Once again, my friends, I am overwhelmed. After removing this post this morning, as I had said I would, I had some time for reflection... And you know what? I've decided to leave it up.
Thank you for receiving my "news" with such overwhelming kindness and generosity of spirit. I received many, many lovely comments and emails yesterday, that lifted my spirits and truly made me feel that I am most definitely NOT alone. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I have saved every, single one, and will no doubt, be re-reading them often, in the days and weeks to come.
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This is the post I've been avoiding.
The post where I try to explain where I've been, lo' these past many weeks.
And it's hard.
Because, as I mentioned several months ago, just as all hell around me was beginning to break loose: I don't "do" the needy, depressed, self-indulgent thing, as a rule. On the rare occasions that I do, I have a really, really hard time admitting that I'm feeling needy and depressed, except to my very closest circle of friends.
And, even with those friends... I have an even harder time admitting when what I really need is HELP.
I was brought up by two of the most wonderful, stoic and steadfast people on the planet. My parents were, and continue to be, pillars of strength. To be truthful, I never once saw them waver, throughout my entire childhood. They brought me up with the intention of empowering me with my own sense of strength. I have always striven to be the sort of grown-up that my parents wanted me to be... and worked so hard to shape me to be.
It's a wonderful thing, to know that you are Strong. It is a gift, to have a family that raises you up to believe that you can do anything, endure anything, survive anything. It makes you bold. It makes you confident. And it has helped to make me as a pretty well-adjusted (for the most part), happy person.
But, as it has turned out, lo' these past few months, I am not actually as strong as I thought I was. And even more amazingly, admitting that fact has not resulted in a cataclysmic end-of-the-world scenario.
My own little family and I have been through quite a time. It has actually been slowly spiralling downward for a little over a year now. When something like this happens, it often begins almost imperceptibly. You do your best to believe that things will get better, then make up your mind to carry on. You put out the little fires around you, scuff the dirt over them a bit, and keep going. Sure, there's some soot left on your shoes, but it's hardly noticeable to anyone around you.
The trouble is, sometimes those little fires don't go out completely. Sometimes they burst back into flames again, and with each larger recurrence, it gets harder and harder to put them out. Your feet get burned, and your hands, too. It hurts. But, if you're like me, you don't want to let on to anybody that you can't handle the pain and anxiety it's causing you.
The massive wildfire of the economic crisis is now blazing out-of-control in the United States, and the repercussions are affecting the entire world. It's been like watching a long, slow-motion train-wreck, with no caboose in sight. My husband and I are spent from the stress and exhaustion of trying to maintain our small family business during this terrible time. As things have become more and more irrational and negative in this world of ours, so has our own "little life".
The struggle we have been waging to stay afloat has taken a terrible toll on my physical and emotional health. It has also taken a toll on our marriage. And no matter how hard we try to hide our feelings and fears, all of this has taken a toll on our children, as well.
It has not been a happy time.
Being scared wears you down. Living in constant fear of the unknown-- fear of things that are happening around you that are completely beyond your control-- inevitably steals from your ability to be strong, or even to feign strength. I don't care if you're on Wall Street, or, like us, The Little Guy, trying to eke out a decent living in The Great White North.
Living this way eventually wears you down to the point where you just can't do it anymore.
It wore me down to the point where I "caved" by the end of the summer. The "role" I had been playing simply became too hard to portray anymore. The load became too heavy to carry by myself.
I went to my parents' home, handed over my three little girls, and lay down.
I couldn't get up again for nearly a week.
During those seven days, I really needed help. And I got it-- I got the compassion and support that I so desperately needed. Not just from my mum and dad, but from several close, trusted friends, as well.
It's been a long road "back". And I know in my heart that I'm probably nowhere near my actual destination... But I hope I'm on the right path-- for now, at least. There may well be a few unexpected detours in my future, still. I'll just have to wait and see.
Physically, I'm doing better. I've gained back some of the 25 pounds that "worried" off of me, almost imperceptibly (to me, at least). I've got a few more grey hairs, but at least it's not falling out anymore.
Emotionally, it's still a bit touch-and-go at times. But, with the tremendous support of the circle that I was able to "let-in" on my troubles, I'm getting there. I'm talking about it a bit more, and not feeling as though admitting that the panic and fear that I carry is such a colossal failure in my own character. I'm not just living day-to-day anymore, but minute-to-minute, and second-to-second. And I'm really trying hard to forgive myself for having to exist this way, for now.
I used to be the five-year-planner... The person who could always be depended upon to arrange things, and take up causes, and throw major events... Now, I'm teaching myself to be "okay" with letting other people take up these mantles, and cutting myself a break. I don't have to be The One, anymore.
I'm concentrating on other things, instead.
On a course that I'm taking, which will qualify me to be a specialized teacher of people with learning disabilities (I hope to be able to begin taking students before Christmas).
On my children, who continue to be my life's delight, and who are thrilled that mummy's smile is being seen a lot more frequently these days (hell, who WOULDN'T smile at a four-year-old who is loudly singing the new Sunday School hymn, "He's Got The Whole World In His Pants"?!)
On my family, who have been more supportive than I ever could have imagined... And most especially my brother, who has, at long last, ended his world-travels and now lives a blissfully short distance away (let all the Little Girlies in residence say, "SQUEEEEEEEEE!!!"... and this Big Girl, too, actually...)
And, last but not least, I'm trying to concentrate a little bit more on Me.
Myself, The Person. Not just "The Mum", or "The Wife", or even "The One Who Cooks and Cleans and Drives and Does The Laundry". But rather, The Person I used to be before all of this-- the one with interests and ideas, and needs of her own. Maybe needs that I never even realized I had. Amazingly-- to me, anyway-- needs that are important, and deserve to be fulfilled.
It's all still strange and unfamiliar territory, these days.
And more than a little bit scary, sometimes.
But, I'm still me.
I'm still here.
I've run the gamut, A to Z,
Three cheers, and dammit,
C'est la vie!
I got through all of last year... And I'm here...
Lord knows at least I was There,
And I'm Here! Look who's Here!