My mother often offered the safe advice of “Never ask what’s next, because then you are asking for trouble.” With the way this year has been going, I try not to even think that because it would encourage what has been going on to show up in a double dose of weirdness. I thought, I had been making it through all this fairly well considering, but here lately, I’m not so sure.
My husband died almost four years ago. Over the course of that time, I have faced and dealt with many issues. Some alone, some with the help of my son, always with the understanding that God is with me. With each and every obstacle faced, I have felt stronger, better, more empowered.
I managed to get some much needed work done to the house. I replaced a vehicle that had been driven into the ground. I reclaimed the yard surrounding the house. I faced emotions that I never thought I would. I felt that I was walking through a forest filled with thick growth and was managing well. I thought I was passing a milestone point and that the canopy overhead that hid the light, would be opening.
Then I found, that maybe I had not gone as far as I thought. Maybe I have, but while distracted with patting myself on the back, I fell down an embankment of ‘you’re not finished growing yet’.
I am a Spring-Summer person. I love the seasons where the temperatures grow warmer, the flowers spring to life and the days are long. The heat simply an inconvenience that rolls off my back like the beads of sweat down my face. It is my happy time of year. Autumn, is a harbinger of the coming darkness and cold. Autumn with its brilliant dressage of colors and aromas, brief in pleasure but a bell tolling its own end.
I do not like the darkness of winter’s time. Yes, it is a season of rest and reset, important and needed, but it is also for me, a time of sadness. With a mind and body that miss the sun, it is in truth, a depressing time. As October of the year of insane happenings winds down, the sadness creeps in.
I have noticed recently that every night, as the hour grows late, my mind fills with dread. Even as the body has grown weary from the day’s activities, the mind rejects the idea of walking the few steps through the house to the bedroom. Even as the eyelids grow too heavy to remain open, the mind cries out to stay away from that much needed rest. There are no cognitive reasons readily available to explain why this is once again happening. I had faced it for months for that first year, but we are approaching year four of my widowhood.
Maybe, it is the acknowledgement that I have always suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD. In the past, there has always been a distraction. I had a husband, I had a job, I had more readily available ways to get out and distract myself. Because of so many things out of my control, none of those exist now.
Maybe, it is because of something I admitted before, I hunger for those long conversations. Topics are unimportant. It is the time spent conversing with others and the company, whether face to face, which is better, or over the phone.
Maybe, it is the stress of facing the unknown future. With no job, no money coming in, no special person to share concerns with and gain insightful advice, the mind works nonstop in the conscious and subconscious struggling to find answers.
I realize the list of reasons are endless, an infinite circle of possibilities that work on a loop. Each with branches of potential answers that reach out as tentacles into the darkness of what if and maybes.
Maybe, if my former job had not told me they would call me back, I would have found another by now.
Maybe, if my parents didn’t need me, I would have found other employment by now.
Maybe, if I wasn’t this age..
I doubt seriously that I am alone in the battle of maybe and what if. The demons that sit on our shoulder and whisper in our ear. The demons that slow or even prevent actions. The demons that create doubt and fear in our own abilities. That, in turn, creating the stress and depression that grows in our mind and effects our body. We crave and need rest, but fear the lack of control we have while sleeping. Where will our mind and demons take us during that time?
There are of course options to fight this. A friend reminded me of the use of Vitamin D supplements and a Sun Lamp that recreates the lost daylight. There is the deliberate act of distraction. Seek out ways to be more a part of things socially. During this time of Covid-19, it is important to do so in a way that is safe and respectful to those around you. Exercise mindfully. Find ways of self improvement. When we do things that we know are making us better in any way, we feel better about ourselves. Find your contentment in yourself. Remember, alone does not mean lonely. Within the time we are alone, we can find our inner strength. Do not allow the demon on your shoulder to tell you otherwise. Do not, under any circumstances use self medication. Substances that alter our mindset, that allow for escape, are nothing more than a trap that is at best difficult at worst impossible from which to escape.
As Autumn slides into Winter, as the time changes and the days grow short, I will face this once again. I have before, through the above mentioned methods and through fervent prayers. I will exorcise the demons again, and move forward on my journey. The embankment merely a detour to teach me one more lesson in life.