. I am glad when he is, but there are times when I’ve gone to bed well before he can even think about calling it a night. Any day that he can call it a day while it is actually still day time is a good day.

I should note that my favorite part about this photo-blog was how enthusiastic Murdock was about contributing to it. His willingness to not only indulge my creative whims, but to endure my oddities is truly a gift. I can’t imagine my life without this man. I also can’t wait until he can fully devote his time to filmmaking instead of dodging bad drivers and navigating narrow roads. Until then, if you’re driving near one of these guys, give them some room. One of ’em’s mine, and I want him home in one piece.

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In a funk…

I haven’t written anything in a while, and I tend to blame my writer’s block on happiness. And that’s a true sentiment. I’m still learning how to process and accept the good things in my life. I still struggle with believing that I deserve to be happy. That I am enough… Which leads me to right now.

It’s nearly 11 am, and I’m still in bed, something that’s entirely unheard of for anyone who knows me at all. I have so much to do, and yet I feel trapped in this moment of self-loathing for what I haven’t been doing right. I know that nobody expects perfection from me… Except for myself. And I know that the reality is I haven’t actually let anyone down… Except for myself. So now I find myself being inexcusably (if that isn’t a word, it is now) lazy, feeling overwhelmed by everything I need to do while simultaneously suffocating under the weight of feeling like I’m not doing enough. I can work two jobs just fine, but, even with one, I can’t keep this house clean or laundry done. I can be patient and understanding with adults, but I absolutely lose it with the kids. I know I am not alone and that I can’t do any of this by myself, but I feel like I have to and that I’m supposed to, and when I can’t even manage that, then I’m failing. I’m not meeting my expectations, which are absurdly higher than everyone else’s, I assure you.

I can’t keep doing this. I can’t keep living my life with the expectation that I have to be perfect at everything: keep the house perfectly clean, have perfectly well-behaved children, be the perfect fiance, the perfect employee… I am emotionally and physically exhausted, and I don’t even know where to begin to stop this. I look around and I see that nothing is even close to the level I expect myself to achieve, and I can’t breathe. I don’t even know how to fix it. I’m not even sure if it’s even really broken. I just know that I need help and I can’t ask for it because that means I’m failing, and that’s unacceptable.

Growing Pains

Sometimes it feels like a competition. I’m content with providing the bare minimum, but it still twists my stomach into knots when I can’t afford things like expensive parties or random trips to Franky’s Fun Park. I worry that she will resent me. That one day she’s going to really believe that I was mean or that I didn’t love her. That she won’t realize that I was trying to shape her into a decent human being without a lust for material things.

My sweet baby girl isn’t a baby anymore. In fact, she’s a mere two days away from the age of six. This seems like some sort of cosmic level of unfairness. Maybe it’s pms. Maybe it’s stress. I’ve found myself in tears more often than not lately as I think about how our time spent together is shrinking.

I actually did the math on this. I spend approximately 54 hours with my daughter each week. Technically, I get a few more hours with her than her dad. There are 168 hours during the week. The rest of the time, she is in school. In that scant amount of time… a mere 54 hours… Shouldn’t I be able to do more? More experiences? More fun? More childhood?

At nearly 6, my daugher teeters between playing and desperately wanting to do the grown-up things that occupy so much of my time. I often urge her to “just go play” because cleaning is my outlet and I need to do it alone. She then sulks back to wherever she was playing, feeling dejected and disappointed.

So I’ve failed her on two fronts: I don’t spend time with her and I don’t let her spend time with me.

She is almost six… And I spend more time lecturing and correcting behavior than I do playing with her and letting her be herself.

Then there are nights like tonight, where I’m reminded that, while I might not be able to afford the things dad does for her, I make her rainbow hot chocolate.

This was a nightly tradition that I forgot about. Last year, Bri spent more nights with me, and before bed, we always watched a movie and drank rainbow hot chocolate. I forgot how happy this one little thing made her. And, as I kept running everything I can’t do for her through my head, I needed something I could do that would make her smile. I need her smile. So we had leftover tacos and hot chocolate for dinner. I spent $3 on whipped cream and sprinkles. No reservations for an expensive birthday venue. No invitations that have to be given to everyone in the class, not just her friends. No streamers or balloons. Just hot chocolate and genuine happiness. It doesn’t cure the heartache I have from watching my baby transition into a young lady, but it relieves the sting of disappointment from what I perceive as a massive failure.

Next year will be better. I promise.

Just breathe

It’s uncanny how insecurities can sneak in and break down a moment of bliss. I have managed to convince myself that I am undeserving of acts of kindness and love. I don’t think it’s normal for a person to slip into a place of self-deprecation while soaking in a candlelit bath, but I’ve found myself there twice in less than a week. Don’t get me wrong here, I love every moment of this. I’ve never had anyone care so much about my well-being. At this point, I feel as if my heart has been melted into hot wax and poured into a “J” shaped mold. My heart has been reshaped, and I couldn’t be happier.

One of my favorite ways to relax is a long, hot bath. It’s a luxury I have pined for in the years I’ve lived in this house with only a shower and no tub to soak in. So why, in the blissful quiet isolation, amidst the caress of warm, chamomile scented water, have I found myself digging my fingernails into my own flesh while pleading with my lungs to “please just don’t do this right now?”

I despise that feeling when your heart feels as if it will burst through your chest… That feeling when you’re sucking in air through a straw and the outer parts of your vision begin to darken… That feeling when he knocks on the door to see if you’re alright, and you hope you sound normal when you say “yeah.”

I am trying so hard to let go of the fear of rejection and failure that seems to have a death grip on my soul. I know without a doubt that this is it. This is real. This is why I’ve been through the heartache. In those beautiful, quiet moments, however, when I’m meant to relax and decompress, the hurt and the fear creep in. They seize me up and pull me down to the cusp of anxiety and panic.

I’m tired of this part of me existing. I don’t want anyone to ever see that part of me. What’s worse is that I’m genuinely happy! There’s no reason for this right now. Even as I write this, in the cozy, quiet of my home, I feel my chest caving in. It physically hurts, and I can’t for the life of me pin down the reason. Is it the quiet? Is it the fear? At what point do I get to just relax and allow myself to be pampered without the devil whispering in my ear that I don’t deserve this? I do deserve this, and I’m going to tell myself a hundred times a day if I have to. I’m going to get this right.

Fighting the madness

“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” – Lord Byron

I’ve kept a journal for as long as I can remember. As a child, it was a cute, plastic coated, purple diary with a heart-shaped lock. Since then, I’ve had dozens of notebooks, novelty, and leatherbound journals. The crisp, lined pages have long been my sanctuary. My therapy. When it was unacceptable or impossible to say how I felt, it was safe to write it.

The first blog I created was a child of my pain from the ending of my marriage. I needed an outlet for my anger and hopelessness, for the betrayal I felt. I don’t remember the website. In fact, I posted almost daily for just a few weeks before deleting it and walking away. It was the equivalent of screaming into the pillow. It made me feel better, but I couldn’t keep doing it. I think I actually stopped writing anything personal or meaningful for a couple of years.

Looking back, those were some of the hardest times. When I don’t give myself an outlet for my emotions, I internalize them. It doesn’t take long before I begin to feel myself being eaten alive. Panic and anxiety quickly consume me, and I end up struggling to ride out a storm of emotional outbursts.

It’s not pretty. No one can ugly cry like I can.

In the fall of 2014, for the first time in my life, I began attending church and found myself in the company of some very wise women. One night, while we sat in a coffee shop in downtown Greer, we talked about what we do for ourselves. It was brought to my attention that I devote little time to taking care of myself. I was so wrapped up in being a mother and a provider that I forgot how to be me. So I was issued a challenge. One night or day during the week, I had to carve out “me-time”. I wasn’t allowed to clean. It had to be something I enjoyed doing.

My blog was born.

At first, I was faithful. I dutifully blogged on a weekly basis just as I had promised… for a while. I don’t remember why I stopped. I just gave up. Old habits die hard. The slip back into my old role took me by surprise. Seemingly out of nowhere, the enemy seized my heart and filled it right back up with the anxiety and despair I had rallied so hard against.

I let it happen.

In April of last year, I had a moment of heartache that led me back to the pen and paper. I realized after pouring out all my hurts onto the pages, that this was my therapy. I needed to do this often to keep myself sane.

These days, my words are less laced with sadness and hopelessness, and more filled with life. I’ve been encouraged and inspired to write often, and to fill the page with as many words as I can. I haven’t always been faithful to the blog. I’ve missed a week or two here and there, but that’s life. I can feel it, though, when I don’t write.

The madness is there. My demons are there.

I write to keep them away. I will write until they are no more. I will write until words fail me. I will write to keep my mind from the clutches of madness, just like Lord Byron.

Twitterpated

I feel as if my blog has just become my mother. I have been silent for too long. I need to check in every once in a while. Are you hungry? Are you seeing someone? … Are you hungry?

It’s funny. I’ve spent slightly over five years on this emotional rollercoaster that had few climbs and enormous, gutwrenching drops. There have certainly been shining moments in what had become a lonely existence when I didn’t feel isolated. Dare I say that I even fell in love again, but it was fleeting. It was yet another reminder that I was convenient. I was good enough for right now. But forever? Get outta here…

It was painful to be reminded of that, and I unconsciously drifted into a “fake it til you make it” mindset. My cheeks would ache from fake smiling, and my jaw felt bruised from grinding my teeth shut just to hold the fake smile in place. Even at my best, I’m a terrible actress. I can pretend all I want, but when the light blows out, you can see it in my eyes. Even still, I faked it as best I could, all the while trying to come up with a decent exit strategy.

I was never good at coming up with a plan. I think that, when God made me, he said “this one will be naive and impulsive, and it’s going to be fantastic.” In spite of my best efforts, a poorly cobbled together exit plan led me down a rabbit hole to a new unlocked door. Like every other decision in my life, good or bad, I uttered a meek “what’s the worst that could happen” as I ventured through.

Guys, I think I found a wormhole. Or the twilight zone. Or maybe this is what Candy Land looks like in real life. Am I dreaming? Opening that door was equivalent to snapping in the last piece to a 6000 piece jigsaw puzzle… Only that piece had been missing for years and I stumbled upon it in the dark. Opening that door was like in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” when Jack tumbles into Christmas town and is overcome with joy and happiness, but he doesn’t know what he’s feeling because he’s never felt it before. Opening that door was a match, slowly dragged across my rough surface and birthed into flame. How long was I holding my breath? When did I close my eyes? What? Just? Happened?

Euphoria.

I am so happy.

In church a few weeks ago, a visiting pastor said that someone once said to him, “God only puts us on the mountain to gain perspective. We will spend most of our time in the valley.”

I am on the mountain, and I don’t know when I’m going to slip back down into the valley, but I won’t be walking through it alone.

Incomplete

Pinterest is where my dreams go to die.

At the end of 2016, my bestie and I each made a happiness jar that we would fill with positive moments that happened throughout the new year. Yesterday, we were supposed to get together and empty out the jars so that we could reflect on all the good times we had.

I haven’t seen her in almost 3 weeks.

I did, however, dump out the jar on my kitchen table and sift through all my happy moments.

All sixteen of them.

Interestingly enough, sixteen weeks into the year isn’t when I simply forgot about the jar. Sixteen weeks into the year is when the enemy worked his way into my brain and resurrected every bit of anxiety and depression that I’ve worked so hard to overcome. It didn’t just gradually trickle down, either. No. This came at me like a summer storm in the South. In a moment, dark clouds snuffed out the sun, and I was drowning in a torrential downpour of self-loathing and heartache. Why couldn’t I just have one good thing?

I didn’t forget about the jar. In fact, I made it a point to ignore the jar. My daughter would remind me about the jar. “I’ll do it later,” I would say. “I’ve got nothing to put in it,” I would think. And continue to ignore it, I would do.

I ignored it when I helped put out the plastic eggs for my church’s Easter Egg hunt. I ignored it when Elena and Mark put new brakes on my car. I ignored it when I broke my foot, and the ladies in my lifegroup, my friends, and other members of my church not only showed up, but showed out to help me in nearly every aspect of my life.

I buried myself so deeply in my misery that I didn’t even want to acknowledge all of the incredible things happening in my life.

I can do better.

My resolution for this year is to finish what I start. I am so tired of leaving things incomplete. I am sick to death of giving up because it isn’t going according to my plan. It’s almost like I was meant to be in this place where I get a chance to not screw this up… again. This goes well beyond second chances. At this point, I imagine God rolling his eyes, a knowing smirk on his face, as he writes “twenty-seventh chance” in my story.

I have a clean slate, again. I’m going to make it right and follow through.