Image by Daniela Diaz
I want a refund!
I was told there would be wisdom with age. That I would be less volatile, calmer. I have a very clear mental picture of myself, looking all sage and serene, just nodding knowingly as all hell breaks loose around me . . .
But that isn’t how it’s panning out. My excuses for this disappointing development range from menopause (and it’s crazy-ass medications) to the pandemic to living in a construction zone and a whole lotta nothing in between.
The reality is that I am scrounging around the back of a very cluttered closet to try to find my equilibrium.
I’m the first to admit that I am not naturally placid. I am emotional and prone to being reactive. But tell me if this sounds weird; I was just messaging with a friend trying to find a time for the two of us to have a visit, and I ended up with my head on the desk, crying. (It’s all set up, by the way. That wasn’t the problem.)
It’s never about the incident. I can name various innocuous triggers from recent weeks that have ended with my head down on my desk, me crying.
Another rejection from a publisher: tears. Sore wrist when I’m trying to type: tears. Power outage: tears.
Now, so far, these may sound like reasonable reasons for tears, but let’s look closer, shall we?
That is about my hundredth rejection from a publisher, my wrist has been sore for always, and the power goes out at my house like the garbage truck comes to yours. But without a schedule.
These are normal events in my life but recently, I just can’t deal. Yesterday I cried because I couldn’t figure out how to work a new app on my computer. (Never in the history of my life have I figured out an app on my own. Suddenly, my ineptitude is a crushing blow. What??)
The day before yesterday, I cried because I went to put on my boots to go for a walk and they were wet. On at least two occasions in the past week, I have cried during a sitcom. I cried when I made my coffee too weak, I cried when I spilled the baby powder, and I cried when I buttoned my shirt wrong. (This is also something I do with disconcerting regularity.)
This emotional rollercoaster feels a lot like the first few months of perimenopause when I was afraid to leave the house in case I killed someone.
And now here we go again! I’m supposed to be winding down on the hormonal surges and entering the wise crone stage and I can’t peel a banana without a minor break down.
So, having spent way too much time trying to figure out where the emotional landmines are coming from, I am now focussing solely on how to get through the field each day.
First of all, if the tears come, they come. Who am to say whether they are serving a purpose or not? I don’t try to stop it, I just get to a private place and let ‘er rip. As I said, there have been a lot of them at my desk. I might put a small pillow there, beside the tissues.
Second, I change gears as soon as the tears are slowing down. Like most people, I can blubber my way through quite a list of real and imagined grievances to keep the cry on, but that’s not helpful right now. I switch to another task or activity. Preferably one that involves movement. If time permits, I have a workout or go for a walk. I remain a big believer in the gratitude list – that always helps.
But I want to be proactive and so I am trying to be more regulated in my daily regime. The biggest part of that is to start my day properly.
I think I have shared this before, but it is still the best way for me to start the day (especially if I am hoping to get through it without any major breakdowns).
I go into my office (one really must have a room of one’s own) and I read from Embers by Richard Wagamese. I light some sage, recite my morning meditation and then sit in my comfy chair and meditate for a few minutes. Not long, just enough to still my mind and feel my heart loosen, open, expand.
Then I try to write. Sometimes I don’t get past the pipe cleaning. That’s the first writing of the day where I cough up the emotional flem. Some people call these morning pages, or daily journal, or freewriting. I usually call it fire pages, because that is where my pages go – into the fire. This is where I complain and whine and grouse about every little thing that might be hanging around in my psyche. I clear the pipes. This morning I did it on my computer and just deleted everything. (Then my computer froze and I cried.)
Hopefully, once I’ve coughed up my crazies, I can get to some original writing. If not, I go straight to an ongoing project. I drink as much water as I can, I try not to look at my to-do list until late morning, and I plan some sort of exercise for whenever the muse leaves the room. (My muse is a bit of a task-master and generally ends our sessions by slamming my office door and yelling, “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!”)
Anyway, I’m telling you this to make myself accountable for doing the things I know help with my emotional wonkiness. I’ve said I’m doing it, so now I gotta’ do it, see?
One last thing, if you see me sobbing in the grocery store, just pretend you don’t recognize me and keep moving. It’s probably just a milk thing.