Summer Strains

Summer Strains

Some big confessions here:

(JULY) I had a meltdown today. After asking my husband to go out for lunch (this would be only the 2nd time since Covid started) and being told he had a dentist appointment and could not; on top of ANOTHER back-to-back morning cleaning our Air BnB; realizing a guest had either stolen or mistakenly taken a valued book (about meditations and buddhist thinking (!); dealing with the exterminator who came RIGHT when the best part of a webinar I had really been looking forward to was happening; feeling physically crappy from who knows what; knowing my REAL workday has only just begun at noon after all my other tasks; — I adding up all that general overwhelm to hopelessly ask like a Charlie Brown character: “WHY???” 

My poor brain today: What is this all about? Is this constant state of work and work from home worth it? Are we having any fun? Will WE ever go on a vacation? When will the hard work of getting this neglected home back to point zero happen? 

Today I feel broken by these events. And true to my nature I want to scrap it all and live super minimally— like vagabond minimal. More me: Let’s swing that pendulum WAY back and forth! I absolutely acknowledge my privilege to even have such complaints, and yet for me, right now, they are real… and difficult. 

After hearing me out and reciting HIS OWN hairy list of big home projects, and the daily problems a Construction Administrator deals with via phone, email and in-person, my husband gave me a long hug. With no words. I stood. A bit lifeless but taking it in, also.

Roland then said: Yes, it’s tough. Yes, sometimes he’d like to scrap this property, big dream and the responsibility we took on. Yes, he’d like to be more free. But this is where we’re at right now. With big water bills, school tuition, new leaks in the bedroom ceiling, running 3 businesses, hosting other people's vacations, working hard to keep it all going. After a pause, he continued: “We’re the modern day subsistence farmers. If it doesn’t rain this year, we’ll starve.” This made me want to sob. For humanity, for the working class dream, for ACTUAL farmers… I could go on. 

I know about myself that lots of stress causes these hopeless feelings. I do also know that seeing other people live lavishly pre-pandemic style life makes me envious. Maybe I liked it a bit more when we were all stuck in the same boat? Strangely, this time last year I felt like I HAD, DID and WAS enough. 

(SEPTEMBER) So the feelings continued through the summer and I learned I have an “underdeveloped” carotid artery." As health problems go I’m super fortunate. But the doctor appointments and uncertainty added to the what’s it all about and what is the point scratchy-gray-blanket-mood of the past 4 months.

My husband and I are in the long haul stage of life. A friend once told me of a study that said these are the best years; your health is good, your kids are more grown, you’ve established your career and you have purpose. Our kid will graduate this year and our parent lives will shift again. Maybe one less daily responsibility, but a different sort of worry, I predict. The state of the world is something I gawk at with impotent disbelief. Limiting my exposure helps.

To be a person for whom the belief that the glass will continually re-fill is hard work for me. Many of the memoirs I’ve listened to have provided light on this mindset: sometimes when growing up with drama and unpredictability it’s a coping mechanism to prepare for what could go wrong and to keep expectations low.

The pandemic is draining. The sad realization that we are still where we were a year ago is unfathomable. Last year it was so easy to create in the space that was opened up unexpectedly. This year it’s been much more challenging for me, both to find the time but also to care.

I don’t really have a lesson to this story. It’s a bit of a telling-on-yourself technique that I learned in recovery. The strongest emotions are out of me by writing this, therefore the perceptions have less power. So, if you’re prone to meltdowns, dealing with more than you feel capable of and just needing an empathetic friend, you’ve got one in me. Cut yourself some slack and find a way to look beyond this moment. This too shall pass.

ANOTHER THING THAT HELPS IS A GRATITUDE LIST: I’ve got 2 eyes! Our daughter is a great human being! I enjoyed the hell out of an old friend’s visit in July! I’m very capable and adaptable! Thunderclouds! Hard cheeses! Bernie: the 94 year old WWII vet with a few health problems that I met today in an assisted living facility who was more cheery and content than anyone I’ve met all year.

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