No Respite…For Anyone?

Do you remember when stores were CLOSED on New Year’s Day?  And Christmas Day.

I don’t mean a few stores, I mean everything except for a few gas stations, the odd pharmacy and the occasional restaurant.

The streets were near vacant because there was nowhere to go except to friends, family or nature.

Today I drove to a friend’s place.  It is New Year’s Day.  Parking lots had a noticeable amount of cars in them.  Not as bad as during the holiday frenzy and yet, still, a plentitude of cars dotting the asphalt landscape.

But surely I was mistaken!  Surely people aren’t actually shopping on New Year’s Day.

Nope.  That Winners had someone coming out of it.  Those other people were headed into some other store.

Yes, there were still places closed.  But it wasn’t like before.  It wasn’t a case that almost everyone had the day off except for near essential services (food, gas and medication).  Some number were still free from the work world, but many were not so lucky.  Not nearly enough of them.

The joy of these days was that the world rested.  In the midst of the silent season, we would go quiet, rest and celebrate that rest.

Now our culture has led us to strip ourselves of even that.  Despite the joy I take in the season, I see many nasty roads we are taking ourselves down.  This one in particular struck me painfully today.

We’re forgetting how to let ourselves rest, how to turn off, how to let go.  Despite broader understanding of the need for rest and respite, we are taking ever more steps towards a world where that is forgotten, devalued, tossed aside like three day old chicken bones that never saw the inside of a fridge.

Sadness.

~Abysmal Witch

Gorging

Had to do the grocery shopping today, part of life’s necessities, but I also do it as a once/week big shop and cook to see me through most of the week (too busy most days to worry about cooking and that pesky lunch thing!  just nicer to have leftovers to reheat).

I was in the grocery store and I wanted desperately to pick up something tasty and satisfying that I could gorge myself on.  That I could eat until the deepest parts of my soul were satisfied.  I wanted to slurp it up, shove it in my mouth, eat and eat and eat until utterly and completely satiated.

This is not a good feeling.

This is a feeling born of something deeper and nastier.

But I didn’t think about that.  I just wanted to satisfy the craving <little voice in back of head crying out “warning!  WARNING!!!”>.

Problem was, I’ve embraced a fiscally responsible world, with a budget for things like groceries, and I’ve been working on losing weight by being conscious of what I’m eating.

So everything I looked at either a) cost money I wasn’t willing to spend or b) wasn’t perfect enough for satisfying the gorge desire to warrant the calorie cost.

Went through the whole grocery store going, “hmmm?”  ummmm  “naaaahhh”.  It was a rather annoying and clearly pointless trip to the store.  I bought vegetables and meat for tonight’s dinner and this week’s lunches.  Cereal for breakfast.  A vitamin and fresh bandaids (Disney princess faeries this time hehehe).  No donut croissants, no bags of chips, no chocolate bar or candy or anything “bad” for me yet oh-so-tasty.

Why?  Because every temptation I picked up I did an internal test of “will this satisfy my need to gorge?  Enough so that it’s worth the calorie & financial cost?”  And the answer was always no.

And you know what happened when I got home?

I had my cereal breakfast for dinner (it was a weird and rather backwards day in many ways).  And I felt full.  Not utterly satisfied, but full and in no need of further food.  So much for the gorging desire.  A bowl of cereal filled me up to the “I don’t want to eat anymore right now” state.

This was an almost accidental handling of the emotional burning urge that underlied the gorging desire.

And I’m damn glad.

If I was really good I’d sit down with the feeling and get closer to understanding its source and its underlying need.  But instead, heading to bed, strangely satisfied with the results of my day.

Old Enemy

I’ve been quiet for awhile now, dear seekers, but not for lack of wanting to share with you.

No, the desire to share has been present and willing.  The rest of me has been too exhausted, too silent, too encased in on old enemy to be able to set fingers to keyboard.

No fascinating lead up, no drum roll, just a few last phrases before I reveal that cursed, hated name:  depression.

Yep, I am one of the <wait for google search> one in three suffering from major depression.  Oh, yippee.

As I said, he’s an old enemy (I’ve decided it’s male, at least today).  We’ve spent many years together, sometimes in a row, sometimes just a few months at a go.  Every now and again I go years without a visit.  I could have gone another couple before running into him again.

Truly.

But here I am.  Now I have the advantage of having gotten intimate with Depression in the past.  I know his quirks, his faves, his peeves, his bad habits and his favourite hang-outs.  Does it make any of this easier?

Objectively:  yes.  I know what to do to counteract at least some of the effects.  I may go down the road of anti-depressants until it resolves itself.  I will likely visit my therapist (been a couple of years, would be good to catch up).  I stay active, engaged with people, doing things that make me happy (ha! sorry, couldn’t resist mocking that statement).

Subjectively:  f*ck no.  Depression SUCKS!  It sucks happiness out of you, it sucks energy out of you, and yes, it sucks the soul right out of your being.  It comes in waves, but in the midst of a wave all I want to do is curl up in a ball and call in “f*ck you” to life.  I’m prone to irrational anger, miniscule tolerance to stupidity, and random crying fits.

I really hate crying.  Gives me headaches.

So, this is where I’ve been.  Wallowing.  Trying desperately not to wallow.  Then going to bed early because I’m too exhausted from the emotional drain to stay awake.

Yes, exhausted.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, depression is utterly exhausting.  It may seem that there’s no reason for such tiredness.  After all, depressed people don’t necessarily do a lot (that whole exhaustion thing) so why so tired?  I believe it’s the deep intensity of the emotion.  It drinks straight from your soul, taking all of your spiritual nutrients and leaving nothing for you to live off of.

And the most frustrating thing?

I feel that if I could just do a slight switch on my mental state.  Just look left instead of right, I could change my whole outlook and be a happy, healthy individual.

I can see the possibility of it dangling out of reach, like the gods are playing me like a kitten.  But even the kitten occasionally gets the yarn.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll catch the string.  But for tonight? I’m thinking another drink before going to bed.  But hey, at least I expressed myself via the blog, yes?  Let’s count that for a win!  😉

Addendum:  as always, this I’m sharing so that the information/idea/experience travels out into the cyber world that it may reach people who find it useful.  I have no need/desire for and am certainly not seeking sympathy.

For anyone who has gone through or is going through:  high five!  hmmm, okay, low five!

~Abysmal Witch

Funereal Thoughts and a postscript

Yesterday was the funeral for my kindred spirit.

It took place at a Lutheran church.  Funerals tend to make me think two things:

– how well does the person doing the service speak to the emotional needs of those present

– what rituals are done to help the people process the moment (with a postscript ponderation on Wiccan and Pagan rituals around death, or lack thereof)

These can be the same thing but not necessarily so.  Sometimes the service addresses the emotional component without ritual.  Sometimes the ritual is about a spiritual moment rather irrespective of the funeral.

Our clergy are not trained, not in the go to school, classroom, teacher way.  Many of us find our own way (though some are lucky to have guidance!).  We aren’t given pre-set forms on how to handle death for a congregation or psychological training for handling the emotional impact.  I’m not saying we can’t and aren’t good at it, just that we don’t have a formal training system to make sure we all get there with a measured level of competence.

We also don’t have pre-set rituals.  I mean, here we were, a crowd of probably 150 people lined up in the pews, sharing bound books with the order of the ceremony laid out, complete with hymn references and prayers.  Go to any Lutheran church and I’m betting it’s the same.  I also wouldn’t be surprised on similarities between different Christian sects.

Again, not a bad thing that we don’t have such hidebound fixed rituals.  😉  But I wonder if we will feel a lack in future years when more of us start passing on (an interesting part of being such a young religion).  There was such comfort for people in being able to share the familiar ritual.  It was a touch-stone, a grounding, a communal centering into the moment that would lay pathways to help make things just a little easier in the days to come.

I think I’d be the type to want a wake.  Sure, a eulogy would be nice, but I’d love for people to share stories about me (I don’t think there would be a lack of them), to remember me as I am in life.  I think I will contemplate the ritual part.  I may even get back to you with it.

Have you thought about it?  How you want those left behind to deal with your absence?  Have you told anyone so that it may actually happen?

~Abysmal Witch

 

As promised, a postscript (originally I was calling this a funny postscript, but as I wrote it up I realized that it wasn’t really funny, but I still found it interesting):

At 3 in the morning (why, oh why, is it always 3 in the morning for such things?) last night my cats woke me up with thunderous running on my balcony.  Since they’re only allowed out if they behave I pulled myself out of bed and called at them to come in.  They were more than a little slow at it but finally arrived and I shoved the door shut behind them.

That was when I noticed what had caused the delay.  The cause of the noise outside was a big, chubby moth that they’d been playing with.  They came inside but only after they’d grabbed the moth and carried it in with them.

I was heart-bursting proud at that moment that they’d listened to me.  (Following a command rather than just doing what they want was impressive for a pair of brattish cats, but doing so when there was a live creature involved was just this side of miraculous.)

It also struck me as funny given that of course they would have their own way in the end.

Abymsal Witch – Episode 5

Last night I did a ritual to say farewell to my friend.  I recorded a podcast episode right afterwards (so that I would remember what I had done) as I thought some of you might find such a ritual interesting and/or helpful someday.

Above is the altar (or part of it).  I think it’s pretty.  But then, candlelight makes most things lovely.  Following is a picture of the inside of the offering bowl (for a description of what is in it and what it was used for, you’ll need to listen to the podcast).

Sometimes we need to remember to not just drink from life, but sniff it, too.  Scent is a powerful tool, but that is a topic for another day.

Take care of yourselves, and those around you.

~Abysmal Witch

I lost a kindred spirit today.

Not long after I started working at my University, I made a phone call to our central finance department to try and fix some problem (the details of which are last in the annals of time…it has been over twelve years after all).  And that’s when I ‘met’ C.

C was wonderfully capable – he could fix or find someone to fix any problem that related at all to his world.  But that wasn’t the important part.

We didn’t meet in person for maybe a year.  Over the last twelve years we’ve probably met as many times in person though talked on the phone a bit more than that.  But that didn’t matter.

When we talked, we talked.  He had the most ridiculous stories.  I’m 93% sure they were all real (or is that I’m sure at least 93% of them were real?).  He was outrageous, funny, bright, and we would share work stories and home stories and opposite sex stories.  He threatened to do nasty things to my new car.  He was the ring-leader of his morning commute (he would do things like convince the newbie ((the same people rode the bus day in and day out)) that the goodies that someone had brought that day was a regular occurrence and convinced the newb to bring goodies their next time on that bus).

I’m shocked he was never brought up on sexual harassment charges.

But I guess that was ultimately due to his caring nature (though some of the things he said! lol).

About two months ago I heard that he was in the hospital with cancer.  He was in his early 50s, quite possibly going to take early retirement.  He’d had various physical difficulties over the years but he’d never let that stop him from living life.

I was going to visit him that weekend but my back acted up and I didn’t make it.  My own life took over and time passed.  And then I wasn’t sure he was still in the hospital, so I would have to call and check he was there before dropping in on him.

Today I learned that he died on Saturday.

I am so sad.  We weren’t close friends, but he was a kindred spirit and he is gone.  I regret that I never said a final ‘you nutcase!’ to him.  I could wallow in self-blame, ‘should’ on myself for not getting to the hospital as I intended.  But that is foolish.  I made the choices I made and he certainly would not blame me for it.

There are so many things I could focus on but there’s just one I want to say:

To all of my kindred spirits out there, whether I’ve met you in person or only online, whether we’re close friends or random acquaintances, whether we ever get the chance to spend much time together or not, I honour our kindred nature.

You rock 🙂

unnnnn Type 2 Zombie

It is important to recognize the different types of zombies.  Both to be sure to use the most effective method of slaughter or immobilization and also to recognize the first incipient signs of turning in you or your allies.

Type 2 is the post-long-day zombie.  Identifiable by the swollen eyes and slow, dragging movement.  Very similar to Type 1’s (the too-early-morning zombie) in the movement making it all the more important to pay attention to the small details.  The Type 2 will be emitting a scent reminiscent of quickly eaten lunch and may have a strong overtone of old coffee.

Type 2 zombies will also be sporting hair that looks like it was once combed, perhaps even coiffed, but has been dragged into disarray by the very events that turned it into the zombie.  Its clothes will have that same once professional quality that has been subsequently destroyed.

Thankfully Type 2’s are notoriously slow and disinclined towards movement of any sort, even in search of brains.  However, they appear to emanate a brain deadening zone for several feet around themselves.  Any human who fails to notice the presence of this zombie runs a strong risk of falling prey to this brain killing zone.  Once that happens the human will likely begin to turn into a Type 2.

Type 2’s are almost invariably encountered at the end of work days.  Be careful!  Our own tired state can exacerbate our vulnerability to the brain deadening zone.

Some recovery from the Type 2 zombie state has been reported.  However, this supposed miracle has never been reliably documented.

I hope this information will help to protect some of you from the ever increasing zombie hoarde.

So pack your ammo, keep your friends close and always remember rule #32:  enjoy the little things.

(Movie) Theater Etiquette: Time for a Manners Revolution?

A couple of weeks ago, I and three amigos headed off to see Wicked, the musical.  Which is fabulous, and I definitely recommend it.  But that is not the point of this post.

Sitting before the four of us were five friends.  Five head bopping, head turning, CELL PHONE USING, talking twenty-somethings.

Our post-show discussion covered many of the fabulous moments of the show (“the ‘guh’ is silent”, “not everyone can travel by bubble”, songs that were catchy as hell) and an analysis of the lack of manners in kids today.  It is funny to note that our ages range from early thirties to early forties.  So we’re not that old.  lol  I had the same experience in New York, at the plays I went to, people texting and using their cell phones, people talking constantly.

What happened to respecting the community of fellow theater goers?  What happened to respecting the ART of the show?  Why the hell would you spend over a hundred dollars for a ticket and then watch your cell, not the show?

Time passes and last night I and two amigos went to see X-men:  First Class.  Sitting beside me was a group of three or more friends (yes, twenty-somethings).  Not that long into the movie (which was really good, btw), the chick beside me pulls out her cell phone.

I really hate cell phones in theaters.  I don’t care if you think you’re hiding the light from your screen.  You’re not.  I tell you now, I and many others can see it and it’s distracting and therefore offensive.

Without thinking I turn to her and state flatly, “no”.

She looks at me, startled, and covers the screen with her hand, not saying a word.

“I can still see it.”  My voice is quiet but I like to think there was a plank of steel in it.

She makes some odd jerky movement, turns it off, puts it in her purse, zippers that closed and puts it down.

During the movie she and her friends talked at regular 5-10 minute intervals, the third girl, farthest from me, was on her cell for so long I’m really surprised she bothered to spend the ten bucks for the movie.  What was the point?  She wasn’t watching it.  The talking continued, so did the texting or game playing.  At one point the girl beside me pulled out wet wipes and started giving herself an upper body bath (those things reek of citrus chemical smells).  She fidgeted; she was in and out of her purse constantly.  Towards the end she pulled out her cell phone again but she leaned far forward and covered it with her hair and body.  Since I really couldn’t see the light from it, I didn’t say anything.

Until the movie was over.

The lights came up and I turned to my neighbours and tell them very calmly that they needed to work on their movie etiquette.  That I’d been able to hear them talking throughout the movie, quite clearly.  That I could see their friend’s cell phone being used.  That it was all very distracting.

I was not rude.  I did not yell.  I commented on their actions, not them as people.

I felt like a parent.

They listened, they nodded and they apologized.

I nodded and turned back to my friends. My point was made.  There was no need to belabour it, to harp on them, or to work at making them feel bad (or wore, as the case may be).

What about you?  Do you feel like it is time for a manners revolution?  Is it time to speak up when people behave badly?  Instead of sitting there and trying to ignore the self-centered, immature, I-hope-to-gods-that-they-just-never-learned-better behaviours, why don’t we confront them, gently, with all of the communication grace of our maturity and work at teaching people what they’ve either never learned or have forgotten?

It’s not about fixing that moment in time.  It’s already been tarnished.  But by speaking up, by calling people on their actions, by being the consequence that bites them on the ass, maybe the next time they’ll behave better.  Maybe the next person sitting beside these girls at a movie theatre won’t even notice that they are there.

Maybe together we can help young souls come to a greater understanding of the consequences of their choices.

Are you with me?

The Power of Surprise Gifts (and Hockey)

So, yesterday was a Bad Day.  They happen.  But alas, philisophical equanimity rarely happens during Bad Days.

No, the Bad rules us, tearing us down, making us bitchy and cranky and ready to spew all of our anger into the perfect vessel:  hockey.

For those who missed it, or don’t care and so need the briefest reminder to understand the rest of this post, last night the Canucks (that would be Vancouver’s hockey team) won the Western Conference finals.  What that really means is that we’re now going to be in the Finals for the Stanley Cup.  That’s four wins until it’s ours for the first time.  WOOHOO!!  And last night was an absolutely freakingly marvelous game.

So I worked out some of my aggression last night via hockey.  But still was in a semi-bad mood today that was aggravated by coming down with some kind of bug (yes, I feel physically crappy right now).

I checked my mailbox (the physical one at work) and in it was an envelope.  I opened it and found a note from a co-worker, the one who had the fortune to be at Rogers Arena for the big game last night.  We’d been talking about hockey fandom and my desire for a jersey yesterday.

She hoped I’d enjoy a couple small souvenirs.

In the envelope was a poster/waybill from the event and a souvenir towel that was used at the game (we have this towel power tradition, where we wave white towels over our heads in celebration, usually of goals, see it in action on youtube).  Putting aside the wonderful mojo of that towel (it really was an intense game and a significant one), the power of the gift hit me with a heart-splitting sledgehammer.

It wasn’t expected.  This co-worker and I are friendly to each other, but not close in any sense.  So there was not even a hint of this gift possibility in my worldview.

It was a surprise, freely given, and damn near made me cry from the joy of it.  Her small gift changed my day.  I’m still sick, and still moody over a couple of things, but the balance has shifted and the world has a rosy, if overly hot, headachy, and nauseous glow.

Thank you, lovely lady, for making my day.

Bad days, Sad days

Note:  this post is NOT to elicit sympathy, concern or expressions of support (no, seriously, I appreciate any such thought but really don’t want or need to hear it).  I’m sharing because some days are bad days and there is something to be learned in them.

And yes, today is a bad day.  My stupid freakin back is acting up enough for me to be incapable of ignoring it or pretending its just a blip.  While I have held to a general state of calm and positive thinking, somedays fear surges up and all the horrible possibilities start doing a whirly twirly dance around me.  Bad days are really good for letting the fear in (the fear in this case residing in how long will this injury last, will it outlast the really good medical leave at work, will I ever get back to normal, etc.).

What’s interesting is that sadness also leaks out on days like this.  Is it just anger twisted inwards?  Fear turned sideways?  Or is it true sadness?

I honestly don’t know.  It’s just a sea of heart-break, waves slipping long and deep across my inner sands.  It wells up and subsides in a rhythm only it knows.

I don’t know what’s being released through this.  I can only accept it as part of myself that needs its own acknowledgement, its own space, its own share of my attention.

And what I’ve found in the past is that when deep sadness or pain is lurking just below consciousness, one of the best ways for me to finish drawing it to the surface and release it is to watch an emotionally intense movie.  There are some guarantee to make me cry scenes here and there, but let’s face it, you want a movie to wring you out, why not go with What Dreams May Come?  After all, almost everyone is dead within the first ten minutes and the remainder die by the end anyways 😀

We’ll see what else may come tonight.  Okay, anyone else think that sounded dirty?

~Abysmal Witch