Last week was a week from hell. It slammed me from the inside out, from the outside in, up, down and sideways. A bad week? That would’ve been doable. Anyone who saw me, spoke to me, texted me can attest to my emotional unraveling. Even if it was just in passing.
I didn’t want to write about it. I didn’t want to write about how sad I was. I didn’t want to think about the things I didn’t want to think about. About why I felt so sad. So unraveled. Or write about them.
But I can’t stop thinking about them.
Let’s just call it one of those weeks. Or one of those months. Or one of those years. We all have them. Things are good, and life feels wonderful and possible and then suddenly it doesn’t. Or maybe not suddenly. Maybe slowly and painfully. Maybe for no real reason, or maybe for the biggest reason of all.
Bad news. An ill family member. Too much work. Not enough work. A difficult child. A fight with a spouse. Or a friend.
The reasons don’t really matter. What matters is how we feel. And how we cope.
Tea. Copious cups of South African or real English caffeinated tea, milk, two sugars. Often it’s just the act of making it that helps me to feel better. When we moved into our house, my sister gave me six of the most perfect mugs that can be cradled in my two hands, like I’m holding a warm heart. I even take my perfect mug of tea in the car with me. My sister calls me crazy, with a smile. I call me surviving.
Music. Loud. Especially alone in the car. Where I can crank up the volume, lose myself in the rhythm and the lyrics. Sometimes the song squeezes my heart with every beat, and sometimes it just fills the silence. Old favorites – here’s where I admit that Alphaville’s Forever Young is my most loved song in the world, that nothing gets me like John Cusack blasting In Your Eyes from his boombox in Say Anything. But AltNation on satellite radio has the perfect mix of cutting edge and 21st century classic for someone who feels like she’s classically going over the edge. As I hold my warm heart-mug of tea listening to Cardiac Arrest, I’m coping. And I’ve ended up with quite the playlist. That counts for something.
Kids. Husband. Sister. Friends. Out-of-the-blue text from Canada. Extra kisses for mom, and squeezy hugs that say I’m here. The one who saw me not quite holding it together at pick-up and whispered in my ear that if there’s anything I need… Small town, big hearts.
And some days, I don’t cope. I’ve had a few of those. Eaten too little. Slept too much.
There are days when I totally lose perspective. When the new telephone system at the pediatrician’s office makes me so angry, I almost throw the phone on the floor. When going to the grocery store feels like climbing Mount Everest. The highest altitude I’ve ever been at is 11,000 feet – I don’t do well up there. The air is too thin. And cold. Makes me nauseous.
But then, I’ve also found perspective. I have friends who’ve lost brothers and parents just this past week, who’ve found out about life-threatening cancers, whose children have had surgery. Running out of milk is really nothing. It doesn’t take much to keep perspective. Yes, they are complicated, difficult days but the human spirit is strong, and I will survive (another great song!).
And that spirit and heart can wallow for so long before they need to feel useful, creative, worth something. Four banana breads worth. Because I cleaned out the freezer, and discovered 30 frozen bananas – no exaggeration. Sometimes I cope by cleaning (not often, circumstances are usually pretty dire) and by baking – which usually sounds like a great idea, and smells delicious, but in reality I’m regretting it as soon as I distractedly spill a cup of flour on the floor, and the eggs don’t crack cleanly into the bowl but drip onto the counter, and the kitchen looks like it was attacked by a tiny army of four-year-olds (he was helping), and why am I making four banana breads when I only have two pans, and now I have to clean up this mess… not coping!
Breathe. A little alt rock. Another cup of tea. Get perspective.
The worst week ever. But not writing about it is more of a cop-out than writing about it. Because that’s how I cope. If you’d like a cup of tea and a slice of yummy banana bread, I’m here.