by Jennifer on October 8, 2008

Today, I was a woman just hanging on.

The day went downhill pretty early – like it was some pissed off teenage girl who set up a lawn chair and a cooler, got real comfortable, and derided me and muttered expletives for the next 12 hours. A heckler, with time to kill.

“You’re crazy,” she said, “if you think you can pull it off.”

“You’ll never finish it. You never do.”

“Even if you do finish, it won’t be any good. Look at it. Already it’s no good.”

“Yeah, that’s right. Give up.”

“Why are you crying, crybaby?”

It’s not her first time to hang around. But today, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get her to shut up or leave. All the noise I could make wasn’t loud enough to drown out her voice. I tried.

I tried like hell.

She brought her best game, though. An email from my mother (some of her best work, but not worth the bandwidth here – and, honestly, hardly a blip on the screen. “Nice try, amateur,” I told the girl.). And a migraine (“How’s the headache?” the girl shot back. “Nice touch, right? Thought of that one myself.”).

It was a long day. It’s been a long year. I’m tired. A little lost. My need – for what? I don’t even know, it’s just need – is fathoms deep. Nothing fills me up. My confidence is shot full of holes, and it was never a solid plane to begin with.

A pretty attractive package, don’t you think? Hard to resist, and sexy, too.

Maybe this will sound crazy, but sometimes, it feels like there are different parts of me, separate and whole, who lived through each stage of my life, as though each of them existed to live out a set of years. A little girl. A teenager. A young woman, who made decisions from fear. A mother, who hardly ever feels like she’s on solid ground.

All of the memories are mine, still. Everything that has happened in my life – the beauty, the sadness – is imprinted and accessible. But. The memories seem like they’re separated by walls that clearly divide one stage of life from the next. Rooms of one house.

A few weeks ago, I had this thought: What if we didn’t have just one soul through our whole life? What if we could turn over a claim check for a new one when we’ve filled the last one with all the life we can?

What if when we’ve stretched one soul to its limits – throwing all of our pain into it, the losses, the hope, the disappointment, the self-doubt, the fear – we could trade it in for another? Maybe with one long breath, we could fill our lungs and every cell and oh yes, our heart, with air that’s as old as the ground where we walk, heavy with the wisdom of the souls that have left their bodies behind, who know the span of life beginning to end, who could tell us if it all really comes to something. One breath, a new soul.

Count me in. If the universe is taking requests, here’s my order for one who is confident and sure of herself, who doesn’t question what can be done. Who is tender with herself, and patient. Who comes out swinging, and doesn’t abide hecklers.

Or how about this…What if through some grace, I didn’t even have to ask, and one day I would just feel new?

I know all the things I should tell myself, and now at the end of this day, I’ve started. I sent my heckler packing (by nightfall she was just twirling her hair and popping her gum, anyway. Bored of me. I couldn’t really blame her. ).

I’m done with this day. Done with this year. With the fear. With the doubt that has been my closest companion for all these years.

I’m ready for a clean slate. A second wind. A dip in the Jordan.

I’m here, waiting to feel new.  Anytime, Universe. You know where to find me.


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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

flutter October 8, 2008 at 2:19 am

You and me both, babe. You and me both.

flutters last blog post..He has managed to survive another year

Thank you, babe. Thought you might understand.

Crazycath October 8, 2008 at 3:17 am

Oh Jennifer – ((((( Hugs )))))) for you .

You just ignore her. It’s hard to I know, but just ignore her. You are worth far more and I think you know this which is why you are ready for your clean slate.

I would say God knows you’re ready too. Go get your dip in the Jordan. ;0)

Crazycaths last blog post..Wordless Wednesday

Cath, thank you for the hugs and the solidarity. Going for a dip…

RiverPoet October 8, 2008 at 4:38 am

I’m hoping you feel new again soon. This is a tough time of year, and I know that I don’t have a clue as to everything you’re dealing with. Things will start looking up soon. The pendulum never swings to just one side.

Peace – D

RiverPoets last blog post..When the Men Leave, Everything Goes to Hell!

D, thank goodness for that…and thank you.

Ducky October 8, 2008 at 5:19 am

Turn off KFKD already!

Ducky, turning the dial…

Gwen October 8, 2008 at 6:56 am

I like the idea of a new soul, in theory, but my current one is so complex, so full of light and dark and everything in between, I think I’d miss it. Even the dark.

Our heads can be knife-sharp places, can’t they?

Gwen, Yes, they can. I suppose I’ll have to stick with the one I have…it’s not so bad, without the heckling.

Boliath October 8, 2008 at 8:04 am

You must watch Tilda Swinton in Female Perversions.


She has a heckler, we all do, I think you dealt with yours rather well, mine is a night owl, she likes to come out after dark when I’m trying to sleep when I am most vulnerable.

Boliaths last blog post..Falling for it

Boliath, I added that movie to my Netflix queue…sounds interesting. Mine comes out at night, too, and has robbed me of some sleep lately. Hope yours lets you have some rest.

Reluctantfarmchik October 8, 2008 at 8:20 am

Your “heckler” is a “Gremlin.” You can find out about gremlins here


No matter what soul you have, there will be some sort of Gremlin. Every soul journeys on a path and is influenced, affected, cheered on, and derided by their experiences.

What you’re doing with your gremlin is perfect. Noticing it. Being with it. Sometimes stepping over it, and sometimes taking it head-on.

You go girl!! From this side, I see strength in your observations and admissions of self-doubt. I love your writing. It is (you are) amazing.

Deirdre–Thank you for the solidarity, and for the very lovely things you said. I couldn’t get to the link, but I’ll email you for it later.

sabriel75 October 8, 2008 at 8:50 am


Someone sent me a link to this blog and I cannot say she did it in vain. What a wonderfully expressive outpouring of my own heart’s (mind’s) own emotional turmoil. You could not have described the disasociativeness that I feel, toward the boxes that cage who I am , any better. It’s enlightening to hear another speak plainly and without qualms that sometimes, the me I am is in direct conflict, with the very essence of me who I am also. None of it bipolaring or dichotomous, just another facet of the intricacy that makes me human.

Thanks for sharing. And I do hope that renewal and grace finds you refreshed and remembering how special you are to this life and the next.

Hi Sabriel (and welcome!), Thank you so much for your lovely words. It means a lot to hear that you understand, and I hope you have found a way to feel whole. We all need things that save us from days like that.

Ree October 8, 2008 at 9:08 am

What a beautiful description of a completely fucked up day.

My teenage girl takes the shape of my first boss from my first “real” job. The one that told me I was abrupt, abusive, and abrasive. She’s been hanging around a LOT lately, now that I’m looking for a new job.

I picture her with my stiletto in her throat every once in a while. Other times, I picture her sneaking away when she hears me praised by senior executives.

Neither picture makes her go away for long, but it gets me through the next discussion with a possible employer.

Rees last blog post..With Apologies to Oscar Hammerstein II

Ree, I love the image of you using your stiletto so (ahem) pointedly! I hope you can shake your heckler…let me know if you need backup. 🙂

natalie October 8, 2008 at 9:20 am

i know exactly what you are saying. sometimes i feel like i am two totally different people. sometimes they are both rational, but sometimes they fight with each other. crazy i tell you. it makes me crazy.

natalies last blog post..Writing

Natalie, I had a feeling you would understand. We’re complex creatures, and it’s maddening sometimes.

Daryl October 8, 2008 at 10:17 am

Time for tough love.

Whine over.

Pull up those socks and WRITE ….


Daryls last blog post..wordless wednesday

Daryl, Just what I needed! Thank you, my friend.

liv October 8, 2008 at 10:20 am

yep. there are days like this. unbearable days.

Liv, if only it was easier to shake loose from them, you know?

Madge October 8, 2008 at 2:35 pm

i am so there. i am exactly completely right there today.

Madges last blog post..Am I back yet?

Madge, we’ll talk soon, then?

jenrantsraves October 8, 2008 at 5:13 pm

That bitch! Want me to bitch slap her out of town for you? I think that our souls are constantly changing form – I know that my soul is very different from the one I used to have. Each experience we have, good and bad, shapes us in ways that are uncovered layer by layer. That is what, I know, will make your work fantastic – the honesty with which you uncover those layers. You CAN do it, and you will.

Jen, Things definitely look better on this side of that day. I like what you said about our souls changing form. You may have just said it better than I could have. Thank you for shining a light here.

the mama bird diaries October 8, 2008 at 7:07 pm

I’m sorry for your difficult day and everything you are struggling with… but your writing is what is going to make you feel new again. You don’t need a new soul. Your soul is perfect.

the mama bird diariess last blog post..put chase utley on the ticket

Kelcey, Thank you…I think I might be happy with it, after all. 🙂

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 October 9, 2008 at 3:57 am

That meanie needs kidnapped, thrown in a car trunk and then that car should be pushed off the Grand Canyon 🙂

Writing will help you. I know it will 🙂

(Pssst….you WON my giveaway 🙂 )

Lisa@verybusymomwith4s last blog post..Update on Dino (and a winner!)

Lisa, she is SO out of here now, with a restraining order for good measure. 🙂 I’ve been to your place now, and thank you again!

melissa October 9, 2008 at 9:24 am

Anne Lamott also advises to shut down the voices in your head–the teenaged hecklers included.

melissas last blog post..Blue Jean Blues

Melissa, I’ve been thinking I should read her right now. A little Bird By Bird, maybe?

Dave October 9, 2008 at 10:25 am

Generally if you make a plea to the universe you’ll get an answer !

: )

Daves last blog post.."The soil in Decatur County has a long memory…"

Dave, maybe the Universe shouldn’t give me what I want this time. 🙂
Probably has something smarter up its sleeve.

Jenn @ Juggling Life October 9, 2008 at 4:26 pm

The only problem is that the new one wouldn’t be you. And YOU have a lot to offer this life.

Jenn @ Juggling Lifes last blog post..Punk’d!

Jenn – It’s easier to see that now… and thank you.

Hatchet October 9, 2008 at 6:58 pm

I’m so sorry you’re having a tough time.

Must be time to take a bit of a break, eat some ice cream or a fancy dessert (I vote for fancy dessert, myself.). Go see a silly movie. Turn off the news and the TV. I’m right there with ya.

Hatchets last blog post..If Food::Love as Plants::Hope, Then…

Hatchet, the kids are off for a midterm break right now, so we plan to have some fun and a change of scenery. And dessert. Definitely dessert. (You have the best ideas.)

Momisodes October 9, 2008 at 7:50 pm

Oh Jennifer. I’m so sorry. I know the power of those doubtful words, stares, and references all too well. Please know that YOU are amazing, and inspire people like me through your gift of writing.

Momisodess last blog post..The Big Tease

Sandy – You inspire me right back. Thank you so much for saying that.

Milena October 9, 2008 at 8:42 pm

What if we could all have a soul as lovely and fathoms deep as yours… I’d put in an order for that one myself. This quote I used recently seems very apt for you Jennifer. Here it is:

If there is a soul, it is a mistake to believe that it is given to us fully created. It is created here, throughout a whole life. And living is nothing else but that long and painful bringing forth. Albert Camus

You’ve been bringing it forth. That is what you have been doing.

Soul searing writing as always. This was a beautiful post.

Milenas last blog post..What I can and cannot do…

Milena – That quote is as perfect as the one Ron left…thank you. I think I’ve shaken loose the negative thoughts now, and what’s ahead looks pretty darn interesting now. (Wish I could have seen that a few days ago…and the support here is amazing.) Thank you, my friend.

Milena October 9, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Ah… but now I take the time to read what others wrote you and there’s the quote Ron put for you. How appropriate by far.

Milenas last blog post..What I can and cannot do…

Ann October 10, 2008 at 11:29 am

Aw, darlin’. You sure captured perfectly what a nose-dive day is like. I am taken aback to read you heard from your….”mom”, but glad to read you immediately put it in its proper place – and I hope you high-fived yourself for reacting so wonderfully to what could have been a meltdown trigger, high-hugs for that.

Sounds like some grace is already finding you and some of the ick is shedding away. I like your idea of breathing in a whole new, fresh soul – OH HOW I LOVE THAT IDEA….

Anns last blog post..We Know We’re Nuts, What’s New

Ann – It did sound pretty inviting, that idea. Tomorrow we’re heading up for a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad (wanna come?), and that should really help me shake off the rest of the funk. Thank you for your words.

anymommy October 10, 2008 at 2:43 pm

I know this feeling, but I also know that you don’t need anything new to write the book you want to write. You have such a refreshing, honest, to the point, and stunning voice. You need to be who you are to keep that. How about this:

Back off Universe, give the girl some space!!

luv, stacey

anymommys last blog post..Sadness

Stacey – Thank you for saying such a lovely thing…and as for the Universe? I like how you think.

Kimberly October 10, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Ugh, I’ve been there. My heckler is a bitchy teenage girl too. I sometimes have mental screaming fights with her, which makes me like the craziest crazy in Crazytown. Though I will say, it sure feels good to give her a virtual slap upside the head now and then.

Hang in. Tomorrow is another day.

Kimberlys last blog post..I’m the one that she wants

Kimberly – What is it with that kind of heckler…I think charm school is in order for both of ours? Keep fighting yours off – we’ve got a couple of years and a lot of wisdom on our side. You hang in there, too, and thank you.

JCK October 10, 2008 at 7:44 pm

I think you are more than ready and you don’t even know it yet. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant.

It makes complete sense to me, given your childhood “nurturers” that this teenage girl would be mouthing off to you at this point. You WILL shut her up. And you may have already. 🙂

So sorry about another missive from your mother.

Sending huge hugs and encouragement.

JCKs last blog post..Oh GOD, here we go AGAIN.

JCK – Thank you for the hugs and encouragement…next time I’m in a funk like that, I’ll remember that it’s Jack O’Clock somewhere. 🙂

Grandy October 10, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Jennifer, I don’t think it’s been that long since I’ve peeked in on you…but I’m sorry if it has.

First let me say WHOOOOWIEEE!! You’re looking H.O.T. in that new pic with the new do!! Right on!!!

It seems a little inappropriate to put that comment in this post, and I hesitated for a bit, until I realized maybe it would be just the right boost you might need.

Your sucky day is done. Your inner bitch voice is passed out and hopefully suffering a serious hangover by now.

You need a break. Your soul needs some well deserved PTO (personal time-out) to tend to nobody else.

Hang in there beautiful!! 😉

Grandys last blog post..How Grandy Spends Her Daze

Grandy – That is never hard to hear, thank you! (You made my day)

We’re getting away tomorrow for a day trip, which I expect will do a lot to clear my head. It’s not alone time, but it will be good. Thank you so much for all you said…

maggie, dammit October 12, 2008 at 1:41 pm

GAH, you are good.

(and I know those awful hecklers.)

Thinking of you.

maggie, dammits last blog post..Awareness

david mcmahon October 12, 2008 at 5:07 pm

We all need a dip in the Jordan sometimes.

david mcmahons last blog post..Flower Power

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