Friday, July 6, 2007

The Proverbial Glass

How do you look at life? Are you a ‘glass is still half full” kind of person? A “glass is half empty” person? Or are you a “Who the hell drank my water again?” kind of person?

I’ve always considered myself a realist. I don’t look for ways to improve things. I try not to dwell on the bad. I look at What Is and deal with it appropriately.

Or, at least, I used to.

I’ve really been having a tough time lately. I don’t know if I’m MORE depressed now than I have been in the past…or if it just feels less justified now. It has been a year and nine months. I should be getting back to *normal* by now. Not that I’m always sad – I have plenty of good days. But sometimes, it just doesn’t take much to send me into my dark mood. For example, someone who used to read my blog, I’m not sure if she still does, lost her baby. I didn’t know it for a month. When I found out, I cried. And then when I got home, I cried some more. I have to ask myself “Why?” Why do I feel so involved in the sorrow of someone whom I’ve never met? I think a lot of it has to do with knowing how much it hurts. Knowing how she must feel. And the feelings all come flooding back. I can’t work. I can’t interact with my family. I think that I crossed a line somewhere between empathy and just plain unhealthiness. It’s completely normal to feel sorrow for someone – but not to stop your life because the pain seems like it’s too much to bear. It’s not even my pain, but a reminder of it.

I dwell on it. I let it consume me. I let it dictate my life. I let it define me. I let hover over me and take away my happiness. I get wrapped up in the sadness and let it envelope me and smother me. And I don’t want to anymore. I don’t want to be unhappy anymore.

I have to get the sadness out of my life. I have to stop inviting it into my home. Now, I don’t mean that I’m going to ignore when my friends (or acquaintances, co-workers, family) are in pain. I don’t mean that at all. That’s the NORMAL kind of sorrow that we really all need to be able to deal with.

But it’s time for some changes.

I already stopped watching horror movies a long time ago. I have seen so much REAL death in my life – I don’t ever want to see it again – Especially gratuitous death and gore.

But then, every night I watch the news and it makes me cry. Every night someone’s teenager is shot in the city or a baby is found in the river or a teacher is accused of sexual abuse. There’s a war in which people’s children are dying every day. EVERY DAMN DAY. I just can’t take it anymore. So news – as much as I love to yell at your weather people – you’re done for a while. No nightly news at all.

There are the indulgent websites. You know the ones. The addictive, scandalous kind. Where you hear about hundreds – if not thousands – of women hate their husbands. Or husbands who hate their wives. Or the worst – moms who hate their kids. I got involved for a while – but no more. No more entertaining myself with other people’s problems and shortcomings. These sites are fun for some, but they just have too much hate and sadness for my life right now.

Then there are the Internet Throw Downs. What actually spurred these changes (I’m slow) was an argument that ensued at Suburban Turmoil a while back. Lindsay said something to the effect of “I don’t think being a SAHM mom is as hard as being a WOHM mom.” That angered some SAHM’s who don’t think their job is very easy and they said some things. Things which I felt I needed to clarify for them – like the misconception that it’s fun for me to drive two hours a day to spend ten hours with people I really dislike doing a pretty thankless job. But in my “edjumakating” them – I ended up making it very personal and it got into a war of “Who’s life is harder?” Probably three days into it, someone made a comment to the effect of “Is this a contest or something?” And I opened my eyes. I’ve never thought that SAHM’s had it “easy” – I would sure like to be one – but only because I think I would enjoy that job much more than this one. (It does not, however, PAY as well as this one – monetarily, of course.) And there I was, trying to PROVE to these STRANGERS that my life is SOOOO hard. And I felt STUPID, because really, it isn’t. I may not LOVE my job and I may REALLY hate driving here – but that doesn’t mean my life sucks. I spend so much of my free time dwelling on what’s wrong that I don’t get to enjoy the good things.

I think about my mom at my age. When she was 25, she had three kids: 11, 9 and 8. She had to leave us home alone so she could work all day. She sometimes got food stamps to feed us. She was battling alcoholism. We rented all the time - she moved us from place to place – maybe because of money, maybe because of her own demons. A couple times, she bought houses only to have them foreclosed on when she could no longer afford them.

Her life must have been HARD. The Man and I make most of our bills on time. Sometimes things are tight. Sometimes we have a little extra cash to blow. The kids are healthy and we have stable jobs. Jobs, which I might add, that let us get away with a lot. I may not consider this job an ‘escape’ – as I often would like to escape from here – but it’s a pretty cushy job. And they leave me an awful lot of room for slack.

The Man is very guilty of missing the silver lining. He spends most of his time dreaming about what we don’t have and moaning about what we do. We had a long conversation last week and I brought it up to him. “What good is the future if you can’t be happy in the present?” And since that conversation, he’s been (just a little) less reluctant to get out of bed in the morning. He’s been trying hard to be happy with the time we get and stopped complaining (mostly) about the time we don’t get.

I realize this post is getting lengthy and losing focus, so let me reiterate: It’s time to get happy. It’s time to work when work needs to be done and play when the opportunity arises. It’s time to love going home instead of hating to come to work. It’s time to live it up on the weekends and work hard during the week. It’s time to get over the martyr syndrome and accept a little help. It’s time to stop inviting the sadness into my life and start spreading happiness to others. It’s time to stop bitching about everyone else drinking my water and just go fill the cup up myself.

It’s going to take practice, not inviting this stuff into my world, but I think I can do it. And I think it will do both my family and me a lot of good.


Worker Mommy said...

With regards to losing a child I simply can't imagine how devastating that would be. Of course you have every right to be sad about that. My heart aches for you when I think about little Isabella.
Grief is different for everyone. Some heal quicker than others. Although, its not exactly the same I still get very sad at certain times about my dad and he passed away 8 years ago.I think you're leading the best life you can and I don't see/read anything unhealthy in your grieving process.You're doing what you need to for you and thats whats important.

I do really like what you've said in the last paragraph though. I could stand to follow your lead.
I'm rootin' for you. I know you can do and hell if you still bitch every once in awhile you're entitled. After all, no one is perfect

Sugar Kane said...

Typically I'm a glass half full sort of gal. But there are days when me glass is not just empty, it's smashed into a million little pieces.

Worker Mommy is right. We all deal with grief differently. I can't imagine losing a child. My heart breaks for you. Unfortunately I'm sure it is something you will always deal with, but with time (and a year isn't that long) it will get easier. The fact that you realize you are in an unhealthy place is good. Hang in there. I'll be thinking of you!

Melissavina said...

Oh wow, I can't tell you how many times I've found myself in the middle of bad stretches like yours. I am feeling for you. The thing I've found is that I often lose perspective first which makes all things spiral downward. You, however, seem to have great perspective on what is going on with you. Great job, lady!

Now get out there and have some fun with your beautiful family this weekend!!

Brillig said...

This is one of those things that just makes me love you that much more. I remember the Sub Turm mess (as you know, since I emailed you about a thousand times during all that!) and I didn't read anything from you that sounds as bad as you refer to it. I think it sounded worse in your head than it did on the screen. Also, you left out the horrible HORRIBLE things that people did/said to you during that mess! See? You're being a lot more grown up than, say, I would be!

And I agree with WM. My sister lost a baby. And even before the funeral, my mom looked at her and basically said, "stop being a baby and get over it." I was SO angry with her. My mom felt like an expert because she'd had a miscarriage and had just been able to "get over it." But Amy'd lost a BABY. And she was GRIEVING. My mom just didn't get that. Anyway, point is, people grieve differently and there's no set timeframe that dictates when the pain will magically end and you'll go back to "normal."

You are so insightful and you have such a clear perspective on all of this. You know how you're feeling, and you see that sometimes you're wrong and somethings need to change. I think that your perspective on this is what's going to bring you out of it. Well done.

I'm rooting for you in such a big way.

Kristina said...

I had a somewhat similar train of thought a few months ago that brought the realization that if you think in a positive manner, positive things will come. If you're pissy and negative and bitching all the time, that is EXACTLY what you get back. I have been trying SO hard to be positive and cut back on the bitching (which you KNOW I haven't completely stopped, haha) to the point of starting to read "The Secret"...I realized a few chapters in that I have HUGE religious issues with that book, so have decided to just keep the moral of "Positive out, positive in" and really, it has made a huge difference in my day to day well being. I too quit watching horror movies long ago, because why add that to my mindstream? I'm a total news whore so I can't stop that, but I also had to quit going to the bitching about eachother websites. You need to do what you need to do for YOU.

And, to add, you have been AMAZING that past 1 year and 9 months. I've said it before and I mean it. Truly amazing. Just driving this morning, oddly enough, I was thinking about the walk, and Isabella, and you, and I cried. I think it's impossible, as a mother, to not feel overcome with sadness and grief for another mother who has lost their child. It's human nature. So, while I know you know if it's healthy or not, just don't be too hard on yourself.

And I hope you're ready to ROCK the rodeo.

Whiskeymarie said...

I'm usually disgustingly optimistic, but for some reason this summer (oh maybe the unrelenting soul-sucking heat, for example) I have been fairly "down".
I don't want to do much at all. I sleep too much and have not so much energy otherwise.
I know I'll get over mine the minute we have a cool stretch.
You, maybe not so much.
I feel you hon. Focus on the positive, as cliche as that sounds.
Focus on being happy and what you need to get there.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post Ms. Butrfly.
I have noticed the downward trend of your entries and I'm so glad to read things may have taken a turn. I know my attitude is the hardest thing to change when I start to drown.

Thanks for posting - especially that last paragraph. It is inspiring... kind of makes me feel like I've been dowsed in ice water and my head is clearing. Hope you feel the same way.

- A reader in AL

Alcoholism said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kelly said...

Great post and good luck with your journey!

I myself am either a 1/2 full person or a "who the hell drank my water person."(lol) And I used to get involved with drama, but now I have my radar on straight and can usually spot a drama waiting to happen from a mile a away and try to run screaming from it. Or try to anyway...every once in a while...well let's just say that we're all not perfect. And with that in mind, good luck!

And remember that looking at life without the drama is not an excuse to ignore the negative that happens in life to everyone. It's just a different way of handling it. And it does have to be handled, everyone's own unique way.

Suburban Turmoil said...

Good call. Stay positive. And don't put yourself in situations where you'll get hurt.

I said, by the way, that being a SAHM isn't that hard in general, I never said it was easy compared to WOHMs. People just took it that way. I was thinking more of coal mining jobs or construction work or no jobs at all or living in a refugee camp or all the thousands of horrible situations people find themselves in. I really think that we're too often not seeing the larger picture when we complain about the minutiae of our lives...

Butrfly4404 said...

Muh girls: I love you. You're beautiful. Each and every one of you. And Kristina- we are SO gonna rock that rodeo.

Spam: Not beautiful. Why would I need help with alcoholism? I PLAN nights to drink - and it takes me MONTHS.

Anon in AL: Thanks! I think. ;)

Lindsay: Sorry - I tried to be vague. It wasn't really about what you said, though. More just the way it escalated and the way I let it get to me. I guess I didn't even think about it like that, though (that you didn't mention "harder THAN")! I went where the comments took me. That's really what the whole thing is about is how much I let other people affect me.

Time to read Codependent No More again? ah, ha...ha?

Marie Green said...

Grief is a journey I have not had much experience with, but don't you think that this might be a turning point for you. A little step towards not hurting so much. I'm rooting for you, and praying for healing. Great post!

Casmee said...

A little bitching never hurt anyone but you have a gerat resolution there t obe happy in spite of it all. Good luck to you!

MommasWorld said...

Since I started reading your blog I have seen nothing that lead me to believe you linger on the negative. I have also seen you at "battle" with others but they were berating you and being down right hateful towards you. That one comment from another person on Suburban Turmoil made me very angry. I could not believe she did not delete that comment. It was extremely hateful. I belive she said something about wanting to hear the side of WOHMs. Still, you handled that comment.

As far as grief. You can handle it any way you choose. There is no one set right way. My sister lost a child years before I lost mine. I did not talk to my family or anyone about it, nor did she. We each came to terms with our own lost children a few years after mine was lost. She called because it was eating her up inside and tearing her life apart. I was starting on the same path. That phone call started out with both of us yelling, screaming and crying but ended with us talking about the wonderful names of our babies, how we know they would have been just like so and so in our families. The phone call ended with both of us still breathing, a bit happier and relieved that we could talk about our lost babies. It is never a good idea to keep your feelings to yourself. If you want to talk about it at least on your blog you can delete the meanies or just turn the comments off. You have the right to feel and express yourself. You are human.

Taking the news out of the daily life can be difficult. I always want to hear what the weatherman says but I do not want to hear about all the negative as you listed. I suppose that is why the stations make it difficult to catch the weather without hearing all the rest of the news. I finally started to check the weather on line instead. I stopped listening to the news on my two hour commutes in the car every morning and evening. The draw back is I have missed a few very important news items. I quite my government job and moved away from DC in order to stop the morning reports of what is going wrong in every country on the globe.

I am a "my glass is half full" person and I do not sweat too much over water that is spilt. It might evaporate and cause a rain cloud over my glass thus putting water back into my glass. My biggest philosophy in life is if something goes wrong fix it as much as you can that day and then leave it alone for next day you can make an effort to change it (i.e. water pump on car, find mechanic, find part, mechanic is closed until Monday - don't think about it until Monday)

One more thing, even though my post is super long already.....Remember....YOU ROCK!!

Jodi said...

"With regards to losing a child I simply can't imagine how devastating that would be. Of course you have every right to be sad about that. My heart aches for you when I think about little Isabella.
Grief is different for everyone. Some heal quicker than others." I couldn't say it better myself! I agree with with the prior posters said. You have a RIGHT to feel sad and to grieve. I agree also that it's not good to wallow in your grief,but I haven't seen you do that or throw a pity party for yourself. This is your blog and if you want to be sad on occasion and tell us how you feel gyped and cheated I think you have EVERY right to do it. Turn off the comments for any particular post if you don't want to hear what anybody else thinks...or delete the hateful ones....

As for the Suburban Turmoil war, I read all that and can't recall you getting all worked up in a bad day. My thoughts on all that have not changed. I hope that someday women will be able to support one another and realize that what works for one woman may not work for another. But, that's okay. And it doesn't make one choice any better or worse than the other. It just means that sometimes life is complicated and we have to make hard choices!

Lastly, you do ROCK. And I am amazed by your strength and wisdom at such a tender age of 25. I cannot imagine going through everything that you have and being half sane, let alone witty and so insightful as you are. You are doing just fine in my opinion. Take care of yourelf and your beautiful family, soak up the good times, and you'll be doing good. :)

moosh in indy. said...

Excellent post. I hope you can find what it is you need, and I hope it comes easily. My cup changes every day.

Goldy said...

Fantastic post butterfly. Parts of all of our lives suck but focusing on the parts that make us happy and loving what we do have is most important.

Cherann said...

Yeah, I think we kind of lose site of what's important to us and get lost in things that make us sad. There are many things in life that we should be thankful for...and hopefully at some point in our lives...we realize it before it is too late.

I love this post.

exskindiver said...

i am here amy.

Shauna said...

Amy: I wish I had better words for you. But I'm here for you.

Kateastrophe said...

I am SO late to this party, but i just wanted you to know that EVERYONE, even the most upbeat and cheerful of individuals go through the down times. I had an awful time a few years ago and I didn't think I'd ever snap out of it. And I am what they call "UBER" perky.

Thank you for writing about this and for even just wanting to change. You will never be stuck there because of this. Says me :D