October 29, 2003
OK, so I'm sacrificing a lot of very worthy and wonderful Halloween backgrounds to use a webset that is blatantly springy, but you have to admit, that pig is just awesome. After having a week or so of still unexplained (well, largely unexplored due to time constraints and admittedly, partially explained) depression, I am feeling the need to reclaim my pig.
That probably sounds pretty obscure if you haven't been reading my journals for very long. The full story is here. After reading that, you can probably see that I was a little higher strung back then than I am now. As I read that, in some ways, it's hard to believe that it was only two years ago and in other ways, it seems like a lifetime ago. It was definitely a mindset ago. Last year had such a profound effect on how I view the world and myself that I can hardly get inside my head the way it was back then, much less the things that happened 10 or 20 years ago that are like a dream or a life someone told me about someone else having. I am grateful for all that brought me here, but it's hard to integrate all those different lives and people into what I consider to be me.
So the whole pig thing led me to collect unique and interesting pigs. I have a lot of them, many I've gotten as wonderful gifts. Anyway, if you've gone back to read the pig info above, you know what the pig represents to me, so I've decided to get a little more aggressive than I have been lately about making my pig happier and nurturing myself more. Somehow, I let the depression take me in a more martyrish place than I like to live, so I'm trying to come out of there and get my head extricated from my ass so I can live in a more peaceful and joyful place.
I think I've actually been off track since Eric lost his job on June 1st of this year. He was terribly excited because he felt it was green-lighting his own business, which was in the embryonic stage and I was terrified. That isn't my usual reaction to financial challenges any more, but the fear really had me in its grip. I worked hard to try and wiggle free, doing the "fake it til you can make it" routine and sometimes feeling that blessed assurance I used to be able to feel that everything would be fine, regardless of the route it takes to get there. I just felt frightened.
I think the fear never really let go of me, even for the few weeks Eric was able to return to work (which kept us from crashing for a little while). Once I started my weight management and health efforts about a month ago, I was fueled by the enthusiasm of not feeling so ill a lot of the time that it took a couple of weeks to come off of that high and start to experience some of the emotions that I'd been eating over. One of those is the fear of going back into extreme poverty and having to deal with all of the challenges that come with that again. We've never been wealthy people (Well, Eric has lived in a wealthy family. His family is quite well off in that cruise taking, wealthy-side-of-town living kind of way), in fact, have never even lived in such a way that we weren't stretching from payday to payday. We've never been able to want something and just go out and buy it beyond ice cream cones and a movie here and there and small things like that. I can't imagine that that's like. Actually, that's not true. I can imagine it and I'd really enjoy it. At least I can't see any reason why I wouldn't.
One thing I have learned through years and years of being poor, ranging from being thrilled that I found two potatoes under the sink to feed the kids because we had no other food (at worst) to just barely making it payday to payday (at best), is that while you have to accept responsibility for your financial situation and live within your means, you also have to let money issues and material standing exist separate and apart from who you really are, how you carry yourself, define yourself and present yourself to the world. There has to be developed an inner core of strength and identity that nothing can touch. I can't begin to tell you all the crap I had to go through, being banged against this wall and that wall (usually at about 50-60 mph) to figure that one out. I spent so much time just knowing I could never, ever be happy if Paul (my first husband, who I married twice and who left a total of 9 times over 20 years) went away. It hurt so much that I just knew the sun would never, ever come out again. I'd never, ever be happy if I was always fat. I'd never, ever be happy if I was always poor. Everything was so dramatic and fatalistic and definitive.
When you're in the middle of crisis, it's so hard to see through to the other side. It's like being thrown into the deep end of the pool, the water is pain and there's no way to see your way up or out of it. Where once I found it so offensive that the world didn't stop for my pain, the birds kept singing, the sun came up and set again, after a while, it turned into reassurance that like the sun rising and setting and the earth turning, my situation would progress as well, with or without me and the pain would fade and turn into something else. The sun really will come out again. After coming through some pretty heavy, painful times, I've started approaching the hard times with the philosophy of the Sarah McLachlan song: "Hold on, hold on to yourself, 'cause this is gonna hurt like hell..." It's like that horrible idea of going to the dentist yesterday. It was going to suck. It was going to be really, really hard for it not to suck, but then it would be over and life would go on. (Incidentally, after all that, the dentist was not able to see me and I had to go to "on call" for the next few days... so I've still not been seen).
I'm not one of these people who will tell you that there aren't pains from which there is no return. I don't know how I'd deal with pain like the death of a child or homelessness (although we've been thisclose, within hours, actually) or other extreme situations. Divorce in which I was totally cheated on and cuckolded, death of a parent, extreme poverty, single parenthood... those are things I've tackled. I wouldn't dare speculate how I'd handle myself in situations beyond that and I'm sure not going to offer platitudes about God having a plan and such which really aren't usually very comforting to hear in the height of extreme pain. What I can say is that no matter what you're feeling or experiencing, the world will turn, the sun will rise and set and other people who don't know you will go on with their lives. It's brutal, but it's true.
When and if you are able to establish who you are and what you stand for aside from the car that you drive, the house you live in, the balance in your bank account, the change in your pocket and the clothes that you wear, then nothing will be able to take that identity away from you. I lost sight of that for a while and didn't remember that the person I am at my core being is someone who is deeply wedded to faith and to trusting in the process. After I came out of my depression on Monday, I could feel that more deeply than I've ever felt it before. I feel like my body is vibrating with the assurance that all will be well, no matter where life guides us.
That's what I feed my pig.
So now, despite a number of things I'm being asked to release for the end of harvest when we burn away the fields, sterilizing the land to go to sleep for the winter and wake in the spring to plant again, I feel hopeful and eager for what is to come after the burning off. A lot of times in the past few weeks, I've felt almost breathless and paralyzed with fear. I guess it all just culminated this past weekend.
I'm grateful for the depression, which led me back to myself again. I'm also grateful that you folks are here for me to rant to about it.
I've got a good night planned with Georgia tonight. I'll tell you about it tomorrow. It should be quite a story.
Meanwhile, step outside and feel the Autumn in the air (unless you're in Southern California, in which case, try to avoid inhaling deeply). Say a prayer for the folks near the fires and see if you can take a quiet moment to get in touch with your true, core self. Not the part that reacts to everything that happens around you, but the self that is the progenitor of all that genuinely comes from you rather than just responding to external stimuli. See if you can find out who you really are, (not who someone tells you you are) what you have to offer the world and how you can find peace and happiness and security no matter what is going on externally. It sounds impossible, but it really is very simple once you get started and you get there faster than you expect. It's like the Delphi oracle says, "Once the deciding is done, the doing becomes effortless."
I'll be thinking of you. Keep your pig perky and happy.