Confession? I do not always feel like a truly positive, hopeful, grateful person. There are many moments of negativity, nearly crippling doubt, and being ungraciously unhappy despite my many blessings. My saving grace? I try. I am realistic about my successes and my failures. Most of the time I pick myself up and resolve to do better. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Today I feel as if I have misplaced hope in my life, similar to the periodic loss of my keys on the morning I am running late to get to the office or an early appointment. It always seems to happen at the worst, most stress-inducing moments and is magnified to spontaneous combustion and on-the-verge of meltdown for me. Then they are FINALLY found. Crisis averted. Life continues and the sudden, intense, panic-stricken moments are quickly glossed over as “one of those mornings” and forgotten.
Between the winter, the holidays, the current arc of my life … I feel unsettled and uneasy. There is so much distress, unhappiness, anger in the world around me. Those are powerful emotions, far more intensively energy-draining than any joy or contentment I experience. It may be time again to withdraw and cease watching/listening to the news, turn away from many of the blogs I routinely read and/or follow, and stop reading emails. Because it affects and impacts me, this negative energy and anger. I feel helpless and incapable of doing much of anything to effect change and it seems to impede my ability to think straight and offer anything by way of comfort or practical suggestions. I know there is a slice of the population who do not really want to be comforted or offered realistic strategies for coping with their situations. I do not have to be right, I do not have to have my advice implemented or my opinions validated. But I have to have some hint there is hope, that some tiny step is being attempted to improve their circumstances. Hope fades when it is the same or worse story this time next week, next month, next year. I begin to believe people are happiest in sharing and spreading the misery, and it both alarms and depresses me.
In moment of extremely human behavior (aka: a serious disagreement escalated into a full-blown fight), M once told me that my feelings do not work right and it is impossible for me to understand the true range of emotions. Ouch! Unfortunately, I cannot completely disagree and call him a jerk. Just because he says something hurtful in a heated argument does not make it a false statement. I survived a horrific childhood and have come very far and have made a good life, partly because my emotional disconnects gave time and room for my damaged psyche to improve and to heal somewhat. Survival seems to mean turning off my emotions and denying the reality of what is happening to and around me right this minute.
I hate winter. Not because I am affected by seasonal affective disorder, but because M and so many others I must interact with are strongly influenced by it. M becomes depressed, moody, clingy. Others it’s nitpicking or the “sky is falling/world is ending/woe is me” attitude. More succinctly: it’s a time of heightened emotions, mostly negative emotions, and while intellectually I understand it, emotionally I just want them to snap the f–k out of it. I cannot and will not say that – people are suffering, whether it is real or imagined, it is definitely real to them – and there will be periods when I must distance myself for my own peace of mind. This is where I turn to blogs, books, television, anything to use as a distraction and buffer from the swirling dark clouds. It’s when my distractions start to have the same tinge of darknes that I start changing channels as well as changing my own outlook and direction, only when I reach that point it’s far easier said than done.
This is not a new phenomenon or experience for me. It happens in both randomly and in annual patterns, such as it is now with the change in weather and holiday seasons. I know it is temporary, that the skies will clear and my normal levels of hopeful optimism will return. But as with any funk, the messages in the back of my mind revolved around the “what ifs” of the equation. What if this time is different? What if the depression lingers? What if he (M) does not get better and this cling-on moodiness continues? With my father-in-law’s recent passing the depression is worse and more consuming this year, and I am mostly patient and our life pretty normal. However, there was a brief dust-up last night and an ongoing conflict discussion this morning. I know this will resolve and pass, but I hate conflict so much that I would prefer to avoid M until it blows over. Unhealthy, I know. But seriously, getting his feelings hurt because I’m engaged with a television show and do not want to listen to his derisive commentary while I’m watching is not worth the grand drama he is inflicting. It’s mostly the grief and seasonal depression talking. I am just not sure how much and how long I should have to tolerate before he snaps out of it and recognizes how unreasonable his expectations are while he’s feeling sorry for himself.
I know I sound terribly unsympathetic, but we go through this a few times each year. He’s unlike me, when I just want to be left alone to brood and sleep it off. He wants to be coddled and babied, and unfortunately I’m not one who can do that for an extended period before growing resentful and dismissive. Through these bristle patches, we love one another and will get through it. But damn, it’s a challenge while in them. Coupled with being battered on too many sides by external forces, I am a lot less patient and tolerant than I might be in other circumstances.
Maybe there’s a stray piece of chocolate in my future.