This is the time of year where I normally begin a slow descent into depression.
It took me quite a while to recognize this. Last year was the first time I put two and two together.
Every December I become very emotional. Very weepy. Prone to unwarranted and unexpected bouts of tears.
My little brother died over thirty years ago on December 16. It was 1985, so I guess this year makes it thirty-two years.
His birthday is December 2, 1982. He died when he was three years old. Three years and two weeks, to be exact.
For half of his life he had leukemia, which was what would ultimately kill him.
He died at home in my parents’ bed.
It was awful.
And while most of the bad memories have faded from my conscious thoughts, I think my body will never forget them.
And I think that’s why I so often end up really struggling in December and January.
Because my body and somewhere way deep down in my brain still remember what December was like in 1984 and 1985.
Having your baby brother die nine days before Christmas in your own home kind of makes a mark.
I’ve been feeling emotional already this year. Random things make me cry at any time.
Songs. TV shows. Facebook videos. Children’s books.
But this year the tears feel a little bit different.
I don’t know what’s happening to me, but this year the emotional tears feel happier and more gracious.
I think I’m going through some sort of mid-life crisis.
But it’s more like a mid-life wake up call. Or something.
I don’t know what it is exactly.
But what I do know is that I am 48 years old. I am most likely past the halfway point.
Number 7 is six years old and not a baby anymore.
That cliché it goes so fast is SO TRUE.
And something has happened inside of me just in the last week.
I have spent a large part of the past fifteen years or so being judgmental or defensive or insecure or angry.
I’ve been so angry in my marriage.
I’ve been angry when discussing politics.
I’ve been angry with my financial situation.
I’ve been defensive regarding, well, anything really.
I’ve had my feelings hurt by friends and colleagues and spent stupid amounts of time feeling insecure and beating myself up or trying to figure out why and trying to concoct the perfect scenario that would show them the error of their ways.
You know what I’ve realized as a result of all of this?
That it’s fucking exhausting.
Maybe quitting drinking has something to do with this.
Maybe I have some actual clarity now.
Maybe it’s that I’m older. And (hopefully) a little wiser.
Maybe it’s that I’m realizing that while my brother did not have the opportunity to enjoy so many things like being a parent or swimming in the ocean, I do.
Maybe now instead of sadness I feel more of an obligation to make the most of my time here in this body when there are those who aren’t so fortunate.
I don’t know what it is that’s causing this shift, but focusing on the good stuff is way more fun and waaaaay more rewarding (and way less tiring and debilitating) than focusing on the bad stuff.
I’ve been thinking about this and the media lately.
Weinstein. Spacey. Whoever else will emerge today.
And next year.
I realize people need to be called out on the fucked up shit they are doing.
I realize injustices must be dealt with.
But I want to put my energy into the good people.
Because being angry and negative and really fucking pissed all the time is wearing me down.
It’s not fun.
It’s not productive.
And I don’t believe that is my purpose on the planet.
Because these tears I’ve been experiencing recently aren’t tears of grief.
They are tears of gratitude. Appreciation. And even awe.
Lately rather than being consumed by anger and negativity, I’m more overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunities that life is presenting me with.
I look at my kids and I think to myself, I am so lucky to be their mother.
I know. This all sounds very kumbaya and granola and not at all like the Susie who writes posts entitled If My Kid Is Being An Asshole, I Want You To Tell Me.
But recent events have led me to believe that I have a purpose here beyond just bitching about the lack of money in our school budget or what time my kid’s practice was scheduled for or what event my kid is running in a cross country meet or the long list of other insignificant issues I so often allow myself to be driven by.
I believe we all have more of a purpose.
It’s in the letting go of the need to control all the things that I’ve come to this conclusion.
Something as simple as loading the dishwasher.
Do I need to be annoyed by the way the forks and knives are placed in the utensil holder?
What if, instead, I was just grateful that someone other than me actually put the goddamn forks in there?
Or what about the people at Costco who don’t return their shopping carts. God knows I’ve spent a decent amount of time being pissed about them.
Maybe I should just focus on the fact that I’m able to return mine. Maybe I should just be the person who yields to people in the parking lot and has patience and smiles at everyone.
Maybe instead of focusing on the Harvey Weinsteins of the Costco parking lot my time would be better — and more enjoyably — spent focusing on the people who go out of their way to return their carts!
And do I need to know what will happen tomorrow? Or next week? Do I need to know that everything is going to work according to the plan I have in my head?
What if I just trust that what needs to happen for me will happen?
I have not attended any AA meetings since I quit drinking. And I’m not really religious (although I am definitely becoming more spiritual).
But there is a saying in AA…
Let go and let God.
I suppose you could say let go and have faith.
Or let go and trust.
Or just let go.
Holding the reins very tightly puts your body and your brain under constant stress.
Consuming your brain with thoughts about other people, waiting for other people to get it, focusing on them and being repeatedly disappointed, angry and hurt when they don’t and then going back to the drawing board to come up with a different way to get them to see the light is not only exhausting.
And it stops you from seeing what your purpose is.
So I’m practicing letting go.
Oh, it’s so much less tiring to let go!
I have more room in my brain for my kids.
I am transitioning from a human doing to a human being.
And for the first time ever, I feel like I’m heading down the path I was meant to follow.