navel gazingEvery once in a while

I have to have a come-to-god talk with myself about perspective. December, only 2 days old, has started with unease and hurting, and I need to not indulge it.

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On Saturday, I “decorated” the store with lights and old fashioned ornaments. Our poor little Charlie Brown tree, dressed with a skirt of shedding, fake greenery. An unfortunately early thing that must be done for the holiday season. I untangled lights (I have a vague suspicion it might have been me who bundled them up in the closet last year, thinking “I’ll regret this”) and felt content and then immediately felt horrible for feeling happy and then immediately got mad at myself for feeling horrible. Come to god.

It’s not that I think you can make the choice to be happy and suddenly you won’t be depressed or down or just a little blue. That’s a super dangerous thing to believe or even to let yourself think. It’s actively harmful to people who have any sort of mental illness, this assumption that if they just tried hard enough they’d be ok — and deepens the stigma involved in asking for help. “If you tried harder, you wouldn’t need [therapy/medication/help].” Bull.

I was reading a kind of cheesy mystery last week because my brain needed fluff and literally could not handle Crime and Punishment (which opens with a really depressing interaction between protagonist and helpless, hapless alcoholic). My eyes got stuck: “Breathing in, breathing out, … at the start of another ordinary day?” Breathe in breathe out. A comforting idea when you feel a bit overwhelmed. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Anyway, the point is, I lectured myself about it being ok to be happy when the feeling comes. It’s ok to find joy in mundane things. Things feel a little bleak. I’m not super psyched about this month — the holidays, the new traditions that aren’t quite imprinted on my soul, the early nights — so I have to take joy where it comes. And there will be plenty of joy in this month, there always is. The joy of a family who loves you. The joy of a 3.5 year old, asking for all of Boston from Santa Claus. The joy of a dog who greets me every night like he was sure I was never coming home.

Breathe in. Breathe out.