Wow. Have you ever had one of those weeks (or two or three or forty in a row) where all of those cliché sayings like, “When it rains, it pours…” and “The shit’s hitting the fan” and “That which does not kill you makes you stronger” are appropriately running through your head?
Not the truly devastating stuff… not the real monsters like a death in the family, or a life threatening emergency or the end of a marriage. But mid-level crap and madness that are stress inducing and eat away hours of your sleep. The junk that makes you alternately lose your appetite and then eat a whole pizza at midnight like you are a 19-year-old college kid?
Stuff like that, peppered with ridiculous moments that seem to add insult to injury…since your brain is occupied with the mid-level madness, you don’t realize you are pointing the non-stick spray at your face and not the hot pan while making your kids’ breakfast (yes. It happened.) Or you begin dropping things constantly and repeatedly (never the car keys, always the iPhone). Then you bend over six times in a row before successfully picking it up, making you look like you are doing some ridiculous dance in the cross walk of Target while everyone waits for you.
The moments that kick up that stress level until soon, every word you utter brings tears to your eyes?
Well, that sums up my last few weeks. A stressful event happens, I freak out, I deal with it, I wake up the next day having talked myself down through a night of sleepless agonizing. I begin my day feeling much more stable and ready to carry on…and then something else happens. And slowly, I begin to unravel. I will try to get some advice from a friend about the day’s non-emergent, mid-level flavor of the day crisis and suddenly I am desperately wiping away insistent tears on the kids’ playground at school. It seems like a terrible over-reaction to the issue at hand…but the culmination of it all at once that threatens to take me down.
Having these experiences has seriously challenged my ability to write a Gratitude post. Something I committed to doing weekly and have been failing to meet the mark. I am drowning here, people. It’s damn hard to do…be grateful… when you feel like you are sinking. It seems impossible to get calm and just do what is necessary. I have cried to friends and family, I have yelled at my children and then laid by them in bed after they have slept and held them, trying to silently apologize for my crazy. I have waffled and negotiated and slammed lots of doors and taken angry walks late at night and drank two glasses of wine before 5 o’clock… I have sat at this computer and failed to conjure up one damn thing to write in my gratitude post. And then gave up and ate a cheese stick and a 5th cup of coffee. I am resisting.
But here’s what I know. I know gratitude is necessary. It is understanding that you already have the tools within you to save yourself. That when you are drowning, gratitude is the key to surviving. It’s not a life raft, it’s not a floatation device that will save you from water and calm you down. It’s your surrender.
Stop the panicked fight, roll over onto your back and float.
That is gratitude.
This morning I woke and laid in bed feeling incapable of facing another day of this week. I grabbed my phone and began the process of making us all late for school…again…by scrolling through Facebook instead of facing the day. And here is what I found, posted by my mom. Mom’s know.
So, here’s to happiness, people.
1. At the end of my monstrous Wednesday, I noticed a message from a long, lost friend from my past. She wrote me the most amazing message, thanking me for my blog…particularly as an ex-mormon woman willing to share my story. She is actively engaged in the LDS church and miserable, a place of misery I know well. She told me my writing meant something to her. She has no idea what her quick note of appreciation has done for me. I feel buoyed and motivated by knowing that someone is finding comfort in my decision to share my journey. Thank you, dear friend.
2. My beautiful Carly. She is such a gentle, calming presence in our family. This week I took her to a have her vision checked… and look what happened!
She may need some additional testing and treatment, but… one thing at a time. The glasses were the first step. And not only is she so amazingly adorable in them, she is so incredibly pumped about them, taking great care to clean them and put them away and remember them (let’s hope that responsibility lasts!)
3. Cutting up beautiful fabric and sewing it back together. My meditative practice. When I get deeply overwhelmed, I pull out a big pile of fabric, cut it up, and make a gift for someone. Connecting with Spirit by creating, soothing the waves of panic and stress I am experiencing.
4. Stella. She is so animated and happy right now. She is almost four, and four is the promised land. Terrible twos are terrible for the Poulin girls. All three. But the three-year old year at the Poulin house is one to be survived. It is EPIC in our house. The girls barely make it to four, I tell you. But then, they turn four. And oh, it is so good. We are almost there. Stella is in that adorable stage of chosing her own clothing and taking great pride in her outfit. I learned long ago that this independence and self-expression and control are much more important that making your kid look like a Gap ad. It was a hard, hard lesson, and Stella is reaping the benefits of being my third three-year old. Cuz not only do I not care, I love it. She is learning adorable songs in preschool, and comes home to perform them for me.
The video is only a fifteen seconds long, and cuts her off mid sentence because my phone died. Totally fitting for video taken in this ridiculously tough week. But it makes me smile.
5. I have a friend. I have lived here for a bit over a year, and I have more than one friend, yes. But I have the friend. The one that comes over on a Wednesday afternoon and shared a bottle of wine with me while I complained non-stop.
The one that I had to call in a panic and ask her to pick Stella up from school for me when I couldn’t get there.
The one that invited me over during bedtime hour so that I could escape bedtime at my house (sweet relief), and let me cry on her living room rug about losing a job I loved, and the mad, unfair world. Everyone needs one friend like that. I am so glad to know her.
And, she has adorable boys who love to come play with the girls and, yes, eat cake.
This is the best I have felt in weeks.