17 July 2010

Taking a Beating

I'm emotionally downtrodden today.

There's an opening that is bound to hook in the readers, huh?

Even better, that's really kind of it. Downtrodden. Emotionally. That is my current state. Maddie and Riley tried my patience all afternoon yesterday and all day today, and I'm feeling not so great about how I handled it, but I think my reactions were more an indicator of my mood than their behavior was the cause of my current condition.

When I get short-tempered with the kids, I tend to get all Al-Anon on it and check for the HALTs: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. It's usually one of those four things. I always hope it's
Hungry or Tired because those feelings are actually quite easy to identify (although also easy to overlook) and relatively easy to fix. Yeah, sure, fixing Tired is an ongoing battle, but hey, there's always coffee. Hooray for the coffee!

Angry and Lonely are much harder to address. I'm not angry much anymore, really. Angry for me is lately most often caused by Hungry or Tired. Or is it Lonely? Is any of it Lonely? Is all of it Lonely?

Stupid Lonely. I seem to only recognize Lonely after the fact, sometimes years after the fact. Why was I an emotional wreck in the Peace Corps? I was totally fucking lonely all the time! Gold medal to the Peace Corps for being my ultimate example two nights in a row. A feeling of loneliness was one of the main things that drove me explore Al-Anon in the first place when living in Boston. I just felt off, incomplete, unfulfilled. Lonely. I guess.

And that's how I feel now, again. But it seems much less lonely in this moment. In this moment, it just feels transitional, liminal. Will I look back two years from now and picture myself on this summer evening, enjoying the late light, typing away in my pajamas, and think, "Damn fool woman, you sure were lonely back then."

If I am lonely, what to do? It's not like the kind of lonely that I experienced in Peace Corps or in Boston or perhaps now can be solved by inviting a friend over. I have lots of friends and I love them and they help me out in so many ways. If this is Lonely, this is a deeper Lonely, more of a kind of dissatisfaction and general malaise. There's no fixing this with a granola bar or a nap. There might not be any fixing it at all. In fact, I think I'm writing the same post now that I wrote last night, I'm just calling what I'm feeling something else, in which case it's just something to ride out and to be aware of and to control by seeking out what makes me feel at peace.

I think I'll cover all my bases by eating some ice cream and going to bed early, though. Can't hurt to try the quick fix.


Crash Course Widow said...

Don't forget to add wine to the list of quick-fix strategies. (Wait, though. With Al-Anon mentioned so many times in one post, perhaps alcohol isn't quite appropriate. ;o)

I go through spurts where I'm keenly aware of being lonely, or else being keenly aware that something isn't right but I'm not sure quite what. And in hindsight, the answer *was* a lot of, Dumb fool, of course you were lonely.

I haven't had many of those nights/moments since last fall. Maybe I've just been too busy and distracted, or else I've just become too accustomed to the aloneness and have totally normalized it. But sometimes I still have some angst-driven nights too, where I do notice the Lonely again.

Here's to hoping that the H and T took care of most of the malaise tonight. Hugs, my friend. And my phone line is always open, if you decide some night to go totally insane and repress your hatred of the telephone. ;o)

Joy said...

I don't comment here much. But I think the thing that feels like lonely to you is a thing every person comes to, particularly when life smooths out a bit and there are no big fires to put out. I think we have an emptiness that sometimes is about purpose, and sometimes is about belonging/connection and is probably different for different people. I think this is why some people turn to spirituality or religion or whatever. Regardless of what flavor, we seem to need to find the bigger thing to be part of - bigger than family or work or struggle. I'm always relieved when I decide that the space inside is meant to be, so that we look for our preferred kind of Bigger Thing. Otherwise I will decide that I am deficient, because i can't feel complete without it. Now I think feeling incomplete is just a part of my design, and while it's not always a nice feeling, it is part of my design.

Watercolor said...

I just ordered "48 Days to the Work you Love" because I do think what I do for a living should be something I am passionate about. Not just a job I like. But I should make my living doing something that feeds the fire in me.

Maybe find your fire?

Laurel said...

Hmm, your commenter Joy is very insightful, and the two of you together have given me something to think about.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

I really GET the Peace Corps = Loneliness thing.

While I have more company than I know what to do with now, I think being a single parent (and to twins!) must exaccerbate lonely feelings. Even I, who can get a respite from my husband in the evenings, feel lonely sometimes when I'm *alone* all day with just my kids. I think I want someone to understand just how hard it is (probably more so than I want an extra person in the house.)

Hmmm... It seems there is a difference between wanting physical company and needing commisseration.

Anonymous said...

I second Joy's comment. It was exactly what I was thinking. Could it be that you're experiencing the calm after the storm, your life is far more settled than it has been in many years, and because it's been so long that you've lived in the calm, you've forgotten that state and it feels uneasy and unnatural to you now?

CV said...

don't discount lonely. it is totally legit to feel lonely, even if you have your kids underfoot and your family close by. being a single parent is a lonely task sometimes.