We all know how to cure what ails our worried souls. We all know how to sooth our panicked hearts and how to allay our fears and calm our tethered nerves. We know how to do these things because thanks to sappy over-sharing baby boomers (yes, I include myself) and the internet, they are everywhere, these quick and long fixes. And they work. Work wonders sometimes.
Right now I am stretched to the nines emotionally and have been for some time. I did not want to blog about the details and still don’t. I think anyone who knows me and who reads this blog knows that it is the sad and quickly changing stuff of my parents’ lives. But for now, that is all I will say on that subject. I am not prepared to divulge the details as many of the details are their own private business and, as a result, not mine alone to share.
What I will talk about is the getting on with it. These are the things I know. I know that frustration can be healed by breathing, stepping back, and seeing things from another point of view. I know that anger can be abated with meditation and chocolate and a glass of wine. And I know that my husband can make everything disappear with a gesture and a loving ear. This week my son responded to my cries on the phone with the most empathetic, “Mom, talk to me.” And I did. And like his father, he is a good listener. And he allowed my reservoir to drain a little. And my friends are there for me when I ask them to be, and sometimes when I don’t. I am an odd beast when stressed and sad. I tend to—very out of character for me—retreat and hide. Times like that, the only welcome guest outside of my husband is Doris Day. I wish Doris knew that she has served me better and more often than any guru could. She has been my rock. Not Hudson, mind you, but rock nonetheless.
The other great leveler in grasping times of need is the serenity prayer, which in itself is a wonder. I discovered years ago that the Twelve Steps are great rules for life in general, and they work for all things, not just addiction. And because I am not in any “program” a dear friend gave me a wonderful book called “The Twelve Steps For Everyone”. It has been a good friend. I know the serenity prayer is well known but I will repeat it here.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Great words. Perfect. True. And they work.
But ... what if I have accepted the things I cannot change, and I have forged ahead with blind and open minded courage to the things I can change, not only knowing the wisdom to differentiate, but appreciating that I am good at doing so.
And then ... what if you employ all these things and what if nothing works? What if I wake up every day thinking it’s going to be different and hoping we are going to take five steps forward and none back? What if every day I put on an optimist’s face and every day the steps retreat so far back, it makes the road itself harder and harder to see?
Well, I thought about this and I thought about this and I decided without a lick of a maudlin overtone that the fact is that there are some times in life that just have to be gotten through. Times when you are in the muck. And when you are in the muck, must you make mudpies? I don’t think so. I think sometimes you just have to be in the muck until it is dried up.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t diamonds to be grabbed and that’s exactly what I am doing. Desperately and voraciously I am grabbing at every damn diamond I can find. Some are hidden diamonds like the boy saying, “Mom, talk to me.” The gift of his openhearted time was diamond enough. Let alone that I got to drain the reservoir a little more. Then there was the dear friend who arrived, in her jammies, tea in hand, very early in the morning to just let me tell my tale. Then there was Barb with her emails saying, “I am here if you want to talk, I am here if you want to just know I am here. You don’t have to talk but I am here.” Then there was my husband, knowing how low I am and knowing how my daily workouts keep me sane, who showed up today with the first two seasons of Downton Abbey to watch in our home gym. Diamonds all!
And then there are the diamonds you have to seek out for yourself. The “Where’s Waldo?” of gleaming moments. The first crocus of the spring, the buds multiplying on the trees, the Facebook status a friend posts that makes you laugh, the fresh berries you bought today that tasted like July. The dogs who greet you every day like you have just won the Oscar, the lottery, and a lifetime supply of underwear. Am I being corny? Yes. Right now, corny looks lovely. Right now, “I’m as corny as Kansas in August.” Because to be corny is to be Doris Day. Doris who, on screen and in her real life, presented us the ultimate in cockeyed optimist and yet had muck up to her eyeballs in most of both. So what would Doris say? Que sera sera. What will be will be. And it may be muck sometimes.
It’s the keen eye in us that makes it the diamonds.
Barbara: Almost too emotional to respond, Deb. This was its own diamond to me. A diamond of blog-dom. A diamond of intimacy and heartfelt connection. A diamond of honesty. Yes, I do know it’s been tough on you and it’s heartbreaking for me to not be able to platitude and love it away. But such is life. And even if my own troubles and concerns aren’t of this tall, difficult order, you’ve given me enormous comfort today when I too am feeling down and out. It IS in the looking for diamonds amid the muck. That’s the only—ONLY—“trick” I’ve ever been able to absolutely count on in times of life-suckage. And all that aside, Deb: “I am here if you want to talk, I am here if you want to just know I am here. You don’t have to talk but I am here.”