I certainly didn’t put a lot of love into the month of January so I can hardly blame these cold and bracing days for making me feel so shitty. I realized the other day that I am waiting to wake up and have a transformative feeling. You know those allergy med commercials where they portray these dreary characters in a fog and haze and then they take a little pill and suddenly their vibrancy is back?
I WANT THAT.
It’s a challenge because I have done the quiet, listen to your head and listen to heart, stillness person check and I have come to the conclusion that I am not traditionally depressed. It would almost be a relief if I was because then I could have a place on the map of the sea of grey to point to. A little island of reason where I can sit in the sand and send out SOS missives in a bottle.
I have not lost my ability to laugh at the world and the people in it – which means there IS hope. Yesterday W and I were stuck in traffic and he chirped from the backseat, “Mama, I am going to read all of the signs to you.” I smiled at him in the rearview mirror and we looked at each other: blue eyes to blue eyes. He told me stories about each road sign we inched past in our slow boat to pre-school. “Mama, that arrow will show us the way! He is in charge of ALL of the arrows.”
Then he cheers, “Mama! I know this one!” I turn to look at the sign we are creeping past and I ask him, “What does it say?” He says, “Nothing that starts with the letter P can be here right now!”
Oh it was perfection. ABSOLUTE perfection. His brain, the timing, his enthusiasm, my need for a shift in perspective. I laughed so hard I could feel it in my spleen. But quickly, oh my heavens OH SO QUICKLY, I explained I was laughing at how clever he was and not at him. This is an emotional age and the grey area of humor is thick and confusing. I have learned in most cases it is never ok to be the first person to laugh. And yet when I told him the “No P” sign was a “no parking” sign he too was able to see how funny he was.
I wish I could carry that feeling around, that connection feeling, all day.
Instead I grimace and groan and feel disconnected and…old. Wow, looks like I finally landed on it. I have circled the airport on my thoughts on aging and shrugged them off, but I believe I am finally ready to admit that I feel like I have achieved my age and have nothing to show for it. Sound the trumpets: midlife crisis has arrived!
If there was a flowchart (oh god) to this mental absurdity it would look something like this:
It’s all connected and yet it’s all so not really. I have this generic and very general feeling of being disappointed in myself because I didn’t ALL CAPS achieve. I have been kindly included in the 20th reunion of the all girls school that I attended for 8th, 9th, and 10th grade and hearing about the accomplishments of some of my former classmates is breathtaking. I am genuinely proud of these women for what they have achieved and I want to have my version of that. And yet I fumble when thinking about what that looks like.
What do I see when I look in the mirror? I see what wasn’t. I see what will never be. I see what I lost. I see flaw after flaw and disappointment after disappointment. The awareness of this is upsetting and frustrating. The air is turning counter-clockwise and as I stand in the eye of this mid-life storm I know things must turn. Maybe sticking my hand out is enough to slow down any damage.
I ground myself in the joy of my child. That I can go to the joy is a relief and I keep reminding myself to go there and to shake off the debris of muck when I do. I know joy, I know love, I know all of these emotions that are a gift.
And so farewell to January. You have been a hard month that I have kept to myself but I am now casting out.