I am … a control freak. I feel like I have to get everything done. On my own. My way.
But the thing about a nervous breakdown, a truly colossal one, see, is you lose all kinds of control, and then it’s a struggle to try to get any kind back. And then decide what’s worth keeping, and what’s worth … giving over.
Independence is one thing. Sanity is another. And overburdening yourself proving that you can do this… it just isn’t worth it, because Superwoman? She doesn’t exist, even one who isn’t stressed and overworked to begin with. (And face it– even the ones of us who aren’t on antidepressants often are overworked– stressed.)
So … I’ve tried to start letting. Letting the dishes on the side of the sink not bug me so much during the week until one of us gets to them. One of these days. Letting the people at the grocery stores help me with my bags rather than– damnit, no, I’m a strong woman, I can carry them all out myself– because you know what, it’s been a long day, I am tired, and that’s what they get paid for, albeit not much, and I always can tip. Letting the nice Hispanic ladies at Saint Rossmore’s laundromat do my laundry and smile at me and call me bebe as they hand me back the laundry that always breeds like rabbits and is a houshold task I can’t stand— and they tell me I look nice, or look tired, and pat me on the arm and tell me to have a nice day and believe that they mean it as they chivvy “ninito, get over here, don’t bother the nice man,” and then roll their eyes at me as their little boy rolls his tonka over the as-always spotless brightly-colored plastic folding tables. When I have to wait because “Dios Mio, what a day, let me tell you, he puke all over the floor, he no tell me he feeling sick, just boom, all over the floor, I’m sorry I’m late, bebe, I’ll be done in 10 minute, I get you a cafe,” and then she gets me a cup of the brewed Cafe Bustelo they make for themselves in the back– made creamy and sugary-sweet because that’s how she likes it– well, that’s how I like it too, then in that moment.
And then after I get my laundry, jazzed up on warming Bustelo and a note that “Bebe, you look tired, you been working too hard,” so when I tell her I’m going away for the weekend to hang out with my best friend from college, she says, “Oh, that’s good, you go dancing, you dance off your tired…” it’s advice I just might let stick.
The man at the gas station had some 70s song I didn’t know blaring out of his well-kempt black Caddy– “Beautiful Lady” or “Beautiful Woman” or something, and he was checking me out as I walked back to the car. “Fifteen regular on eleven please.” I smiled at him as he made eye contact, because hey, I’ll take a compliment where I can get it, even if sloppy grey pants, Birks, wet hair in a bun and an acid green fleece at eight in the morning are not my idea of pick-up attire. Maybe he just likes a girl who pumps her own gas at the only cash-only place in the ‘hood. I paid it no more mind as I pumped the car full, wiped down the windows, drove over to the air pump and filled up the tires. The hood latch though, so I could refill the windshield wiper fluid– the damned catch was stuck, and try as I might, it just wouldn’t release. Tug– slam it back down, pop it up once again, and my WD-40 can of course was out of grease (though at least I had the can in my trunk…) and then he came over.
Bigger hands, of course, and he gave a grunt and a tug and agreed it was stuck, but with bigger fingers and yes– more manpower, he got it open, and I poured in my windshield liquid, no problem. He apologized for the cigarette smoke and I smiled, joked if it wasn’t for the husband, I’d smoke more myself. He smiled and laughed, said his wife insisted he smoke only outside of the house and so he did it here, at the office. And then he doffed his imaginary baseball cap at me and walked back to his pristine, older model black Cadillac, parked near the back of the lot. As I pulled back and out of lot, I noted the plate. “Hatoff,” it said.
So– thank you, Saint Stan, or descendant thereof. I’m glad you came over to help. And I’m glad that I let you.