Let Me Count the Ways

I lay in our bed, crushed by what felt like yet another failure. Frustration causing a hard lump to rise up in my throat and tears to squeak out of my eyes no matter how hard I fought against them. I’m not a crier.

“I’m just so tired,” I wailed. “Do you know how many jobs I’ve applied for? Literally hundreds.” I had the spreadsheet to prove it.

“I know sweetheart,” Forrest soothed. “These things take time. Remember when I lost my job, it took almost six months for me to find a new one.”

I pouted and buried my face in his chest because he was right, but that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. It had only taken me two months the last time I was looking for a job. I didn’t understand why this time was different. But last time, I was completely and utterly alone. I’d just gambled my savings on a crazy idea that Atlanta was the place I needed to be. Last time, I would have taken any job just to prove to myself that this wasn’t the worst mistake of my life.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’ve taken ten steps back. With my job ending, my savings dwindling, my anxiety rising, and this deep sense of not knowing what the hell to do with my life, it feels like I’ve fallen into the struggle hole I thought I’d dug myself out of. But laying against Forrest’s chest, with my tears drying into his shirt, I knew there was one very big difference between then and now: I wasn’t alone anymore. I let the frustration pass into gratitude, thinking about this unexpected, beautiful little life we’ve built together.

When I was twenty-four, I was pretty sure marriage wasn’t for me. I’d have relationships, sure, but nothing permanent. I would be too busy traveling, writing, and focusing on my career for anything so domestic. At twenty-seven, I watched my parents’ marriage disintegrate into an ugly, messy divorce. The stable ground my entire childhood had been based on shifting beneath my feet. I couldn’t imagine swearing forever to someone knowing it could all fall apart after thirty-five years. At twenty-eight, I stood by front door, nervously joking to my best friend that it was only a date and it’s not like I had to marry the guy. At thirty, I said yes to that guy who was only supposed to be a date. At thirty-two, I will marry that man who is as easy to be with as my own thoughts, and far more comforting.

All of this washed over me as I let myself be comforted, and in the days afterward when I picked myself up and continued to struggle. None of it changed the fact that I don’t know what I want to do with my career, or that every day of writing and not-writing feels futile, or that job applications and interviews have yet to lead to anything positive. All of that was still there, still frustrating, still stressful. But it felt so much lighter on my heart.

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