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deep down

deep down, Tim

When He’s Gone

I’m empty.

My soul is depleted.

My brain is fuzzy and my sight is blurry on the edges.

It always goes like this when he’s gone.

 

The sounds around me are too loud.

My already thin skin becomes like paper.

I turn on the fire and layer up.

It’s cold when he’s gone.

 

Everybody talks too much.

I only want to hear his voice.

I need the quiet, but then I want him to fill it.

The nausea comes and I want to hide under a heavy blanket.

He needs to come home already.

I’m dying over here.

 

We are nearing the end of Tim’s six week business travel schedule.  Luckily, he’s been able to come home on the weekends, but it hasn’t been enough.

I need him around always and forever.  I get really low and depressed when he’s gone.  I end up feeling physically sick and I wander around in a daze.  Of course, I put on a smile and brave face for the boys.  They miss him almost as much as I do.  I’m honest with them about missing him, but I don’t let myself stay in bed all day like I feel like doing.  We go through all the normal motions, lunches packed, school drop off, chores, baseball practice and all the other regular stuff.  But it’s not the same.  We need him here with us.

I’ve written before about being depressed and how it cycles around here and there.  I also don’t mind it; it’s part of who I am.  Recently, I’m discovering that I’m proud of my sensitivity.  This essay said it much better than I ever could, but my propensity for ups and downs is a strength.  Yes, it can be a curse at times when I get steamrolled and taken over by emotions.  I’m not broken though; there is nothing to fix.  I’m working on reigning in the sensitivity super power, but I want to keep it there.  I want to ride the highs and lows proudly.

Even more importantly, I want to miss Tim terribly when he’s gone.  He is my life breath and I die when his absence overwhelms.  We are partners in our little life so I SHOULD feel it when half of me is missing.  I GET to have my one and only be someone whose void feels like a black hole.  I’ll take the depression if I get to have him.  I’ll take the lows if I know he’ll come home soon to lift me out.  Until then, I’ll be waiting here, suffering and feeling like everything is just too much.

Guess who also is a total grump when Tim's gone.

Guess who also is a total grump when Tim’s gone.

deep down

Kicking Myself When I’m Down

**Yesterday’s post was written at the beginning of last week.  Before the total spiral downward.  I didn’t even have the energy to post it because I was focusing on getting breaths of fresh air.

 

The last couple weeks have been rough.  Just typing that makes me feel horrible.  I have so much to be thankful for.  I have an amazingly supportive husband and two boys who are really fun to hang out with.  I am lucky enough to be in a position where I get to practice in the career of my choosing.  From the outside looking in, I have everything I have ever dreamed of and wanted.  I should be grateful for all that.  I am, but lately it has just been hard.  I can’t quite put my finger on one big culprit.  A whole bunch of things just keep popping up.

And then, to make things worse, I feel guilty when all the little things compound and everyday life isn’t enjoyable.  It’s like I’ve slapped the Universe in the face, and said, “Thanks for giving me everything but everyday life was hard last week.”  I don’t want anything more, the last couple weeks just felt yucky.  I didn’t feel good.  The deep down lows came and it seemed as if there would never be an end.  It felt like a dark, heavy, scratchy wool blanket was pushing down on my head.  I couldn’t breath and I couldn’t find the strength to throw it off.  It was suffocating.

Looking back on it, I see a lot of obvious contributing factors.  Tim was traveling for business.  I hate when he’s away.  When he’s home, it’s not like we are talking and interacting all the time, both of us would be so tired out if that were the case.  The comfort comes just knowing we’re home together.  It’s sitting in the same room, just feeling the animal warmth that is comforting.

The boys hate when Tim is gone too.  Both boys have default coping strategies when this happens.  Luke’s is turning up the obnoxious noises.  He pokes and prods, literally and figuratively.  Jack’s default is extra emotions and neediness.  He will sob in the shower and want to stay home with me all day rather than skipping happily off to school.  He gets extra lonely at night so he sleeps with me.  All of these behaviors are sweet and understandable.  It’s good that we all miss Tim, but it’s hard.

When I’m low, these coping strategies push me over the edge.  I don’t have any shred of patience.  We were in the car last week and the boys were each crunching on their snacks in the back seat.  I exploded, “If you can’t chew with your mouths closed, YOU DON’T GET TO EAT!!”  Whoops.  I had to apologize for that one later.  The boys understood that Mom slipped down into crazy town, but they were grateful for the apology.

Then Luke got sick so my unneedy one became understandably needy.  It was nice to lounge on the couch with him and hang out while Jack was off at school.  The fever-induced night terrors were hard though.  Watching my usually independent, strong boy become listless was hard.  Not getting any quiet alone time was hard.  Losing my patience was hard.  Realizing that I was being selfish and ungrateful was harder.

All these factors, along with multiple others kept kicking dirt in my eyes.  A concerning email from a teacher, neighborhood drama, stepping on the scale after missing a few days at the gym.  I should have known better than to subject myself to that last one. But when I’m low, there’s no logical emotional reasoning happening upstairs.  To top it all off, the dang dog got an extra itchy butt.  A large part of my days consisted of chasing her around the house with carpet cleaner in hand.

I know that all four of us are in an extremely lucky life position.  Since I stay at home, we don’t have to manipulate any crazy schedules when Tim travels.  The boys get to keep doing what they normally do each day and so do I.  Since we have Skype and phone calls and texting, we get to connect with Tim all day long.  It’s not the same though.  Being low sucks and then life throws more changes in the mix.

I was already feeling icky, then the feelings of being ungrateful made it worse.  It doesn’t make sense though.  Just because I have a great life, doesn’t mean I’m always going to have amazing sunshiny days.  I don’t want to pour more nastiness into my already dark jumbled brain.  But I felt guilty for not enjoying the extra mom-and-boys time.  I felt guilty for wanting to sleep in the bed alone without Jack’s hundred and fifteen degree body next to me all night.  I felt guilty for not being more appreciative of my whole life situation.

It’s a weird paradox.  I don’t want anything more.  I don’t want anything to change.  But I’m not sitting in awe of my life this week.  Other weeks I am, just not lately.  Last week my skin was crawling and I couldn’t make it stop.  There were good moments sure, but the cloud made it hard to find them.

Things are starting to look and feel better.  Now that the clouds have started to part, I know this won’t last forever and I’ve been able to be more purposeful about appreciating my time with the boys.  I’ve also been purposeful about carving out some self-care time, in the form of staying up late and getting lost in a book.  I’ve even been doing some purposeful breathing and meditation.  It’s all helped, but I still feel like I’m not fully back yet.  This is a part of me and I’m fine with it, but still, it’s hard sometimes.

There is value in being self critical.  I WAS being selfish and inward focused at times last week.  When the self criticizing becomes debilitating though, that is when I have to give myself a break.  When the inward focused thoughts come, I need to evaluate if they are valid.  Do I really need time for myself right now?  Will it make me healthier so I can be a better mom and wife?  Or am I just mad that outside forces have changed my routine?  Is this a time to give to others or a time to give to myself?  I know I don’t need to have happy skippy days everyday.  The real key to emotional health is not piling on the guilt and shame when I’m already down.

So I guess that’s the holy grail: being self critical while still being kind to yourself.  If you guys ever find that secret treasure, feel free to share some of that over my way.  I’d be so grateful, I promise.

Here is documentation of one of the bright spots in the week.  We were traveling back from Seattle and the boys were counting the little "waterfalls" coming down the mountains.  Each trickle of water counted as one point.  They had never been to see Snoqualmie Falls so I pulled off the highway and told them I had something to show them.  Luke informed me that this one counted for 15 points.

Here is documentation of one of the bright spots in the week. We were traveling back from Seattle (to visit Tim which was an even brighter spot) and the boys were counting the little “waterfalls” coming down the mountains. Each trickle of water counted as one point. They had never been to see Snoqualmie Falls so I pulled off the highway and told them I had something to show them. Luke informed me that this one counted for 15 points.

deep down

Ugly Focal Points

I dread my lady time that comes around every month.  I don’t really mind the physical aspect of it, it’s the mental and emotional side that’s brutal.  This was the main reason why I absolutely hated being pregnant.  I felt like someone highjacked my brain.

One week a month I don’t feel in control.  I don’t feel like myself.  Everything I touch seems to break open and I leave a trail of relational destruction in my wake.

This is a raw subject right now because I’m in the midst of “the week.”  I feel emotionally broken down.  I’ve had multiple red-faced, blubbering conversations with Tim.  These hurt and they are hard, but I’m realizing they may be necessary.  He’s so patient with me too.  He gets that this is a sensitive time so he just sits by my side and holds my hair while I emotionally puke.

I always dread this week but maybe it is an emotionally necessary time.  Maybe this is the time that I can’t hold it in anymore and shouldn’t hold it in anymore.  It’s a time where my walls can’t hide my feelings anymore.  It’s not an excuse to be rude or nasty, I still want to filter that, but maybe the rude and nasty are the actual walls.  Normally, I have other walls like clamming up or letting others steamroll over me.  Instead of letting this time be a positive mental awakening, I just replace it with uglier screens.  Maybe this is the time I’m supposed to do the hard work of self evaluation and promote my own self awareness. Maybe then my spew of garbage will slowly reduce its radius until there isn’t any more to spit out.

When I actually say out loud that I’m extremely irritable I gain a little more control over it.  Verbalizing it also helps me realize that I need to sometimes remove myself from the situation and spend a little time alone.  I also let my family know my emotional state so they know when to step in or out.  Alone time can be healing, but together time being honest with my people can be healthy too.  I need both.

If rudeness or nastiness are my walls during this time, what am I covering up?  I’m not sure yet.  I do know that it is healthy and beneficial to find out so I will keep searching.

During my balance poses in yoga I have found a trick to quickly get into position and stay there.  If I find a spot on the carpet or ceiling to focus on I am more successful in holding my balance.  If I glance away from that spot, I fall.  Since I do yoga at home, most of those focal points are a stain on the carpet or a scuff on the ceiling.  Sometimes I laugh and wonder how the boys managed to throw something up that high and with such force to create that dent in the ceiling.  The spots I focus on are dirty and they are things I should probably clean up or repair and paint over.  But they are my saving grace in keeping my balance.

Maybe my “week” is a dirty focal point.  On the surface it’s ugly.  And if I let it control me, I will say nasty things and hurt the ones I love the most.  Maybe I can get to a point where I look forward these times because I use them to let down my guard and soul search a bit.  Maybe it’s like the practice of yoga.  If I keep at it, I will get stronger physically and emotionally, but only if I put the hard work into it first.  This will only happen if I don’t build up my normal walls.  I need to find my balance in life so I am searching for those focal points.

We all need to find what helps us keep our balance.  What walls are we raising up?  What should we be focusing on?  Don’t always look for focal points in the clean, pretty, perfect things.  There are treasures and hope in the ugly stains.  In those, you may find your balance.

This is going to be hard for me this week though because everybody is chewing so loudly right now.  The splosh of teeth and gums and saliva is going to make my ears explode.  Everybody is doing this on purpose to irritate me!  Oh my gosh, now someone is picking at their teeth!  Steam is coming out of my ears and I’m trying to take some deep breaths.  Find the focal point, Lindsey, do the work, gain your balance and hold it!

What about you?  How do you find your balance in life?  How do you push through your emotionally raw times?