I’m very sad today – and angry – but mostly I’m angry because I’m sad. I don’t like being sad – I try to avoid it because it’s an emotion that makes me feel weak and sometimes helpless – and I put a lot of energy into NOT being weak and helpless. Perhaps I would be a better person and have better relationships if I could show some vulnerability – but I’ve learned the hard way that when you allow yourself to be vulnerable, that’s when you end up getting hurt. Today is a perfect example – I knew, logically and unemotionally, that this particular situation would probably turn out the way it did. But I had this niggling hope lurking deep down inside that it might not – that perhaps things would be different, perhaps all was not lost. I’ve been waiting, watching, and having this tiny ember of a hope, day by day, only to have it doused over and over. I think that, very soon, that ember of hope won’t have the energy to reignite
I don’t cry – well, not very often, and usually only at sad movies or touching commercials. It’s rare that I feel safe enough (or out of control enough) to cry when it counts. Yet, here I sit at work and tears are leaking from my eyes, as if of their own accord. I take long, shaky breaths, trying to calm the tears – to let them know that this is not the place or time. And it works – for a few moments I feel almost normal as I work on my tasks – and then I feel new moisture on my cheek – a tiny rivulet threatening to turn into a raging torrent. Be calm – I think as I close my eyes and breathe – it will pass, it will get better.
I’ve never given much credence to the “count your blessings” school of thought. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for many things in my life – but I don’t consciously list them very often. I remember hearing Oprah Winfrey talk about keeping a gratitude journal and how it would change my life to write down five things I was grateful for each day. I never did it – it seemed almost self-indulgent and a little bit silly. Then, when I started blogging, I noticed that a lot of bloggers often posted the ten things they were thankful for. I read their lists with interest – but again, I didn’t join in.
But today, I’m feeling sad and rather hopeless – and I wonder if focusing on the positive things in my life might be helpful and remind me that there is more to life than this one, particularly sad situation. So, if you’ll indulge me…I’ll give it a go.
1) I’m grateful for my children. I’m so lucky that, despite my personal emotional damage and the numerous times I fucked up, they turned out to be such wonderful people! They are all smart, witty, and share my slightly warped sense of humor, and I’m incredibly lucky that they seem to like spending time with me as much as I enjoy spending time with them!
2) I have the most wonderful granddaughter in the world! I was leery about being a grandma – it made me feel old and I don’t love easily. But from the moment I saw this child emerge from her mother’s womb, I had a deep, burning, protective attachment to her. I would kill or be killed for this tiny girl. She lives far away from me and I miss her every single day.
3) I’m thankful for my job. If you know anything about my work and employer that may shock you – but while I may not love the actual work and I would, more often than not, like to throttle my supervisor, I’m appreciative that I have a steady job with good benefits when so many others do not. I’m also grateful that I’m in a position where I have my own area with a little bit of privacy – allowing me to work on personal tasks when there is downtime – and where I can cry a bit if I need to and no one will see (or if they do, my coworkers are cool enough to pretend they don’t).
4) I love nature – it may sound trite, but some of the best moments in my life are when I’m enjoying a wonderful view – after hiking to the top of a mountain, bathed by the light of the full moon, or while sitting on a warm beach. I adore nature’s aromas — the fragrance of jasmine, coming from seemingly nowhere, the smell of pine while walking through a deep forest, or the sharp scent of rain, just as it begins to hit hot sidewalks on a summer’s day. The nearest I come to meditating is when I’m surrounded by all nature has to offer.
5) I’m grateful that I’m physically strong, relatively healthy, and that my mind is sharp. I have my physical and psychological problems, but when I see the patients who come into the medical building where I work – patients who cannot walk, have twisted or missing limbs, who need oxygen to survive, or who are desperately dependent on drugs and alcohol – I’m so thankful that my medical issues are not severe, only periodic, and more annoying than debilitating. I’m glad that I can climb mountains, carry my granddaughter, learn new things, and find happiness in my life.
Hmmm…perhaps there is something to this gratitude thing. I do feel better now – more focused on what is right in my life rather than just on that particular sad situation. My tears have dried, my breath is even, I’m thinking about going hiking in the mountains this weekend instead of staying cooped up in the house. Tomorrow is a new day – perhaps I’ll carefully bank my tiny ember of hope and give it some time. Maybe, with some care, it might flare again.