Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
That's What She Said
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Thursday
Feb252016

Shit: It Never Gets Together

I glimpse a black coat lying on the floor next to my bed as I walk from my bedroom to the kitchen and my heart stutters. For just a second I think it is Milo. But Milo is fucking dead. I'm mad about that. He was young, it wasn't his time. But that's the way life goes, I'm learning.

For the longest time I believed in God and then karma or some kind of universe shit that organized good and bad happenings and a mystical system which dealt them out accordingly. You've heard religious folk say some bullshit along the lines of God not giving us more than we can handle, yes? Your Aunt Cheryl probably has it toll-painted onto a piece of wood hanging next to her Live, Laugh, Love wall decal.

But I don't believe in that for two seconds. Sometimes people get dealt shit hands, it's just how it goes. There is no guy in the sky monitoring who's dealing with what and muttering to himself about how "Monica has had enough so I'm gonna move on to testing Johnny down in Alabama" or whatever. It's all some fantasy shit we tell ourselves so we don't freak the fuck out when horrible things happen to good people, forcing us to contemplate death and ceasing to exist and whatever it is that keeps you from sleep at two o'clock in the morning. Everything happens for a reason, we assure each other. It's all part of God's plan, we say. But we don't really know. Nobody knows. I sure as hell don't know. And the only people I jive with are the ones willing to admit they don't know either.

All this to say that life has been kicking my ass lately. But it feels like life is always kicking my ass. If it's not one thing, it's another. I've got my eyes peeled for some blue sky but it's been stormy for a while now. Is this perceived ass-kicking all up in my head because I have the wrong mentality? Or maybe the guy in the sky really is messing with me so's he can finally determine how much it is that one Monica Danielle Butler Bielanko can handle before turning his spectral gaze to Johnny in the Deep South? Regardless, I'm struggling to get my shit together. But therein lies the rub. I am realizing that, contrary to what I assumed when I was 19 and trying to get my shit together, there is no specific life benchmark at which point my shit will magically coalesce. Not adulthood, motherhood, not marriage, no job, no relationship will mean my shit is officially united... I've attained all those things and I'm still stumbling around like a toddler learning to walk.

Thing is, there will always be something. Life is a continual struggle to get our shit together and then we die - shit decidedly not together. That is to say that shit: it never really gets together so chill out and enjoy the goddamn journey already because in a blink we'll all be dead. Put that in a meme and Facebook it.

Reader Comments (21)

I never comment anymore on things but just wanted to say thank you for these words. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for your perspective, your truth, your feeling and blunt voice. Not only for this post, but all of them. Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts and life. I've been reading your words for a lot of years now and in this cluttered and noisy online digital world that's quickly expanding and filling up with more junk and empty content, I always find meaning, depth, and truth with your words that I can connect to and enjoy, no matter the topic. I hope you keep it up for a long time.

Cheers, from your old stomping grounds of SLC.

February 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterShaun

It's the truth...so far. Actually, from my vantage point just a little bit more aged than you, I actually think one does get shit together to some degree. There is new shit that comes along and that is always a challenge, but there is something about living with that 'shit together' struggle for quite a while that allows for a certain peace about it. Maybe that 'shit peace' happens when we have reached the point of admitting we don't have it together and we aren't going to kill ourselves in the effort anymore. If that is the case, you might be closer than you think, who knows!
Maybe Johnny in Alabama really is next in line for some flying shit now, not you.

February 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarty

God, I hate being this person, but I wish you'd give anti-depressants another try. Feeling irritable about every fucking thing (whether it has to do with you or not), being exhausted, and feeling shitty more than feeling happy or content are all things that a pill can help control. Not a pill you take forever (I didn't) but a pill that just lets things slide off your back easier.
I know you're going to say no and how fucked up Americans are for self medicating themselves, but ask yourself how much longer you want "life to be a continual struggle" and wonder why for some it's not. I know it's not a popular opinion, but you've been through a lot of crummy stuff in the last couple years, and kudos for surviving, but as a reader I wish you'd give it a shot. And now I'll wait for all the responses that will say it's just a rough patch and things will get better and that I should shut up and that meds are only a temporary solution...

February 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie

Life Is Hard,

February 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

@Bonnie - Hey there. Your words make a lot of sense for the person you describe in your comment. In fact, anti-depressants make sense for a lot of people, just not for me. I don't feel irritable about everything. I find a lot of joy in life. Yeah, I'm exhausted but that's because I'm a mom of three little kids who also works full-time. Lately I have felt shitty more than happy but I don't feel like that's a chemical issue that pills can fix, it's because I've gone through a divorce, several moves, the death of my two beloved dogs, financial difficulties and the complete overhaul of life as I knew it for almost a decade. Regardless, I laugh with my children and friends and have a lot of good times even while going through tough stuff. Life is filled with ups and downs and the notion of taking pills to take the edge off normal life situations makes me uncomfortable and I feel like that stance should be respected in the same way I would respect someone who chooses anti-depressants to cope with difficult times. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment :)

February 26, 2016 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

Amen sistah.

February 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterOnly A Girl

If this was Facebook I'd like your response :). Sometimes I react from the gut before I think. And try to solve instead of just listen. Stay strong.

February 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie

Right there with you. I keep thinking: I've paid my dues, I've paid my dues. But it is neverending really.

February 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBeck

Yeah, I'm in my mid 60's now and the only thing I've learned is, be kind to everyone/thing and let the chips fall where they may. Then there won't be any regrets in the end, and it is getting closer all the time!

February 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterUtah L

I know the feeling that you are experiencing right now! And yet here I am, married, happily, to a wonderful, steady, loving husband, with 3 lovely kids, financially it's tight, but we're not about to be made homeless / be visited by the repo guys... BUT STILL SHIT DOES AND CAN RAIN DOWN AT WILL. Ticking all those ''milestone'' boxes, arbitrary as they surely are, is great for some, for others not so much, but shit hits at random times and I totally concur that obviously there's no ''big plan'' or Big Guy in the Sky. That is something children tell themselves to feel better and feel as though they matter (which they do, of course, but not to some supernatural, omnipotent being... how else to explain bone cancer in babies?) and it's all going to be fine.

Saying all that, I must say with zero authority at all that you do sound very low and depressed, and possibly a bit anxious too. Nothing wrong with feeling your feelings and being truthful and no, I do not think we should all feel like rainbows and sunshine all the time or be admitted to a psych ward, but it might be a good idea to just reconsider some type of temporary medication to help you face the slings and arrows and not feel so bad. Numb and zombie is bad, but a bit more optimism would be nice and yes, better days are ahead for all of us, of course they are, and then bad days again. As you say, we truck along and in the twinkling of an inkling, the lights go out, and that is that! Aren't we lucky, when you consider all the million and squillions of potential lives that never get born, never get conceived even, to be here at all? What are the odds?

February 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

Respect. I never really had a plan or a thought so much for the future but I did sometimes think with some milestone, everything would click into place and I'd finally feel like my life fit me or vice versa. It seems that that dawning of the truth that we never get our shit together -- not a one of us -- is paradoxically the moment when our shit is at its most together. So, good on that and your resolve to process and handle things the way you think you need to, whatever others try to prescribe.

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterim

Monica,
I don't know if you remember but I emailed you many years ago when you were having an interesting time with my namesake...it doesn't matter, but is an attempt at a segway to my randomly commenting on your blog for the first time after reading your writing forever.

My feelings are that you should feel sorry for all the book publishers and agents across the US who clearly don't have their shit together. In fact their shit couldn't be further apart. How, otherwise, can it be explained that you don't have a book deal? That I cannot go on Amazon and buy the writing of Monica Bielanko? How?

You write superbly. They publish superbly. Can someone please get this meant-to-be-together-shit-together?

Don't ever change, Monica and good luck with co-ordinating your shit x

February 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline in the UK

monica danielle?
i had no idea... :-)

still love your writing...
and i think you may have already uncovered the secret of life... :-)
enjoy!

"(...) it's not hard to grow
when you know that you just don't know"...

March 1, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterfahrenheit

I'm right there with you. The undercurrent of suck is always there -- divorce, hard job, crappy ex, finances, coping with the demands of day-to-day. I can't help thinking everyone else has their shit together and it is my fault I can get mine together. I'm not strong enough, I should have stayed with the abusive ex and "tried harder," I work too much and it effects my kids, I have kids and it effects my work. Just knowing I'm not alone is helpful.

March 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarissa

Hello Guys,
Actually, from my vantage point just a little bit more aged than you, I actually think one does get shit together to some degree. There is new shit that comes along and that is always a challenge, but there is something about living with that 'shit together' struggle for quite a while that allows for a certain peace about it. Nothing wrong with feeling your feelings and being truthful and no, I do not think we should all feel like rainbows and sunshine all the time or be admitted to a psych ward, but it might be a good idea to just reconsider some type of temporary medication to help you face the slings and arrows and not feel so bad.

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This shit made me cry. Seriously I really have to find my shit done, have listed so lots of things, feelings, people & experiences that I'll not at all be able to live again. Get your shit done & live. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.
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