I’ve had a surprisingly okay… even going hesitantly to day ‘good’… couple of days. Yesterday, I went off to counselling appointment on about 3 hours sleep and no breakfast. Wound up switching appointments with someone in need and so found myself there a couple of hours early. I sat in the library and read some interesting books. One on the relationship between being queer and depression, which was a welcome counterpoint to the ‘I came out and all my problems went away’ common narrative that’s been dogging me a bit lately. The other I’ve borrowed to digest more slowly; a book on narrative therapy that spoke deeply to me. I’ve been playing over the past couple of days with completely reframing my situation. Recently I thought about my common belief – things are chaotic so I must be doing something wrong. I found myself wondering if in fact I am I doing everything ‘right’ in a difficult situation. The thought has stayed with me.
After the session I treated myself to a large chai latte and a sandwich at my favourite nearby cafe. With some filched scrap paper and a pen I caught at the thoughts swirling around inside me and sketched ideas of what might be going on with me, why I’m sick again, what I need to do about it. A line from a book on psychosis came to me – “Is it a breakdown, or a breakthrough?” I had a mental image of a horse growing from foal to stallion, and another of a caterpillar working hard in a cocoon. Sometimes growth is a natural development of what you have already been doing. Sometimes it means pulling everything apart and putting it all back together again. I asked myself if my distress was completely internal, or mostly being caused by my new inability to maintain my involvement in things in my life or to meet my expectations of myself. What happens if I let it go?
What happens if I accept that for the moment, I am closed for refurbishing?
I have used a framework, a series of approaches and values over the past few years to guide me out of a very lonely and desolate place. I’ve driven myself very hard, constantly forced myself to do things I found very difficult, reached out for anything and everything that interested me to learn about, joined every group, offered every assistance, made friends with everyone, and PUSHED so hard to make my life different.
This isn’t working anymore. I need to consolidate what I’ve gained now. I can’t keep expanding my responsibilities, networks, study, projects. I need more time to contemplate, to find new ways to approach life. I need new frameworks to support me. I need time to adapt to the massive shifts in what I’m working towards. Putting motherhood back in the picture as a possibility shakes everything up. It’s something I’ve wanted since I was 15. It’s also something that only last year, with fertility issues and approaching 30, I’d started reading books on grieving your infertility and letting go of that dream. Everything is changing and I’m struggling to keep up. I’m struggling to care for all my parts in a massively shifting world. I’m struggling to hear that tiny voice of the soul that helps me yearn towards those things that are truly important, those things that nurture me, all of us.
Maybe the depression, the getting sick, the distress of it all doesn’t actually mean anything is wrong.
I stopped off on the way home and browsed some shops. I bought a very nice pair of shoes from the salvos. I came home and took Zoe out to the dog park – not because I had to but because I wanted to. She loved it. I came home and looked up more interesting ideas about face painting. I made a decision about how I’m going to display photographs of my designs at public events. I had dinner and chocolate icecream and watched tv and did some of the dishes. Rose came by after a late shift at work and I painted her. I’ve been practicing my little white flowers and they are nearly perfect now. I was going to work on inks today but I tuned in to myself and noticed that I was feeling disappointed because I really wanted to body paint instead. I followed that feeling.
I’m thinking of getting a kitten. A friend of Rose has kittens they need to find homes for. There’s many reasons not to. But I’m home a lot, and in pain, and another cat would be wonderful company. I’m also considering signing up to foster dogs until homes can be found for them, to provide Zoe with some friends to play with. She loves other dogs so very much. I’d like to garden but the fibro pain is too severe.
I’ve read aloud case studies from the book on narrative therapy to Rose, and cried through people finding new ways to think of themselves – instead of as hopeless failures. I’m letting it all sit and filter. I’ve been involved in planning a party with a friend. I’ve got excited about buying UV reactive face paints to use at a goth nightclub next month. I’ve crept gently into bed with a glass of warm milk with honey and cinnamon, and a good book by Terry Pratchett.
I’m not in agony. There’s turmoil and unbalance and storms rumbling, but no screaming in my head. I’m thankful. I’m moving slowly, reaching out for help, withdrawing from obligations. And yesterday was a good, gentle, thoughtful day. Today was similar. I feel less destroyed, less overwhelmed. Letting go and tuning back in to that small voice. At midnight I took Zoe out to a local park, and stood up on the playground, looking out over the lawn like a green lake, and the structure beneath me a boat sailing smoothly upon it. The wind was up, cold on my skin and singing sweetly in the leaves of the trees. It feels right. It feels like coming home.