This has been one of the strangest weeks I have ever had. Ironically, it all seemed to start at Liberty Tattoo on Friday night when I made the decision to have the word “chaos” tattooed on my leg (words of advice: be careful of the statements you declare on your body). By Saturday evening it felt like there had been a tip in my universe, and I began questioning everything about my life. I am a busy woman. I work, I write, I am an activist and I book guests for a radio show called Dangerous Conversation. Most of those things fulfill me and one of them pays the bills, but I began to wonder…am I truly happy? Fulfilled most definitely; but as far as I can tell right now, happy and fulfilled are two entirely different things.
Growing up, I never really expected much out of life. As the only child of an alcoholic, I viewed it as something you simply got through more than anything else, and never believed life held much in store for me. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t until after my mom died that I really began to come into my own. I loved her madly and deeply but she took a lot of my time and energy, and in the end there was never much left over for me. Living with her often felt like being in a vacuum—she consumed my life in all aspects—but for some reason it worked for us. When she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer I felt like it was my life that was ending. Being on this planet without my mom was something I could not even fathom.
It’s tough to grow up feeling responsible for someone else, whether it be for their happiness, living situation or just in general. To this day I am always left with the feeling that I am just not enough, no matter how many projects I take on, how many Chomsky’s I book, or how many likes my essays get. In the end, I could not save my mother from herself. I was not enough for her to get sober, I was not enough for her to feel whole.
I was the dutiful daughter. I rescued her from foreclosure, gave her a place to live and sometimes sacrificed my own happiness for her well-being; but it was worth it, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. When she was diagnosed with cancer she finally got sober, and we had the best year and a half together that I could have ever imagined. I always believed that the moment my mom realized she was going to die, she made the decision she wanted to live. I only wish she had learned that lesson years earlier and been able to live her life to her full potential. She had so much to give, and it saddens me to know she left this earth with a lot of regret. I know her final wish was that I “be happy,” but that’s a struggle for me right now.
So what do you do when you are no longer happy and you can’t pinpoint why? Is it just life, or is it a problem that can be rectified? I watched my mother make so many bad decisions while I was growing up that it can be petrifying to make any major decisions at all. I just live, pay the mortgage, go on vacation and try not to rock the boat (too much). But is that enough? Is that what I really want out of my life? The problem is, I can’t seem to figure this one out—and I am really trying. It usually takes me a little bit of time to find the right solution to a problem, and most of the time I eventually do. But this one is different. This time I feel like I am getting farther and farther away from any rational conclusion. The other day I actually thought the answer was to play Powerball for the first time in my life, hoping beyond hope that money would somehow fix things. Sadly, I didn’t win. Go figure.
I am not sure if this is some sort of deranged mid-life crisis or if I’m in the beginning stages of a complete mental breakdown, but either way I know it ain’t gonna be pretty. I have gotten so desperate that I even tried to enlist the help of the universe. The other night, while heading east on the LIE, I saw the most beautiful moon ever. It felt like I was driving right into it, and that the universe was saying, “Cynthia you are on the right path.” But then I had to turn around to come home and the moon was no longer within my grasp. I really think the universe is just as fucked up as I am.
Then there is this crushing feeling I have in my gut and the heaviness in my chest. I feel like I am on the verge of having a full-on panic attack most of the day. It’s at times like this I really wish I had my mom here to talk to. For all of her faults and failings, she was the one person I could always count on for good advice. She loved me more than anything in the world and would certainly have been a big help to me now. But she is gone. I am left here on this planet, abandoned, and I have to try to figure things out for myself. I have never felt more alone. I have never wanted my mother more.
Some problems just seem too daunting to tackle. I suppose I could sit back, work, keep paying the mortgage, go on some more vacations and count my blessings, but something tells me, deep down in my being, that it’s not going to end up that way. I have always felt like my life was going to play out in three chapters. The end of chapter one was welcome, but something tells me the the end of chapter two will be pure chaos. I hope I have the stomach for it.
Author: Cynthia Cone is a heavily tattooed Ex-Con with no college education and very bad punctuation. She currently lives on Long Island, NY where she pays extremely high taxes, likes to drink, rage against the machine and shop at the GAP.
Cynthia is also a satellite producer for the radio show Dangerous Conversation which can be heard on radioio.com.
Contact Cynthia at firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter: @BookingGoddess Read Cynthia’s Other Articles/Essays Here
Photo Credits: Matt Farrara (Chaos) and Jen Braun (Moon)
8 thoughts on “Really, It’s Not You, It’s Me…”
I really like this one, Cynthia, and I have to say it sounds familiar… replace mom with grandfather, change a few details, and it’s a lot like I’m reading something very similar to my own thoughts. The anxiety, the inner despair, the attempt to push it all to the side with novelty and “fun” events. But I got to thinking… It’s not just you. Or me. It’s a reflection of what we call the human condition: “the meaning of life, the search for gratification, the sense of curiosity, the inevitability of isolation, or awareness regarding the inescapability of death.”
Your essay is at the same time extremely personal and unique while also grasping the overall aspects that we, humanity, on some level or another, endure during our brief stay in this particular node of existence… I think people are going to really like, and probably, relate to this one. Good job.
You impress the hell out of me. You are bold and brave and one of the smartest and most courageous people I’ve ever know. You are not abandoned, you are loved from a distance. And also, from Queens.
Thanks Rita : )
Deep, very deep and (I think) extremely relatable to many people who have enough money to pay for the essentials with just a little left over for a splurge every now and then (which I think are large portions of the western world). Before the internet, we clearly remember the feelings of isolation without being able to pin point- what that feeling was that we felt, but didn’t want to admit- we were in our own world, our own bubble without realizing we were closed off to the world of possibilities abd ideas that were going on maybe a stones throw away or a whole other country away. Now our attention is the most important commodity that we have (according to capitalism and your own conscience if you think enough about it). Once you open yourselves up to this other world, its hard to want to settle for anything less than your dreams (even if you may not know exactly what they are, just more than what your doing)
I am currently doing a year on the other side of the world to answer this question for myself? Can I pull myself together- away from everything I know and is familiar- to answer the question that I have been asking myself the last 2 years; What do you really WANT to do?
If anyone is still reading- I loved the piece about her mum and I feel the same way about mine. it took some personal growth from me to see it.
And you aren’t alone, im sure many people love your work and you put a little piece of yourself in those very words.
A good writer, perhaps the best writers, will always arrange for you to believe you have looked behind the curtain. But, of course, reinvention is only one peculiar trait of which we are all partakers. Lamentations always begin anew even before the old tears have become like snail trails of salt upon our cheeks.
I’d be counting upon a universe of order to hope you’d understand “chaos”.
The best argument shoots itself in the foot with it’s orderly presentation of logic to do so.
If chaos does indeed reign, silence is its only proclamation. For if its origin is also its end, everything said between is less than useless, it is a lie.
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