Monday, January 7, 2013

Being Kind To Myself

Deb: ‘Be kind to yourself’ has been my mantra this last period since Christmas. I have slipped into a rather rare depression resulting from the reality of some aspects of my life. I am, as I said before, a very happy person. Even in my deepest mourning or sadness, my body just wakes up and wants happy. I reach for happiness constantly, always willing to push aside anything ugly that has happened to me or anything ugly I have been a party to. I love to make amends and move on. And I am very good at it.

This sadness, which I will define as a building ennui resulting from the fact that a part of my life is changing and I am powerless to stop it, has grabbed a hold of me of late. This time though I did not fight it. At all. Not one little bit. There has been something strangely comforting about it. It felt like a thing I needed to go through. It is hanging around, like a friend keeping you company when you are sad, waiting with you until you fall asleep. And believe me, sleep I have been partaking of, most nights between ten and twelve hours. This is all about my parents and their current state. I cannot and will not go into details. Before you ask I will tell you that they are fine. I am fine too. I have crumbled under the weight of pressure and reality. I would normally want to deny this to myself and certainly not want to share it. But I am sharing it because I think it is important for me to realize that it is okay to not be the rock all the time. Human frailty can be a beautiful and important thing after all, both to our minds and to our hearts.

Barb has always said that one of the things she has admired about me is that I do not go there twice. We have talked about this before in the blog and I have been blissful and grateful at my ability to stay in the moment, feel the pain and resume joy. I had much joy during the holidays but I went there. Went there and stayed there. I handled it by not fighting it. I handled it by letting it take me where it wanted me to go. I move in slow motion doing things at a new pace. Christmas just came down yesterday. Very late for me. But I was enjoying the sparkling lights, the otherworldliness of the holidays, the heightened love and excitement. My sadness was capped off on New Year’s day when we learned that my Dad’s sister Jeanette had died. She had been suffering and she was not really in this world anymore and so it was somewhat a relief, albeit a painful one for her family. My parents wept for her, for all their long gone pals and families, and for the passage of time. My Dad’s family of ten siblings is now down to four. Two men, two women in their 80’s and 90’s. What a wonderful thing that is, right? I know it is.

Still, I sat in my sadness in that brand new year, knowing with full assuredness that the sadness would end, because I know who I am in reality and I know that this is simply a path that I had to go down. I went there without protest, tossing breadcrumbs along the way.

The crumbs that lead me home were the following. My dear darling friend Cheryl sent me a photo from a year ago with me and Dad on New Year’s Eve laughing our exact same laugh with the caption, “THIS is who you are!” My husband accepted my quiet journey with his usual gentle loving way, helping me, supporting me and cooking for me! Barbara and I had lunch with Souzan, a valued member of our blog family who happened to be in town, and her intelligent elegant open spirit gave me a huge boost. She has no idea how the timing of her visit contributed to my soul. Well, I guess she does now actually!

And just as the final decoration was coming down from the tree, the florist arrived with the most beautiful white orchid to grace our now toned-down surroundings. It was from my parents and the card said, “To the nicest, happiest couple we know. Love, Mom and Dad”. These were welcome breadcrumbs! So after a somewhat rough day yesterday, I decided to challenge myself today to something I have only ever done twice in my life. I decided to read a book in a day. Now to be honest it was only 200 pages, but to be frank, I feel like I have just conquered the world. The meaning of the book was deepened for me as it was a Christmas gift from a dear friend who is facing this week the second anniversary of her husband’s death, an anniversary that falls on our wedding anniversary. The book is about Paris and about love and about loss. It is called Paris A Love Story. As I relished every page, it reminded me of our own family trip to Paris when the boy was twelve. I thought of our darling friend Sean’a and her and her husband’s recent Christmas trip to Paris, the daily diaries of which were some of my favourite parts of the holidays. So I sat down to read this morning and, as I picked up the book, I saw a phrase I had scrawled on a piece of paper. It was the title of this blog that I had yet to write based on my behaviour towards life these last couple of weeks. It said, “Be tender with yourself”, which is a choice I made when I realized I was increasingly sad and overwhelmed.  A few pages into the book, the author, reeling from sadness, said she decided “to be kind to herself”. And there we are.

Breadcrumbs:





Barbara: Dear Deb, as you know, I’m well aware of what you’ve been going through and, because I didn’t know if you would talk about it here, have sketched out my own blog-post about depression and transformation—not just as a result of our few conversations about this, but because it seems to have become a recurring theme in many conversations I’ve been having of late. I think I will let your deeply-felt and conveyed words stand here today, as they are, and leave my thoughts on this for my next post. Because the other thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I no longer feel the need to earnestly cajole someone out of a slump. I respect your need to “go there” this time, and I respect your wisdom and intelligence in dealing with this as you must. I think it’s vital that you do what you are doing. I’m just here. Just so you know. Here.

48 comments:

  1. Deb, I honestly wish I knew what to say. I honestly want to offer you a great big hug, and this song Cry by the Holly Cole Trio.

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    1. Thanks Jo. I will be fine. It was only yesterday that I could write it down which I took as a good sign.

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  2. Dear Deb, I understand you "going there" this Christmas. Christmas/New Years seems to be a time many people reflect on their life and also compare it to past holiday seasons. I get what you are saying....this is a big one, one that cannot just be skimmed over with a smile and "everything is fine". A very difficult stage in life to watch for so many reasons. So big, that you have to go there for awhile and embrace it. And, your world becomes very small, like you brought a new baby home , your world is that small.
    My world is very small now too. I have learned that I have to be patient with myself and not put a time limit on how long I am going to stay in my small world of nature and the woods so that I can "really feel" this. It is too big to run away from this time. Better to gently embrace it a little bit every day and deal with that, rather than go on like life is normal and really crash later. You have a wonderful loving family that can support you in this time. Give yourself the time. You have wonderful friends who care so much for you, let them lend their shoulders and lean in to them. You have the support of this blog who adore you and your journeys, they will support you too. You are well loved and will find your feet again. xo

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  3. Mary-Jo, I have thought of you through this. You influenced the way I handled it more than you will know. I admired your "take" on this years holiday season given your circumstances. I loved your "easy does it" approach. Thank you.

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  4. Deb....you made me cry. I agree with Barb. Sometimes we just need to ride it out. Recently Ive been getting a lot of impulses lots of time to just....cry. And I do and it feels better. Doesnt it feel better to just..be. Not fighting against it. Just acknowledging that its there and being our own best friend. Ive had many situations of extreme negativity and most of the times FORTUNATELY I didnt have anyone to support me. It wasnt fortunate then...But it feels perfect now. Because it gave me a habit of being nice to myself, being there for myself. And I'm sooo proud of you for doing the same. I think everything you wrote in the post is the reason why I feel so connected to you. Its a perfect reflection of who I am.
    I cannot express how much I admire you Deb. Really. What you are doing is perfect. And ya know what? You dont have to deliberately let things go. ITS OK not to be happy all the time. Once you realize that. Youve got it! You know that you're a happy person. Happiness will find its way to you. You just have to let it. Just be. no matter what the emotion is....just be.......Ride it out baby! Ride it out!
    And you know that I'm here. *big hug* I'll always be here. Anytime you need me!! xoxo

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  5. Thank you Shalaka. Lovely words and feelings.

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  6. And I know you said Your Mom and Dad are fine but BIG HUGS TO THEM honey. BIG HUGS! I think about them all the time! Sending love and light to all of you!
    <3 xo

    And I wanted to request you something I will be honoured if I could meet them once when I come to Toronto. Can we arrange that? :)

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  7. Deb,i am sorry, for the loss in your family. Its never easy losing someone,but it sounds,like your husband and family, has been. Great support and thats great. Hugs for you deb,and hugs for your parents

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  8. I'm sorry to hear that you've been down, but I admire your way of handling it. The little bread crumbs of happiness to guide you home are very sweet and nourishing for the soul. It's good to be in the moment and let yourself feel the sad emotions when they come, and the happiness will be much sweeter when you make your way home to it. You have a good life, with kind and loving people around you, but you can still mourn the ones who've left and the times that have passed without denying the value of what you have now.
    I hope you're feeling better, when you're ready to, and that your bread crumbs are always there to lead you home.

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    1. Thank you Hannah. What a lovely way of putting it.

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  9. Deb, this is beautifully written. Made me tear up. Your love for your parents and family is inspiring. Perhaps we should all take the time to find the breadcrumbs in our lives. :)

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    1. That is very kind of you Holly. Thank you. Yes breadcrumbs are more than just that aren't they?

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  10. As our lives change we go through this periods. I know. I have an aging Mom as well and it fills my heart with sadness when I see her now. Let yourself be tender to you, read those books in a day and I am sure you will do what is needed. No one can make those decisions but you Deb.Big hugs to you.

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    1. Thank you Madge, and I hope your path with your own one is easy. I know it will be loving.

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  11. Deb (and Barb) -
    I have been there, many times, and I also know that it is important to honor your feelings and let them move through you. As the saying goes, what you resist persists, so no need to resist these natural feelings that are common to us all at one time or another. The important thing is not to get stuck there, which I feel confident you won't.

    Sending much love until your joy returns.

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    1. Thanks so much Hollye and you are so right-I won't get stuck. I never do. Your wishes mean a lot.

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  12. Deb -

    I love you. So much, so fiercely, so steadily.

    There's nothing I can really do for you in this (which guts me). And, I can't figure out any truth to say beyong, "I love you."

    So, just know that there's someone sitting in the mud beside you. Loving you.

    Love and hugs,
    Rigel

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    1. I do Rigel and I thank you so much for it.

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  13. Deb, my dear, dear friend, yours is a terribly difficult situation to manage and, as noted in your post, the reality of it is a heavy burden to bear. You've been strong for so long, it's no wonder you are at a low ebb. For what's it's worth, I believe you are doing exactly the right thing. You are letting your well-earned sadness come to call. You are living with it...not fighting it...for as you've intuited, resistance would truly be futile. You will, as you always do, see your way through but for now indulge what you feel. And likewise, if the occasion presents itself, find the comfort inherent in a tropical bloom on a cold, wintry day. Call or write if I can help in any way..Love you to bits, A

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    1. Perfect words Annette, as always. Thank you. You have already helped. But hell, I'll take more!

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  14. I feel for you and your family going through the resulting chaos of emotions that comes with such dramatic changes in life. I understand where you're coming from on this and have also faced a lot of changes within my family. I think I've also discovered the same idea behind your "breadcrumbs", I call them my moments of quiet.

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    1. Moments of quiet Erin. I love that. And thanks.

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  15. I've been there. We all have. And we all need to go there sometimes. But don't stay long. It always feels like you have to stay once you get there but that is no where near the truth. You will feel better soon and keep gaining your glow back. For now relish in the fact that we all care and are here for you.
    <3 <3 <3 So sorry for your loss and everything you've had to deal with of late Deb.

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    1. I won't stay long Kelly, I promise. Thanks.

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  16. Deb, as someone with an older parent. I understand. No matter how old we are they are still our parents. I have lived a crazy life. No matter what I wanted to do, my parents never same why, they always said ok. When I read the card your parents sent with the flowers. It made me think, your parents are not asking why they are telling you ok. It is one of the reasons I chose to move in with my dad. I know I have a life ahead of me, but I want to be there for my dad as he was there for me.

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    1. That's exactly it Heidi. I want to be there for them as they have always been for me. They could not go to the cemetery today as they cannot physically manage it. So Colin and I went to see my Aunt off on their behalf. It's those things I am so happy I can do for them. Thanks Heidi.

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    2. I can understand that, Deb. I go to my grandmother's mother's grave when I can to make sure it is being maintained. Unfortunately other family members do not like me (I have no clue why) and they are the ones that put the flowers and such on the stone. I don't dare change them myself, but I do make sure it looks nice. And I take a rose there on Mother's Day because my grandmother used to do that when she was able. The little things are important.

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    3. Steph I so agree. It is the little things.

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  17. How would you know what happiness is, if you don't experience sadness once in awhile. I like all the possibilities to grow and accept life and thus also hear others learning's. I give you (and to all who needs one) a warm virtual hug (and shoulder to cry).

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    1. How lovely Kasku, we are giving it right back to you.

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  18. Deb, I remember when we were able to solve all the problems of the day in the high school cafeteria, sitting with numerous friends and getting support from each other. There are days when those easier times would be so welcome. Just know that I hear what you are saying and hope that my thoughts and prayers for you will give you some solace.

    ~Carolyn~

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    1. Carolyn it's so true. Those were the days when we were all going to live forever weren't they? but you are right, we can only climb mountains out of valleys.

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  19. Right now I'm thinking of my Grandpa. He's 91, lives in Texas and for almost 2 years has had a very rapid decline of mental health. I see the toll it has taken on my mom; she can't be there as often. Most of the time she can't get a good phone conversation in. We all try to understand, but the truth is we don't. It's just been really hard on all of us. :/ But they're your family and it's a daughter's duty to try and be there as often as you can.

    I really like the term "breadcrumbs" for the good things. Perhaps if we all thought of the breadcrumbs, the world may be a happier place. Good thing for me to try and remember as I start my last semester of college tomorrow.

    The good news is that nothing is permanent. The bad news is that nothing is permanent.

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    1. So very true Kelly about life's permanence. And I am thinking about your Grandpa and your Mom and how this is affecting all of you so much. You KNOW that I understand.

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  20. Thanks for sharing Deb. Your ability not only to own your emotions but to share them here is amazing. There continues to be so much stigma around being down and depressed. And with more sharing about the tough time, the more able we are to support each other in those isolating moments. It is so hard to share when times are tough. So thank you!!

    Sending you love and healing energy. So sorry to hear about the passing of your aunt.

    You continue to inspire me. - Deb

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    1. Thanks Deb for the kind words. You are so right about the stigma attached to even admitting you are low on any level. I hope it's getting better though. My aunts funeral was today. It was lovely and we saw her off in lovely fashion. It was lovely to see three of the four remaining siblings together. Sadly my Uncle lives too far away to make the trip but one of his daughters was there so he was well represented.

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  21. Deb, first, {{{HUGS}}}, 'cause there can never be enough of those.

    I liken how you're feeling to a mourning period. Mourning the loss of time, of previous roles, of people... There are so many things that can fit this category. You can't move on until you're ready. The time will come when it does. I hope it's happening for you now, at least gradually.

    I find it difficult to know what is just a low and what is heading DOWN. It's like, "Wait, I'm on all these pills now. Why am I still getting sad?" I'd forgotten sadness can also be "normal." It's a matter of paying attention to my moods, paying attention to how long I'm down. I don't know if "gradual" is necessarily possible for me. Or maybe I just don't have the patience for it.

    Point is, make sure you start to head back up the slope to happy again. And let those close to you know if you might need more help to get there.

    Peace and strength to all of you.

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    1. Dawn I loved your words "I'd forgotten sadness can also be normal". Perfect. I feel your support and am so grateful for it.

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  22. Deb, I am so very sorry for the loss of a loved one. Please know that we are all here for you, no matter what. Share what you wish to share with us and we will listen (and read). I think that the small things, like reading a book in a day, help us deal with everything. Even the smallest acomplishment can brighten our days a little. I understand that. I've been trying to find little things like that to help me get through the tough time I'm dealing with. For me, it's been a combination of reading (which is nothing new) and watching movies that are on my shelves that I haven't even opened yet.
    Much love and peace to you, Deb. xoxo

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  23. Thanks Steph, I can see you can relate and have been finding breadcrumbs too. Reading yes-huge balm and I love to settle down to a good movie. So relaxing. So comforting. Thanks Steph.

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  24. Deb. I truly, really feel this. these are challenging times, and it sounds like it is a time of change in your own soul and reality. I think that quietly allowing ALL of your emotions will carry you THROUGH them. Everything in this world contains its opposite, and in order to fully experience something, you must acknowledge it all. but you're not alone........

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  25. Deb, so great. What a journey. I long for my parents every Christmas. When we were so far away this year, celebrating with my new family, I still think of them and wish to have time with them. then on our last night away at a big extended family dinner at the end of our journey, I heard that my dad's best friend from childhood, who was my uncle because he married my dad's sister, was failing. His body shutting down. I started to weep, but a moment later, my cousin told me he and his wife were expecting ( after a long time trying). I smiled and thought about the circle of life. Sad and Happy in the same minute. It is always okay to be just were you are in the circle.xoxoxo

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  26. Deb, I don't know what to say that the rest of these lovely ladies haven't already said (and said far better than I ever could), so I'll simply offer a big hug and a reminder that you are very, very loved...((((((((((Deb))))))))))

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  27. I'm sorry for what you and your friend have to go through.
    I personally have alot of experience of death in my family (Luckily everyone in *my* family is fine)
    But, nevertheless, we went through alot of tough times last year. I don't know how I can personally make you feel a little happier, but I can tell you some of the ways we coped.

    [Last year on Christmas my Mom put up a picture of her brother-who passed earlier that year- on the Christmas tree in a way to make it seem like he was always with us.]That was one of the MANY things she did to feel better.

    I personally just always stayed positive. I always try to look at the positives of life (can be a good and bad habit at times) Even when terrible things happen I look at the positives in my life and it seems to not be as terrible as it once was...
    My message to you, Deb, is to always think of the good in your life (Your husband, son, dogs, etc) whenever you are sad. Also, think how lucky you are to have such a great friend to help you through this.
    I didn't mean to go into alot of detail, but i didn't want to just leave a short comment saying something stupid like "Look on the bright-side when things get rough..." If someone told me that-even if they meant it in the best way possible- I would personally be kind of mad that they said/typed it.

    Hope you and Barb have a happy today, tomorrow, and everyday after. :)

    [On an unrelated note, I got a 100% on my English final today :D]

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  28. Souzan Rezai from Vancouver, BCJanuary 11, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Oh Deb, what a beautiful post. I want pour a glass of champagne and toast to you honouring yourself in such a beautiful way, but it's 10:20 a.m. here, and as I'm horribly sick with the flu, champagne might be out.
    So I will dedicate my cup of tea to you, Deb. To your courage to face the feelings, to feel the feelings, and 'go there'.
    I really love what you've written, speaking on behalf of myself and my own struggle with depression, I believe very strongly in being kind to yourself. I think you are doing more than you even know.
    I'm honoured to have been a part of your breadcrumbs, and honestly can't express how much meeting with you two has meant to me. (ME! unable to EXPRESS!that is how much I loved and needed it)

    Be well Deb, and like Barb said, I am here. We all are.

    so much love,

    Souz

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