Thursday, March 24, 2011

Epiphany, Smack in the Face, It's All the Same, Right?

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.


  1. I recognize myself a little TOO much in that post to be comfortable with... so now I'll go complain (in my head) about the damn blog post that made me start over-thinking things instead of facing the fact that lately I've just been one.miserable.bitch.

  2. I have been there. Strangely, I think blogging and exercise snapped me out of it. Here's to baby steps. And here's to you, because you are awesome.

  3. Oh. My. God.

    Did you insert a microchip into my BRAIN? Because you seriously are reading my thoughts.

    I always complain and bitch about things which really aren't *that* bad. And I keep myself busy, especially on the weekends when there's way too much time to be left alone with my thoughts.

    Case in point: A few Saturdays ago I spent a good chunk of the day planning my parents' vacation (because they really had no idea what they were doing) and cooking for a couple of DH's friends who were coming over. And after all that work and all those hours, I felt empty inside. Like, none of it was for me. It was for my family, or to show off to DH's friends (I can admit when I'm showing off). I had nothing to show for myself, and I felt so sad.

    I've always chalked it up to just not being a super happy person in the first place.

  4. AND you play the flute?! You are too awesome.

    And, yeah, a coupla Saturdays ago we were invited to a birthday party. I did NOT want to go, even though I love the guy who was having the birthday. The whole thing just sounded awful to me. And I was prickly and snarky. Some of the predicted awfulness lurked around the edges, but I had a good time in spite of myself.

    I asked my shrink if there's a happiness "set point." She didn't really answer (OF COURSE NOT, fucking shrinks), but she didn't disagree with the notion. And she is pretty constantly urging me to get out in the world and do stuff.

    Awkward hugs all around.

  5. It's difficult to get unstuck once you find yourself stuck.

    I've been bored latey - oh, there's things to do to keep busy, but I'm intellectually bored and as a result, completely stuck. Can't move forward. You are on the right track, though. Doing one small thing that you like - it's a good step. You know what else? I think the internet is a depressing place. I wonder if we unplugged more, if that would help...(and by 'we' I mean 'me')

    I like JenB's comment, too. I can totally relate.

  6. I realized this lately too. Outside of spending time with my kid, I'm not doing anything I like. But I have been too lazy to get back to entertaining myself. God, that's bad of me.

  7. Kelly - I hate that I made you think bad things about yourself, but I'm so glad you are with me on this. And are strong enough to share.

    The Mrs. - Oh, thank you. I love hearing that I'm awesome from people I think are awesome. I do like blogging, and want to continue. And get back to exercising with baby steps.

    MrsJenB - Weekends are the WORST. I hate Sundays with a fiery passion usually reserved for people who can't park within the lines. I'm glad you posted your comment and I'm glad I'm not alone.

    KathyR - Fucking shrinks. That party sounds EXACTLY how I've been feeling - miserable and bitch and for what? And yes, I play flute - I was quite good, too.

    Life - I hate that stuck feeling. I do like that I can use the internet to find people like you all. But it can be depressing when I realize I've spent 4 hours just clicking through random stuff instead of doing what I want to do.

    KLZ - I don't think it's laziness, but I do think it's very, very hard to be kind to yourself by making yourself a priority.

  8. Our lives are so busy with the shit we have to do, the want to do list doesn't seem as important by the time we get to it For me, sitting on my ass some days seems like a more attractive option. However, the longer I sit on my ass the harder it is to get up. This post was so well written.

  9. I see myself going down this same path. Before I even get to doing anything I'm angry at how stupid it is or how lame the people are or how I could be doing something SO much better. But then I get home and I'm just so tired of life that I want to sleep and ignore everything around me. I did take one step a few months ago. I pulled the trombone back out and joined a brass group that my boss was in. It's her church group, so it gets weird at times, but I forgot how much I love playing. If can just get over the whole people I don't know, music that isn't challenging, and getting my ass there... it would be so much better. Just need to keep my attitude in check and just go. I always leave feeling much better.

    All this to say... I get it. I hear you. <3

  10. I know exactly what you're talking about. But you're right, it's about taking one small step at a time - Baby steps, Bob! - but for real. Force yourself to do it and the doing gets easier over time. Hang in there.

  11. Balance is so damn hard. And my book club serves vodka.

    You make me nod. And smile. And think. (not that this should make you happy, but it's true.)

    And I'm glad you're moving toward those things.

  12. Although I haven't been unhappy lately, I have been wretchedly bitter. My hate for people just knows no bounds. But then I come here and am reminded that I'm not alone. There are a few people on this earth who are awesome like me. And even though you and I never met, it's so nice to know I have a kindred spirit out there in the world somewhere. I need her, and she needs me, and that's a start.

  13. congrats on your epiphany, lovely! I do think it's the small things that bring us happiness. I also think we have to seek out our happiness, that it won't find us, and that you can always find it in unexpected places.

    love you!

  14. See?


    Who am I talking to?

    Only the world.

    Excuse me, I have to open up my front window to shout,


    Never leave the blogosphere, please?

    It's hard to find kindred is for me, anyway.

    Love you, woman.

  15. Oy...beautiful one.

    I have recently been in this same place.

    Drawing in. Feeling

    Whining about things that, for god's sake, aren't THAT DAMNED BAD.

    Fingers crossed that those small steps bring you back to you.

    And hey...I play flute too. I think. I'm sure I still remember how.

  16. i suffer from depression too. i often see the negative side of every coin, and it sucks. then i feel guilty because of all the shit going on in the world, and who am i to complain and be miserable. i have it good.

    here's the thing - pain is a part of life, but suffering is optional. even for the depressed. the best solutions i have for seeking happiness is taking action. little tiny actions. and reaching out to people for help.

    also, making a daily list of everything i'm grateful for realllllly helps shift my perspective.

    you have what i'm coining as "anticipation disorder" - the build up prior to the occasion overwhelms you, but once you're in it, doing it, flowing with life - you're happy.

    that's my three hundred and forty five thousand cents.

  17. p.s. this is Simone - for some reason my comments are logged in under my other blog... :)

  18. before I started blogging again, before I found Calliope and she redid my blog and made me feel amazing about it, before I found that writing is something I can do instead of nap...I felt this way. I did..I'm fat, I'm lazy, I'm not good for anything and I hate the anticipation that I WANT very much to like to do something and I build it up so much that if I don't, I'm miserable.

    (not as miserable as my sister, but hey you can't be THAT miserable)

    Listen, I get this, I wanted something for get out of bed, to be able to think about when my kids are asking a question for the 5th time, for the moments when I wonder if I'm really GOOD at anything. I remember that I might be, that writing makes me happy, that reading makes me happy, that watching Hawaii Five O lately makes me happy. I just find the time to do it now.

    I adore you, when you forget , come find me I'll tell you so

  19. You know, if we were neighbours, we could totally sort this shit out. And if not, we'd just go to Target and wander around. Because I still don't really know what Target is (I feel like I'm totally missing out).

    I can only say what I think everyone else has said, and that is that you're not alone. Most days, I can't even think about getting out of bed (particularly recently because my fucking coffee maker is broken) because everything is such a long overdrawn chore and I never seem to get anywhere and honestly, I just think 'what's the point?'

    Truth is there's always a point. Even when it's not overly clear.

    Reading this makes me feel like I should try to do the same.

    Big loves xoxoxox

  20. I had this same experience. But it was different, of course.

    Good reading. Popped over from the Weekend Spotlight.


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