Hubby lost his job a month ago, and I don’t have words enough to express the depth of the fear I have felt. Fear that found me in the greenhouse where I tried to hide from it. Fear, that when it found me pretending to tend to the thyme, doubled me over and took my breath away. Fear that, after it gave my breath back, wreaked hell on my stomach. World spinning, ground opening, puke inducing, capital F Fear.
And lest you think I just have a low fear tolerance, let me share with you that I went on a hunger strike to convince my dad to let a family of opossums live above my room, even though there was a giant hole in the ceiling where they could get into my room. I grew up with a slew of men who knew people who knew people who could get any sort of problem taken care of if I should just ask. When I was just a little kid, my parents would get wasted and then go “four wheelin'” in places that likely hadn’t seen humans in a hundred years. And pretty much every outing ended with us stuck in a rushing river or dangling over a cliff, rear wheels spinning for purchase. In college a boy who didn’t know how to take no for an answer pulled a gun on me and tried to get me to get into his car. I punched him in the face and kicked his sorry ass out of my apartment.
I’m like young Simba. I laugh in the face of danger!
So when I was in the greenhouse, practically barfing on my herbs and wondering who the hell threw me into a swirling vortex, I was surprised by my overwhelming emotions.
When hard times hit, people often comfort themselves with the notion that God is Watching over us and that the troubles are all part of his Plan. I guess I can see how people can put all their eggs in the faith basket. When life gets scary and uncontrollable, it is comforting to think that, no matter what happens, you’ll pull through because there’s someone watching out for you. Feeling helpless and alone sucks. When your boss cans your sorry ass or your house catches on fire, or when Lucille leaves you with four hungry children and crops in the field, the desire to be taken care of, to be loved, kicks into over-drive. I think we all love the idea of having a parent who will put their arms around us and kiss our boo-boos away. God does this for people. Or, the idea of God does. And then, when a new job is found, the insurance pays out, or Lucille comes crawling back from her moonshine haze, the reaction is to Thank God for being so good, for providing for your needs, for looking out for you. Like children thanking their parents for a Popsicle.
But I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in god and his plan. I don’t believe that the crap people go through is a test of faith and that if we just let go and let God, everything will be okay.
I didn’t pray even one time after Hubby lost his job. I didn’t beat my breast and ask the sky “WHY?” Nope. I let the ground open up underneath me and I let myself have a little emotional breakdown in the greenhouse. Then I went inside, helped Hubby file for unemployment and then I took inventory of our pantry. After that, I started the process of applying for every possible job I could while trying to keep BB’s homeschooling schedule as normal as possible.
Hubby didn’t pray either. See, he’s a godless heathen too. He filed for unemployment, he held me while I had my emotional breakdown, he had one of his own and I held him. He revamped his resume and sent it out to every possible place he could, he stayed supportive and upbeat about all the sandwiches, pasta and beans we had to eat, and he…
Got a job.
God didn’t give him a job, he got it on his own merit. When I found out he got a job, I posted the happy news on Facebook and said “Life is good.” After I posted that, I realized that substitute the word life for god and you would have a sentiment that I would never utter. I realize that one could argue that it amounts to the same thing: saying that life is good is just a pussy way of saying that god is good. If someone were to say that to me, I’d have to restrain myself from laughing at them. It’s not the same thing at all. I mean, for starters, I can prove that life actually exists. I will admit that sometimes life sideswipes me, but I’m never powerless against life. I’m never in the passenger seat while a plan unfolds itself the way it’s designed to. Life happens. Shit happens. I deal with the shit that life gives me and then things get better. Or worse. But the thing is, I’m in control. Even if I can’t control everything that happens to us, I can control how I respond to those things.
Life is good. Except when it sucks. Because sometimes life really freaking sucks. And that’s another difference. I am more than happy to stand on a roof and shout out “Fuck off, Life! You totally fucking suck!” But the “God is Good” people would never shout the same thing at God. I’m willing to say: Sometimes shitty things happen for no damn good reason, and that stinks. Then I go about fixing it. When things get better I then say: Well that sucked, but life is pretty darned good again. Whew! The God is Great crowd says: I know God wouldn’t throw more at me than I could handle. Thank God that tornado didn’t take us along with our house! That they actually thank god for not making a crappy situation worse is weird. But to go one further and to not assign blame for the crappy thing happening in the first place just baffles me. How can one say “Thank God I only broke my collar bone and some ribs in that crash, it could have been so much worse!” without saying “Yo, God type dude. What the French Toast? Why’d you make me crash, muthafuckah?”
Life is good, except for the parts that are awful. We pulled through the jobless thing, I learned how to make a really kick ass marinara, and I feel that Hubby and I have grown closer and stronger thanks to this ordeal. But even though I can say life is good, I can also say that parts of life currently suck. We’re deep in the red and it’ll take a long time to catch up. We had a vacation planned but had to cancel so we could pay rent instead. My third hernia surgery seems to have failed and nobody can tell me why.
That’s the way life is, though, isn’t it? Sometimes life totally sucks, sometimes it mostly sucks, and sometimes life is awesomely, kick ass wonderful. But it is rarely consistent or all one way. Even when I didn’t know if we’d have to move or put BB in school, there were still puppy kisses and BB hugs and library books. There were chocolate chip cookies and fresh thyme and the blue depths of Hubby’s eyes. There were those little bits of good during a time that was crappy. And there will be bits that are crappy when times are good. But crappy or kick-ass, nobody is in charge of the direction of my life except me. I like it that way, too. Nothing makes me feel more powerful than coming to the other side of powerlessness by wit and hard work.