Shortly after the whole nervous breakdown/divorce/get the nuts out of my house debacle, a friend of mine took my tearful ass out to catch a cup of coffee. Over coffee, he asked me simply: “What do YOU want?”

I sat there stunned, holding two packets of Equal, googling at him as though he’d suddenly grown a head from his shoulders.

“What I want?” I sputtered when I finally could make my vocal cords work again.

“Yeah,” he replied. “Becks, what do YOU want?”

Slowly, I shook my head side-to-side. No one had ever asked me what I wanted, unless they were looking for an answer like, “An Uncrustable,” or “John C. Mayer’s head on a platter so it cannot sing “Your Body Is A Wonderland EVER AGAIN.”

I didn’t answer him; I couldn’t.

Not because I didn’t want to respond to the question, but because I hadn’t thought about what I wanted in many years – that’s part of being a parent, a writer, a wife, the caretaker to many – you don’t have the option of putting yourself first. It’s not a dig at any of those roles, it simply is. How can you possibly nurse a migraine in a dark room with an icepack on your head if it’s going to lead to resentments from your partner or simply impossible – thanks to a gaggle of kids who’d prefer to poke you in the eyes and ask the same question 10382 times? The answer is that you can’t. Not often, anyway, and certainly not without a glistening pile of guilt.

I’ve been living on my own for a full month now. I have enough to pay rent (although that bitch Sandy is going to sorely affect my ability to freelance, considering NYC apparently looks like a zombie apocalypse has swept through it), which makes me beyond proud. I did it. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do it alone, but I was wrong – the fear is a lying liar who lies.

In one month, I’ve spent more time thinking about the future I want to have, The Happyness I need to find, and what happens next than I have in 9 years. I’d put all plans for having my own life on a shelf, just out of reach, once I got married to a workaholic, popped out two more kids, and began blogging as a way to find the community, the friends I so desperately craved.

It was a full life, but it was a lonely one.

That’s not to say I have regrets – I don’t. But I’m left grasping at straws and rediscovering who Becky Sherrick Harks really is, beyond a mother, freelance writer, leader of a non-profit and blogger. Certainly these jobs I cherish, but we all know, Pranksters, that there’s more to be done. I don’t want to be an old woman, sitting on the porch, wishing she’d taken that risk, chased that dream, followed her heart.

So I won’t.

Divorce doesn’t mean that my life is over; that I’ll never find love again, I’ll be stuck in front of the TV night after night watching Dexter reruns, pretending to be married to men from television. Divorce doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly going to become a crazy cat lady or hoarder or a recluse who collects her pee in jars. The things that have changed are those that needed to be changed in order for the next part of my life to begin. It’s time for me to find those dreams left trapped in a jar (clarification: not pee-filled jars) on a shelf somewhere, dust off the cobwebs and figure out what, exactly, I want to do with the next chapter of my life.

This is my life to live. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or next week. I don’t have any way of knowing if the dreams I once had will have stood the test of time. If they have, I will chase my heart. If they have not, I will find a new dream. Life has a weird way of working out like that.

I can hardly wait to see where it takes me.

P.S. Giving away a copy of my book here.

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22 Responses to Week Five: And I Promise You, I’m Doing The Best I Can

  • Week Five: And I Promise You, I’m Doing The Best I Can http://t.co/hrsErEDX

  • Maria says:

    That really is the scariest question. What do *I* want. And the really spooky thing? Is that you know already. Somewhere inside, you know. And you will find it if you just listen to yourself.

    One of the hardest things I learned from my therapist (Smadar, I adore you still. Thank you for what you taught). I said that I don’t want to feel sorry for myself. Pity myself. And she asked, (here the translation from Swedish fails me…) that what if it’s justified? What if you really are in a bad place and it’s ok to feel sorry for yourself? What if you’re not just imagining things are tough? (Not her exact words, I elaborate to try to get the point through).

    And then I felt, yes. I am in a bad place, and yes, poor me. But I can do things about it, and I’m not helpless. I allowed myself to feel a bit sorry for myself, and then I could move on.

    It sort of was holding me back, trying to be all brave and together. It wore me out. When I could accept that “yep, stuff sucks big time” I could move on, and change it. And it turned around and things got better.

    I think you already figured that out, from what i read.

    Love
    Maria

    • Your Aunt Becky
      Twitter: mommywantsvodka
      says:

      I wish you lived in Chicago, dude. We’d have SUCH fun. And yeah, it IS okay to not be okay, which is something I’m working very hard to accept. I’m used to being the “okay” one, no matter what’s going on. To realize that I have the power to accept that things sometimes suck; circumstances change and that others may bail on you without notice, that’s a tremendous feeling.

      • Maria says:

        Save up yóur money and bring your kids here for a while. I’ll force mine to babysit, and you and I can walk the forests for an hour or two. (My brats are 18 and 14. They can do it).

        Love

  • No Good says:

    *celebrates*

  • Catt says:

    You are brave and strong. You can do it. If you can be a wife, mommy, and caretaker, this is a cake walk almost. Know its difficult and emotional, and scary, but what in life isn’t.

    AND- I once said to my husband in an argument, you keep telling me what you need and what you want, and how it needs to happen. You have not asked me what I want or what I think or how I want/need these things to happen. BIG FUCKING MISTAKE. About a week later he said…What do you want? And much like you I stood there like a deer in headlights, and said…um…I dont know. Also because much like you, I have not been able to say, no its about me, without the repercussions or guilt. so yeah, that argument lost its validity really quick that day. NOW I have answers, but he doesn’t ask. Aint life a bitch? Especially when your husband outsmarts you on your logic and reasoning in a fight.

    Much mad love to you. Hang in there Becky.

  • Ewokmama
    Twitter: ewokmama
    says:

    Just remember that you have the rest of your life to figure out what you want. And you can want a lot of things and you don’t need to figure ‘em all out at once!

    You are doing great, Becky.

  • Lynda M O
    Twitter: Lynda M Otvos
    says:

    Figuring out what it is we Want may well be our most difficult self-help task. May take years. Keep asking yourself that and making the choices. Those choices may not be the ones y ou will make next week or next month or even next hour but they are choices and you get to make them.

    It’s hard: I had a beloved friend (dead now, damn it) that used to pull off the road and shut off the car when I’d answer, “I don’t know” to a simple inquiry like where to eat lunch. She knew that I Needed to be thinking about what I want and it was her way of reminding me to choose, regularly and without worrying about what someone else may have wanted just then.

    You can do it, Beckers, we’re here for you. And for each other.

  • Odie Langley says:

    You’ve been in some extensive training for 9 years Becky and it has equipped you for greater things and I for one am excited to be along for the ride. I am proud of what you have accomplished in five weeks and think look out world, here comes Becky, aint she awesome?

  • NTE says:

    I have no idea what I want. And it’s scary as all hell, because I have to find the answer. So cheers to you, for jumping forward. I hope I can be as brave.

  • Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom)
    Twitter: LShirtliffe
    says:

    And I was going to complain about a lingering cold.

    Sheesh, Becky, that’s some month. But, as the quote by someone famous goes, “The only way out is through.” I’d say you’re far more than halfway.

    Well done, you. Love your funny.

  • Cindy
    Twitter: WalkerCynthia
    says:

    AB, as you undertake this journey of self discovery, I’m sending you lots of love.

  • andy says:

    I’m proud of you!!

  • Karina
    Twitter: sodapple
    says:

    I have a close friend who asked me that question recently and I sat in front of her the same way you did. I have two girls and needing to find myself again. Reading your blog helps me see things differently. Thank you.

  • Joules says:

    There are infinite possibilities at your feet. Just start walking.
    xoxo

  • Grace says:

    You’re kickin’ ass and taking names girl! I know you don’t always think you are, but you ARE! Keep it up! You deserve to find your Happy, and you WILL have it!

  • Jolie says:

    Woo hoo! First month celebratory dance!! You know what’s funny? You can change your mind at any time. So if you think, I want x today, you can decide that no, you want z tomorrow. It’s a beautiful thing. Maybe start with little things. Like what you want for dinner. ;) I SO relate to the unknown of what it is that truly is my very own little want. Maybe that’s why I like having lunch to myself, where I can do whatever it is that I want, without thinking of others, without the guilt. I don’t dread it like I used to, so it DOES get better. :) PROMISE!! Little steps like that and you’ll be making big choices before you know it. Here I am girl, take my hand and we’ll go for it!!! WOOO HOOO!!! “Oh the places you’ll go!”

  • Metonymy says:

    “What do I want?”

    I asked myself that same question when my dad was in ICU four years ago. I couldn’t deal with the hospital and seeing him so helpless, so I fled to the lake and sat on the end of the pier. I watched the sun set and pondered the impending reality that my own (still not-yet-existing) kids wouldn’t know the man that their grandpappy had been.

    At the time, I was three and a half years into a relationship that had started out so blissfully and gradually turned into a “roommate with benefits” situation. I’d always gravitated toward emotionally unavailable guys and he was no exception to my trend. But I digress.

    Back on the pier, gazing at the lake I had this conversation with myself:

    “What do you want, Self?”

    “I don’t want Dad to die.”

    “Right.. but what do you WANT? That’s something you don’t want.”

    “Ah, you got me there.” (Pause)
    “I want to be happy, and I want to have a family.”

    “OK, so why have you spent so much time dating losers and being unhappy with them if you want a family?”

    “Because I thought my parents would be around long enough to meet my kids, and I’m scared of being alone. I don’t think I can make it by myself.”

    “Look, you’ve been alone emotionally for a while now. If you’re physically alone, at least you don’t have to put up with him being depressing. You’ll get to decorate without input from him, and your new place will be exactly as clean or dirty as you want it to be. It will be AWESOME, and it will smell pretty.”

    “These are all good points.”

    “Of course they are. I made them.”

    “I’m going to be okay. I can’t control Dad’s iffy ticker, but life will continue. It has to”

    I had my path after that. My father made it back home after a 7-week stay in the hospital with a pacemaker, and I went back to my life. I broke up with my boyfriend, got my own place, and made it awesome. A year later, I met my husband and moved in with him about 10 months after that.

    We’re about to move into our new house and start trying for children, but that little apartment I had and that period of time holds a special place in my heart. That’s where I healed. That’s where I learned to love me again.

    (Seriously, make it smell pretty.)

  • alexis (You can call me Al)
    Twitter: theangelalexistwitter.com
    says:

    I hope you find what you truly want. I don’t know what I want yet, either.

  • Amy says:

    To have someone ask me what I want is something out of my Walter Mitty Book of Secret Fantasies And Stuff. I know this is a shitty time, and I don’t mean to give you a sunshine and rainbow colonic that you probably don’t want, but…. maybe some good will come out of it.

    Also, do you think pee filled jars might be good to get into as a hobby? The materials seem like they’d be way cheaper than scrapbooking supplies.

  • Judy Susan says:

    I have been divorced twice, widowed once. I’ve discovered, widow or divorcee, you just have to grieve.. Then you have to find a direction and run as fast as you can toward what YOU want. You will fall, you will face plant more than once.. but.. it’s a whole big wild world out there and it’s yours to take. So take it with the full force of your being! If that doesn’t work, stop over I don’t have vodka, but i do have gin.

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