I had an epiphany the other night.
Is it still an epiphany if you realize something horrible about yourself? Or is that saved only for delightful revelations?
My realization was that I am desperately, unbelievably unhappy. With myself.
This hadn't struck me because I am generally very, very good at keeping myself very, very busy.
This goes back to the time when I was severely depressed - mired in pre- and post-natal depression so immense that the only reason I am leaning toward there being a god is that I'm here now writing this. It was really that bad.
A part of that depression was my inability to do anything [go get coffee, make dinner, brush my teeth] without it becoming a near-insurmountable task. The very idea of a shower - turning on the water, getting it the right temperature, making sure I had a washcloth, pulling the shower curtain back and what IS the optimal way to get into the tub and should I hang my nightgown or is it dirty and does it need to be washed and if I do toss it in the hamper, do I have another one to put on and oh, god, is there soap in the tub? all before I even had to deal with the task of actually bathing myself - was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. I couldn't do it some days. It was too much.
And so now a trigger that brings that awful, helpless, floating feeling coming back is when I find myself with nothing to do - when there is no structure. And as my first week off wound to a close, I had no structure. I had no job with a 1.5 hour daily commute and a 55 hour work week taking up vast quantities of my time. I had no real volunteer activities to take up my evenings. I had no errands that I had to fit in when I could. I had vast, empty quantities of time.
And what I realize was that all the complaining I had been doing about every activity I had was not because I had no time and was frantic and trying to do everything all at once.
It was because I was desperately, miserably unhappy doing any and all of those things. I went into EVERYTHING with an attitude of “Oh, FUCK YOU, this blows and I can’t believe I have to waste my time on this bullshit stuff.” I mean, just a constant litany of not wanting to do anything or be anywhere because it sucked.
And then, as we were leaving a wedding and my daughter said, “I’m glad you had fun, even though you didn’t want to go,” I realized I’ve been doing that even with things I’d once enjoyed, where I once thought I’d have fun.
Book club? Cannot stop bitching about how much I hate it. Then I go, and while it’s not vodka exciting, it’s not bad. It’s actually o.k.
PTSA stuff? Really, really, REALLY cannot stop talking about how everyone sucks and I hate it and it’s all so much fucking crap, but I have come to realize, as I go to meetings and events, it’s not awful. I see people I haven’t talked to in a while, and it’s o.k. Sure, a lot of the people still suck and don’t do their jobs, but my reaction to it is out of proportion with how bad it actually is.
The wedding? Oh, I’m ashamed at how mean-spirited I was in my heart about this. Really, just evil. And then we went and at first, like always, I was prickly and quick to find offense and stupidity [because really, a white trash queen accosted me first thing and I was thisclose to just leaving], and then I just let go and it was . . . o.k. It was fine. It was fun.
What the fuck is wrong with me? I wondered, as we drove home and I mulled over what the girl said. And I realized the following things:
I’m not exercising
I’m not reading
I’m not playing my flute or cross-stitching or writing or drawing or knitting or taking photos or making plans with friends or . . .
I’m not doing anything. And when I thought, Oh, I should start playing my flute again, my immediate reaction wasn’t, Yes, I should, how fun, instead it was, Ugh, I have to clean my flute and find music and – and then it hit me. I stopped doing things I like.
So I took a tentative baby step, and did something I do like. I made that cross-stitch, and even though it had been so long since I’d done any cross-stitching, and it wasn’t centered on the material and I realized half way through that brighter, more vibrant colors would make a funnier contrast to those great words, it was nice to do that. It felt good to just do that one small thing. And then you all liked it so much that I wanted to make another one. To give away to one of you [still time to enter until 6PM EST tonight!]
So that’s what my time is going to be like. Doing one small thing that I like, so that I can stop being so angry about everything else in my life.
I need balance. That is not something I've ever been very good at, but I'm going to try.