When Humor Hides The Hurt

By Ashley Alteman of Smashley Ashley

I’ve been through enough shit in my life that I’m fairly decent at finding the humor in just about anything. If there is no humor to be found, I can hang. I’m good at hanging; hanging on.

I’m pretty decent at handling life’s ups and downs.

When your life has sat on the line, everything you loved and worked for just out of reach, with no control over which direction the scale tilted, you build this indescribable tenacity and resiliency towards life and its functions.

About five years ago, my life hung in the balance. I was at risk of losing everything that meant something to me, and I fought like hell to get it back. I fought for over a year and, with time, the storm settled and life eventually evened back out. 

Life still had its ups and downs; the regular turbulence that we all endure as human beings, but seeing I had what was most important to me: my family and our health. I believed that, given the aforementioned, I could handle it all.

I made a deal with God (a one sided deal that I’m not entirely sure that he agreed to): Keep my family healthy and together and I can handle anything you throw my way.

Well, recently I’ve learned that the deal I negotiated with God isn’t exactly working out.

Why? Because I cannot handle it all. I can’t handle all the shit that storms down on me.

About a month ago, I started experiencing waves of panic. This wasn’t something that I was unfamiliar with. I’d had brushes with anxiety throughout my life, so I assumed this would be a short-termed gig. 

Life was stressful at that moment. Our tax extension deadlines were coming up, I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to finish everything, yet not equipped with even 1/100th the knowledge of that of a CPA. It was beyond frustrating and I was fighting every day to keep my balance.

And, just like that, my mom had a stroke and nothing mattered anymore. I flew to Phoenix to be with her and my family, and I stayed there for ten days. Thankfully, she made a complete recovery. 

However, when I got home, instead of feeling a sigh of relief, I felt the opposite. I felt as though I fell into this huge hole and dirt was being shoveled on top of my body with compacting force. 

Every morning I’d wake up to this pressing, gnawing ache in my chest. I felt like the weight of the world was sitting on top of me, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t escape it. I had no energy and I simply wanted to be left alone.

Each time I’ve had a brush with anxiety/depression similar to this, I scream to myself: “Oh my God! Seriously, Ashley!? You’ve handled SO much worse than this— get yourself together and carry on. Life could be SO MUCH WORSE.”

I told myself that over and over again. That is, until I found myself in a pile of tears in the middle of the night while reaching for a glass of water.

If you’d asked me why I was crying, I wouldn’t have had an answer for you. In fact, I still don’t. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Everything just feels off. 

I feel as though a dash of hurt, anger, frustration, and annoyance were tossed into a Kitchenmaid mixer and put on full blast. 

None of the ingredients to my new found anxiety/depression/whatever you want to call it was enough to tip me over the edge, however, all of them mixed together might have done the job. 

I feel run down, tired, not good enough at my real job, not good enough at my hobby (this- blogging), hurt by people that I thought had my best intentions in mind, frustrated with how much money a family of three can actually owe the government, shocked with how many branches of the government there actually are in California that want to pick your pockets, and frankly, frustrated with myself that I am not making a living doing something I love. I feel like everywhere I look in my home and office, there is work to be done, however, I lack all motivation to complete it. 

I feel unhappy, yet I don’t feel I deserve to feel this unhappiness that sits so heavy on my chest. 

Worst of all, I don’t know how to fix my happy. I want my happy back. I want my motivation back. 

I am reading this book by Jen Sincere called “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness And Start Living An Awesome Life.” There is a line in the beginning of the book that hit me like a bat out of hell: 

“But compared to what I knew I was capable of, I was, shall we say, unimpressed.”

I am highly unimpressed with myself. I know that I am capable of more. I know that if I put more of myself out there, I could accomplish more. However, the problem is— I have no fucking idea what direction to head. 

My goal would be to live a HAPPY life where I enjoy what I am doing, but also one where I make an income doing it. As of right now, I am doing a poor job at my real job, and a poor job at what I love doing — putting myself out there in writing, reading aloud, preforming, etc. I would love to make just enough money doing what I love that I could replace myself at my husband and I’s company.

But again, I have no idea how to accomplish that. I’ve signed up for courses, paid money for advice, but I’m still just missing the mark. And to be honest, that is starting to take its toll on me.

And, as much as I mull this over in my brain, I have no solution. 

I had Barb when I was 22. I never traveled the world, I never went on a honeymoon; I spent my  20’s building a business, and now I sit at a desk all day running that business.

I’m at the point that I think I need to talk to someone because this feeling that I wake up with, that sits inside my body with vengeance each day and joins me in bed each nigh,t is not a feeling I’d wish on anyone. It’s something that needs to go, but I need to search and dig deeper to identify the exact.

Normally, I avoid posting pieces like this because I feel as though I should be grateful for the life that I DO HAVE. However, this won’t seem to go away and if I’m good at one thing, it’s putting my thoughts and feelings into words (even if they’re a jumbled mess), so I figured I’d start there.

I think it also goes to show that even the “funny” ones, the people who seem the most optimistic, the happy people you follow along on Facebook also hit their lows in life, and I am no exception.

This post originally appeared on Smashley Ashley and was reprinted, with permission.

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ashley alteman headshot
Image Source: Ashley Alteman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Alteman is known for her love of dinosaurs, ponies wearing sweaters, and overuse of commas. She is an editor’s nightmare. She won a spelling bee in the 8th grade for correctly spelling “carrot” and knew from that moment she was destined to be an amazing journalist, or a sarcastic blogger; she went with the latter. Ashley details her laugh-out-loud parenting and personal fails at SmashleyAshley.com and is an avid fan of rescuing dinosaurs from captivity and items of Amazon.
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