It’s no secret that I’ve been feeling down lately – a lot. After several years that have kicked me down so many times that I honestly contemplated just staying down for the count (because, really, who was I kidding? I was TIRED of life kicking the crap out of me), pulling the covers over my head with a resolute “wake me up when I’m too old to care”, it’s almost surprising to me that I still have AHA! moments that seem to promise an alternative.
This morning has been one such eye-opening cascade of events.
As you may have glimpsed from previous posts, my status of social butterfly is no more – and hasn’t been for quite some time. My wings haven’t been clipped so much as they’ve basically been stomped on, torn out and turned into dust (translation: the social butterfly has become social hermit. The fact that I recently Googled “social hermit” and, when coming across a site called “hermit crab patch” actually thought it may be a cutesy name for an IF community dealing with social isolation should tell you just how far gone I am with this issue.)
Leaving the house – something that should be of no consequence and that I used to give little to no thought – has become a necessity that I dread and basically avoid as much as I can. It’s become an undertaking against which I actually have to steel myself – that’s how much I don’t want to do it. Sad, I know. But, on days where I absolutely can’t avoid doing so – like today – I try to get it over with as quickly as humanly possible to avoid interactions with others, in the desperate attempt to reduce to near impossibility any heart-wrenchingly painful incidents involving pregnant women and/or cute babies. I think I may have developed a full-on phobia.
It doesn’t help that I’ve had a non-stop headache for the last 3 days, haven’t been able to sleep properly, that I’m fairly sure I’m in the iron grip of PMS and that – assuming AF makes her unwelcome visit on schedule – I’ll have my monthly reminder of NOT being pregnant yet again, this time on 9/11. At least it’ll be perfectly appropriate for me to bawl on a national day of mourning.
So I guess it shouldn’t have come as too much of a shock when I had barely driven out of my drive-way and hadn’t even made it out of our subdivision when I felt the familiar tears welling up, pooling in my eyes before cascading in big rivulets down my cheeks. And while it’s still so bright outside that I don’t have to make up an excuse for wearing sunglasses, having to constantly wipe my eyes beneath them is kind of a dead give away that something is amiss.
Because I’m safety conscious and I know that operating heavy machinery requires an “all hands on deck” kind of approach – to which all-out bawling is just a little detrimental – I try not to do that in the car. My usual remedy of choice is to (a) crank up the volume on my stereo, and (b) obviously choose something that is unlikely to trigger some existential crisis or nervous breakdown. Normally, this means something like thumping dance music – or, if I’m feeling cantankerous, maybe Nickelback. If I think there’s a good chance for a quick “turn that frown upside down”, I’ll probably go for something quirky and fun like The Ataris, All-American Rejects etc.
This morning? No dice. My car was practically vibrating with techno music – and I was struggling not to sob. It was ridiculous. What was even worse is that our post office – this morning’s first destination – is really, really close to our house. Like less than 10 minutes driving distance. So I started thinking about how I really didn’t want to show up there with super puffy, red eyes that either begged the question of WHY – or made it even worse if someone didn’t ask and my obviously puffy, cry-baby eyes just looked pathetically into the eyes of my post office worker who wouldn’t know what to say. The result: instant mortification and, I guarantee, more crying. The only thing that was even more horrifying was the thought that said postal officer would offer a kind word and actually ask what was wrong or if I was ok – and that this show of kindness would cause me to spontaneously burst into tears in front of a crowd of strangers in line behind me. For someone who doesn’t like to cry in front of other people, this is just about as bad as it gets.
Thankfully, I somehow managed to get a grip by the time I made it to the office. Better yet, I had such a pleasant, light-hearted interaction with the post office clerk that I completely forgot all about pressing the pause button on my impending sob-fest.
Once again, I learned a valuable lesson. I keep looking for the BIG things in my life – a baby, or a miracle of equal import and significance when I should be paying more attention to the little things happening around me all day, every day. I really need to quit whining and feeling sorry for myself. Maybe then I’ll realize not just how good I have it, but finally be able to start taking the necessary steps to get myself out of this mind fog that’s been keeping me down.
And just then, as if on cue, a song played that hit the nail on the head:
“The only thing that matters
is just following your heart
and eventually you’ll finally get it right.”
(excerpted from In This Diary by The Ataris)
And you know what? That’s exactly what I’m going to do.