Thursday, February 03, 2005

Mental Health Day

You could feel things slipping away from you as the day progressed. Maybe you’d even felt it coming on for a few days. But yesterday it hit. Subtle, yet so there. You convinced yourself it couldn’t possibly be hormones, unless your cycle had suddenly gone completely wacky. But then you remembered: oh yeah, you are that age. Maybe this was a preview of what it’ll be like for the next few years--unexpected and unsettling and annoying and disquieting.

When you left work, you rolled down the window to feel the tropical sun and breeze, and as you climbed the hill, you heard a report on NPR that made you feel like a self-absorbed, ungrateful shit. The one that said that in Aceh province an average of 1 out of every 1,000 tsunami victims has access to a toilet--and about the havoc that’s wreaking on people’s health, not to mention their sanity. But it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to slap you out of it.

Your mate was home when you got home, and when you walked in, you mentioned you were feeling a bit out of sorts all day at work. He’d spent the day at the beach with his coworkers as a reward for work on a special project. And you weren’t even jealous that he’d gotten to spend the day that way--you knew he deserved it. He’d brought you a plate of food from the catering at the beach so you wouldn’t have to cook dinner. And then he left, because he had an early gig.

You didn’t feel like being online, or even watching TV or a movie. You felt like going to bed, so that’s what you did. You climbed into bed at 6:00 with Marianne Williamson’s “Everyday Grace.” For awhile you simply laid still…until the tears came. And it felt good to cry. Maybe a good cry was overdue. Maybe you’ve been trying to hold your shit a little too together lately. Maybe you needed to unravel a little bit, to come a bit undone. You always try to be a good mate and friend and daughter and auntie and sister and worker. But sometimes you just need to be you. And lord knows, that’s not an easy thing to be. So you cut yourself a break. You gave yourself permission to let your guard down and just feel.

You vaguely remember your sweetheart coming home and lying down next to you to see if you were really asleep. When you mumbled that you were, he quietly picked up the book you’d left in the bed and set it on your bedside table and turned off the lamp. And you went back to sleep…only to awaken at midnight. You got up, thinking it was much later, went to the living room and sat down at the laptop. And you spent about three hours sitting in the darkness, trolling through your blogroll and thinking what a gift it is to have this whole world out there that you can tap into when you want to fill your head with someone else’s thoughts for awhile.

You eventually went back to bed, but sleep didn’t come easily. You snuggled up tight next to your love and wrapped your arms around him and let his body heat warm your heart. You thought for the zillionth time how much you love him and how thankful you are to have him with you. You know you dozed off at some point, because you had panicky dreams of being chased and hunted. You were clasping a baby to your chest and doing your best to protect her while trying to avoid being detected by your pursuer.

When the alarm went off, neither of you felt like moving. But you dragged yourself out of bed to go make coffee. You moaned to yourself that it was probably going to be a long day, but you knew you’d make it through if you simply put one foot in front of the other.

You drove your man to work before the sun hit the horizon, and as you kissed him goodbye and turned around to head home, you could feel it already--that today would be a little better, even without enough sleep. You knew the best thing you could for yourself would be to wear things you love. So you pulled out your 501’s and your favorite white shirt and Andrea’s Superhero necklace and your funky pink watch and the crimson sandals your man gave you for Christmas. You stood in the shower and tried not to think, while letting your mind drift.

As soon as you pulled out of the entrance at your gate, you joined a line of cars behind a student driver. You were 8 or 10 cars back, so you couldn’t tell if the driver was male or female, but either way, they were driving very slowly. So slowly, that you had to drive part of the way in first gear. But you sort of didn’t mind. Your sunroof was open and the windows were down and the radio was off. The only chatter you wanted to hear was between your ears. And you suddenly remembered the last passage you’d read in “Everyday Grace” before you fell asleep:

From a spiritual perspective, while we can lose our earthly employment, we cannot lose the job God gave us. We are the permanent holders of a spiritual career, for it is what we are and not just what we do that represents our greatest work in the world. As long as we remain vigilant at building our internal abundance--an abundance of integrity, an abundance of forgiveness, an abundance of service, an abundance of love--then external lack is bound to be temporary.

When you got to the office, you found the visiting CPA waiting on the steps. You proceeded to unlock the office and get everything turned on, while trying to extricate yourself from the conversation he was trying to have with you about Bush’s plan for Social Security and why he thinks it‘s a bad idea. An hour later he was gone--off to audit your coworkers at a sister company.

At lunchtime you grabbed a New Yorker to read while you ate your chicken Caesar salad. And when you saw a particular cartoon, you had to laugh. It pictured a man in pajamas and robe, sitting in front of a TV, a dog at his feet. He was on the phone and the caption said, “I thought I’d stay home today and accept the things I can’t change.” It occurred to you that maybe that’s what you were doing at 6:00 last night, when you were lying still in bed: accepting that which you cannot change. Because sometimes overt action isn’t required…sometimes a little covert acceptance will do the trick.


Blogger Katherine said...

gorgeous, gorgeous post . . . it was as if I was with you, part of you as you went through those events and choices . . . excellent writing . . . and sweet story too :)

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn. I hate being unoriginal. But, *sigh* ditto everything Kat said. Plus, you have a real grace writing in the second person--- most people can't pull it off and you do it beautifully. ~bluepoppy

12:12 PM  
Blogger Will said...

*sigh* This is what blogging is all about. I hope to be able to place things like this in the River Link someday. *double sigh*

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, Marilyn, that was lovely. Up is the way to keep on looking! :D ~lizardek

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Girlfriend...that was beautiful. xoxo Jeri

11:56 PM  

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