When I go back and reread paper journal entries that I've written in years past (a habit I don't do often--I lived it once, no need to repeat), there's a common mood that dominates them-misery. I look like a dark, foul, pissed off person on paper. But, in general, I can't say that I've ever been consistently miserable very often in my life. I mean, sure I've had my moments, shite happens (clinical depression about 10 years ago-that sucked), but page-after-page of these journals reads as if I've been stuck in that very spot, that I've absolutely hated my life and that's not the case (excluding the ages of 11-13 and then it's a painfully accurate portayal, but I have a feeling I'm not alone there).
Happiness just doesn't have a way of inspiring me to write, but when the skies grow dark, I'm pulled by a primal need to put pen to paper. As a whole, the end product of journaling can sometimes resemble a Sylvia Plath novel. But I can promise you that gassing myself in an oven was never even a remote possibility, even at my lowest, and yet, these records leave that impression.
Geez, what the hell is my kid gonna think when he gets a hold of them later? I might need to do some editing...
While my blog can go there, too, I've somehow been able to paint a more balanced picture here (knowing people are reading keeps that in check-thanks!). Still, for the sake of my looking back and preserving something closer to reality, some speck of light, I'm going to start this entry out (and here you thought I was already halfway through!) by telling you what is actually going right. (But don't worry-I'll promptly launch into the misery afterwards!)
For once, my job is treating me kindly. The stress overload last year that kept my stomach in knots until quitting time everyday is no longer my regimen and I'm enjoying my new role far more than my previous. I still do school psych stuff, but my primary job is as a coordinator for a mental health prevention program for elementary students in our district, which is allowing me to participate and get experience in endeavors I would have never been involved in otherwise (writing grants, supervising employees). So, work, well it's pretty good.
And the kid-he's pretty fantastic, too. He's silly and smart and funny and charming and so creative and I honestly love being in his company (except when he's acting like a 3-year-old!). And, of course, after 12 1/2 years, I have the best husband (no, I really mean it--not just because he reads this!) who spoils the ever-living crap out of me and a roof over our heads and enough money in our pockets to eat out sometimes and embark on the occassional indulgent trip to T.arget (to get what? $200 later-who the hell knows?)
And...we got a new dog, who is, simply put, fabulous. She's a 2-3 year old lab/german shepherd mix. She is mellow (most of the time), smart and sweet as sugar. She even gets along with my cats! OK, she has a touch of separation anxiety, but I would, too if I were trapped, pregnant and sick, in a cage at the pound for who knows how long. I do believe I've already fallen in love...
Yes, I have an enormous amount to be grateful for-a 'thank your lucky stars every second' amount. But I vascillate between two very different end points, one on which I am tremendously grateful and another on which I give myself permission to recognize just how difficult these last few years have been on me, tiptoing dangerously close (and sometimes stepping over the line) to feeling sorry for myself. These two shouldn't have to exist so separately for me, but they do. I think this vascillation is pushed forward by this misguided belief that if I am feeling misery and anger about my losses and dwelling just a moment too long in them, then I am somehow ungrateful for what I do have. I know logically that's not the case, but my head is not always one to invite logic into these matters.
Here's a brief synopsis of the last three years:
Two weeks after I had G, my Mom ended up in the hospital and as a result of her complications, she had to leave her full-time job, remain on oxygen and was thereby housebound, no longer able to take care of basic functions, such as grocery shopping and later, even bathing. I tried to help from over an hour away with a new baby, but it was a struggle as she refused in-home care. Three months after G was born, my Dad passed away. Later that year, we bought a house and moved. I watched over those next two years as my Mom deteriorated even further (of the same disease as my Dad) and exactly 2 years and one week to the day of my father's death, she too died. That Fall, I used some of the money she left me to do an FET and ended up having our second miscarriage. One month after that, my beloved cat of 12 years died. And throughout this time, Mr. S continued (and sometimes continues) to have various baffling health issues.
That's the cliff notes version. That's the 'this is what I dwell on so I can occasionally feel sorry for myself' version.
And then I remember times like these:
I was in the 7th grade, around 12 years old. It was the night before Halloween and I was busy carving my pumpkin in the kitchen. I thought there had been some commotion in the house and that was confirmed when my Dad said he was driving my Mom to the hospital because she was having an asthma attack. This had happened numerous times in my childhood, hours spent waiting in the ER for breathing treatments to be completed, so when he gave me a choice of whether I wanted to go with them, I declined. I decided to stay and carve my pumpkin.
Well, it turns out, she flat-lined that night and spent the next two weeks in the ICU. I could've lost her then. And I did, for a split second. Oh, how different my life would have been had that split second turned permanent. Instead, I got to spend another 21 years with her. She left that hospital so she could see me off to the prom, watch me graduate from high school and college, be there at my wedding, watch her grandson be born. If ever I feel cheated (as I often do) by the fact that I was only 33 when she died, I try to remind myself that I could've just as easily been only 12. Instead, I was gifted 21 years. And most of the time, that works. Most of the time.
But it is still incredibly easy to slip into a place where I feel like I have a target on my back. And just as easy to slip into the place where feeling like I have a target on my back is somehow this self-indulgent, first-world problem crap because there are other people who lost their entire families in war as children and don't even have limbs, for God sakes, so how dare I feel even remotely do anything but thank my lucky stars!!
See what a mind-f* I engage in every day?
The culmination of all of this back-and-forth in my brain has left me exhausted. As you can see, I'm not a good grey-area thinker and this is exactly what this is. There is no either/or, no good guy or bad guy. I can be pissed off at the world AND grateful, simultaneously, and they can exist alongside and separate from each other, and should. I know that, you know that, so will someone please tell my heart that already?
Gratitude is great thing, unless you find a way to beat yourself over the head with it.