This week I’ve struggled with an aspect of grief, which is actually one of the hardest feelings I can face apart from the intense pain of loss…
On Monday I went to chat to a professional about my anxiety and it was really helpful. Perhaps the lifting off of some of my nervous energy and the lack of insomnia this week has opened the gates to the full weight of tiredness I was actually feeling. I have felt exhausted. It’s been a different kind of tired; feeling like I could go to sleep any time of day but also finding it fairly easy to get on with the day looking after the children. I ended up feeling surprised at times when I did things I might have felt overwhelmed by easily just from normal small baby-related sleep deprivation. For example, I went to a local garden centre with a friend and as I got out of the car I said to her,
“I must be mental but I’ve come with no pushchair or anything.”
Generally I view it as important, for my sanity as well as my children’s safety in some environments, to have something to strap them in to so I can impose a necessary limit when they are struggling to handle the freedom of walking. Several times I have run through the aisles of this same garden centre trying to look like a parent who is actually in control (and someone who doesn’t look stupid running), while my son legs it away from me in a state of pure exhilarated glee! It’s not funny, I inform him. He disagrees, every time. I didn’t intentionally not bring it, I just felt relaxed about the whole thing.
So at said garden centre I then decide to go for a stroll around these aisles he so loves playing a hearty game of chase through, unaided, with not one, but two additional children!! Both of whom are coming up two and very hit and miss with instructions. We went to see these animal statues and it did get to the point where I felt uncomfortable with how outnumbered I was and how many of these animals were getting mounted, so we headed back to the safety of our table and a second adult with just a minor stand-off with the child who wasn’t mine. I like it when my friend’s children push limits with me because it’s usually minor and in my head I’m thinking, ‘she likes me! She really likes me!’ (I think I am quoting some film or TV show there but I’m not sure what). The whole trip was a success; a risk worth taking. I do know my son has been in a calmer mood this week, no developmental leaps it seems, so that has helped and I guess I factored that in to my decision. Rather than simply donking his sister on the head he has done the deed and then almost immediately ‘helped’ her by cuddling, consoling and apologising. He quite candidly explained to me on one occasion when she was left crying:
“I helped her.”
“But what happened to make her cry?”
“I helped her. I hit her, I hit her, I hit her (with each hit there is a hand gesture demonstrating), then I helped her (hand rests in palm up position).”
Anyway, so what does this apathy look like then?
-A load of washing stays out on the line for three days. It hasn’t rained at all. Aside from needing to dry a little from the morning’s dew it doesn’t need to stay out there… But oooooh, it’s such a thankless task.
-The house is messy. There are piles of clean clothes to put away.
-I don’t want to read or write as much.
-I don’t want to go out running.
-The thought of cooking a meal from scratch makes my cry inside. No, actually, those are real tears.
I seem to cope well with the children, work hard at my job, but not much beyond that. I’d like to pretend I’m ok with it but in reality I find it very frustrating and to be honest quite puzzling at times. It gets me down. I’ve started writing a short story but have been too tired to really get going with it. I want to do it but then AT THE SAME TIME, I don’t want to.
People say how suffering changes perspective and priorities and that can be really significant at times. For example, a person realises that business they’ve always dreamed about starting is totally possible and life is too short to sit on it any longer. Yet lately I’ve noticed how very subtle these changes can actually be. At the moment, there are a lot of things I don’t care about…
I don’t care what you think of my writing. I don’t care if my short story ends up being a pile of horse manure. I don’t care about failing. I don’t care about disappointing anyone. I don’t care if you don’t like me. I don’t care if situations go wrong and a risk doesn’t pay off.
Could I feel any worse than I have done lately? Probably not.
But yet, I still want to do well at these things. I want to write well. I care about writing when previously I didn’t. I want to do my job well. I really care about my the success of my Dad’s organisation. I want to invest in relationships with people for they are the most important thing but I don’t worry about pleasing people.
I do care in many ways, but also, I don’t. Apathy is a feeling and a lot of feelings are unexplainable, irrational, and don’t even reflect reality. When I look back at my week I can see I have achieved a lot: forms completed, swimming lessons attended, four out of five dinners cooked from scratch, positive fun times with the children. Yesterday I was feeling tearful and tired but I still walked into town, took my daughter to her swimming lesson, got a few items on a to-do list done, went to the library, did some work at home. The feelings were there but somehow, the reality was different.
Priorities can change but also the things you notice that, strangely at times, get you through the day. As I walked into town I looked up and saw what looked like a rainbow almost encircling the sun. I have never seen anything like it and it made me smile. I also decided my RayBans were worth every penny as I repeatedly stared right at the sun.
As I neared the library I noticed a guy in our student group at church running towards this man and delivering a piece of paper to him. I realised he must have chased it down the pavement for this stranger; something which us brits find a most dreadful situation to find oneself in… You have to run after it and the wind lifts it off again just as your hand reaches out to grasp it (dang it!) off you go again in pursuit, sometimes ducking out in front of moving traffic… a most terrifying business. It made me smile.
To be honest, I don’t even know what I’m saying and that aptly portrays my week.
Difficult feelings; somewhat positive reality. Was it a ‘good’ week? Well, no, but yes.
Ps. I do care about your encouraging words and comments! Just to clarify!
lease like me.