NOTE: If you are depressed or suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
I wrote this one when I heard that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.
This one hits me hard. I think it’s because of his connection to restaurants and how his abrasive, funny personality reminded me of my husband’s. Someone you can’t help but like, but also sometimes you hate a bit. Honest, not afraid to call out his own flaws while reminding you of your own (I didn’t know Bourdain, but I feel like I did. And these traits are so much the traits that I love, and that drive me nuts, about my husband).
His books were so spot on about kitchens and the world of food, and I loved him for that. If you didn’t know it, Ted and I met working in restaurants. I worked the front of the house, but was very sick of waiting tables, so I did a lot of expediting (making sure the plated food looked good and was grouped correctly for servers and runners), and I fell for the chef (that would be Ted, my husband). He spent the next 12 or so years in kitchens cooking and running a staff, and we moved to Ohio from Colorado for that reason. He finally got sick of working for other people, and quit working for a corporation. His plan was food trucks, but he also began doing smallish renovation projects for people, and that turned into something bigger, something he loved.
So here we are.
One of his brothers is a chef, working in fine dining and really loving what he does, so we still have a connection to that world. We’ve pretty much left it behind, and he lets me do the majority of the cooking. This works, because I love to cook. I’m not gifted in that regard at all, but I love making things for my family, and I love it when a recipe comes together and everyone enjoys their dinner.
But I digress.
It seems like when a very famous person commits suicide, it gets a lot of press. And it makes everything more real, harder. It makes the everyday harder. If everything in life that we strive for – be it success, money, fame, whatever – isn’t going to be enough to make us happy, than what is?
I’ve heard a lot in the last few days, since Kate Spade and now Anthony Bourdain, about imposter syndrome. I’d never put a name to it, but yes, imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is that feeling that you don’t deserve everything you have. The fear that at any moment the world or authorities or someone realizes that you’re just faking it and comes to take it all away. That your life shouldn’t be your life and the whole house of cards is going to collapse.
I get that way. I seriously thought everyone got that way. I used to be afraid that child services would come and take my girls, even though they’re clean and fed and smart and loved, because I just wasn’t fit to be a mother. I’m constantly afraid that my bosses are going to see through me and realize I’m not a good enough writer and fire me. Note, I’ve been doing this job for more than eight years.
I still look around and wonder what I did to deserve this life.
It’s funny, because the things that cause me anxiety and worry, the things that I’m sure I don’t deserve, are the same things that calm me.
So, when I start to feel like I don’t deserve this life, I look around take a second to take stock. I pray a little, I center myself, and I find my peace. I’m lucky. Yes, I get anxious and have been known to fall into small depressions, but in the whole I’m lucky. I can take stock and find my peace. I know others can’t.
I have a roof over my head. More than that, it’s decent sized and filled with those I love. It’s filled with stuff — some stuff I like but can do without and other stuff that would be hard to replace (pictures and mementos) — but it’s all just stuff. It’s the fact that we’re safe inside, mostly together, that helps me breathe.
I have my family. I have a husband who makes me laugh and works hard for us, and who would do anything for his girls. I have daughters who are earnest and funny and smart, who love and who are loved.
I have extended family that I get to call friends.
I have friends. Good friends. The kind that come over and clean your house when you’re having a really bad life moment, and that find a way to make you laugh when you really need it.
I have sweet dogs that make me smile on a daily basis.
And so much more.
The things that I’m afraid I will lose, the things I don’t feel I deserve, they’re also the things that bring me back to center. At times I’m sure I’m going to lose my family, my friends, my home, but also I find contentment knowing I have them. And contentment is the key word. If I can find my way to contentment, I find my way to peace.
It’s taken me a long time to find my way to this contentment. There are moments when finding my peace is difficult, but I’m lucky so far. I can find my way. I can usually quell the anxiety, at least most of it.
But there are those that can’t find that sense of contentment. They’re not able to find the center, to find that spot where it all makes sense. The trees of despair are too thick, and finding the forest of hope is impossible.
Being able to find the contentment makes me one of the lucky ones. Finding and feeling the ground, knowing that I’m where I’m supposed to be, being able to see the forest through the trees — this makes me lucky. The anxiety of being happy hasn’t overshadowed the happiness. I’ve been able to find my way back to contentment, to peace.
For those that can’t find their center, I send peace. I send love. I send contentment.