14:34 Finally sitting relaxing, at home sofa-side. Cuppa herb tea perched on a tool kit I’m using as table beside me. I am exhausted… and that means my warning bells are going off. When I am doing too much, not sleeping enough, that’s when the demons creep back in.
I went to bed far too late, must have been around 02:30 or later. I was compiling that blogroll post. It started as part of the cake post, but then I figured I should just add as many blogs as I could think of and I thought it would only take a few minutes but of course I got up in formatting details and decisions and then a bit of FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt about getting it wrong) and then I was nearly falling asleep and then I went to bed and then I couldn’t sleep until finally
I said the prayer:
dear ____ (tree, god, universe, etc)
I offer myself
to do with me
as you will
please take away my ego
so that I can better do your will.
take away my troubles
so that victory over them
may bear witness to those
i wish to help of your power
way of life.
(based on prayer in AA big book, p. 63)
Thank you, dear tree
And I went to sleep. And I woke up naturally, quite late, but still before the kids’ alarm went off. And I just lay there feeling so grateful to have a bed that was warm and to be alone in it. I didn’t meditate, I didn’t do anything, really; I just lay there, grateful.
Then I got up and together the kids I did the chores. That is some small hell but not too bad when I just resign myself to all the resistance. My reading-addicted son kept begging me for the e-reader password. I said the dishes need doing and firewood needs stocking. Meanwhile getting another son to vacuum. Of course it’s easier to do it myself and I quite enjoy tasks like those. But I do all this cat-herding for them, in hopes that they learn good habits. One day maybe they will understand.
I showered and got dressed for a change. Blue top pale grey blazer and dark jeans. I keep the clothes I’m going to wear in the shower room. Olive oil as moisturizer, then toothbrushing and a swipe of eyeshadow. I apply lipstick after getting in the van, usually while attaching my seat belt with the other hand.
Then it’s drop-off #1, park the van, normally walk around a lake but this time too much homework. Signing school papers (there are a lot of information slips permission slips for school outings, agreeing to make cakes to raise money and so on) and scanning them with my phone’s scanner app. I eat a banana, apple and orange for breakfast. The kids had already eaten at home.
Drop-off #2. Then park the van again, I don’t have much time before the meeting starts so I don’t bother going home. I pull out my laptop, almost finish the post, accidentally publish it, finish it some more. Check email. Close email. Too many new messages to deal with. Then I drive to the volunteer place where I work once a week or so. It’s an analysis meeting, where the staff and volunteers talk about how things are going, as a whole, throughout the practice. I haven’t had any jobs to do recently since the clients I usually help are done for now. So technically all I have to do at this meeting is listen. But it’s hard to just listen. I always want to advocate for the clients, because I once could have been one of the clients myself. So I say a bunch of stuff. Probably a lot more than folks want to hear.
I leave the meeting before it ends since I have to pick up the children for lunch. Lunch hours at school are 1.5 hours long here. We drive to the local shop and pick out some things to eat. As we walk in, there are two young men walking behind us. One of them makes rude noises. At first I think they’re being goofy but then they keep doing it. And at first, I think I must be imagining it but one of my sons starts to look confused and angry as well. I don’t have much patience for this kind of thing. I feel like I have to say something. But I’m trying to teach my boys that we don’t always have to say something, not when it isn’t the best option for a given situation.
I watch the young men make their way around the small store and then pass near again, I glare at them and realize one of them feels terribly ashamed. Of course it’s that poor guy that caught my glare, when it’s the other guy making all the bother. One of my boys, the e-reader addict who is perhaps most like me in some ways, is completely agitated. He can’t focus enough to pick out a sandwich, and neither can I. There is another rude noise. Finally, as the young men walk away again, I make the rude noise back, but louder, then look away and burst into silent laughter. The boys are all stunned into silence then collapse into silent giggles around me. The man’s cheeks flush a little red and they keep walking.
We make our ridiculous way to the front of the store to pay. I am in a state of total mirth, riding on a silly huge pink cloud.
At the front of the store a kind man with a huge load of groceries let us pass in front of him. I said no but he insisted. In front of him, now just in front of us, was a young woman who looked completely haggard and thin. She had a huge stroller with twin baby boys in it. Very young babies, maybe only a few months old. The one nearest us (they were one behind the other, both facing away from their mother) was crying a bit. I googled and gaggled and told him how cute he was and he showed his huge, gummy bear smile. This was turning into a wonderful time. Then the two men passed on ahead of us — turns out they were with the babies’ mother.
The cashier looked at the men warily. The men added their items to the pile that the mother had collected. The rude-noise man seemed to be mildly harassing the shame-faced man. I continued to babble at the baby and bicker with my own boys about no no and no to this-that-and-the-other last-minute candy item. The mother loaded the groceries under her baby buggy then paid for all the groceries using the keypad on the bank card device. The men carried a big box of groceries in front of her.
They walked to a car. The car was nondescript. The boys and I walked to our van. Our van is anything but nondescript. I am quite conscious of that fact. I tell the boys, we should always let karma take care of things. In an ideal world. But why can’t I follow that myself?
I hear yelling. It’s a very unusual sound in this small town. The yelling is coming from the rude-noise man. He is yelling at the other man. The woman is very busy, unloading groceries and babies and trying to fit strollers in. My heart is breaking for her. My god. My god. My god.
The boys and I head down to the lake. We relax, eating our lunch. I think of the mother with her two tiny babies, all she has to do before she herself can eat. I think of how thin and worn she looked.
It’s times like these that I just want to give up. The world is too hard and awful when you become aware of it.
But then, I can also choose to think of the healthy, smiling, kind man who let us pass in front of him. I can think of the people at the volunteer place where I sometimes work, and even though they are not perfect, as none of us are, they are certainly doing their best to make a difference, even though it’s really, really hard.
I wanted to help that woman. But with four kids of my own I didn’t know how. Even without four kids of my own I might not know how.
This prayer comes in handy for times like these:
* * *
God [/universe/beautiful Tree],
grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.
* * *
I dropped off the boys again, came home, folded one pile of laundry, put in another. Wiped the counters, swept the fireplace, started a fire to heat the house. It’s sunny now, but there was snow just a short while ago
* * *
Edit 2019-04-06, note to self: The important thing is to remember that we can only do what we can do. It is so tempting to just give up and number ourselves with wine and good times, but I think it’s a sign when life feels really awful that we are still on the right path… because we are noticing things. We maybe aren’t able, for whatever reason, to do something about those things right this minute, but we are allowing ourselves to become more aware again, and feeling bad is just a natural progression from that. We can just do what we can for now, which in my case, at this moment, is simply congratulating myself for staying on my own right path, and thanking myself for noticing the suffering of others even if I can’t immediately alleviate it, and understanding that only by going easy on myself in this moment, can I ever hope to help others in the future.
at the sobriety tree.
p.s. I changed the title because I typed that other one in before starting to write, thinking it was going to be just about a bunch of other annoying stuff that happened that day. But once I started typing, the truth came out… it made me very sad to the point of tears actually, but also was a big release to acknowledge it to myself. Do start typing, even if just privately, to yourself, fellow creative beings (i.e. all of you, including me, myself and I)… xo
Thank you for all of your support, means a huge lot to me ❤︎
Edit 2019-06-08: made this post private soon after publishing, because it felt so very personal, and the incident at the store disturbed me so much…. because I felt it was the tip of the iceberg. And I wasn’t sure if I had written it clearly. Made it public again now, though still not sure if it’s clear