The Year of Magical Thinking…

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan DidionWith apologies to Joan Didion* for stealing her title, I am doing that thing. You know the thing I mean? Where you do the “year ago today” thing and look back and think about what you were doing a year ago and sort of relive last year while living this year and feel like you are in two places at once.

It screws with my head.

Magical thinking.

See, magical thinking is based in patterns. We think we see patterns where there aren’t patterns or create patterns where we want them to be. So, if I really want to believe something, I will start looking for proof and–as if by magic–I find it!

It might be my thinking if I wait to have children until my mother did (at least 24 years old) then it isn’t an “accident” and my children will be welcome and approved.

It might be my thinking that if I have always fallen in love in the fall and it is now fall that–wha la!–I should be running into Mr Right (Now) at any moment.

It might even be that if I could turn back the clock to those moments before the events that sent me reeling toward right now occurred that I could, somehow, avert them.

It doesn’t matter that my mom was divorced within 4 years of giving birth. (I didn’t follow the logic past the “approval” to see if the pattern held, I would be a single mom shortly.)

It doesn’t matter that the reason I have always fallen in love in the fall is because that is when you go back to school and hook up with a new guy. (Yeah, I am back in school–but all of the guys are either married or gay which makes them somewhat unsuitable for my love interest.)

It doesn’t even matter that I can’t turn the clock back and even if I could that I couldn’t change anything except–perhaps–the day it all finally blew apart. (The wasband’s temper was hardly within my control.)

I am still doing it. Magical thinking. Looking for the pattern. Trying to find control when, frankly, I have none.

There is a time for looking back. It helps to understand what got you where you are. But at some point, you have to point forward. I am working toward the balance between reflection and action.

Driving home tonight I was absolutely terrified for about 20 seconds. Why? I realized that I was on the road with my little kids and no one expected me at the other end. I could vanish from the earth and it would be at least 12 hours before anyone noticed. I felt completely disconnected. It was an acute attack of the larger unease I have been feeling the last few days. Generally, I am a pretty upbeat, expecting-the-best kinda girl. The last few days have found me worried about everything–money, health, death, school, friends, love, car, and so on–and unable to accomplish much of anything.

I think it is the Magical Thinking pushing me in this direction. As scary things happen to the people around me, I can’t help but wonder if I am on a bad-luck stretch of the highway. I am looking for the clues that my turn to get sideswiped is comin’. Enough already.

I need a good night’s sleep. I need to make a list of the stuff that I need to accomplish. I need to pat myself on the back for successfully navigating one of the hardest years of my life–while managing to graduate from school, homeschool two children, and stay at goal weight.

I can do this–whatever this might be. And I don’t have to resort to magic.

*OMG if you haven’t read this book, go now and find it! It seems trite to use words like “breathtaking” and “perfect” but The Year of Magical Thinking is both. I read it in two sittings and am going back to read it again. It is one of those books that sets you to making lists of people who need copies. I feel like I should write Joan Didion a thank you note for opening up her soul. But that seems even more trite than saying her book is “perfect.”

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