Or, this is me recovering from the last year.
I'm worried about myself. I'm watching the pilot episode of the show "Louis". It's not making me laugh. Man, I wanted it to. It's like an odd combination of a Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Except that it's not making me laugh. It literally lifts jokes from those shows, just not very well. Ok, this bit about everything in life not ending well is kind of funny. "Hey everybody, I just brought home a puppy - we're all going to cry soon! I brought home us crying in a few years. Here we go, countdown to sorrow with a puppy!" Maybe it'll grow on me.
I need to find something funny. Maybe I won't find anything funny.
The last year of life has me in a post-traumatic-stress-syndrome funk #49. It's been going on since at least about May or June, when my son got out of the hospital.
But it's easy to forget that there are things to be grateful for.
-My son bought a cookie and a brownie at a bake sale today. That means he has the intention of eating them, although he hasn't yet. But there was a time that wouldn't have happened.
Now this show is grossing me out. Had to turn it off.
-This has been a good week for him, so far. Which means I've also had a better week. This is the first week I've noticed my anxiety level dropping just a tad. My body isn't expecting a disaster every other minute.
-If I had some money, I could pay someone to come in and help me really give a few rooms in my house a good cleaning. Why don't I do that? Give my house a good cleaning, that is. I'm not that guy. I thought maybe I could be that guy, bought a book about it, but haven't read it yet. Maybe what's true is, I'm not that guy right now. Wait, I was going to write about things to be grateful for, not pick on my faults. I'm grateful that we have a house to clean.
Many things are bothering me and one of them is that I haven't been writing. If I was, maybe I'd be dealing with things a bit better. I think there is something about the process of writing that exorcises the voices in my head. I could use some of that. So here goes.
I have been contracting. I have been withdrawing from life, from relationships, and letting my fear and my current lack of resilience rule things. In the past, I would experience this for a while but pull myself up and out and get on with it. I haven't yet done that this time. I do what I have to but nothing more. I'm in too deep. A recent bout of infections has caused MS to flare-up. Not surprisingly, that is not helping anything. I literally don't think clearly when this happens, and there's not much to do but wait it out.
I think something has changed for me relative to anxiety and to worry. I used to be able to quell a lot of it by telling myself vaguely 'oh, don't worry, things are going to work out'. Since my son's rather difficult year, that doesn't work anymore. Because things don't always work out. Sometimes they turn into a scary, hellish experience that rips all traces of confidence and faith out from under you.
And I just don't know how to get them back.
I miss it. I miss the days when I trusted myself, and had faith in myself.
A friend sent me a link to a Salon article about Jeff Tweedy. I had watched the Wilco PR machine churning for the past few weeks. Their new album came out on Tuesday, and it is the first one they've produced on their own label. So it's a big deal for them, and they've been everywhere publicizing it. I haven't listened to a single song yet. I did read the Salon article. Which lead me to read many other Salon articles. I had never spent much time there. I landed on a column called "Since You Asked". Someone writes in with a problem. The columnist answers, and then all the Salon commenters have their say. You'd have to be pretty gutsy to send a letter in. The commenters are a mixture of supportive, nurturing, critical, and downright nasty. After reading a few letters from people who had the nerve to send them in, I thought about myself sending one in. Oh, the field day the commenters would have with me. "Stop thinking about yourself!" "You don't have it as bad as the rest of us!" "Be thankful for what you have". Ok, ok, ok, I know. I have no right to complain.
But there is one errant commenter, in my mind, whose voice quietly persists.
"Give yourself a break for a while. You've been fighting a battle for your son for some time, and it has not been easy. Of course you are letting your relationships slide. You can't stand being such a downer and you shut things down before you get dropped or rejected. It kinda makes sense. You haven't been at your best. You've let your resilience sink underground. The good news is, you can retrieve it. It happens little by little, bit by bit. You find something good to do for yourself one day, and keep it up through the next day. That's the kind of success you can shoot for now. This is rebuilding - what is that Paramore song? Brick by boring brick. Pick yourself back up, and pick up the next brick. You don't have to criticize yourself for not building it faster. Each brick counts, and each brick stays." Ba da ba da ba da ba da.
The next brick. The next dirty dish. The next meal. The next drive into work. The next consultation with a dr.
I remembered today how when I used to go through a bad time as a teenager or young adult, I just clung to music. Music would get me through. It's white-knuckling it -- holding on to whatever grounds you so tight your knuckles turn white. I wonder if music can work for me now. Do I still believe? Neil Young does. I think maybe Eddie Vedder still does. "We all walk the long road". I used to lean on the music and let it hold me up.
It's been a long time since I've felt such terror about life. I can see the reasons for it - losing my former identity from my career, seeing my husband getting laid off, watching things going off the rails with my son, feeling my withering connection with my daughter, starting a new MS drug, being afraid of getting older. For some reason, it surprises me that life requires more courage the older I get. And that I seem to have less of it.
Brick by boring brick. Yes, finding the things to be grateful for is good, but maybe actively building those things into a strong foundation is even better. I don't know that I can trust it, yet. I guess picking up that first brick, and the one after that is an act of faith. Acting as if. I've done it before.