My husband and I are hunting for an apartment in Denver. We were trying to wait until my Dear Husband had acquired the ultra-important employment, but every job in the city seems to start in September. Which is fine as far as our savings goes, but does not work to secure housing. Over the three years we’ve been living in Alaska, every landlord started requiring ‘income verification’ before renting.
Which we cannot do without income. Which we’re waiting on and working on.
Meanwhile, one child has had a black eye for many moons and the other has a sore throat/fever combo that is making words like ‘strep’ wander through my mind. But if I take either to the doctor, I deplete my savings which is my only tangible, visible evidence to prove to a landlord that I can pay rent. And I can’t get the kids on state health insurance until we are in our own place. So we’re back to income verification. Which we’re waiting on and working on.
As a cheery little detour, we’ve traveled to Michigan to help my mother clean out my dad’s house. The one where he died. Which gives me a chance to celebrate with family who are enjoying new-to-them homes. Who are decorating and picking out furniture and setting things up however it suits them. Which is all well and good, except that we’ve been trying to get to that step for MONTHS.
Look to your left, do you see someone there that makes you feel depressed? Look to your right. See the same thing? Sometimes that’s the way life goes. Sometimes it looks like the mom to your left screaming at her kids is getting much better results, and sometimes it looks like the mom on your right ignoring her kids was somehow gifted the two most docile little beings ever.
Comparing yourself to others is a tool for self-destruction, I think. Not because others are genuinely better off than you, but because that’s all you’ll see. Unless you’re looking for the miserable parts of people’s lives to make YOU feel better, but then what kind of person does that make you? Also miserable. You can’t win playing that game.
You know what you can do? You can keep on keeping on. You can focus on you. Your actions and your thoughts and your own business (and busyness). You can keep your chin up and rest easy (or not) at night knowing you’re making the right decisions, not always easy ones, because they’re the right things to do. You can face the reality that sometimes life looks excruciating and just brace yourself for the impact and the push through to the end.
For me, that involves letting go of jealousy. I’m glad for people moving in to new homes. It’s a good thing. And that good thing does not come OUT of my life nor does it reflect any lack of ‘earned good’ on my part. God alone knows the personal story of each person in my life. And God alone knows what knowledge, experience, and support each person has been given. We’re swimming along in one part of the race, treading water in another, and drowning somewhere else. An image of success in one area does not equal an easy life, or an equal playing field for the duration of the game.
And one huge reason I cannot control the image of success that I project is that I cannot control the actions of others. I cannot understand or know their hearts. I cannot make anyone do anything. To believe otherwise is to believe a lie. A fallacy. It’s a basic teaching of Al-Anon that I internalized long before my first meeting. I just can’t control anyone else. As a daughter, as a sister, or as a mother or a renter. I can only control my actions. I cannot force my toddler to acquiesce to my demands. I can choose to make reasonable requests at reasonable times with reasonable expectations. And I can choose to love her and forgive her if she chooses to be unreasonable.
So I do. I do what’s right. Right now that means making a difficult and potentially embarrassing call to a leasing agent. And trying to find another way to get into the home my kids need. Later this afternoon it will mean squelching the urge to control my tantruming toddler. I cannot force her to stop screaming, and she probably will not stop screaming as long as her environment keeps leaping and morphing and changing around her. When she has something stable to depend on, her behavior will likely stabilize. I cannot control her choices or behaviors, but I can control mine. And that is a source of peace.