Yesterday didn’t start off the best. My mom had been messaging the family group chat with pictures of her project building an addition. It reminded me that she has time for building an addition, posting the pictures to the group chat, interacting with my husband’s posts on FB but can’t be bothered to take the time to show the simplest form of support to her daughter – not so much as a ‘how are you doing?,’ let alone inquiries into my side of things.
I really wanted to get out of that group chat but discovered my phone has no way to leave a group chat other than to be removed by the person that started it – which, I found out from my sister J, would be my mom. I certainly didn’t want to have to contact the person causing me pain in order to ask for help minimizing that pain.
Mid-morning H messaged me with another job opening. I’d already been planning to head to the library so that I could avoid too much time alone in the apartment with my husband, so that worked well. I planned to work on revising my resume & cover letter for this new position once I arrived at the library.
This ended up being easier said then done – at one point I messaged my group chat with J, A and M, complaining about my inability to focus and asking them to send help. A asked if I’d eaten lunch yet – at which point I realized it was 1pm and I’d eaten breakfast around 7:30. A gently chided/encouraged me to go eat something to help with being able to focus.
I mentioned that I didn’t want to go home to eat just yet, and that my husband didn’t have much in the way of fresh veggies at home, which was what I wanted. A said I could afford to spend $8 at a nearby sandwich shop or deli for something if I didn’t want to go home while my husband was there. It occurred to me that if I drove to Aldi’s and got salad fixings, I could probably get multiple salads for my weekend for around $8.
(I was able to get quite a lot at Aldi’s – a bag of spinach, a bag of garden salad, green onions, baby carrots, a cucumber, red onions and a dozen eggs, and a bag to carry them in, for just $8.45. That was a mood boost, too.)
It was a beautiful day. Not in the traditional sense – it was very damp and foggy, but there are few things I love as much as a misty landscape and I found my mood rising because of it. That made me realize that perhaps lack of sun wasn’t what impacted my moods during the winter. Maybe it was some other factor. Exploring that thought led me to a realization – it’s NOT lack of sun that negatively impacts my mood during the winter. It’s lack of color and beauty. Grey days over an ugly, flat, grey Midwestern landscape.
I thought back through my life – how I had been so depressed living in what I called a ‘beige, middle-class suburb’ early in my marriage. I was in Florida. Sunshine was not an issue. I thought about how I loved Florida’s rainy season and had even thought I could probably live in a place like Seattle in spite of all the rain.
Apparently I have a prissy artist’s brain. Give me beauty or I’m going to get emo. I felt sheepish – especially over how damn long it took me to put all this together. I loved going out at night, after all, and there’s no sun at night. That never impacted my mood. But I also quickly realized what had prevented me from achieving this realization earlier – had my younger self been told she needed beauty or she’d feel bad, she would have been dreadfully offended. How dare you suggest I don’t have control over my feelings, let alone that my moods could be impacted by something as frivolous and illogical as beauty. What am I, a poet or something?! (Sorry, poets, I have issues, there’s nothing wrong with you for being poets.)
I still felt sheepish. I’ve done a lot of work to accept the validity, necessity and usefulness of my emotions but that doesn’t mean I don’t find them embarrassing or awkward. Still – I was happy to have reached a place of understanding about myself. It would give me an advantage when choosing where to live and how to plan my environments in the future. I do wholeheartedly love beauty and I suppose there shouldn’t be any shame or weakness in needing something I love.
A’s suggestion to eat paid off. After a couple of hours I was working on revising my resume, in spite of the fact that my husband and my kids were home again and I was getting interrupted periodically. I felt my mood rising. It was nice to see that getting past that first resume had made the 2nd one easier. Of course, I then moved on to the cover letter and immediately felt my heart sink. I decided I was going to try tackling it later. I’d get through it, but it was obvious that one would take more time for me to start losing the associated anxiety.
N came in and asked if she could hang out with me in my bedroom, and I agreed and motioned to a spot on the mattress that she could take. She was very quiet after settling in, and eventually I saw the reason – she’d fallen asleep. She looked very peaceful and sweet snoozing on my pillows. To me that said there was no real discomfort caused by my removal from the master suite to my tiny bedroom. My husband wanted to believe the change would hurt our children and leave them off balance, but I think that’s simply the desire on his part to see me suffer. He wants me to be distraught because of visible suffering only they’re not actually suffering right now.
Whatever failings we’ve had as a couple and as people, I think my husband and I managed to do a decent job as parents. One of the things one of the therapists had said – can’t remember if it was my current therapist or the kids’ therapist when I met with her – was that children tend to be self-centered in a divorce. They aren’t thinking of how it impacts their parents, they’re thinking of how it impacts them. They want to feel secure – to know that they’ll still receive love and attention no matter what. I think my kids feel secure in the knowledge that they’re loved, and that security is making it easier for them to process this change. I snapped a picture of N peacefully enjoying her rest beside me.
Eventually she woke up and joined the rest of the kids watching TV with my husband. I was in the middle of chatting with A and H and opted to just continue doing that. I was in a good mood and enjoying hanging out with my friends, even if it was just virtual. We were discussing dolly vs hand truck – it turns out what A and I had always heard referred to as a dolly is actually a hand truck. H expressed offense at people using the wrong terms and made pedantic statements about language and a long stream of banter and roasting ensued as A and I unrepentantly embraced our continued use of the term dolly.
Earlier in the day I’d mentioned that single dude seemed to have taken a hint and I hadn’t heard from him in a while. I have to remember not to speak of the devil, lest he appear – single dude messaged me again. At first I was just going to keep doing the same thing I’d been doing – archive the message unseen and ignore him – but then I decided I was just going to block him. It was, as H said, an embarrassing level of persistence – but on top of that, I was feeling stung by the rudeness in single dude’s behavior. I’d put up a boundary by saying right out that I wasn’t interested in anything more than friendship, and he’d sidled right around that barrier in order to make sure I knew he was sexually available for the asking.
Besides, what was he going to do, realistically? Complain to mutual friends that I blocked him and have them wondering why I would do such a thing? Adding him to my block list (probably less than a dozen people) was oddly satisfying. I might not have been able to leave my family’s group chat and reduce that stress, but I could eliminate another source of stress.
We whittled away the hours and all three of us seemed to be in a good mood and having fun, which was a nice thing to see. A and I freely discuss the fact that we deal with depression and anxiety – H occasionally admits to issues with anxiety, but we’ve been pretty sure he’s also dealing with unacknowledged depression related to social anxiety and feeling isolated since he moved to Indy a few years back. It was nice to see him in a good mood and having fun.
Eventually things wound down and I went to bed. It seemed like I was going to succeed at falling asleep when my arm started tingling and brought me wide awake. I was pretty sure it had just fallen asleep – I’ve had that happen before many times. Right now I’m taking a course of antibiotics, though, and one of the things under the ‘seek medical attention’ category was numbness and tingling in the arms/legs. I was pretty damn sure I was not having a medical emergency but my anxiety had come to screaming life and put me in a state of hyper vigilance. It cost me a couple of hours but I was able to return to sleep eventually, though.
Surprisingly, when I woke up this morning I was still in a good mood. These are so rare. It was around 9am when I left my tiny bedroom. I found my husband in the boys’ room doing something on their computer. He looked a little dour and unhappy. Apparently while anger is out, petty glee is available. I had glimpsed myself in the mirror next to the closet and saw that I was having one of those ‘I woke up looking hot’ moments, while also looking obviously cheerful. I enjoyed the thought of my husband seeing that in spite of his best efforts, I was getting further and further away from him and maintaining my spirits in the process.
Now that I’d had a week to get past my sadness over losing a volunteer opportunity I’d wanted, I could also see and appreciate the fact that I’d got through an interview with 3 people, knocked it out of the park with my 5-minute spiel on the Taj Mahal, and been asked to sign on as a docent. Early in 2019 I’d attempted a phone interview and my voice had been audibly trembling by the time I was 10 minutes in. I’d made big, visible progress. That made me feel strong. My efforts were paying off in spite of the fact that my husband and family had been impeding my progress.
At some point this morning I had pulled up the cover letter to try and work on it, felt anxiety threaten to spike, and stopped. I decided it was okay to let myself enjoy a rare and precious good mood without stressing myself out and ending the good mood. The posting was new and they wouldn’t be looking at applicants before Monday, anyway.
When I’m in a good mood – good enough to feel hope – I find that I don’t know what to do with that hope. Maybe the answer, for now, is to treasure it.