Friday, March 23, 2007

Lost in Transition

I'll be honest with you all. I've been trying hard to write something. I wrote a funny and offensive piece about practicing Kegels with two girlfriends in a crowded bar. Then I wrote something sincere about the way we think other people see us. I may still publish them, if I can find a point to them besides an effort to display my cleverness and sincerity.

But I found during my last breakdown that the best way back to a clear mind is to call bullshit on the bullshit.

Here's the straight shit:

1. All I can think about is the stuff that I hate, the people I hate, the life I hate.
2. I haven't showered in three days.
3. I look like a haggard single mom on food stamps (bless their hearts).
4. I feel like a haggard single mom on food stamps.
5. I drink too much.
6. General restlessness threatens to swallow my soul.

Not to put too fine a point on it.

My shrink asked me if this happens every spring. I looked up last year's journal. Here's what I found:

Things I am tired of [March 18, 2006]:

*Writing bullshit that never sees the light of day
*Demanding children
*Never eating an entire meal in one sitting
*Being tired
*Being confused
*Being worn out
*Disliking myself
*Being sick
*Myself; I am desperately tired of myself and all my repetitious thoughts. I’ve thought about offing myself or becoming an alcoholic out of sheer boredom.
*Being required to care
*Being mad at my mother
*Despairing about my father
*Feeling empty, alone, and broken
*Entertaining children

Thereafter, things got much, much better. But now:

Things I am really tired of and/or scare the crap out of me [March 18, 2007]:

*Hanging out at the Science Center with kids and other tired, unwashed, rumpled, bored parents who also don't want to be there
*Answering to a child's comment or question every ten to 30 seconds
*Watching myself age rapidly
*Never sitting down for more than one minute at a time during a meal
*Never reading a book for more than ten minutes at a time
*Being interrupted constantly, no matter what I'm doing, be it reading, writing, sleeping, eating, taking a shower, going to the bathroom

So it's the usual stuff, more or less. Apparently motherhood, like depression, cannot be cured, only managed. How I've managed over the past year is I dropped a lot of useless ideas about parenting and hired a lot more childcare. What's not listed in the second excerpt is my prevailing sense of unease and boredom and loneliness. It would be there, but I got interrupted to make someone a sandwich.

(A new twist on the "things I hate" list is my terror of aging and old people. To wit: I went to a dance performance last week and was disturbed by the sea of white and grey heads all around me. All these soft-bellied old people clutching their tickets, fretting over finding the right seats, looking irritated beyond comprehension when someone needed to get past them after they'd sat down. During the performance, in the middle of one particularly quiet, erotic solo, a baldy near me turned around to hiss at the fellow behind him to stop kicking his chair. "Eh?" the fellow said. "I said, would you please stop kicking my chair!" The entire audience, probably even the dancer, heard this. Lord, smite me with a bolt of lightning if my life ever comes to this! I thought.)

So, I arrive again at the manic-depressive state of melancholia and restlessness. I shall endeavor to enjoy my mercurial mood, or at the very least, learn to ride it. Sit in the nice little yoga space I've made for myself downstairs, close my eyes, and do nothing about it. To do nothing about it is to triumph. To see this period as a shift and a transition rather than a crisis requiring divorce or grad school or some other thing that will make the feeling go away, that's the real practice. I'm lost in this mish mash. There's no other way for me to be right now.


Anonymous said...

"To do nothing is to triumph." Wow--Susie that is so profound and I find, incredibly difficult. I have always been a busy, active, on-the-go person. As a mom, when I am feeling stagnant (often) my impulse is to get up and go and do. Since #2 arrived, that is the wrong anectdote for the poison. Busyness makes me feel crazy. Deciding just to be in the moment and to do less; to delegate more and let my ideas of how things should be fall away, go more toward my healing. That, and more childcare. ;) -V

Rose said...

I love it when you call bullshit on the bullshit but I would really love to hear that Kegels story!!!!
Motherhood is something that you have to manage you are so right...I seriously think becuase we are finding this age hard...we will like the teenage years better because we are rock and roll groupies and we will be telling our kids to make sure and get a ticket for us to the show and they will think it is wierd and cool at the same time. Then we will prefunk and they can drive us:) Old people freak me out really bad. I see my life flash before me and I pray I die in a plane crash when I am 65-70:)

susie said...

I've never been worried about getting older before. In fact, I've often thought 50 seemed like a great age!

Staying active to replenish your life or stave off total boredom when you're with the kids all day makes sense and I do it, too. By "do nothing," I mean do nothing drastic to alleviate deeper feelings of dissatisfaction. As Pema Chodron says, all you're doing is running from the feeling you don't want to have. And then you'll be back at some other crisis, or the same crisis with a different person, job, whatever. To stay with the feeling instead of run from it can be very instructive.

You still have to look at your life, though. It's not like you can use meditation as another form of running from your feelings and just ignore what's happening. I do wonder about the balance between turning things over and over and just letting them rest once in awhile.

These upheavals can be good. Last year, after my March madness, I had a moment of grace and decided that instead of trying to fix or change a bunch of things, I would instead look at where my heart was leading me, and go there. It worked so well that I decided to cut down on therapy and scale back the meds.

OK, so that wasn't a genius move...

And since you asked for it, Rose, I'll post my Kegels story.

Jane said...

Could the antidote to old people be hanging out with better old people? Some old people are less spitty and mean than others. Yes, choose your old people wisely. Avoid the ones in red hats. Look for the ones doing headstands.

I'm glad you posted about seasonality. Moods and cycles and seasonality push and pull us more than is talked about enough. Maybe the only reason women have traditionally done spring cleaning is that if they don't they are liable to shoot someone. How come nobody warned us of this when we were girls-becoming-women? They just say: "Do your spring cleaning! Throw open those windows and clear that clutter!" And what they aren't saying is: "...or you'll go insane."

Think how much better the warm-weather activities are going to be. Wading pool. Park. Hiking. Farmers markets. Sitting on the porch with a margarita while they dig in the dirt. Oops, I'm probably not supposed to be advocating the alchohol thing...

Please, Lord, let it not all lead to graduate school again.

susie said...

Which would be worse...that or divorce? Hard to say.