At the moment it is mid-afternoon and I’m sitting in a chair in the darkened bedroom that my two older girls share and repeating the phrase “Lie down and go to sleep, please.” There are blackout curtains over their windows to help them nap, they have gone potty twice each, and the clock is ticking away at the amount of time I will have to devote to writing. I am aware that this is my only chance, and I will spend most hours of the day forgetting all of the things I planned to write down.
Finding the time to write in the last five years has been challenging enough to where I have barely written anything at all, or struggle to find words when I do.
There is just so much weight in my world right now. Between three toddler girls, a husband with brain cancer, trying to pay debts, and trying to keep a business afloat, time for my own interests is limited.
I admit I spend much of my time worrying about the people reading whatever I do manage to write, so I don’t usually share. For example, I curse a lot, and I really like drinking whiskey, but if I do either publicly, my family will worry needlessly. I worry that if I told you my girls sometimes push me to the point where I hold their baby dolls hostage so they finally go to sleep, that I will look like a bad mom. I worry that if I admit to being hurt or disappointed by David’s forgetfulness that I will be seen as a selfish and less compassionate wife. I worry that if I confess to having middle-of-the-night anxiety attacks about my business that everyone will assume we’re failing.
In the process of all this worry, maybe I am failing.
I know I’m an amazing person. I’m literally one of my favorite people to hang out with. I’m more concerned that my actions will give the wrong impression. However, In my failure to be honest, I am making every other part of my life fail and fall short of what it should be.
I have a tattoo on my arm of three fish swimming. I got it something like 16 or 17 years ago because I had a dream that I looked down at my arm and it was there. When figuring out the design for my real tattoo, my tattoo artist assumed I would want koi fish, being that they were a popular choice at the time. I did research on what koi represented historically in art, and what I kept coming across was “potential.” Koi are thought to show bravery, tenacity, and overcome great adversity while swimming toward a summit where, when they crossed, they would become dragons. I was at a point in my life where I was so certain that I possessed none of the traits of a koi fish and decided that I would just get goldfish instead. They had no special meaning to live up to, and we’re relatively docile little creatures with eight second memories. Totally safe.
I thought I had zero potential, as a writer, as an entrepreneur, as a person.
It’s been about, oh, 5 years, since my last tattoo. I’ve decided that my next tattoo will be the whole damn dragon, right over the faded and tired goldfish that have swam free on my arm for all of this time, making me feel small.
I become furious whenever I sense someone giving up on David, be it himself or otherwise. When we met, he was basically trying to kill himself via neglecting his health, and since then we’ve made a lot of progress toward treating his cancer and building his immune system. I am confident that he has a lot of years ahead of him, but he and I agree that he shouldn’t take the lesson cancer served him lightly. This is our one and only life. What a waste if we give up on ourselves and fail to become what we are meant to be. I will never ever ever give up on David, but it appears I had given up on myself a long time ago.
Having daughters does a thing to a woman that I didn’t expect. I know from years of teaching that kids learn best by example, so I want my life to be the biggest lesson for my girls. I want them to see me struggle to do what I love no matter what. I want them to witness me, their mother, finally find my potential and become the fucking dragon already.
Imagine if they don’t waste the time that I wasted, what they could accomplish. Imagine being a dragon this whole damn time and not even knowing I was capable of breathing fire.