Friday, December 26, 2008

The Funky Blues

The day after. I'm already looking forward to spring. This was the hardest Christmas I've gotten through since 2003, which was my first Christmas after separating from Karl. What is frustrating about it is there is really no 'good' reason for the way I'm feeling, but there it is.

I do know this: every year since separating, Karl stays with us on Christmas Eve and spends most of Christmas Day with us. It's the right thing to do. But I don't enjoy it. Still, the arrangement makes things easier on Rebecca, as this way she is not pushed and pulled during that time.

I suppose the other part of this blah feeling is 'organic', but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with knowing that it's not my fault. I just hope that this particular Rx will start working soon. I am not by nature an unhappy person, and this feeling I've had lately, well, it's overwhelming.

But I'm pushing through it. I do not wallow in these feelings, I fight back. It takes a lot of energy, but I'm managing.

And I have this terrific daughter who helps keep me grounded. Thank goodness for her, and for all my friends who are supportive, even if they don't always get what I'm going through. I don't really get it either. Therein lies the frustration: I KNOW all that I am blessed with and at the same time feel weighed down with this sadness. Ugh.

It feels good to get it down on 'paper'. Thanks for 'listening' -- listening is an act of love.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Looking Forward

Really, really looking forward to a nice long break for the holidays. University employees get an extended period off since there are several other holidays that state employees get during the year that we do not. So, except for a little half day on December 22, I will be off work until January 5. This combined with a recent change in my mental health care plan (read: new prescription) will go a long way towards a renewed state of mind come 2009. For this, I am very grateful. This break also allows time for just enjoying the season, and for Rebecca and I to spend some time together doing things we don't normally get a chance to do. For instance, she really enjoys the spy museum in DC, and we both want to explore Carytown in Richmond. We will also be breaking tradition on Christmas Day to take in a movie and eat Chinese food, something I think we are both really looking forward to.

So now, the house is decorated, and it looks and smells festive, we both have gatherings with friends we are looking forward to, and the holiday break will be a time of rest and rejuvination. Looking forward is a very healthy way to live.

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Dear Darkness"

From NPR's web site, Dear Darkness, By Kevin Young, Hardcover, 216 pages, Knopf.

This one in particular struck me:

I shall be released

What we love
will leave us

or is it
we leave

what we love,
I forget—

Today, belly
full enough

to walk the block
after all week

too cold
outside to smile—

I think of you, warm
in your underground room

reading the book
of bone. It's hard going—

your body a dead

I've begun
to feel, if not

hope then what
comes just after—

or before—
Let's not call it

regret, but
this weight,

or weightlessness,
or just

plain waiting.
The ice wanting

again water.
The streams of two planes

a cross fading.

I was so busy
telling you this I forgot

to mention the sky—
how in the dusk

its steely edges
have just begun to rust.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Merry yet Melancholy

Received an email the other day, from an old friend I love dearly, demanding that we put Christ back in Christmas. It was one of those forwards, with all kinds of colors and bold lettering and lots of pictures of CHRISTmas trees. It just makes me weary to contemplate this kind of email, so I just deleted it without responding.

But it does cause me pause to ponder: why is it so important that we continually try to push our truth onto someone else? Why is it so difficult for us to consider how absolutely real someone else's truth is to them? Why is it that if we cannot relate to someone else's circumstances, we dismiss them as trivial or unfounded or unimportant. I remember recently mentioning to a friend that I had some concerns about the security of my job, and she dismissively responded with a "Oh, you'll be fine." This kind of comment didn't give my concern any validation, and left me feeling empty and brushed aside.

I don't even want to get into the debate that the holidays always seems to bring about, that we've become too PC, too commercial, etc. As with every aspect of our lives, the holidays mean different things to different people, and undoubtedly bring with them a mixed bag of emotions. This is all very real. Yes, it can be a very joyous season. But it can also be a time of anxiety, stress, sadness, and loneliness.

It is certainly not the time to be pushing our agenda or our truth onto others. So yes, let's go out and be merry with each other. But let's also be gentle and aware of those around us who might be suffering. The suffering is a necessary part of life, but it can be hell to go through at the time. Reach out, squeeze a hand, pat a shoulder, offer an ear, or give a hug. Lower the expectations on yourself and those around you as you make your way through the next few weeks. Peace to you and yours as we move into the new year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mental Health Day

So, I took off work yesterday. Spent the entire day doing little things to help subdue the terror. And it worked. I do feel a lot better today, and will be taking more steps in the coming weeks. Thanks for the comments/support/words of wisdom, it is greatly appreciated and gives me strength.

And we did decorate, at least we got our tree up. It was quite pleasant and the tree is beautiful. Rebecca loves finding all the ornaments she has grown up with, and comments about each one she has received from me over the years. The tree is getting very, very crowded!

We enjoyed a bit of mindless, humorous television, and then I got a solid, straight 6.5 hours of sleep (I did resort to taking a teaspoon of Benadryl, but how luxurious it was to sleep that long and wake up at 5 a.m. realizing I had slept the entire time, with no struggle to fall asleep!)

One foot in front of the other . . .

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'm terrified

From an earlier post and a favorite essay of mine from This I Believe: 'Friends, I would like to be more cheerful, but right now I am too terrified to be cheerful. So I will let you know when I am not terrified anymore.'

Maybe I AM depressed, maybe it's anxiety, it's probably both plus stress. All I know is that my daughter had a talk with me tonight. She is upset because she feels I've been edgy lately, and unhappy, and too hard on her. I am so grateful that she trusts me enough to talk to me about this. And she's right. And I am taking immediate (but painfully slow!) steps to remedy this muddled mess I find myself in. And I am terrified. It feels good just admitting it.

Meanwhile, I feel like I've disappointed the most important person in my life, and all I want to do right now is have a good cry...but I'm afraid she'll hear me. So I'm writing, hoping to work through it this way.

Why do I feel like I have to keep it together all the time? I can't do it all, I'm not perfect, and some real changes need to take place so that I can take better care of my emotional health. And I have to try to overcome the tendency to feel guilty, as I make hard decisions about things like money and time. But there it is. It just has to happen.

This really, really sucks. I had heard it sucks, hitting menopause and dealing with the emotional roller coaster. I mean, the hormone stuff has always been rough, so I figured how much worse could it get?! Ha, careful what you get smug about. There are days I feel like I'm barely ahead of completely falling apart. But I can't. Or at least, I can't at home. So I am going to do the next best thing, and find somewhere safe to fall apart. Hopefully it will help me to pull things back together.

Now I'm afraid I won't be able to sleep. The chatter gets worse when I turn out the light and try to sleep. And then my neighbor's poor dog starts crying, pitifully, for lack of attention and from the cold, and of course I feel horrible for her, and I feel angry at him. And then I'll wake up tomorrow exhausted and so weighed down I just want to stay under my covers and hide. But I won't. And I'll try to get through the day without revealing just how terrified I am. It doesn't always work well, since being terrified is not something I'm used to feeling and it manifests itself in other ways, usually impatience with people and situations around me. And then I'm ashamed.

Tomorrow night we are supposed to decorate for Christmas, and I hope by then I am past this current state of emotions, because my heart is just not up for it. I've got some work to do, and I will need help with that work. I've just taken a big step tonight, admitting I'm terrified, and I have Rebecca to thank for it. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I am not depressed...

...really, I'm not. I still am truly moved by the things I love (nature, music, a good book, good friends, my home, my cats, my daughter, and so much more.) But more and more, I feel overwhelmed by life. I think a lot of this is financial, and I'm working that out (I'm not one to wallow) because I do have options that will make things easier. But it's more. I feel overwhelmed by the things that are bigger than me. I know it is not up to me to fix things (war, hunger, homelessness, homeless pets, poverty, my neighbor's neglected dog, on and on the list goes), but I am in touch with myself enough to know that these things bother me. I'm also overwhelmed with the task of single parenting, and worrying constantly that I am doing the right thing, keeping her on the right track, giving her enough of my time. It would be lovely to have help, and yet when I was married parenting was almost harder than it is now. And it's all the other stuff too: doing my best to take care of my health (cholesterol, weight, exercise), trying to manage my money in order to plan for retirement, wanting to take good care of my home and create a place that we find solitude in, but not getting too attached at the same time, caring about how I look and what I wear, but not getting too caught up in the ego, questioning whether or not I am 'good enough' to date someone who is 'out of my league'...this stuff seems to swirl around in my head daily.

I don't consider myself a negative person; but I am an impatient person, one who is annoyed easily by egotisical, or inconsiderate, or overbearing, or intrusive people. The truth of the matter is, I don't love everyone around me. I care about them and I care about what happens to them. But I think the emotion of love is tossed about too loosely. Love is a deep emotion, and it is developed over time and must be nurtured. I am a giving person, friendly, and make friends easily. But I am also a private person who is cautious about who she lets into the more intimate parts of her life. My love is kept on reserve, and I am okay with that. When I observe others opening themselves up completely and 'loving' everyone around them, I can't help but think that this is prompted by their need for love, approval, acceptance (any or all of these.) And I too have those needs; I just don't feel it is necessary to let everyone in just to feel better about myself.

There isn't a point to this post. Just another random putting-muddled-thoughts-onto-paper kind of post. This post is not directed at anyone in particular, it is about my thoughts about myself. Because I do care what others think of me and how I project myself, but at the same time I have to learn to be able to love myself, flaws and all. A work in progress, that confusing combination of accepting me and improving me. One foot in front of the other, deep breaths, and a smile. I can do this.