Adrift

Oh no. Here it comes again, and in a familiar place. The porch. The happy place or the sad place, but rarely the in-between, it-could-go-either-way place.

TS Eliot said that April is the cruelest month, but I think he was wrong. May, with its endless end-of-the-school-year pressures, parties, brownies, pizza; it’s just exhausting and creates in me confusion and anxiety.

The outdoors is so beautiful; why am I not happy? Pollen has mostly passed. We’re moving from the first, flush blooms of spring into the more steady, reliable, sporadic flowering of perennials and trees. (And weeds. But that’s just the May-hater in me talking.)

I lose things. I can’t keep up with what everyone wants from me. I respond wrongly to their comments and inquiries.

To make it worse, this particular May sees my children finishing up their secondary education. The horizon is bright; they both were accepted to the colleges of their choice early in the winter. But one still must finish high school, and one still must put up with the popularity contests that masquerade as awards ceremonies. That’s what set me off today.

I hate to admit it, I really do, because I know those receiving awards were so deserving. But it seemed like 3 people received all the awards. Out of a class of approximately 400, could there have been some imagination? It’s apparent that the accomplishments of the introverts among us, those who don’t glean their personal energy from being with others but rather from introspection and spending time alone, are largely ignored. Hey! We have a lot to offer!

And where do I stand regarding my children? Should I be a nagging mother? That’s been my role for many years and it’s hard to let it go. Should I just listen as they vent? Happy to do so, but again, having been their guide all their lives, it’s hard to keep my mouth shut. And what about me? What do I do with my stress? I don’t have anyone to share it with, to back me up. Many well-meaning people populate my life, but it’s not like having a spouse whose genetics are also inside these kids.

I’m adrift. It’s the dreaded May, a worse May than usual because of the impending transitions, and I have no rudder. help?

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Peace

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Peace

I have the inexplicable urge to write something both short and sweet to you now. Hang on to your hats!

Unfortunately, I seem always to write in order to complain and vent. Well right now I’m really content and I thought it was time to let you know that this does happen. It’s Friday evening, 7 p.m. My kids are off somewhere, having fun with their friends, and I’m sitting peacefully on my front porch with my dog, just catching up on my many blogs and watching the world go by. Oh, and looking at my beautiful garden which is in full regalia right now.

That’s really all I wanted to say. To say that sometimes, oftentimes, life is peaceful and good despite its deprivations.

A happy Mothers’ Day to you all (since you’re mostly ladies out there).

Overload

It was a rough one. Today, I mean. It didn’t feel like it at first, but I was set up for a short-tempered afternoon by the emotion of the morning. Not that the activities of the afternoon, themselves, didn’t provide reason enough for a bad mood. But I may have been able to handle things better were it not for the morning.

Actually, the morning felt quite pleasant. I met an incredible woman who is also a widow, and has four school-aged children. A mutual friend brought us together, and we met for coffee. You know, you expect someone with this sort of shared history to understand certain broad feelings, to have lived a particular number of circumstances peculiar to people in your situation. She understood the smallest thing, though. And we agreed that it’s the small things, the “pin pricks” as she put it, that wear us down and out. We can endure the anniversaries, the lopsided graduations, the missed birthdays, the lack of fruition of long-hoped-for plans. We steel ourselves for those things, and we get through. It’s the little things that erode our sense of self, our sense of hope, that catch us by surprise and bring us, if not to our knees, at least to a chair where our bowed head can disguise the tears that flow. She was so right. Thank you, Elizabeth, for bringing us together.

Next I saw my longtime therapist, counselor. I was actually late to my appointment, the first real stressor of the day. I’d never been late, and here on my last appointment with her, I had shortchanged myself by not arriving on time. You see, she has cancer now, and feels that it would be too much for either of us to bear for me to sit with her every other week and watch another person I love suffer through cancer treatment. So she opened the cage, and set me free. Can you imagine how the canary feels? For so long content in that familiar environment, and now adrift? Well she didn’t cast me out quite so uncaringly. We can have a personal relationship now instead of a professional one, and I intend to hold her to that. And she arranged for the counselor who sent us to her in the first place to take me back. So that’s good. But I’ll miss her so much. Not having a “reason” to check in with her makes me feel, proverbially, like I’ve lost my best friend. Again. Oh we would have avoided this if we could.

So that was the morning.

The afternoon was an exercise in avoidance. Avoiding the housecleaners, my barking dog. And then people started to phone me. I hate the phone. I’m having work done on my house and the afternoon was an incessant parade of phone calls. Someone called while I was driving Will to a meeting in RTP at rush hour, and I missed a critical turn because I looked at the phone. I know, I know. Please. Keep it to yourself. That missed turn made us late for the meeting. We were late getting home and I had to throw together a dinner, and the phone calls kept coming. The pets were bleating for dinner. I felt everyone in the universe wanted my attention. I turned off all the phones.

Why can’t people email me? I *despise* the telephone—its interruption, its assertion of importance, its demand that I subjugate everything else to its trill. *Leave me alone.*

Finally, finally I made it to the sanctuary of my bedroom and bathroom. As always, I turned on Pandora’s Ambient station in hopes that its soothing tunes would calm my frazzled nerves. And the first tune was a gift from my absent husband, telling me how much he wished he were here to help me. I was a broken reed oozing, crushed.

I had to write.

So here I am, taking your time now, asking for validation from you, and hoping also to validate you should you have had such a day. Sometimes the world is too much. Its inhabitants ask too much of you, and you ask too much of yourself. If you can, find a place of solitude, and will it all to melt away.

Speaking with the Dead

Had a really good talk with a good friend tonight. She needs to stay home more! What resonated with me is our talk about communicating with our loved ones who have passed away. I realize this could put me in the crazy house, but I do believe that if we’re open to communication from our deceased loved ones, we will find it.

Last night my lovely and deserving daughter received a prestigious award from an extracurricular group she has participated in for the past few years. Without even realizing it I was wishing Adam had been there. If you’ve been reading my column you know that he communicates with me through music, and right on cue, as I left the presentation last night, the music let me know that he had been there and was proud of our girl.

I’ve been a little upset not to feel the presence of my dad since his passing on April 6. I’m not really sure why this is because I am open, but maybe he’s not. I have felt his presence a few times when I was really demanding about it, so I want to reassure you all that if you need the presence of your loved one you may, perhaps, need to be very demanding about it. This probably sounds ridiculous but I am convinced that if we, here, are open, and they, there, are open, communication is possible. It’s not like talking, but a peaceful feeling will embrace you and you will know that your loved one is there with you. It’s a peace like you’ve never known. Try it.

I’m going to keep working on my dad. I doubt he was raised with the idea that we want to keep in touch with him, so I just need to keep pestering him. I write this to let you know that I think this is possible and not silly or weird, and to try it yourself. Just be open.

 

 
 

Riding the Wave

A friend from this blog wrote to check up on me yesterday. Thank goodness she was feeling really good, and was hoping I was too. I was. So energetic yesterday. Got lots done.

Looking at today’s calendar, I was winding myself up for another busy day. Instead I’m sitting here, reflective, contemplative, reluctant to dive into the day.

The friend I referred to in my last post, my counselor who has breast cancer, sent to me a draft for her own blog, a draft whose topic was the difficulty of telling me about her illness. When you know someone, you don’t need emoticons to understand the depth of feeling in their writing; the words are enough. 

Anyway, it brought me to tears. Not wracking sobs, but rather the gentle welling and spilling over that comes as thoughts and feelings grow and sink in. The prospect of telling me about her illness caused her even more grief and pain. It’s a circle that just won’t end, for either of us.

So, my friend from this blog who has been checking on me, I continue on that roller coaster. Yesterday was high, so today might be a little low. I can keep energy-sucking grief at bay if I can stay busy, like yesterday, but today is starting on a more somber note. I do have lots on the calendar, so maybe the energy will come. I’m just trying to do what we are all trying to do–ride the wave and look forward to the crest.

And love to you, dear sick friend.