When the Shadow of Me Returns

Last night my Other Me reappeared, the one of shadows. For, truly, that is where she always stands, lurking: the shadows of thoughts, the shadows of feelings, the shadows of anything I see or do.

It is she who colors a happy idea with doubt.

She deepens the uncertain edges of a frown in every smile.

The fear of possible failure to proposed activities? Also her.

I hadn’t seen her in a while; thought her to be gone. How little I knew. How I forgot. She does not ever go away, especially when I choose to ignore her instead of keep working to repel her. Especially, when I want her.

Last night I felt her; nearer and nearer. And, like a fool, I let her come. I asked her to grow, expand, envelop, then smother. Anything, I thought, is better than what I feel.

Because the Shadow of Me does not feel.

As I settled beneath the apathy and self-pity that I invited in, I twitched a bit in discomfort. Some part of me recognized the old, unhealthy patterns. Something deep within, in a timid voice, whispered, “I don’t think we want this.”

“Do we?”

Yet, not until this morning did I notice the source of the rain. Standing –no- languishing morosely in depthless puddles I blamed anyone but her; anyone but me for bringing her. Like a fool; I cursed the weatherman, the water, the sky, the mud. I failed to name the shadowed storm. It is Depression. And it is not what I needed.

Because, as familiar as Depression is, it is not a good solution.

As easy a solution as Depression appears, its fallout is more difficult to clean up than actual resolution.

But who wants to stand and face her troubles when Depression promises otherwise? I can tell you: not me. No, I chose fear. I chose to see My Shadow’s effects: small rocks on the trail ahead made to look like looming boulders; a few grumpy observations from my companion augmented to devastating predictions against success.

So I turned back.

Rappelled to our base camp of years ago.

And sat outside the tent, in the rain.

I’m still there, you see, but have shifted a bit. My seat felt somewhat wet so I moved to a less-muddy patch. Still depressed. It’s a new day, though; I can see the pervasive grayness is a lighter shade.

And, no, I’m not ready to climb again. ‘Tis a daunting thought.

I think I’ll start with an umbrella. From there, I just might gain the perspective I need to change into dry clothes and eat some rations. We’ll see.

How Expensive is This Happiness Thing?

They say that money can’t buy happiness, but I only halfway agree.

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True; money doesn’t directly purchase a meaningful relationship with another person, a healthy child who grows up to support and love you, the satisfaction of completing a challenging job, nor creating something with your own hands.

It does pay for the braces, beauty products, restaurant food, cell phones, wedding, new spouse’s parents’ costs, anniversaries, random presents, midlife marriage counseling, throw pillows, curtains, rediscovery vacations, and all the ending of life costs -that facilitate a meaningful relationship with another person.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

think I’m saying money is necessary for happiness. You can’t be happy with no money to speak of or not enough for your needs. Heck, life’s difficult with not enough to cover the cost of a few wants, too.

What about a couple who really wants to have a child, yet can’t afford expensive IVF treatments or adoption? Or that retired guy who just wants a place to live amongst ever-rising house prices? Or the kids who grow up with terrible friends in a bad neighborhood because the parents worked two jobs, put them in the local (awful) daycare, could not pay for sports programs, and felt too depressed themselves to listen to their children’s needs?

Are they happy?

I know, I know. Mr. Optimist says they could be. They could find their happy place even in a sad, little, dark corner of the world in which they sit with rising medical costs for a genetic disease that prevents them from working so they can’t even buy decent housing and food nor meet anyone who wants to be friends.

…That may have been Sadness talking.

To play my own devil’s advocate, the reverse of my argument may also be true. I mean, I have enough money. I live a really cushy life compared to most people in the world. Yet, I’m not happy. A good chunk of that is beating myself up for not being happy despite having such an easy life, but we might want to get into that in another post.

I believe my point is that money is essential for happiness. One needs to spend it in the right way and with the right attitude, but cannot be happy without it.

What do you think?

—————

Think about it and let me know. For now, here’s my previous week, free of charge:
Wednesday, January 23: Several helpful friends helped solve whodunit in “It’s All a Mystery.”
Thursday, January 24: “The Cure for Depression: Connect with a Human,” the first tip in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, January 25: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to D. Wallace Peach!
Saturday, January 26: Announced the tenth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. Enter it!
And, “Insided Out,” self-reflection at an internal, emotional level.
Sunday
, January 27: “Grandma’s Tears” for Carrot Ranch‘s flash fiction prompt.
Monday, January 28: A great quote from Len about love and marriage.
Tuesday, January 29: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty One.”
Also, “A Head Start on the Day?” at my mothering blog.
Wednesday, January 30: Today!

Insided Out

We watched Inside Out for our family movie night last week. Since then, my husband and I have had a lot to think about. He relates to Joy.

“I’m like Joy. I draw a circle and tell Sadness to stay inside it….” -Him

Me? I relate to Sadness, then Anger, then Fear. Sadness runs my little control panel, and tells Joy to keep it contained. We wouldn’t want things to get too happy, you know?

“Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.” -Sadness

I know it sounds depressing. You don’t really need to tell a depressing person that she’s depressing. The funny thing is that, when other people express similar sentiments, I put on a little mask and cheerleader demeanor (though not ever the outfit). “I’m sure that problem would be helped by _________” I say. “You’re not worthless,” I add. “Every human being has worth and I have seen you do amazing things.”

Inside, however, my coagulation of Sadangryscared says rotten things.

“There is no point to life and no one really likes you.” -Me

I’ve expressed the feeling that others are driving, that life is ho-hum, that I don’t know what to do and that I feel badly for feeling this way on top of it all. At rarer times; I have been a little happier and explained how to move on, get over oneself, and improve.

The problem is Depression and its insidious friend, Despair. When both of those are too lazy to try very hard, they kick Apathy over to sit on me. I can’t care about much with her sitting there.

…. -Apathy

See? She can’t even be bothered to construct a sentence, let alone give me the idea that I ought to try to try.

Why are things that way? Why can’t I try a little joy? It’s because when Joy is loose inside my mind, she’s a tad crazy. We’re talking toga party crazy. We’re talking repressed emotion crazy. She bounces off walls, says embarrassing things, and doesn’t really know how to respond to others’ comments. As Fear slowly gets a good grip on her arm to put her back over in her circle, she turns into Anxiety.

“Oh, no. What did I say? I should never have allowed myself to feel happy.” -Me again, or Joy as Anxiety

Like in the film, I believe my emotions need to get along better if I hope for more stability. My mind islands need a fusion; a cohesive Pangaea where all may play and get along.

After all, Riley’s mother’s dominant emotion is Sadness. She and the other eyeglass-wearing, ponytail-toting gals get along fine and don’t seem to be collapsing in crying heaps all over the place. I can aim for that, can’t I?

Until then, here’s a final message from Sadness:

“I’m too sad to walk. Just give me a few …hours.”

 

Raw Ramblings

My mouth says I’m fine as my pain twists the tone and you hear it in the release sometimes you ask no really what’s wrong but I can only say

Nothing that’s all I feel by choice empty my mind my feelings most especially my soul anything that might be there has been bled dry and I am a skin of a person fluttering in the wind of others’

Change never for me every day the same drudgery-papered walls never the front of the parade nor even the front of the convoy but always the crew walking just behind to scoop the waste of others’

Happiness a dream or conciliatory statement I say to defer inquiry but I can only be happy if you are because I am the receiver of broadcast emotions buffeting my over-sensitive antennae and I really just say I am so you’ll stop asking because

It’s easier this way you’ll leave me alone and that’s where I want to be I think and yet I do not because thinking would mean I am alive and I try and try to not be alive and thinking and feeling and

Hurting so much hurting but soon I will sleep after not sleeping because here in limbo I can handle it until I can’t but the between is best and where I can numb and look up at you and say

I’m fine.

Wilhelmina Winters, Fifty-Three

Wil instinctively moved forward and took the envelope from her father.  She turned it over, staring at the cursive on its front without comprehension. She looked up at her parents, and felt some alarm at their anxious expressions. She looked back down at her hand, reading her full name and previous address in its black ink.

Glancing one last time at the nervous couch occupants, Wil flipped the envelope over and carefully withdrew the contents: an official-feeling paper in trifold, and a softer group of notebook pages in creative fold.

Wil spread open the stiff page first, and skimmed it. Her brows creased together as she read, then raised in surprise. She sat down on the floor, and was lucky she didn’t miss.

The page was a darkly-copied birth certificate for Wilhelmina Winters. She had Wil’s birthday. She had Wil’s father. She was born in a hospital thirteen years previously. She was delivered by a Doctor Tolman. This Wilhelmina’s mother, however, was listed as Guinevere Greene.

The information seeped slowly into Wil’s brain, passing barriers of familiarity, trust, disbelief, consideration, then realization.

“What?!” Wil shouted. She stood again, and moved a step forward. Surprise and confusion were quickly followed by distrust, and she stopped. Looking up at her father, whose expression tightened, Wil confirmed her initial conclusions.

“Wil, honey,” Cynthia began. Wil turned blankly to her. “Please, come here.” She held out her arms to Wil, the IV tube dragging behind her. The pathetic image pulled at Wil’s heart.

Wil hesitated as her feelings churned. Her insides were an emotional soup, and someone kept raising ladles of different strains every few seconds. But her mother -the woman she thought of as mother- had only ever been loving and kind. The woman she knew as mother looked at her with such tender, searching, tear-bright eyes.

Tears formed in Wil’s own eyes. She rushed forward and accepted Cynthia’s embrace. She immediately burst into tears. Cynthia mother rocked slightly, smoothing Wil’s hair and crying gently.

Loud sniffling and soft crying echoed against a beeping IV machine in the small living room of Unit 2, Building 4. Wil and Cynthia held each other forever, as her father uncomfortably watched. Sighing, he rubbed the side of his face.

And waited.

 

Continued from Fifty-Two.
Keep reading to Fifty-Four.

Answer

Go ahead, Dear, cry it out. Spend your tears to pay off sadness. Think through all your sorrows, and tell me every pain.

I’m here, and I’m not leaving. I want to stay with you. I love you more than anything, and I’ll not move till I convince you.

We’ll sit here, by the door. We’re safe; behind it, in the dark. I’ll hold you close as you hold me, till the world is ready for you again.