Monday, July 08, 2024

The Thing I Have Been Wondering

It has been a rough year. That is no lie. We have had one challenge after another, and if this were a dark comedy one would recognize that it has been funny. Well, not funny, and yet I have laughed. We nearly escape a disaster or obstacle, we begin to emerge from a crisis when suddenly a new event reveals itself, and there isn' time, or for me, energy, to clean up the mess from the former emergency. I spend down time staring blankly into a void, trying to comprehend what has happend, what is happening. And I wrestle with my beliefs, because no matter how bad things are, remember "someone has it worse," and "it's not fatal, so snap out of it," and "that's life." No tenderness in this mindset, just guilt, shame, and a sense of failure for anything less than humble, courageous, and quiet. I am very well trained in the cultural norm of keeping private things private, and not making a fuss. I am also not convinced that this is such a healthy, fair, or necessary course to take. Being quiet, suppressing emotions, withdrawing, making myself small -none of these options have made me feel more capable, less sad or frightened, like a better person.

The thing I have been wondering is, would it be ok to make a list of the ridiculous number of hard, unfortunate, frustrating, scary things that have happened since February? I could go further back, honestly, but to be sure, as bad as things have been for a long while, I am particularly impressed and astounded by the last 6 months. Recently, someone else was recounting a few events we have survived, and I had forgotten them, the details, etc. But I have not felt relief from the trauma, from the disruption and upheaval. I haven't been able to process things, and feel some calm or solace, not even a little happy dance to declare "Yay, that's done, and we are going to be alright." One thing after another. It has been weird. Like, genuinely harsh in an unrelentling way, and I wonder if I made the list, if it would help me see that the weight I carry in my heart, as a hard knot in my middle, a dark cloud in my thinking, if the list would give me reason for my sadness and fear, and angst, and worry, for the sense of dread, for all the ways I feel. I want to test, and see if having it spelled out and examined, I could confront it and say, "Well, this makes sense. This is a lot of hard stuff, and so no wonder I feel tired, and out of sorts. No wonder things have been difficult to manage, and messy." And then, perhaps, too, I could be thankful for what we have survived, how we have navigated stuff, and addressed things, and come this far. I could be tender with myself and say, "It's okay. You've been doing your best. You are not _______ (all the critical, mean, judgemental things I tend to apply to myself, when I am not being a "model" citizen.)

That was a lot. And I am not sure it was entirely cohesive, intelligble. No matter. I am writing, like I would speak, if I had the will and courage: Urgently pressing the words up, so that I can get them out of me, before I clap a hand on my own mouth, hit delete. Don't make a fuss. Don't overshare. Be quiet.

Being small is not working. I don't feel well. I don't feel honest, or good, nor courageous. I feel drained, and capable of disappearing. I feel like my harshest critics have taken residence in my head, and I am liable to lose. Something. Maybe, it is the peace of mind of feeling safe and welcome in my own thoughts, and home, and life. Maybe that is what I am looking to reclaim, to not lose: Peace and acceptance in my own thinking, existence.

And maybe, too, the list would turn out to be shorter than I imagine. To be sure, there has been a lot, and I don't always remember all of it, but I accept that I may be conflating things, or pumping them up. Perhaps, everything would look less imposing, formidable, if it were jotted down, confined to a column, with periods. Also, and not to be toxically positive, I have been forthright and thankful, because in the midst of everything, I have seen beauty, and fostered it, too. I have enjoyed luxuries and conveniences, and resources, and had comforts. I have planted seeds, and gathered blossoms, and slept in a comfortable bed.

I have started seeing a therapist. And I don't relish sharing this because I am such an open book. I feel almost equally inclined to delete all of this as to hit publish. Something about blogging dares me to be accountable to myself, and I am still naively convinced I am more anonymous than I probably actually am. And, sometimes I go deep into "over-sharing" and feel utterly exposed and embarrassed, but then someone comments, "Me, too. I feel that way," and there is something genuine, comforting, reassurring about connecting, relating, feeling less alone, and that is worthwhile.

I think I will make that list. And I might go through and process some of my photos, and insert pretty moments between these paragraphs.


Dayle Kasner said...

Natalie, I too was becoming overwhelmed ... so last February, I sought consulting through the VA. After my dear Teresa's death, I became increasingly overwhelmed. Thoughts of my being badly wounded in Viet Nam and general gloom and grief caused me to lose my positive outlook on life.

Teresa was always there for me. With her zest for life, she would be there when the past would rear it's ugly head... but since she is gone after a life time together, I am alone to deal with my demons.

I am doing better now and not so overwhelmed .... They have taught me to talk more and not just keep everything behind close door in my mind.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Oh, Dayle. I am so glad, and we both know Teresa would be, too, to know that you reached out and got support. It's not easy to grieve, to be alone, and it really is even harder when we try to hold it all inside.
I am so encouraged by your comment. Thank you.
Teresa was truly special. I think of her often and recall the supportive and affirming things she would say. Goodness, it's such a blessing to know people as good her, and it gives so much heartache to live without them. I will take solace in the happy memories, and the wonderful influence she had on so many of us.