Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Chaos Theory

There’s stability, and then there’s chaos. Two separate ends of the spectrum.

There’s something about chaos. It draws you in, pumps you up, sucks you dry.

Growing up, chaos was the norm. Growing up, and then reaching adulthood, chaos still reigned as I attempted to recover from my childhood. Stability did not live there.

It took a lot of energy to live in the epicentre of chaos. It was hard to relax, because I never knew what was going to be around the corner. Would I have a place to live? Food to eat? A job? Family? Love?

The longer I endured chaos, the stronger I became. I was a survivor. And I took pride in that. I didn’t let the bastards get me down. I beat the odds and I made it. It took a long, long time to realise that being survivor is quite sad.

But the human spirit is a wonderful thing. The edges of the rifts and chasms in my psyche eventually grew together. Perhaps the seal was not as straight as it might have been, but it healed.

It began to heal when I took control of my own life. When I took control and provided to myself, the love that should have been given to me freely. It began to heal when I started to make healthier, less self-destructive choices for myself. When I chose people to be in my life because they treated me with love and respect. I surrounded myself with good, loving people. My friends became the family that I chose. My love and loyalty towards them was fierce. Conversely, I could cut them off without hesitation if they hurt or betrayed me, and never look back. I lived in a very black and white world.

And gradually my world became infused with shades of grey. Edges softened. Everything was kinder, gentler, easier.

Stability had arrived. It unpacked its bags and settled in for the long haul. Security was mine. Eventually I completely and utterly forgot all about chaos. It was a distant memory, part of the past, never to return.

Until now.

Until, my midlife crisis. Chaos is back! It has kicked security and stability to the curb! And let me tell you, they’re none to happy about it! I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I’m constantly working a 3-tiered system. What has to happen today, what has to happen in the near future and what has to happen next year.

I have started my own business and no one told me that I had to become reacquainted with chaos to accomplish it! No one told me that security and stability would high tail it outta here at the first sign of trouble! Expressions like “flying by the seat of my pants” and “I’m gonna have a stroke” have entered my vocabulary with alarming frequency lately. I took up smoking again. I gained 15 pounds. Yup, this is chaos all right. I know it well.

At first, I was incredibly distressed to find that chaos had returned. I mean really, really distressed. It was most unwelcome. What good did chaos ever do for me? I felt that I was taking ten steps backwards. That I was a failure for bringing all of this uncertainty and instability into my life and into my husband’s life. I think I believed that this path had to be well thought out, smooth but with a few manageable bumps in it. Challenging, but not impossibly so. Something to get the old blood rushing a bit.

And all of that was about right. Until the start-up phase of the business ended and we had to get down to brass tacks.

I have discovered that it’s a good idea to have a limitless supply of money if you want to start your own business. It’s for the best, really. A lot less stressful.

And then I woke up and fell back to planet earth. Face to face with chaos, my old nemesis. It was going to be him, or me and I wasn’t planning on laying down and dying anytime soon.

I took off my rose coloured glasses and ground them beneath my foot. I smoked my last cigarette. I ate my last brownie (with vanilla ice cream on top). I turned to face chaos. It was time.

I held open my arms and embraced all of the uncertainty that was bound to come our way. I wrapped my arms around chaos and stroked it's head as it lay against my racing heart.

I had been letting chaos catapult me back to the past. But I will never go back there. What’s different now is that I have a foundation that I have never had before. Friends, family, the love of a good man. A deep and abiding belief in myself. I realised that I had to have faith in our ability to make this plan work. When times are lean, we will do what we must to get through. We will survive. And in surviving, we are moving forward. Growing our dream every day, every step of the way.

And there’s nothing sad about that, is there?


  1. Wow! You can do it, sis. I never thought how this would bring back childhood stuff. You are an incredile woman. Strong. I admire you.

  2. Yo, sis! Do what I do. Just take each day as it comes, don't stress over it, things will improve. Chaos! Ha! I laugh at chaos and dare it to bring me down, or in the words of Charles Emerson Winchester the III of M.A.S.H - "I do one thing at a time, I do it well, and then I move on"! Change what you can, push aside that which you can't at the moment and soon everything will be in order.

  3. Anonymisty: Thanks so much! I had a bit of a bad patch there until I realised what was happening. Once I figured it out, a lot of pressure was released. Once you embrace chaos and accept uncertainty, you head more towards living in the moment. And I think maybe that's not too bad of a thing. It's working for me so far.

    Kim: You are so right. I'm learning to give up that 3-tiered system. I'm learning that I don't have to control every single second, every single action to make sure nothing goes wrong. In fact, letting all the worry and control go, releasing it, is helping me to live one day at a time, just as you said. In some ways it's scary. In others, it's very relaxing, yet invigorating. To just sit at my window, look out over the water and wonder what the day will bring. So far, it's been bringing some pretty nice things and some really nice people.