Our New Place

We have a new place on a quiet street in Noe Valley.  I went running by it yesterday.  My favorite way to explore a new place is to walk or run and follow my nose wherever I feel like going.  I found a huge park that I had no idea existed, as well as these gorgeous sweeping views of the bay that are an easy 20 minute walk from my house.  I’ve lived here almost three years, and it was the first time I’d seen it.  I guess I have to admit that there are benefits to picking up your roots and stepping off of the path you wear in to the sidewalk of your day to day routine…

That was a little post I started back at the end of June, we’re now in the new house.  It’s definitely an adjustment.  It’s tiny and somewhat claustrophobia-inducing, but it’s definitely filled with more warmth and light.  It’s hard accepting that I don’t love it, but that it’s ours for now.  One year.  What a year it’s going to be.

You Can Change or Stay the Same

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” – Benjamin Button

I was reminded of this quote by a post on Positively Present a few weeks ago.  The reminder came exactly at the right time.  I see so many people who’ve published already, who followed their dreams to write much earlier than I have.  Why I compare, I’m not sure.  There’s no need to.  There’s enough room for us all.  It’s not too late for me.  It’s not too late for you either.  Be who you were meant to be, not who you think you’re supposed to be. That’s what I’ll hold on to today.

 

 

Depression Stopping By

I wrote about depression a few days ago, and it was a funny thing.  Rereading the post I thought to myself, “wow, I’m feeling pretty good.”  I even wrote that I hadn’t suffered a bout of depression since I got married.  Famous last words. Well, I’ve learned my lesson beacuse it seems to have reared it’s very ugly head over the past few days.

Perhaps it’s the death of my grandfather, making me realize life is short.  Perhaps it was getting a glimpse of what living my dream life would feel like.  Then heading back to work on Monday and having reality hit me hard in the face, like an iron. Perhaps it’s hormones, that make me blue and irritable and unstable – pretty much one quarter of my life.

I’ve been feeling dragged down, teetering on the edge of falling back into a dark, black hole.  I have an issue running from emotions.  There are only two things that happen when you run from emotions. One – you speed away from them and they loom larger and larger in your rearview mirror until they’re so scary you can’t keep your eyes on the road any longer and you crash. Two – you ignore them completely and drive along la-di-da until a cement highway divider of emotions comes out of nowhere and you crash into at 60 miles an hour, your car wrenched in two right down the middle.

This is an attempt to just sit, and say hey big scary depressive feelings.  I see you.  I know you lie to me, and you’re probably going to shove me down into that black, hole when I’ve got my back turned. But I’m alright, I got this.  I’ve climbed out of the hole many times, and I get better and better at it each time I have to.  (Note: my depression is usually of the mild variety and I haven’t had to go on medication.)  There are a number of things that help me keep depression at bay:

  • Fresh air and sunlight
  • Exercise
  • Music
  • Keeping the house clean
  • Eating well
  • Ditching alchohol
  • Journaling

I feel like my insides have been vaccuumed out, and there’s nothing inside.  I will force myself to go through the  motions of taking good care of myself, no matter how pointless it feels. These little actions add up overtime I know, and eventually help me find my way out of the fog.

Unhooking

My grandfather passed away on Wednesday.  I loved him, with all of his imperfections, and I was lucky to know that he loved me too.  He said goodbye to me just in case, a few months ago.  “I love you sweetheart.”  A phrase I’d only heard a handful of times in my life, and all the more meaningful for it.

I’ve been able to accept his death pretty easily. It makes me feel cold-hearted and callous.  He was 90 years old, and he had a wonderful life and family to show for all of those years.  In the end his body couldn’t keep up with him.  In the last days he was in pain.  He couldn’t bare to have a blanket touch his skin.  The nurses hung it above him from strings on the ceiling.  I felt his spirit the night after he passed, I had this strange feeling that he’d soared around to each of our homes to given us one last wink to make sure we were okay.

When I felt his wink, I felt him telling me, enjoy every minute kid.   I’m grateful for the reminder that each day we’re granted is a gift.  I’ve been chasing my tail, running in circles at work.  Trying to please one boss and then another.  Struggling under the insurmountable weight of a heap of deadlines, ignoring my husband, ignoring my passions, ignoring my health.  This gave me a chance to press pause, and pour my energy into what matters to me, and ignore the absurd “fire drills” at work. (Don’t even get me started on corporate jargon.”)

I unhooked. I let go. And I felt my spirit soar, unencumbered by the obligations I’d chained myself too.  It’s my choice how much I let them run my life.  Unhooking from what doesn’t really matter to you in the long-run frees you. It feels good to be free.

That Uncomfortable Place Called Change

Sun through trees (All Rights Reserved)

I completely and utterly underestimated how uncomfortable it is to live with your heart wide open.  In hindsight it seems naive and foolish of me to have overlooked this more painful side of change and learning to be myself.  I expected a bit of it of course, but not quite as much as it has been.  Sitting in something that’s totally unfamiliar, not at all sure what to do with yourself. Hate that. It really doesn’t look good on me.  I feel myself trying to run from that kind of situation one million different ways – burying myself in my day job, procrastinating, fixating on some other issue to distract myself.

Then yesterday I came across a quote that was clearly a message from the universe.  It was enough to make me stop, realize what I was doing, and bring myself back to this little spot of icky, uncomfortable, but desperately yearned for change.  Now of course I can’t find the quote.  I think it was from Geneen Roth (one of my favorite authors, who writes about women and freeing ourselves from complicated relationships with food).  It was something along the lines of it’s easy to want to change, but few people are willing to go through the discomfort that’s required to actually change.  I’m sure I’ve garbled it, but that’s the general idea.  Anyway I got the message, I had to actually do something, take some action if I wanted to change.  For me, that means leaning in to the discomfort and sitting down with it.  That’s a first step, and I’m alright with that for now.  It brought me here tonight, and I’m writing.

I’m here writing, even though part of me cringes to sit down and admit this.  Part of me wonders, what am I doing here anyway.  I’m not going to let that critic scare me away, I’m staying, pulling up a comfortable chair and setting down.  I’ll stay and see what happens.  The pain of change won’t last forever. The transformation from living open-hearted will.  I’ve got to trust in the process.

On being blue

Icy Blue Heart - Flikr LittleMissPip

Being blue, or feeling depressed if I want to call it what it is, sucks.  It really, really, really sucks. There’s no way around it.  Thankfully I haven’t had an episode since right before I got married. (Let me say that’s a brilliant time to be depressed. When everyone you know expects everything to be all puppies and rainbows.)  At that time, I’d feel completely overwhelmed by my feelings, as if I sinking down knowing I was drowning, but not being able to get my arms or legs to move to swim back up to the surface.  The worst part about it is how isolating it is.  It happens on the inside, so you look like your same old self to everyone who knows you.  Nobody sees the deep, dark, black hole you’ve fallen into.  The most crazy making part about it for me, was that it made me feel like I couldn’t trust myself. Depression lies to you, and after a while it’s hard to find the knotted-up thread of truth in the pitch black, cold hole you’re sitting in.

I also really struggled with the idea that something was wrong with me.  No one else I know is sad for no reason, completely devoid of energy to even eat.  Depressions is so often kept quiet or hidden away, as a dirty little secret.  Part of what helped me recover was realizing I wasn’t alone, that depression happens.  It happens to a lot of other wonderful women.  That realization doesn’t make it any easier, but it at least helped me accept myself and my depression.

When I was sorting out the complicated mess of emotions that happens around a wedding and marriage, I found one – one single resource – that talked about the real stuff around weddings.  A Practical Wedding.  This life-saving (and I’m not being over dramatic here) blog discusses the hard stuff, the fun stuff, the stuff that it’s really actually about.  Not the dress, not the details that cost thousands of dollars, but about the fact that you are creating a new family with your chosen partner.  More specifically this blog saved me because it talked about what it’s like to grapple with marriage and anxiety or depression. And that it’s okay, it doesn’t mean you love your partner any less.

The fact that I read about more and more women being honest and sharing their battles against depression makes me feel like we’re moving in a really good direction. I’m so grateful that women like Dooce and The Bloggess are sharing their stories.

By no means am I glad that anyone has to face depression, it’s just heartening to feel like it’s possible to shine a light down into the holes we crawl in when we’re depressed.  With this little flashlight lighting the way, it’s easier to realize you’re not alone, and have hope for healing.  I couldn’t be more thankful for that.