Saturday, March 26, 2016

Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine

I won some tickets to a comedy show for tonight, so I invited my ex, T,  to join me.  Friendship has been hard for us in the six months since we brought up but comedy was always something we really enjoyed so I asked her to come.  It was supposed to be a group thing, but for one reason or another it ended up being the two of us.  We went to the Showtime Comedy Club in St. Catharines and saw Larry Smith.  Marc Sinodino's was the host.  Some guy named Levi was the opening act.  We had a GREAT time.   Marc and Larry had us in stitches and Levi did his best, but he was a bit off his game tonight I think.   And T  and I enjoyed each other's company in a way that hasn't happend since our love was new.   So it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and much needed after the week I have had.  

Laughter truly is a healing thing.  I have always believed that and tonight just reinforced that belief.  A medication I am on makes it hard for me to cry even while feeling profound sadness, some kind of weird side effect.  And I have needed that cry, needed that release of all the pent up sorrow. But after this evening's endorphin releasing belly laughs I feel better the way you do when you have a good cry.  The sadness is still there, but it's not as sharp.  It's more manageable.  Life doesn't look so shitty.  Humour has always been my go to when I am down.  I am at my funniest when life is hard, as long as I don't slide down the slope of depression.  Even then it's still there, just not as readily accessible.

I would like to continue to develop this friendship with T and I hope we can have more evenings like this.  Life is too short, there is too much sadness to keep holding on to past hurts and grievances.

Anyway, keep on laughing people, you will feel better, I promise.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Words are all I have

It's so hard to know what to say when you learn of a tragedy that has affected someone close to you.  And in this age of technology, the news is often learned through social media as was the case for my friend who's sister was killed in the car accident.  How to express condolences by words.  As a writer I love words and I value them greatly, but there are times where words just don't cut it.  And this is one of those times.  All of the trite phrases seem so empty.  It's so easy to say I'm sorry, I'll pray for you, my thoughts are with you, etc.  But none of those phrases convey the deepest feelings.  They are social niceties.  If my friend was here with me, I wouldn't say anything. I would just hold her and listen to her and let her cry and talk and whatever else she needed to do.  But she's with her family and texting is the only option right now.   What I can do is borrow against my line of credit and make a donation to the scholarship fund for the now motherless children.  And I will do that.  But still that seems not enough.   It will have to do for now.

When my other friend announced her cancer diagnosis to our choir last night, I was sitting beside her.  I was able to take her hand.   And I was able to rub her back as she struggled for the words she needed.  It meant so much more than anything I could have said. (In fact, the only thing I did say was FUCK).  I reacted from my heart, I didn't think about it, or question it, I just reached out.  Maybe she didn't want that from me, but I think she appreciated it.

It has always been hard for me to know what to do.  I worry about intruding. I want to respect the privacy and dignity of the person but at the same time let them know they are not alone.  I worry about presuming more in a friendship than they are feeling.  I imagine them thinking, "why would I want to talk to you? I have other friends."  And so sometimes I stay back.  But I know in my heart that gestures of kindness are seldom unwanted.   And so I push past that reluctance and put myself out there.

In our Unitarian faith one of the things we do when someone is suffering is offer to hold it for them.  When the burden is too great, we offer to hold it for a while, easing their pain even for a short time. I like the imagery of that.  It is not the same as owning it, or taking it, we merely hold it. I picture my hand out and someone placing there burden in my palm.   So in my heart tonight I am holding the suffering of these people close to me.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tragedy

In the past 6 hours I have learned that three friends are facing varying degrees of tragedy in their lives.   A friend who was diagnosed with a brain tumour, supposedly benign with an excellent prognosis, has just found out it's cancer and they didn't get it all.  She faces radiation and an uncertain future.  Another friend was suffering an infection and now that has become cancer.   Another close friend just lost her sister in a horrific car crash in Newfoundland. This month has been one blow after another in my life.   I lost a good friend to cancer two weeks ago. My family has fallen apart and I can't fix it.  I am feeling helpless and profoundly sad.  And the way I deal with these feelings is to become very angry.   Anger is a safe emotion for me; I know it, it's familiar.    But right now it's threatening to swallow me up.   Right now nothing makes sense anymore, nothing seems right.  All of the things we do to keep ourselves healthy and safe mean nothing.  We eat the right foods, we exercise, we try to be good people, we buy the right products, we fight for the things we believe in, we try to make the world a better place for those around us, and none of it means shit.  Because we can still get cancer, we can still die in a fiery crash, we can still lose people we love.  So what's it all for?   Why bother?  We have destroyed the very earth that we need to nurture us and it is slowly poisoning us.   Karma is a bitch.  My feelings are so jumbled up and so large I am  having trouble articulating it all.  But it needs to be said.  I need to write it.  Maybe I don't need to publish it in my blog, but it's got to come out or I will choke to death in my sleep.  I want to just chuck it all.  Forget all the striving I do to make myself a better person, to eat right and take care of myself.  What the fuck for?   Maybe I should just stop trying.   Just do whatever I want to hell with everything else.  Because it all ends the same doesn't it?   I want to walk away from my life and live on the street and become one of those forgotten people.   No attachments.  No pain.

But even in my anger, there is a little voice inside me that says not to give up.  That says to keep on going.  And I want to tell that voice to shut the fuck up and leave me alone.  But it won't.  It never has.   And I will sit with this anger and I will let it out here and I will cry myself to sleep and tomorrow I will wake up and take my dog for a walk and I will see the trees starting to bud and the grass turning greener and the crocuses pushing up and I will feel a glimmer of that light that keeps me going.  Yes, life sucks and it's tragic and unfair and painful, but that's not all of it.   It's also beautiful.   And there is a little girl who loves her nana.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The other night a very dear friend of mine took me out to the Keg for dinner.  We went late, about 9 p.m. and spent three glorious hours "dining".  Yes, dining.   Very different from grabbing a bite to eat before going somewhere else, or eating while doing something else.   Dining takes time.  Dining is mindful.  It's all about the food and company, nothing else.   We had a wonderful server, a good friend of my friend, who was very attentive.   We started with a plate of appetizers and took our time eating them.  The conversation was interesting.   The atmosphere was convivial.  And I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

It occurred to me, that evening, how seldom I take the time to dine.  Food and I have a very turbulent relationship.   Most of the time I eat while doing something else, mostly playing on the computer, sometimes watching a movie. When I am eating with friends, I am distracted by what is on my plate, or what is going around me, especially if there is a t.v. screen nearby.   I pay very little attention to what I am putting in my mouth, even when I have spent time cooking it myself.  I eat quickly.   I don't wolf it down, I just want to get it over with and move on to other things.   I don't savour.   I eat the wrong things for the wrong reasons.  Usually whatever is easiest.  Often it is just junk.  Sometimes I think I would be perfectly happy if I never had to worry about food again.   If I just had to take a pill to meet my nutritional requirements.

And then I have an experience like the other night.  It showed me that I can have a "right" relationship with food.  I can sit down and relax and take my time and savour each delicious morsel of that perfectly prepared steak, and those delicious garlic mashed potatoes.   I can enjoy my escargot in a mature manner with only a fleeting reference to the body part it reminds me of.  I accessed a part of me I don't see often.  It was not easy, mind you.  I was terribly distracted by the drama of the couple at the table beside us, and I do want to apologize to my companion for that.  But I tried very hard to be present.  

Thank you my friend, for a lovely evening.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A little light

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been dealing some depression the past few weeks.  So, on Friday I headed off to my weekly volunteer session sorting clothes for people in need.  Although I was still feeling down, the depression had lifted enough that I was also feeling a little....bitchy. They say depression is anger turned inward, and I often find that the first thing I feel when I start to "feel" again, is the anger I had turned inward.   So,  I vented a bit to my long suffering friend on the way to the centre and then decided to try my hardest to be pleasant to be around when we got there.

One of the first bags I opened had a Minnie Mouse headband in it.  You know the kind, with the huge pink and white polka dot bow?   I immediately put it on, hoping to get a laugh from my friend, which it did, and I left it on and went about my business.  Forgot all about the headband.  A while later I opened the new box of garbage bags.  We use huge garbage bags at the centre and the ones I opened were very small...the kind you might put in a waste paper basket.  So, I took the bag down to the powers that be and said they were not acceptable and did they have any bigger ones that we could use thank you very much.  (I really was nice about it, honest).  And they of course, got me the right sized bags.  And so I got back to work.

A few minutes later, it hit me.  I was still wearing the headband!!   So, what they saw was a perturbed woman coming down the hall towards them, wearing a Minnie Mouse bow.   No one said a word about it.  I guess they see all kinds of things at this place, or my demeanour that day didn't lend itself to questioning.  At any rate, I felt a little embarrassed and I asked them about it and they said yes they did notice, but they thought I looked really cute and we all had a good laugh.

At the end of my shift, the woman in charge told me to take the headband home, because they couldn't give it out.   So I did.  My friend encouraged me to wear it whenever I feel down.   So, now that headband hangs on the door knob of my bathroom cabinet and I put it on every day when I am doing my makeup and brushing my teeth.  And you know what?  It makes me smile every time.   And I can feel my mood slowly improving.  I am not saying it's entirely because of the headband, there are a lot of other things helping me right now; good friends, some rest and a couple of really good therapy sessions.  But, it occurred to me, that during the past few months I had lost my sense of playfulness, which is really quite alive in me.  My inner child has a rich and full life!   And putting on that headband ignited that in me again and it did wonders for my spirits and no doubt brightened the moment for those around me that day.  Simple as that.  A small thing.  But a big thing too.



Sunday, March 13, 2016

Those of us of a certain age can probably remember wondering what life would be like in the year 2000.  No doubt we thought it would be like the Jetson's cartoon.  2000 seemed such a space-age number to us growing up in the 60's.   We imagined zooming around in flying cars and having a robot that would do all our housework.   How sad to have arrived here and seen that this is not the case.  Although many things have changed, we are far from the space-age Jetson- like existence of our fantasies.  Why is that?  We certainly have the technology.   But imagine for a moment what would have had to happen to make the Jetson's lifestyle a reality.  First of all, we would have to destroy all the buildings we currently have and build pod- like structures.  Imagine the furor.  Imagine the protests and committees to stop the destruction of each and every church, heritage building, historical building etc. It's hard to wrap your head around isn't it?  As a species, we tend to resist change for as long as possible.  Most of us have come kicking and screaming into the computer age and even though cellular technology and computer technology have been with us for decades, a lot of people still rail at it.  And many people, who proudly call themselves Luddites, are still resisting, still refusing to own a cell phone, a computer or have internet.  We like things the way they have always been, as long as we are comfortable.  Only when we are affected in a negative way by the status quo do we start to consider changing.  
I personally loved the idea of flying cars when I was a child.  Now, however,  I can't really fathom how that would work traffic wise.  Each day, as we head off to work, would we have to radio in our flight plan and get cleared for take-off, or would it be a free for all?   Every person' for themselves, sort of like a real life version of Asteroids, where you are dodging all sorts of obstacles to get to your destination.  What would parking lots look like?  What would the skies look like?  In the Jetsons, there seemed to be  fewer people than we have today. Flying cars in this world would be a logistical nightmare.  So, maybe not flying cars.  But what about hover cars?  I often wonder why that technology hasn't taken off yet, pardon the pun.   I mean it exists.  But think of the savings on the infrastructure if cars no longer drove on the roads?   We just gently hovered above.  It seems to make perfect sense doesn't it.  The cars would be powered by something...air,...helium?  Not a fossil fuel.   I mean if a bee can fly against all odds, if an airplane can stay airborne despite its massive weight, there has to be a way to make this happen.

These are the things I like to ponder.  In my next post, I am going to explore the idea of what would happen if our food chain disappeared and we were forced to exist by taking a pill.  Another space- age concept.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Right now I am dealing with a moderate bout of depression.  Not sadness.  Depression.   Where you can barely get out of bed, let alone shower and eat something besides cereal or pie.   Where nothing seems worth doing.  Where you can't see all the people that love you, even though they are still right there.  Where life seems frustrating, and pointless and nothing makes sense. And where you think you will never be happy again.   The joy is gone.  The creativity is stunted.  The plans for your life seem ridiculous and impossible.   Hope is a word no longer in your vocabulary.   Your life becomes a daily struggle to just get through.  Well-meaning friends and family tell you to cheer up, stop feeling sorry for yourself and point out all the ways it could be worse...which only causes you to feel worse as you worry that those things are bound to happen to you sooner or later.   Some people avoid you altogether because you are a downer, or because you might make them depressed.  Depression is lonely.

 My journey into darkness started with an overly busy schedule, combined with a flu, followed by a cold.   The death of a good friend and a family breakdown kicked me to the bottom. And each day has been one foot in front of the other to do what I have to do.  Nothing else.  No writing, no jewelery making, no photography, no art journaling, no housework, no laundry.

It might seem like I am wallowing in a vast ocean of self pity.  And maybe I am.  Maybe I have good reason to do so.  But I don't choose this.   And I read all sorts of pithy statements on Facebook saying You Can Choose To Be Happy and most of the time I agree with that, because we really do choose how we deal with the world.  But not when we have depression.  I can no more choose to step out of this than I can choose to not have diabetes.  And anyone who has been really and truly depressed can understand how hard it is to "choose".  

So what do I do?  I wait.  It will pass.  I muster all my strength and courage to try and not isolate myself.  I go to work. I get as much sleep as possible. I force myself to stay connected to friends who have been there.   And I forgive myself if I don't quite meet my own standards.   I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel...and I tell myself it is not a train.  It is the sunshine.   It is the light of life.   It will come....I hope.  It's starting to pass.  And that is why I am writing.  And today I might sit at my craft table.  Even sitting there is a start.