Sunday, December 30, 2012

Slip Sliding Away?

I had a tough day yesterday and this one started out poorly as well. I'm not surprised to have these dips in the road and am in fact startled that it took so long post-surgery to have a bad day. I'm just curious about the types of things that have triggered this for me and hoping to understand it a little better. I stopped fighting the mood about mid-day yesterday and since then, though I haven't exactly found loads of sunshine, I don't feel at all as though I'm sinking.

It began yesterday when three separate events tackled me. The first was the process of returning gifts. I have one shirt that my wife got for me that has to go back. It's too big. No worries. I can make that exchange. On the flip-side of that were my wife's returns. Of the four gifts I got for her this Christmas, three were going back as was her big present from her birthday earlier this month.

These things happen and I know that it isn't a reflection on who we are or how she feels about me. Time was, I would have thought that it meant I didn't have any understanding of who she is and what she needs. I would have taken it as some sort of guaranteed sign that we were not in love. Thanks to several years of therapy I'm beyond that feeling, but I still felt let down that things hadn't worked out better. It wasn't even that she didn't like the things I had gotten, it's just that two of them didn't fit right and two were very similar to things she had bought for herself only weeks before. We mailed all four away and that was that. I could feel myself slipping.

We came home and the girls wanted to go play in the deep snow that has fallen. I wanted to play too. Some people ski, I snow-blow. For whatever odd reason, I love to clear my driveway with the snowblower and I even like shoveling. I can do neither until cleared by the doctor and that just messes with my head. Worse, my wife was the one to remind me of all this and I was immediately frustrated with her saying it. Not that she was wrong, it's just that I didn't want to hear it. And so I slipped some more.

Thinking about all of this I can see the pattern of it: I was feeling as though things were beyond my control. The depressed feeling is me abandoning myself to helplessness. Here's where I would lose it in the past. I would go over the edge and claim victim-hood as my identity. I would focus on the things I could not do and that would be the sum total of my world. "Oh well, I guess I'm screwed."

This time I noticed what was happening. I reminded myself that the gifts were good choices even if they hadn't worked out. They hadn't knocked my wife out, but that's probably too high a hurdle to set each time. She was touched that I had thought of her and that I had tried. This is what matters to her and, I told myself, what should matter to me.

As for snow-blowing, I'll just have to wait and enjoy the fact that my brother is kind enough to drive across town and take care of it for me. Instead of wallowing in self-pity I can enjoy being showered with kindness.

Of course, telling myself all these things yesterday, I was able to shrug them off and decide that life still sucked and everyone was against me, but I also laughed a little when I thought it. I stopped sliding and started holding my own.

Then today I struggled with our youngest daughter, the one whose temperament is a lot like mine. I asked my wife what was going on and she told me. I guess I wasn't expecting an honest and complete accounting of it and when she gave it to me, well, it hurt. I'm not as kind to our youngest as I am to our eldest. I'm not as fair. I'm not as open with my love.

And with that I was slip sliding away down into the darkness.

Now, however, I'm here and I can see that she was right and that I need to examine what it is I want to do. It's easy to know what I want: to have my daughter feel beloved by me. It's just a matter now of making that happen. Slipping downward doesn't do anything. Claiming victim-hood doesn't make either of us happy. Love is a complicated matter and probably beyond the words I type. It's going to take more than writing to make the right things happen. Being aware of things is a beginning and I'm most aware when I'm writing. So, to begin with at least, I will write on.