I've been avoiding writing.
Because I don't want to write about Arizona. I don't want to write about feeling scared and defeated and hopeless. I don't want to write about feeling worried all the time for me, for my son, for all of us. I don't want to write about the colleague at work whose bloodwork came back high for the marker for ovarian cancer. I don't want to write about the friend whose separation is becoming a divorce full of anger and sadness. I don't want to write about the other friend whose deepening depression I missed and can't be there to help him with now. I don't want to write about another holiday season without my mom and how it still colors everything. I don't want to write about how worried I am about money all the time and how I think I'm deciding I do want another kid but that it's not a good idea. I don't want to write about the tenuousness of work lately and the way everyone walks around tentative and defensive and resigned. I don't want to write about the constant undercurrent of panic, that I've done it all wrong, that it's too late, that it will never be right again.
Yeesh. It does feel a little better to rip all those band-aids off. You know, except for the resultant oozing.
But, as much as my brain is full of all of that lately, I don't want to write about it. Because I haven't yet found a way or a point at which I can write about it and have it be productive in some way, whether that means it's cathartic to me or helpful to someone who reads it or even just a good exercise in writing. I mostly want to get a big black crayon and scrawl "LIFE SAD" a couple dozen times, like some sort of Goth Drunk Hulk. (OK, I just read the last dozen tweets there and am actually giggling out loud, despite all I just wrote. "EVERY GENERATION NEED IT OWN RICHARD GRIECO! DRUNK HULK THANK ZAC EFRON FOR STEP UP TO PLATE!" Maybe the solution is to just have this piped into my head at all times.)
So, unlike other times when I've neglected this blog, I've been sort of purposefully neglectful as of late. Not because I don't think it's OK to write about sad stuff, obviously, but because I am in a weird chicken-or-egg place where I'm not able to tease out a sad thing about which I have thoughts versus just ME SAD ALL TIME. (Hee. I have some notes about what I'm doing to try to change this, but as I write, I'm just thinking that I need a whole lot more Drunk Hulk.)
Where was I? Right. I clicked a few posts back and saw a comment from cd over at The Frangipani Journals (which, by the way, hi! You're in India! The internet is magic!) and went and saw this perfectly timed post on her blog, where she writes about answering another writer's question, "What is your word for 2011?" That writer describes the word as your "North star," and an "organizing principle" for, in her case, writing, but cd framed it as more overarching goal for the year. She chose "risk," a word I could certainly get behind, as I am about as risk-averse as they come.
But as I sat with it for several minutes, the word that I kept coming back to is...happy. I would like to be happy.
Because--and I'm going to get a little down here, but just keep that Drunk Hulk tab open in another window and you'll be OK--I haven't been happy in a long time. Like, since I was pregnant. Now, I don't mean that I've been depressed for the last two years. But I've been so (take your pick) tired, worried, overwhelmed, lost, straining, focused, and/or stressed that I can't look back and see any decent stretch of time when I was content. When I felt like, "yep, I've got this, this is enough, I'm good." I've had that in moments, but only moments.
And don't get me wrong, it's not like I haven't also been excited, giddy, and madly in love with my son. I am so grateful for a healthy family, really exceptional friends, and a job that--despite changes and uncertainties--is still there, still providing some sense of fulfillment, in addition to health insurance. And, because I'm feeling guilty because of the timeline I've laid out, let's go back again: madly in love with my son. Like, cannot get enough of him. I don't regret having a baby for a second. But it was a very hard first year, for me individually and for us as a couple and a family, and I think the second year has been about coming back from that. And having a kid changes everything (what a completely original idea! I wonder if anyone's ever noticed that before!) and puts extra pressure on any pre-existing cracks. And then there are the things that aren't at all baby-related, like the tanking economy and all of its myriad effects (at least, I don't think that's related to Tankbaby. I can't vouch for what he does while I'm at work all day).
So, I had a hard year. And a year to try to come back from it. And now I'm ready, antsy even, to make some fucking forward motion. You know, as soon as I'm done being sad and angry and fearful and stuff.
Last time I linked to the terribly wise DoctorMama, but in case you got sidetracked by her running wisdom and overlooked her life wisdom, I send you to parts one and two of how she changed her life. You really oughta go read them, but for our purposes, I'll sum up: she writes about taking control of your own outlook and of letting go of anger (and its root, fear) and being...happy. Content. Peaceful with herself. (She also continues to be whip-smart and rapier-witted, which reassures me.)
I apologize. I stopped to re-read (again) those posts to organize my thoughts some more, but it's late and I'm afraid I'm going to crash to a rather inelegant end. What I want to make sure I put down, what I commit to in this vaguely public forum, is my current game plan. I have a therapist I see on an as-needed basis, and have been seeing her again. I have taken meds in the past, and am not averse to taking them again. But I also feel like, at some point, I gotta find something a little more internal that I can change. And I need to do it in a way where someone can gently kick my butt if needed or even just ask a curious question that makes me kick my own butt. Consider that an invitation, y'all.
So. I have started running, using the Couch to 5K program, with a healthy dose of DoctorMama wisdom. I have never been a runner before, and I hesitate to call myself one now, only 5 weeks in (although yesterday I ran 20 minutes in a row, which I'm not going to pretend isn't a triumph), but I've been trying to get regular exercise back in my life. In terms of flexibility and efficiency, this is working for me right now. I don't see any racing in my future, mainly because crippled tortoises are still faster than I am, but I know that it's good for me, both in terms of aerobic fitness and in terms of doing something just for myself.
I have bookmarked all of these bits of wisdom I've been talking about, and I'm going to pull key passages and print 'em all out and read them. Every day. I keep thinking about adding some sort of regular prayer/meditation in my life, and until I figure out how to do it properly, I figure it can't hurt just to take 5 minutes to read something that makes me say YES.
Thich Nhat Hanh's name has crossed my path twice today, which I took as a sign. I've requested his book on anger from the library. I also requested a Henry Rollins CD (to listen to while running), and am hoping that the two don't create some sort of matter/anti-matter explosion on the hold shelf.
And I'm going to keep sitting with that idea of happy. For me, that isn't gleefulness or cheerfulness, because I've had those. I'm looking more for contentment. For peace. Hell, mostly for just the absence of the whole fear/angerball thing. I want to be a better person, for me, for my family.
Well, and for you all, because then I won't write big old depressing blog posts anymore. Wish me luck.