Dancing on the edge

The last 5 days have felt like dancing on the edge of a pothole.

There is a really great poem called Autobiography in Five Chapters in which life is described in 5 beautifully short chapters of the process of learning to make changes. From falling into a pothole, learning to get out, learning to avoid the pothole and then, finally, learning to take a different route.

I love this poem because so often depression feels like falling into a pothole for me. Last week, the pothole opened in front of me and I have been dancing on the edge  of it ever since.  I keep trying to figure out what causes the pothole to appear. I know that depression and loneliness are doing their own little dance around the edge, intertwined in their downward spiral that often takes me with it.

I try to pull them apart, to separate their co-dependence. To convince my heart that the depression will pass no matter how much it hurts right now and that loneliness is not proof that I am unworthy of being loved.

And then I try and do my own dance of healing. Staying away from numbing comforts that sideline me in my own life (hello internet!), reaching out for support, writing about it, getting out for a walk, eating well. Trying to be gentle on myself and reminding myself that I am not a failure as I do each of these things imperfectly.

Trying to take the word “just” and “should” out of my vocabulary. Cracked.com had a great article recently on the 5 most useless pieces of advice ever given. Number 5 was adding the word “just” to your advice. You know, “you just need to snap out of it” or “you just need to eat less and get more exercise”.  If it was that simple, trust me, I would have done it by now!

I know that this will pass. And, that like a dance, it is complicated and dynamic and changing. It is a chance to understand myself better.  A chance to figure out how to adjust my sails in the wind.

As I dance around the edge of the pothole, I know that this time I didn’t fall into its depths. And, if I do, I know I can get out.

Maybe someday, I will know how to walk down a different street.

aliceinwonderland

A summer of single days

In the middle of this summer, I have made startling discovery. As I try to live my life one day at a time, the anxiety of achieving a future state of happiness has gone away and I am, well, pretty relaxed.

It used to be that days were marked by day, month and season. Weekdays (aka workdays) were dreaded and weekends were celebrated. Rainy months were supposed to be dreary and summer months were eagerly hyped as a time for play.

I have always that found vaguely stressful. There seems to be a lot of pressure placed on the “good times” of weekends and summer to have, well, good times. I always felt that I wasn’t quite doing enough – camping enough, partying enough, have crazy adventures enough.

Here’s the weird thing. As I’ve focused on just living one day at a time, I am finding that those expectations have fallen away and I am learning to appreciate the presents of the present.

Sometimes, I am focused on just one day because that’s all I can manage to think of getting through. It’s kind of relief to know that I don’t have to make things better. I can accept the sadness or loneliness of the day as just one day.

Sometimes, there seems so much that “should” be done that I’m overwhelmed and have to break it down to what I can do just for today.

Sometimes, the day is great and I can enjoy each slow moment of contentment.  I can treasure the little things, express gratitude for my many blessings and laugh and be silly.

As I try to live each single day being the person I want to be in this world rather than some version of me that I think I am supposed to be, I find that there are no wasted days and each comes with its own gifts. I am inspired to keep striving, to pushing my boundaries, to live with my whole heart and to be authentic each day.

This week, I spent what is normally a work day out kayaking with some friends. It didn’t feel strange at all to be not at work. It was just what that day had in store. I have had great days at work. I have had long, lonely weekend days. I have frittered away a sunny day indoors when I should be outside. I have reveled in the return of the rain. I have let the depression win some days (and the potato chips). I have said “no thanks, I’ve camped enough for one summer.” I have treasured quiet coffee chats with friends. I’ve gone to bed before the sun goes down and I have partied late into the night til the sun was coming up again.

And, somewhere in there, I think I stopped living for an imaginary future where I accomplish all my “should” be items. Waiting for a future vacation, or a future weekend. Or a future anything.

And you know what? I’m having a really great summer.

One day at a time.

20130816-114339.jpg

The landscape of grief

Grief is a strange and timeless landscape.

Yesterday, the day took a dip and I was again journalling through my thoughts and emotions, back in that familiar landscape of sorrow and disappointment and the struggle to understand life’s twists and unexpected turns.

I know I am making progress. The dips are less frequent, less deep and last less long. Still, there is that little voice that says, “Back here again? Shouldn’t you be over this? What’s wrong with you?”

I am firmly telling that voice to shut up.

Grief takes it’s own sweet time.

It digs deep into your heart and unearths previously unknown places. Places of pure and intense emotion – anger, beauty, collapse, courage. And, in that intimate place of self, there is a strange connection with the ghost of the person who has passed out of your life.

I guess that’s why it’s sometimes hard to let go of grief. Because you also have to let go of that person who you are moving away from and leaving behind. Leave them in the past and move into your future without them.

Leave that version of yourself behind and move into a different future.

It’s a journey we all take alone.

20130726-180824.jpg