Turn Back Time

It’s soooooo windy, and sooooo warm, an almost-full moon with dark clouds drifting across it, an excellent Halloween night.  Oddly enough nobody being home is just not bothering me.  I thought it would but it’s not.  I’m actually enjoying the quiet.  Since we don’t live in a neighborhood we don’t really get any trick or treaters (which saves a bundle on candy and until this year when each of us has had something different to do, has afforded us the opportunity to go out as a family.)  So it’s quiet.  Although the wind is howling and the shutter door is banging on the house (age: 1757 so perfectly spooky,) I’m enjoying their absence….still waiting for the return of the kids and their bags, the loot we call it, filled with all the delicious junk that is only allowed on Halloween of which I will partake.  Of course tonight only it’s calorie-free and necessary to indulge in the festivities of the occasion.

We turn the clocks back tonight too.  This is not an activity I enjoy in the least, it’s such a nuisance, as I have a clock in every room, even two or three.  I love clocks.  I used to love clocks.  But only in the last few weeks have I noticed the clocks and that they symbolize the passage of time.  Why do I need to be reminded of that every day?  Yes I’m getting older.  Yes it’s going faster.  At least tonight we gain an hour, like going back in time for 60 whole minutes.  I could use that hour, but even more so could use enough time to hibernate and recover.

I don’t use the term “recover” lightly.  I really need to recover from all the things in the past that have caused the time to fly by in pain and anguish, so much so that when I look back I can barely remember when things were good.  So much is a blur, not a good blur, but a blur of memories tainted with stress, sadness, sickness.  Ick.  Who wants to remember that.  So turning back the clocks is actually an oxymoron for me.  I prefer to look forward, but when I do that I tend to worry.  My wonderful, wise therapist B said today that she caught a belief of mine in my last blog post (A Spooky Poem,) ensuring that I will always be worrying about something, and seem to have a very good reason.  (Ding Ding Ding!  Yep.  That’s me.)  She also said that underneath it seems that I may even be looking for reasons to worry which in her words were a “sweet stress insurer.” 

Ponder that one for a minute.  I’m actually looking for reasons to worry to ensure stress?  That’s kinda big.  It feels subconscious and built-in, so maybe it’s time to start consciously thinking about how to change the internal clock to a set time where I won’t have to worry so much, let alone find reasons to worry to perpetuate stress.  I don’t want to worry or feel stressed, I don’t like it, it’s not enjoyable and frankly it’s a major energy-zapper and buzz-kill.  Thinking about all the time that has passed and how much of it has been spent in worry, in fear, in misery, it’s all justifiable, we have been through the ringer, several lifetimes worth.  But I’d like to learn how to enjoy time in and of itself, in the present, right here, right now.  After doing yoga (which teaches being fully present) for almost a decade I have learned a tiny bit about it, once in a while it seems that time really does stay in the present moment if I can keep my mind from wandering backwards and simultaneously worrying ahead.  But those moments are somewhat fleeting.

It’s night like this when I am fully cognizant of the present moment, it’s Halloween and my children aren’t here for the first time in 16 years, and it’s not so bad.  And why all of a sudden for the first time in my life am I actually noticing the reminders of the passage of time just by having clocks to change in every room?  Is this just something new to worry about?

Even though the “official” time doesn’t change until 2 a.m., I’m going to turn my clocks back now so that I can enjoy that added hour while I’m awake.  As my wise therapist friend B said to me tonight, “All you have to do is just one day, one minute at a time.”  Imagine that.  So in this very moment I think I will take some time to eat some treats and when I turn back the clocks it will be like I never even ate them.  Perfect.

A Spooky Poem

Twas the night before Halloween, when all through the house,

Plenty of creatures were stirring, even a mouse.

The costumes were hung in the closets with care,

In hopes they would soon cause a trick or treat scare.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of candy bars danced in their heads.

(Ok, one child was nestled, another was on the laptop, and another was at a haunted house.)

And me on my blog with a tasty nightcap,

Had just settled down and really need a nice nap.

What a day it had been, well a week or even two,

The house deal was signed, and my worries were few.

I wish I could say that the worry was gone,

But I know all too well that same old song…

Will start playing again in my head and my heart

As some worries fade, others will start.

But in these moments, quiet and still,

I think it’s quite nice to just sit and chill

(Yes that was a little hip slang, or is the word “chillax”?)

The fact of the matter is that my body is tired

And in all the chaos, my mind just stays wired.

It’s learning to settle although it is hard

I should get the hang of it before I’m retired.

Retired from what, now that’s really funny

I work super hard but don’t earn any money!

So as I keep doing my “volunteer work,”

I’ll remember that joy is the ultimate perk.

Where do I find that?  I just look around.

I’m so grateful for all of the joy that I’ve found.

Not just my family, my friends and my life,

But the thought that my days don’t really need strife.

It’s all in how I perceive the things

That fill up each day, whatever it brings.

This Halloween is a bit bittersweet

And Mr. Ex even brought me flowers and treats.

My children all have their own things to do,

This is the first year we won’t be together to Boo

Or scare or run or trick or hide,

But we will all laugh when our time coincides,

And we pour out the candy from the bags to a bowl

And share stories about the night as a whole.

A family together, that’s what it’s about

Regardless of worries or reasons to pout.

It’s getting late, time to turn out the light.

Happy Halloween to All and to All a Good Night.


This Is It

Went to see the movie tonight…have always been a big fan of Michael Jackson, but more as I’ve gotten older and come to appreciate his talent, his genius, and also watched him live in his unraveling world of internal pain that so sadly ended abruptly and without understanding.  I don’t know what it is about him that is so riveting, the way he moves, his beat, his mystery, the fact that he dated Brooke Shields…???  His sheer ability to transcend the highest levels of mastery…and his message.  Every song tells a story for him, it communicates to his audience, to the world.  Every move, every gesture, every note is visibly felt from the inside, not learned, but God-given and relayed and portrayed to the rest of us in a mystical format of ability that extends beyond comprehension.  I sit here typing about him as if he is still alive…seeing him on the screen tonight felt very real, as if he is still here and we watched the dress rehearsal for the dream of his tour. 

So many people may not appreciate this person, but he reached to the farthest corners of the world with his messages of love and hope, his energy, his light.  In the theater tonight you could see everyone keeping the beat, busting a move in their seats, smiling, crying, in awe of the magic Michael Jackson was beholding on the screen…to see the This Is It concert would have been a life-changing event on every sensory level.  We got a glimpse of that in this unique movie and it was inspired perfection.  He had an understanding of things that so many people do not…it’s hard to explain but is so palpable when you watch him at work, clearly at home and most comfortable on the stage, in pure humility, grace and excellence.

Not sure why I’m writing a Michael Jackson eulogistic movie review, but we watched it with bewilderment, at his talent, at how it all cooks behind the scenes, we saw the best of the best around him, musicians, dancers, performers, and they worked so hard to be amazing, Michael Jackson did not have to try, it came so naturally to him, like breathing.  And in that natural ability to seemingly effortlessly just be who he was here to be, he brought out the best in those around him, almost as if he was doing this for them, and for the audience, not for himself. 

It’s not often in this world that there are people who do that, and who let love flow freely through them in whatever form it best flows from them.

For whatever reason you may choose to see this movie you will take something significant away from it.  My oldest son, who originally was not inspired by Michael Jackson and was more interested in his pop culture place in history, left feeling full of amazement, actually astounded at what he saw, and then deep sadness at his loss.  My middle son said it made him want to be better at whatever he does.  My youngest was able to see pure genius at work and find awe in that.

The irony of this movie, which does not chronicle his life but showed Michael Jackson real, authentic, and in the moment, is that this was it.  It’s not often that the world stops for a day for a musician’s funeral and then makes a movie to let the last chapter of the story be revealed.  I am just grateful that I was alive during his time to experience some of the love that he shared with the world, and see the end in all of its immortal brilliance.

Nervous Breakdown Day

Today was Nervous Breakdown Day. A lot of those close to me are all too familiar with Nervous Breakdown Day and have lived many of these days with me over the last few years. It’s when I finally get to a point that I just cannot take one more thing and I blow. My friend M calls it “Exhausted Beyond Sanity.” That sums it up, it is just sheer exhaustion, emotionally and physically. I have been full of strength, positive, optimism, hope, blah blah blah, and today I just collapsed. Instead of the suspended reality I have been living in the last few days, feeling paralyzed but oddly peaceful, it was like reality just snapped in (or out,) and dropped me to a place that I hit hard. It’s often referred to as “hitting the wall,” but it feels like the wall fell on me. I know that living long-term, heavy-duty, nonstop stress will do it, no matter how positive you are, but today I couldn’t take it anymore.

Everybody has their own personal limits, and what works for one person may not work for another. I’m not particularly great at determining where my limits are, so when I go outside my range of capabilities and share it with those around me, the response is usually that I am being unreasonable and my discomfort needs to be reined in. Today I had it with being told what I should/should not, can/cannot, will/will not handle. I felt like nobody could understand how DONE I am with so many things and today I was overdone and well outside my comfort zone. How can people tell me I’m “doing it wrong” when they have no concept of what it is really like to live my life, live in this house, with these kids, with this husband, in my body, with my personal capacity…Anybody heard the phrase, “Until you’ve walked a mile in somebody else’s shoes?” Anybody care to borrow mine?

I have always pushed myself, having trouble accepting my limits, and likely will continue to do that until whenever I don’t, or can’t, but periodically I just have a nervous breakdown. One of our newer family clinicians today asked me what my nervous breakdowns look like for me, and I explained to her it’s a lot of yelling and screaming about how sick and tired and tired and sick I am of EVERYTHING and that I have reached my breaking point and CAN’T DO IT anymore, and need help. What is “it” exactly? I can’t do what I need to do every day to get through the day managing everything I need to manage and my body just gives out, and when my body gives out my mind is just shot and vice versa. It manifests really quickly and the next thing you know I am down for the count, sometimes in the hospital (not psychiatric, but the ER,) so I try to proactively handle it by really letting anyone and everyone know within earshot what I need right away. Which most of the time is just a break. Rest. Some time to regenerate, regroup, revive, and the word relief comes to mind. I need relief from the constant over-and-above-struggles that our family faces on a daily basis. Plenty of people validate that—they see it, but they don’t get it.

It isn’t helpful to hear that other people have worse problems, everything is relative. I actually do try to live that “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” theory, and that just proves to me that sometimes I just need a break for myself. When the brain and the body are overloaded, it doesn’t matter who has what problems, it matters that my own personal self desperately needs attention. I would like to learn to avoid this anguish by recognizing the drain before it actually happens, and not overwork myself so much, but as I said in an earlier post I feel like my life lives me. I am so tired of people making demands on me that I cannot meet, and being the glue for our family, and keeping it together for the kids and having to be strong for this that or the other thing. There are days that I need help taking care of things and taking care of me and today was one of those days.

I was thinking if I could just take a brief break from my life and drop my emotional self in one place for some r&r and my physical self at another for its own r&r it would be great. Then they could re-unite when they are both really strong and able again.  I got through Nervous Breakdown Day, still very exhausted, very un-rested, and with very little relief, but noshing a handful of dark chocolate kisses before collapsing into bed certainly didn’t hurt. Sometimes a gal just needs some TLC (Tender Loving Chocolate.)

Ridiculously Uncomplicated

This was a ridiculous day.  Some days are more ridiculous than others.  I spent most of the day at the hospital with my youngest trying to address what his doctors originally thought could have been a very serious issue in his hip that would require immediate surgery.   Yep, I said immediate.  For the last few weeks my son has had a lot of pain in his foot that moved up his leg and then he started walking with a limp, and his leg was twisted out.  Where the pain was could have been related to some kind of vascular, hip socket, crazy-long-medical-terminology-thing that apparently was so urgent that he was bumped to the front of the line and had doctors all over it.  In the midst of my continued state of numbing fatigue I patiently waited to hear the good news that he is not going to need a major surgical adjustment, but instead will potentially need some orthopedic intervention including shoes or a brace and/or physical therapy for his foot.  I have been unintentionally ignoring his needs (shame on me,) and chalked his pain up to growing pains but it is not that.  This was however just another example of how I have been unable to keep up with my children, my family, myself, my life.  My youngest had a pretty big deal issue with his body and I let it go because I can’t keep up. 

Did I mention that my new motto is RIDICULOUSLY UNCOMPLICATED.  That is what I’m looking for in a life.  Aren’t we all?  Ridiculously uncomplicated.  Like THAT is going to happen.  While I was multi-tasking in between doctors, x-rays, meetings and phone calls for everything else all-encompassing, someone said to me, “Wow you are so busy but you sound really good and awfully positive.”  I do?  That’s ridiculous.  You mean when I’m trying to juggle no less than 27 balls in the air at once from a hospital, a car, two schools, a state agency, a church a pharmacy, a grocery store, a bank and a pediatrician’s office?  It’s the 28th that will trip me up.  Tomorrow “they” descend upon us to assess everything that needs to be done regarding the house sale issues, if I’m lucky I’ll only have a dozen or so people here at once that will determine the future of where I will or won’t be living.  Nothing ridiculous about that. 

I have no idea where any of this is coming from, but everything is so ridiculously complicated, and I’m talking about things woven into things piled on top of things meshed amongst things intertwined with things that could take years and years to untangle, with no foreseeable solution, outcome, or sensible answer anywhere, in the meantime my youngest has a foot growing in the wrong direction, and I’m either too numb, too paralyzed, too tired, or now TOO USED to all of the chaos to not apparently sound good and be positive.  Ridiculous. 

My friend L sent me a beautiful card the other day that said:  The road of life has many turns, and sometimes it takes us to a place we had planned…sometimes it shows us a surprise around the bend we could never have anticipated.  We made decisions based on the information we have…we accept the ups and downs as they come…we live “one day at a time.”  But often we find it is only when we look back that we can see that what we had thought was a “wrong turn” has brought us to exactly the right place and every step was a right one after all.”  She reminded me, “Don’t get lost in despair.  Think of how many times you have put one foot in front of the other and come out on the other side.  Remember your inner strength, trust your instincts and you will find your way.”

Not sure if my so-called inner-strength has just completely taken over, or my instincts have surrendered, or finding my way means not looking for it, but ridiculously uncomplicated sounds so good to me that that is my new goal.  Is it tangible?  Maybe.  Is it doable?  Possibly.  Is it realistic?  Potentially.  Is it likely?  Nope.  But I can sure pretend that it is and that should count for something.

Life Changing Fatigue

It’s almost 9pm and I’m so tired I can’t see straight again, totally exhausted.  It’s like it comes in waves.  I think that whatever bigger life transformation is taking place is requiring more energy than I have and I’m trying to honor it.  I definitely feel a deeper sense of peace and also a strong surrender.  I can’t decide however if these pliable sensations are peace or surrender, or both.  Periodically I will feel my body physically relax, as if I’ve walked around for years, my whole life maybe, in a tightened sense of muscular form and heightened state of anxiety, deep anxiety that manifests physically in my bones and muscles and body.  Maybe that’s where my fibromyalgia comes from…I have been diagnosed with that over and over and literally this week I’m starting to put two and two together.   

These new sensations, both the internal quieting and external loosening is all very different from in the past, and they feel good.  But then I go through these intense unbearable hours of fatigue where I just cannot function.  I’m in one now but here I sit typing, wondering out loud (well, on blog,) what it is.  I hope it’s not the flu coming on but I am not sure that it’s that, it feels physically awful (a sheer draining,) and goes away when I rest.  I refuse to get the flu, this media hype is ridiculous and I am just compartmentalizing all of it, who has time for that?   I’ve spent way too many years “sick,” and I’m done with that.   

So I am trying to figure out how to rest during these recent and very debilitating periods of fatigue when I have three kids relying on my stability and predictability right now–which means keeping the momentum of the structure of their lives going.  Speaking of periods, (WARNING:  stop here if you do not want to read about menstrual cycles,) I also feel very hormonal, and wonder if some of this is menopausal.  Without revealing my age, I will say that I did have a minor surgical procedure to stop the hemorrhaging I had been having for years (see Gut Feelings post,) and it literally has stopped the monthly flow but all of the PMS symptoms are there.  Well not just the pre, but the during and the post-period symptoms are all still there too.  It’s very strange.  All of that without the actual period.  Not sure if this is what menopause feels like.  I’m still YOUNG and HIP (play along,) does that matter to my female body parts?  Or has the wear and tear of my life aged me less than gracefully both inside and out? 

Maybe I should stop thinking so much about the swirling whirlpool of my life and just lie down with a cup of tea.  I worked like crazy today, well, I do that every day…so I think for a minute I will try to forget about structural engineers, contractors and builders scheduled all week for more of the house sale saga; the severity of the panic attacks that my oldest son is having; the twisted foot and leg pain (literally twisted, his leg isn’t straight,) my youngest has that is being addressed this week with orthopedic doctors; or how about the news that Mr. Ex’s doctor gave him today about his newfound fairly drastic health issue; my mother’s bout of swine flu or bronchitis or pneumonia—she’s still trying to figure that out; the mile-long meeting list I have scheduled for the next few days; the drove of real estate agents coming in and out; ok I’m stopping now.  I will recognize my efforts, believe in the good, and tuck myself in for some much-needed sweet dreams.  Tomorrow is another day.


Trick or Treat Try Ons

We go through this every single year.  What family doesn’t.  The old “What Am I Going To Be For Halloween” saga.  How many times will the kids change their minds?  How much is this going to cost to buy their costumes?  What do we have here that we can make do with so we don’t have to spend too much time, energy, or money on this one-night-bad-for-your-health-and-kinda-scary event?  I came up with several things that my youngest did not like:

  • A burlap potato sack.
  • A garbage bag.
  • A bag of Halloween candy (just a garbage bag with pieces of candy stuck all over it.)
  • A brown bag with eyes cut out to wear on his head.

Ok so those ideas were not the most creative, but I get brain-drain every year trying to make this holiday happen for them.  I think he came up with vintage ghost, which is classic.  A white sheet with eyes cut out and a plastic pumpkin bucket.  LOVE IT.  Although we are still a few days away and he could change his mind, after all this was his 25th idea this month.

We don’t get trick or treaters at our house now.  We used to live in an urban neighborhood with over 150 kids, so Halloween was a major event.  Families were out at every house enjoying socializing, drinking various adult beverages, sharing treats, like a big neighborhood block party.  One year I even dressed up like a Christmas tree, I wore a tree skirt and hung ornaments, tinsel and lights all over me, wore a star on my head, I plugged myself in to a long extension cord and had Christmas music playing with a little portable cd player.  Thought it was brilliant.   Those were the days…every year Halloween was FUN. 

Then we moved to a neighborhood in Virginia where Halloween wasn’t a big deal, so that was hard on the kids, and me actually…I missed the “block party” feel we had for so many years.  Then we moved to the house we live in now, which is not in a neighborhood but instead the suburban countryside, where land is big and houses are far apart and you kind of have to drive to trick or treat.  There are some semi-neighborhoods in our town, so we drive to them then park and walk, but it’s exhausting since the lots are so big and you have to walk miles and miles in between houses to get a half a bag of candy. 

I don’t want to say Halloween is a stressful event because it’s not, just a little annoying to figure out the costumes, and actually I think I probably mostly feel sadly nostalgic about how great it used to be when the kids were little and we lived in the house we thought we would live in forever.  I miss that for the kids, the Halloween “event,” as well as the neighborhood of 150 kids.  But not going to look back, today I will immerse myself in the task of finding them their costumes and pretend it’s fun.   They are excited about all of it, so that’s what matters the most, even though they are growing up.  My oldest is dressing up for a Halloween carnival at his school, my middle is going to a costume party, and my youngest is the traditionalist.  When the trick or treating is over maybe I’ll throw on the ghost costume, sneak into his bag when he is not looking and swipe some treats for myself.


Breaking news.  For those of you who know me, and those of you who know me and love me, and for those of you who know about my little “ocd” side, you may be amazed (and confused,) to hear that today I stopped and did NOTHING for the ENTIRE afternoon.  I know.  It really surprised me too, caught me off guard even.  I had this amazingly long list of things to do (of course,) and in my paralysis, fatigue, and perhaps even nonchalantness (see yesterday’s post To Weary To Worry,) I IGNORED MY LIST and watched everything had DVR’d all week all afternoon with several cups of tea and a warm blanket.  This odd behavior of not feeling any sort of push or drive to complete my tasks made me wonder if maybe I was sick…or have an impending health crisis coming on (think stroke, heart attack…) or for the first time in my life, EVER, I just didn’t care.  Can you imagine?  I can’t. 

I even took it a step further.  Instead of doing yoga and showering like I always do, I did yoga in the clothes I had thrown on to take my kid to driver’s ed class earlier in the morning, did a really relaxing slow yoga instead of a more exhilarating one, and then did not shower and kept the same clothes on.  GASP. 

I did not feel like doing email.  I did not feel like napping.  I did not feel like doing anything other than what I did and I did it.  WHAT?  Something surely is wrong with me.  I was fortunate enough to have had the kids all simultaneously placed this afternoon at various locations for a period of time, and I did not have to even go out in the pouring rain to retrieve them.  That was pure luck (and thank you to J and her husband A for driving!) 

Sitting at dinner I mentioned to my family that something must surely be wrong with me and they said, “How does it feel to be normal?”  I wasn’t quite sure because this did not feel “normal” to me at all.  My mind would periodically nudge me to get up and start doing things and I ignored it.  That is definitely not normal for me. 

Even more breaking news for those who know me really well:  my vacuum broke so I didn’t vacuum.  I KNOW.  I took it to be fixed this morning and it will be several days before it’s repaired.  I do have a really old, tired spare (of course,) but I actually LET IT GO.  (Some of you must be passed out with sheer shock by now, I even have shocked myself.)  I’m a bit worried that there is a panic attack in my potential immediate future about not having my vacuum, but I’m trying to compartmentalize it. 

I am actually a bit afraid at what I’m feeling right now…like not making the beds seems fathomable.  Not dusting or dry mopping the wood floors—possible.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME???

My middle son said it’s clear that the intensity of the stress has finally taken over and has forced some sort of surrender that is going to work in my favor.  Smart kid.  Naturally fear still resides, the fear that something truly is wrong with me that I have not been able to budge today, but I am trying to edge that fear out in hopes that I am evolving into a more “normal,” or less frantic state of being. 

I assume that this lag is going to catch up with me and will hit me and I will go into some sort of crazed frenzy to do what I need to do.  But I’m trying to enjoy it (sort of, in a dazed and confused kind of way,) while it lasts.  My smart friend L said to me today, “Accepting things or letting go whether because of sheer exhaustion or acceptance is a good thing.  You have to let go to survive….so give yourself credit for accomplishing this huge step regardless of the reason.”  I hope she does not mind that I shared that, but it made perfect sense with this strange, very unlike me day that I have had.

I’m shutting down the computer until tomorrow.  Disconnecting from my life on every level is a foreign concept to me, but I’m trying to let whatever force is guiding me to unplug just show me the way.   Catch you on the flipside.

Too Weary to Worry?

I don’t know whether I am just exhausted (of course I am,) emotionally paralyzed (that too,) or experiencing what it is like to let go of worry just a little bit.  I think I may just be too wiped out to function on any level that is more than survival, but I would like to believe that maybe I am experiencing a little bit of that peace thing that I have been looking for.  Just not sure.  This has been a really busy and really emotionally and physically draining week.  A lot has gone on and I am worn down on many levels.  But at the same time I feel a sense of inner-strength that perks up lately when I think about my worn-down state, like a little glimmer of light that doesn’t fade but holds steady no matter how dark, how tired, how overwrought it gets in there. 

I had a meeting today with a new team of people at my youngest son’s school, he has been showing signs of anxiety, not surprisingly…the poor kid’s whole life basically has been spent in triage…his oldest brother’s mental challenges, his father’s addiction issues, both of their pretty intense mood instabilities, his mother’s physical ailments, two out-of-state moves, a broken-down antique and a lawsuit, and it’s taken its toll on him.  But that kid is tough.  He is a super strong and super sensitive kid who is needing some support now.  I met with a very lovely group of women including his school principal, school psychologist, school guidance counselor and his teacher and they could not stop remarking about the extremity of our situation and how amazingly well I was at sitting there working on things with them despite the circumstances they were hearing about our life.

I think it is because I have had to live it for so long, have had to tell it over and over, have almost gotten used to its horrors as if I’m telling someone else’s story…in a detached sort of way.   Sometimes I actually feel numb to it.  Mental health clinicians with all of their degrees and knowledge would tell me that is my brain’s way of coping, that eventually it can’t cope with any of it anymore so it puts itself in a defense mode that is similar to a shut-down mechanism, I go on auto-pilot, and I do whatever it is that I have to do just to survive, and to help my children survive. 

I’m pretty good at that, advocating for their needs and not being afraid to ask for help in whatever way I need it for them.  So we had a good meeting and near the end the guidance counselor was just shaking her head and said, “You are Wonder Woman.  I just cannot even begin to fathom what you have been living and it is amazing how well you are at dealing with it.”  Nobody has called me Wonder Woman before, but I have to say that it was validating.  It fed the light that apparently keeps burning, a little eternal light that needs to be fed, and sometimes flickers, sometimes fades, and sometimes shines brightly.  I don’t go out looking for validation, in fact I don’t even think about that, I’m too busy worrying about getting everyone’s needs met.  But sometimes when people tell me how well I’m doing despite the situation, I stop, think about, and appreciate for one minute that maybe I am ok.  And then in that minute maybe I do feel a little bit of peace that I am striving for.

Yoga gurus, spiritual leaders, and those in the know (like my wise therapist,) talk about having that peace “in spite of things.”  One time Mr. Ex said to me, “You’re giving your externals all sorts of power over you.”  No doubt in my mind that my whole life I have let my externals have a lot of power over me, and despite my ugly dislike for it, it has been easy to do considering the externals I have lived forever.  So I’ve been trying not to do that  (which is like trying to get fish to swim without water,) and after weeks like this week, where there is just so much on top of already too much that I either just can’t do more than go through the motions or maybe I am experiencing a little internal calm amidst the storm?  Standing in the eye of the hurricane?  Flying above the earthquake?  Maybe I’m taking adversity and turning it to my advantage.  (That karmic principal may still be a little too advanced for a gal who has mostly let her externals steal her power.)

As far as everything else goes, we wait as the house sale issues are still pending. I think I may have given up some control on this (from sheer exhaustion or from surrender?) I look back at making it through (barely) a very busy and stressful week (go Wonder Woman.)  I embark on a weekend that will be differently busy, surely full of impending surprises, probably some disappointments, hopefully some good moments, a tiny bit of rest (sometimes I’m optimistic,) and even a laugh or two.  My youngest said today, “Mom it’s been a long time since you laughed.”  Maybe serenity is as simple as that and I just need to remember to do it.  But in the meantime, I think I am just peacefully exhausted.

Hello Lonely

My friend C said to me, “It seems like the life you had before you lived here was so much better.”  She was referring to before we moved to the house we currently live in that we are trying to sell.  She is right, it did SEEM LIKE the life we had before we lived here was so much better.  It felt that way, there were so many aspects of it that were really wonderful.  We had a house we loved where we had put down our roots.  We had youth, hope, maybe even peace…and ignorant bliss.  There’s something to be said for ignorant bliss, especially when you look back on times that you didn’t even realize you were ignorantly blissful and recognize them as good times, even if you didn’t think they were that great at the time.  Ironic isn’t it. 

But that surely is not the case now.  Everybody has Stuff (with a capital “S”) in their lives, some less Stuff than others.  But as the years go on and the Stuff gets more and more complicated, it’s almost easy to get caught up in it and not even realize how it has engulfed your life to the point that you can’t even recognize how you are feeling.  I don’t mean the day-to-day feelings that accompany the varying degrees of Stuff and resulting stress, I mean the feelings that take a seat, deep down inside, that bury themselves and are almost unrecognizable, or are at least obscurely lost way beneath the surface.  We never really know when those feelings are going to rise up and speak up.  Sometimes it’s in something that someone says to us like what my friend C said, or a song, or a look on a face of a stranger, but for me today it was in a moment of quiet. 

I looked around and realized that for just a few minutes I had no one home, I was alone and loving it.  What mother doesn’t love being alone when possible?  I have been going nonstop all week, have had more meetings and appointments than I could juggle and keep up with, had kids coming and going, state service people coming and going, and more house selling inspection people coming and going, and in between all of that this afternoon I sat down for a few minutes to catch my breath before the next infusion of impending stuff.  Keep in mind I rarely, if ever, stop and sit down and catch my breath.  This was a foreign concept to me but I welcomed it.  (I think a lot of people are smiling as they read that I actually did this.) 

That’s when it hit me.  I’m so lonely.  Sure I’m surrounded by kids, chaos, mental health clinicians, lots and lots of Stuff.  But I mean I’m lonely in my marriage and apparently unknowingly have been for a long time.  I didn’t realize it, but now looking back, just like I did with ignorant bliss, I realized that I was replaced a long time ago by gambling and by Mr. Ex’s internal pain.  I could never put a finger on it until today, how I never seemed to get the emotional nurturing that I needed, how even though I thought he was meeting my needs, I didn’t realize that my needs were that I was as important to him as he was to me, but I wasn’t, the addiction was.  The gambling was actually “the other woman.”  That’s where his mind was, that’s where he directed his desires, his intentions, his efforts, his energy.  He thought it was meeting his needs, maybe it was, but he certainly wasn’t meeting mine and I didn’t even realize it until today.  Now his needs are focused on his recovery and all the things that he is trying to do to rebuild himself, and that still leaves me lost by the wayside of his immediate priorities, whatever those may be.  Not an easy thing to realize and feel, and it has risen to the surface. 

But I don’t lack, I don’t lack because inside of me is a core of endurance, strength, courage, even in my darkest moments of sadness and loneliness.  Maybe I don’t lack because in all of those years of ignorant bliss I believed that I was being nurtured and that was enough to give me a strong core.  Maybe I don’t lack because I come by strength and courage naturally.  Maybe I don’t lack because of my children, family, friends, support system.  Maybe before the addiction took over Mr. Ex did give me what I needed until he got lost in his own lack that drove him to the depths of his despair and destruction.  Maybe it doesn’t matter except enough to recognize that I don’t lack. 

I used to be afraid of being alone and lonely.  I always wondered if there was a difference, and today while I was alone, Lonely approached me in a moment of silence and spoke to me, gently, softly, knowingly.  I imagine Lonely will come and go, just like Stuff does, and sometimes I actually just long for ignorant bliss.