I’m in a weird place. With not only Christmas, but what would have been my husband’s 51st birthday a few days earlier looming nearer, I’m a bundle of emotions. It would be easy to get caught up in the emotional high of the holidays – the hustle and bustle, the planning, the shopping, the wrapping, the decorating. By the same token, it would be easy to get sucked down into the depths of despair – focusing on the loss, the absence, the hollowness left behind that day in April. As it is, I seem to be somewhere in between, yet hovering near both extremes.
I’m raw. It’s as if at this stage in the healing, everything is open and I feel it all. I fluctuate between trying to focus on the good memories and seeing nothing but what isn’t here. Who isn’t here… There is so much this holiday season that is familiar, yet it isn’t the same.
It’s a difficult thing to describe, this particular stage I’m in, but I’ll do my best to help you understand. It’s as if I’m on high alert – I’m seeing things in brilliant technicolor, the light is brighter, the darkness blacker. It’s like the scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy first spies Oz – everything is crisp and sharp and new. I’m noticing things again, things I haven’t seen in months.
Yet at the same time, life is still muted and dull and muffled. As if I’m in Glinda’s bubble floating through Oz so I can see it, yet I’m still disconnected. It’s a disunion… a dichotomy of emotions. A separation of sorts. I feel I’m so close to being a part of things again. And I’m trying, I truly am. But I’m just not quite there.
I’m doing my best to be kind to myself. Forgiving. At this point in the Christmas season, I have usually baked at least 10 or 12 dozen cookies, if not more. The other day, I was briefly motivated to get started, but by the time I got back from the grocery store and put things away and made two large lasagnas for my son’s soccer team meal, I was done. The urge had passed and instead I found myself lounging on the couch with a cup of tea and cuddling with my daughter’s dog, Max.
For a moment, I was upset with myself. Then I remembered that baking cookies, especially at that particular moment, was not required of me. I was the only one putting that stress on me. (Well, my kids were pushing a little, truth be told, because they each have their favorites, but as long as they get the cookies, they won’t particularly care when I actually bake them.) So, then I gave myself permission to just enjoy the moment, and not worry about something that isn’t necessary.
It occurred to me fairly recently that I spent late Spring, Summer and Fall just sort of doing what was mandatory. Aside from the unnecessary rearranging of furniture I did initially, and my obsessive grocery shopping, anything that wasn’t absolutely essential got pushed aside. Only recently have I begun to do some of the “extras” again. Instead of simply doing the dishes, I have cleaned out the refrigerator and cupboards. Instead of merely doing the dirty laundry, I’m washing blankets and pillows. Instead of just fixing a quick dinner, I’m starting to cook real meals again. And just the other day, I finally got down on my hands and knees and spot-cleaned the carpet where long-forgotten liquids were spilled and became magnets for dirt. They were stains I had seen, then not seen, then seen and not cared enough about to bother with. Until a few days ago.
Don’t be fooled, though. It’s not as if some magic switch has flipped. There are still days and weeks where clothes that need to be hung simply sit in the basket on my bedroom floor because I simply lost the energy or the drive to complete the task. And there are times when I look around the room and barely have the strength necessary to pick up cheese stick or granola bar wrappers left behind by my teenage son and his friends.
Those moments are lessons in being gentle with myself. While some things are necessary – picking up dirty dishes and empty water bottles – others are not – Windexing the coffee table or fluffing every pillow and cushion. I know I’ll get back there eventually. I can feel it and I already see brief moments of it. But I’m not going to add any more stress to myself. Especially over inconsequential tasks, meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
But I’m truly looking forward to that time when I won’t need to be so gentle with myself. When I will be able to give myself a swift kick in the pants to get things done. Until then, you’ll have to forgive me for any momentary lack of enthusiasm I might display (or not display, I suppose), and my kids will have to forgive me for the cookies that haven’t yet been baked. If I can ever get out of this bubble, I’ll get around to it.
© 2016 Many Faces of Cheri G All Rights Reserved