Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Melancholy...and then some


  [mel-uhn-kol-ee]  Show IPA noun, plural mel·an·chol·ies, adjective
a gloomy state of mind, especially when habitual or prolonged; depression.
sober thoughtfulness; pensiveness.
the condition of having too much black bile, considered in ancient and medieval medicine tocause gloominess and depression.
black bile.
affected with, characterized by, or showing melancholy; mournful; depressed: a melancholy mood.
causing melancholy or sadness; saddening: a melancholy occasion.
soberly thoughtful; pensive.

That's where I find myself hiding out these days.  Alone, inside my own head, despite sharing a house with several other adults, the world's cutest 4 month old baby, and 2 raucous dogs.... alone in a crowd, withdrawn, and somber.  Very, very somber.

Its disheartening to find, that when you thought you were done dealing with certain issues in your own life, your past... that old bones had been put to rest, the grim reality is...you have not.  Worse yet, the dawning realization that you will probably never be fully able to put them to sleep.

In addition to facing that sobering reality, is the awareness that every time the closet filled with old bones is re-opened, I find myself filled with a fresh hatred and bitterness toward another person whose life seems to have continued on, unscathed.
And when those feeling rise up within me, I despise myself all the more.  I have struggled hard my entire life to forgive those who have hurt and wounded, not only me, but those I love and care for.  But look, here I am again, re-living once more, wretched, hate-filled emotions and the desire for revenge.  That horrible feeling that I can NEVER be happy, until I know for certain that another person has suffered, and is suffering as much as I am.

And that makes me loathe myself all the more.

I am finding that all those comforting, trite little sayings regarding bitterness and unforgiveness are not necessarily fact.  While I agree wholeheartedly that holding bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart will eventually poison my entire being, I am finding that I can indeed be enslaved by the unforgiveness of another.

That withholding of grace, that refusal or inability to move on, to truly forgive, keeps me chained to that closet door, the one filled with old bones, with some of them still in the process of decay...their putrefying scent still having the ability to poison my day to day existence.

I try to find comfort for my wretched soul in all the same places that I so often recommend to others in need of encouragement and grace, and a fresh perspective.  But for some reason, I find none.  Clearly, my past is worse, my sins graver, and my very essence is not as worthy of consolation as those I offer it to.

If I could turn back time (nod to Cher), if there was really a time machine... I would gladly go back 10 years and make different choices, perhaps better ones, but then again, perhaps not.  Knowing my proclivity for making stupid mistakes, I am sure even when making different choices, I would still find some way to ruin my own life and at the very least, hurt or grievously offend those I care most about.

But there is no time machine.  There is no way to effect change by scrolling the clock hands backward.

I'm not quite sure where that leaves me. I suppose, the only place that makes any sense at all to me for now... The Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

I cannot change how others perceive me, I cannot change the past, I cannot kindle forgiveness and compassion in the heart of another, I cannot undo my wrong-doings or change their effect on others. I cannot be anyone other than who I am.
I somehow need to be able to truly accept these truths and move on.

 Courage to change the things I can,

Clearly, I need to fully embrace the first line above before I have any hope of making real change with the second line.  I am more and more aware as time goes on, the only thing I can really change is ME!!!  My thoughts, my actions, my opinions, my perceptions...

And wisdom to know the difference,

Now it gets really hard. That is really the crux of the whole thing, right there.  WISDOM to know the difference!  That to me, is wisdom of epic proportions and certainly nothing that I inherently possess.  So to receive that wisdom, I must turn to God, Who loves me unconditionally, Who forgives me fully and without prejudice, for all sins and mis-deeds, past-present-and future, and Who will give that gift of wisdom, liberally, to all who ask!

So in the meantime, while I'm waiting for even the strength to ask for Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom, I'll be hanging out right here in the Land of Melancholy.
I'm easy to spot... I'm the one trying her best to be invisible...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

No apologies, I LOVE the snow!

I got up this morning at my usual 5 AM, trudged sleepily out of the bedroom in search of the bathroom and coffee, (which I thankfully could smell already brewing. Thank you Mr. Coffee... I love you and our morning affair!)

As I passed the window, I realized it was snowing again. And it made me smile, inside at out. We already have about a foot on the ground from our first big snowstorm of the season, the day after Christmas, but more is welcomed, always welcomed by me. 
As contradictory as it may sound, snow on the outside, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy on the  inside.

 Most folks find it odd that I am so in love with the white stuff, given that I don't ski, snowmobile, or any of the Winter activities normally associated anxious anticipation of new fallen snow. Odder still, is the fact that I have Raynaud's Disease, which makes exposure to even the slightest amount of cold or chill intolerable for my hands and feet! Turns my appendages odd shades of blue, purplish red, and an odd shade of white. (None of which are in my red headed color palette, incidentally.)

In spite of it all though... I adore snow!  There is just something so cleansing and transforming about a crystalline, fresh fallen blanket of snow.  It takes the bleakness of the gray/brown landscape left behind by late fall and transfigures it into something absolutely magical.  Something splendidly, often breathtakingly beautiful.
Its as though the earth has been washed and made pure and innocent once again.  Even when Mother Nature unleashes her full fury in the form of heavy snow, wind, sleet and ice...the aftermath, is altogether lovely.

And there is something about all that snow on the outside that makes time spent in the warmth and coziness of the inside, all that much more enjoyable to me.  A crackling wood stove, delicious, hearty, comfort foods simmering away on the stove or baking in the oven, and my ever present pot of coffee. Life perfected in my mind.  
The separation of the two worlds, the one I just described and the icy realm outside, kept distanced by a few walls and mere panes of glass, leaves me in awe of Nature and  man's ingenuity.

Now that I make my home once again in my beloved Vermont, I wait with eager anticipation of snow... plenty of snow...lots of snow, as often as possible.  And I think perhaps this year, I will try to buy, barter or borrow a pair of  sturdy snow shoes and pile on as much Raynaud's proof gear as I can find, and head out, to trek through Winter's Wonderland! 
 Let it Snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Me? Really?

PTSD...Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, seems like its become almost a buzz word these days.
I have several family and friends who have been diagnosed with it, and at times, I am able to witness first hand, if I'm paying attention, the effect it has on their lives.
 But me? Hell no!  Even though I have been through many of the same traumas and life experiences that led to their diagnosis, that's them... not ME!
I am a strong woman, with a strong personality! I am on overcomer! I am a "cry me a river, build a bridge, and get over it" kinda gal!
Or so I thought.
Until the day before Thanksgiving this year.
Until my husband and I, and my beloved Ford truck had a near fatal, chance encounter with a deer while heading to Vermont to spend the holiday with family and friends.

The deer has no PTSD. She was dead upon impact.  Sorry deer. But not really.  We almost died because of your ridiculous need to explore the other side of the road at that particular moment. I love deer, I love animals of all kinds, always have. But not this one... this one I loathe with an almost psychopathic intensity.

For the first week or so after the accident, my nights were filled with horrible dreams and nightmares, re-living in dreadful slow motion the events of those moments of time as the truck left the paved road, headed down an embankment, became airborne and traveled approximately 75-100 feet through the air before finally hitting a tree.  That whole "slow motion" thing that happens during an actual event like that is bad enough, but re-living it night after night, complete with sounds, smells, and tastes; frame by agonizing frame is horrifying!

Because the accident totaled my truck, I have not had the opportunity to spend much time in a vehicle the past several weeks, and when I have, as a rule, I am a passenger.  I was a passenger the morning of the accident.

Being in a car with me in the driver's seat is stressful.  I am ever-watchful of the sides of the road, paying careful, immediate attention to anything that moves in my direct or peripheral vision... man, beast or vehicle.
I do okay. A bit white knuckled on the steering wheel, a few heart palpitations, and a heightened sense of awareness. All in all, nothing I can't handle with ease.
My being a passenger, however, does not even live in the same zip code as normal or okay. And its getting worse, not better. I am both perplexed and dismayed by what seems to me, a gross over reaction to this life event.  I have come to expect better of myself, but this time I cannot seem to get a grip on my very physical and emotional responses.

The day before yesterday, we headed to Vermont again for a job interview for my husband, and because it is the most expedient way to get from Point A to Point B, we were traveling the same route that we used the day of the accident.  Had I known the impact it would have on both of us, me especially, we would have chosen differently.

When we were within a few miles of "Ground Zero" my respiration became rapid and shallow.  "Get a grip, Cheryl", I mentally commanded myself. I noticed John's eyes begin to dart from one side of the road to the other.  Almost instinctively, we reached for each other's hands and held tightly.  My heart began to pound, breathing was nearly impossible, and I broke out in a cold, clammy sweat from head to toe.  When we actually passed the accident site itself, I burst into tears and started shaking all over. John was also a bit breathless and white-knuckled.  He asked repeatedly, "Are you alright?  Cheryl, baby, are you okay?"  All I could do for several minutes was nod and mumble "Mmm hmmm."

It took several more minutes, and stopping for a cup of coffee at a nearby convenience store, before my breathing was a bit more normal and I stopped shaking like a leaf. I was tempted to say "before I was alright", but that would have been a lie. I "appeared" to have regained my composure, but in reality, it was just a facade.  For the remainder of the 3 hour drive, I was quiet, restless, overly watchful and reactionary, and when I did speak, snappy.  Without even being aware of it, I was so rigid in my posture during the drive, that when we did stop for nature calls, or gas, I realized most of my joints were aching.
The ride home the following day was even worse, hard to imagine, but true.  I have become the world's WORST passenger.  I would never want to drive with me as a passenger.  My poor husband.

This needs to end.  It is completely out of character for me, and therefore, in my own mind, completely unacceptable.  Prior to this event, I loved traveling by car and having great adventures. Car trips are a big part of our lives in order to travel near, and sometimes far to rodeo events.
But I am lost without a solution.  As yet, I've had no success whatsoever in attempting to just "will" myself to get over it. So what am I supposed to do to regain any sense of normalcy when being a passenger in a car?  Does it heal over time? Do I need to buy a horse and buggy?  Should I ask a doctor about a small dose of anti-anxiety medication to take before riding in a car? For pete's sake, how the hell do I know? I've never been here before! I don't like the location, and I don't want to stay!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Where are you Christmas?

This year, more than any time in previous years, I feel a lot like little Cindy Lou  Who in "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas".

That bothers me a lot. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day has long been my very favorite time of year, almost for as long as I can remember, but this year feels so different.  Maybe its because we had a near fatal car crash the day before Thanksgiving, that almost took our lives, left me with a ridiculous case of PTSD, and did cost me a truck that I really loved. 
Sure, by most people's standards, it wasn't much of a truck, but it was mine, it was paid for, and it ran reliably.  Considering its enormous size and weight,  it was pretty decent on gas. It was that very same large mass (that gave it a less than desirable carbon footprint), that saved our lives that day.  
The large doe that caused the accident, was not impressed by the mammoth '97 Ford Explorer, trust me. R.I.P, Bambi's mother!  
And I now realize more than ever what that truck really was to me... my freedom and independence. 

For folks who have lived in rural areas most of their lives (without access to public transit, car pools, taxis, and such), they know exactly what I am talking about. And for the first time in my life since getting my license, I am without a vehicle, and without the ability to come and go as I please, to perform even the most mundane tasks.   Housebound...a prisoner in my own home, and I hate it.

Add to all that, the fact that we are moving back to Vermont, which is a wonderful thing because its where I really belong, where my family is, and where everything I love and hold dear as far as ideologies and lifestyle are concerned, resides.  That said, the impending move leaves me housebound in a house where chaos abounds! Boxes... fully packed, half packed, or in a state of limbo, are everywhere!
 The cabin no longer looks or feels like "me".  My walls are bare, my books are gone, and I feel almost like I spend my days imprisoned in someone else's house...someone else's messy house. As a result, my OCD sensors are on high alert 24/7!

Worst of all, due to the major move next week, there is no sign of Christmas here.  Outside or in.  No exterior illumination, that last year gave this tiny log cabin a "gingerbread house" appearance, no lights inside, no festive Christmas tree, festooned many with year's worth of treasured ornaments, no holiday baking and cooking, no presents wrapped or to be wrapped.  They have all been shipped to our new address in Vermont and await my arrival.  Sigh...

This year I live my pre-Christmas excitement vicariously through "oohhhing and aaaahhhhhing" over friends and family's preparations for the season as they are uploaded to Facebook.  I've realized I have become a "pics" addict, demanding friends and loved one share their photos, almost as soon as their snapped, so I can somehow feel a part of all that's going on outside these... four... walls.

But all of that said, those things are not the biggest culprit working hard to undermine and steal my Christmas Spirit.  Its Wall Street. Its corporate greed. Its Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Week, Last Minute Deals of a Lifetime, Last Chance Deals, Lay-A-Way, Buy Now Pay Later, Only 5 left Get It Before Its Gone Deals, and Americans who've been duped into buying into the whole pathetic mess; hook, line, and sinker. Those things, are the Grinch in my Christmas!

Being housebound this year, working from a home office which keeps me tied to Cyber America for many hours each day, and having a TV addict for a husband, has left me at the mercy of everything the corporate ad agencies have to throw at me and cram down my throat!  And I'm about ready to vomit!  I delete dozens and dozens of emails each day from companies offering me "one day only" pricing and "last minute deals"!  Really?  That's what you said yesterday... and the day before that...and the day before that.
Oops... excuse me, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

So what's the answer for me then? In a world gone mad with greed and consumerism, how do I deal on a personal level?  I live vicariously through the meaningful moments of other's celebrations, like some kind of "Christmas Voyeur", I listen to beautiful classical, instrumentals of carols and hymns (thank you Pandora and Spotify!), and I look forward to one week from today, when the move back to Vermont will be history, and I will be surrounded by family and friends, and we'll do Christmas the way we do it... slower, sweeter,  and gentler.  Full of traditions, old and new; and free, for the most part from the madness that has become Christmas in America. And for that, I am and will be very, very thankful.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What do you mean by opinionated?

If you don't know me well, you may be wondering, "Well, what is she so darned opinionated about?"  If you know me well, then you probably just chuckled when you saw the name of the blog and thought, "Ooh boy...here we go! Somebody grab her soap box before its too late!"

Either way, the short answer to that question is just about everything!

I have long said, I don't have "interests" or hobbies. I have passions!  If I don't care enough about a topic, issue, or what have you to have a passionate opinion, or belief about it, then the reality is, I probably don't care much about it at all.

So that you'll know what to expect, should you choose to visit from time to time, the following are some of the topics about which I have plenty of opinions to express, vent about, etc. (In no particular order)

Family, home schooling, public education, pregnancy, birth & breastfeeding, capitalism,  Organic living, vegetarianism  raw food, alternative health& natural healing, eating disorders, infidelity, child molestation, pedophiles, my affair with coffee, guilty pleasures, organic gardening, farming, "off the grid" living, child-rearing, the Zombie Apocalypse, spirituality, Christianity...oh my, the list could go on... and on... ad nauseum. But I won't, I just wanted you to know what to expect here.

Due to my current life situation, I spend tons of time alone, in a terribly quiet house with no one to talk to other than my Mini American Eskimo dog, and my Shi Tzu. Although they are both adored, and very intelligent, they are NOT brilliant conversationalists!  So I'm feeling this avenue of self expression should help keep me from going stir crazy.  A nagging voice inside whispers, " already too late!"