256 Shades of Gray

I have never been a black and white person. I have never been able to compartmentalize my life, feelings or anything else that is remotely organized. I gravitate towards things that force me to organize my thoughts such as planners, note taking apps and Pinterest boards showing me how to organize my clothing chaos into a neat closet. Do I do it? No. I can’t. Most of the time I give it an honest effort but then my attention is sucked into a different direction and I leave piles of grass on the lawn when I was supposed to have finished my grand landscaping idea. Seeing things in either black or white has always eluded me and that’s ok. Nothing in my world is ever what it seems. I have tried to keep up appearances throughout my entire life but putting on an act of “Everything’s Ok” doesn’t work well when you wear your heart on your sleeve and face.

I know people don’t understand my life. They see a black and white situation that is either this or that. They don’t see the complexity of the various shades of gray in between the extremes on the spectrum. I learned about the various shades of gray when I began my work in graphic design. I had no idea there were so many different variances of the black and white mixture. It became a metaphor for how I saw my world unfold when I got sober. Before I cleaned up everything was black. I didn’t have any white. Just lots of darkness. Then as I started taking suggestions and changing my life, the shades of gray began to appear and I realized that people don’t always appear as they really are. Before I put down alcohol and drugs, I was a crazy unpredictable time bomb who could go from laughing with you to punching you in the face without warning. My picture at my college formal with my boyfriend at the time shows me smiling and him dressed up with a black eye that I had given him during one of my episodes. Am I like that now? No. I haven’t hurt anyone like that since April 1993. But if that is what you saw on paper, you would have thought I was completely insane.

If things were black and white or absolute, other heart mamas wouldn’t lose their children. They would have had their children through their diligent efforts of keeping them alive. They would be healthy because they appeared to be healthy. Unfortunately many of us know this is not always true and it is devastating when you see a mother do everything to save her child only to have them pass. If all of her efforts were defined on paper, then the outcome should have been different.

I have to begin a project that will help me sort through the chaos in my life right now. I am not looking forward to it but I have great hope in the perspective it will give me. With her surgery looming over my head I need to make sense of things. There are times when things need to be put away where they belong. Clutter doesn’t suit me both internally and externally.

I do understand why people find comfort in linear thinking. It’s easier if things are simple. Complexity requires a person to adapt and if you don’t like change then it’s not easy. But it’s not easy trying to make sense of things when they don’t make sense. Many things in life have 256 shades of gray instead of two colors. It’s important for me to remember that other people don’t see life that way. At the same time, if my past defines me as a human being, I wouldn’t have a life that comes close to what I have today.

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