The title of this post was borrowed from a song by Bleachers that I’m currently into, and the lyrics hit home. Life has been busy, crazy and stressful. I’ve been struggling just to make it through from one day to the next. Really struggling. For awhile there, each day seemed worse than the day before. My attitude regarding my circumstances (which are admittedly shitty) had deteriorated. I was having a difficult time even imagining a point at which things would not suck.
The trouble with having an attitude that miserable is that it tends to leak. Soon, those around you are almost as unhappy as you are. I suppose if you’re entirely self-absorbed, that wouldn’t matter. Happily for my family members, I am not quite that selfish. Eventually I am forced to pull my head from the dark place (yep) and acknowledge that my attitude as well as my behavior impacts others. I had a meltdown of sorts recently that involved screaming and crying and pretty much losing it completely… in front of one of my kids. Not good. I’m hoping it was a bottom of sorts, but regardless it was a wake- up call.
I had a friend who I described the experience to offer the opinion that my meltdown was “completely understandable.” Possibly. I am not overstating the awfulness of our circumstances, unfortunately. But here’s the thing: I am a mom. That comes first, always. How I respond to our circumstances – like it or not – will inform how my kids respond to them. Every day, they learn from me. And what would I like them to learn? I’m not suggesting it’s not okay to cry in front of your kids, nor am I suggesting that anyone should pretend that things are okay when they aren’t. But crying is one thing, and completely falling apart is another. I pray for strength for my kids, and that’s all well and good. But it’s up to me to illustrate it, too. I get to choose how I react to our circumstances. Feelings are one thing, behavior is another. I’ve acknowledged that things are tough, and I’m allowed to do that. That’s healthy. But there’s a point at which, in order to feel better, I need to move forward. I’m at that point.
I am grateful for the people I can turn to with anything, the people who will accept my depression and my craziness and my mood swings and who will listen, offer advice when warranted and continue to care about me even when I’m feeling less-than-lovable. Everyone needs someone who will tell you that you’re holding up surprisingly well, but just as important are the people to whom you can respond, “No, I’m really not.” I am lucky to have several people like that in my life, people who help me figure out how to keep it together when I’m falling apart, and who are willing to help pick up the pieces when I’ve actually come a bit unglued. People who convince me by their continued acceptance that maybe I’m not as out there as I think I am. Or maybe I am that out there, but that’s okay too. They like me anyway.
My husband and his entire family are stoic. Sometimes that outward appearance of calm is comforting, others it’s absolutely maddening. “Why aren’t you freaking out? Don’t you care that this is happening to us?” Stoicism can read as indifference. My entire family us the opposite of stoic. We’re dramatic, often histrionic. We yell and cry and occasionally throw things. We’re prone to tantrums and yes, breakdowns. The contrast is awkward. My husband’s stoicism during this time of intense stress sometimes leaves me feeling even more out of control. Never a good feeling.
The day after my meltdown, I woke up wanting to change. I didn’t immediately feel better, but I knew I wanted to feel different. Later, I found a post on Facebook that offered some concrete suggestions of how I could do that. That might sound cheesy, but here’s the link to the post:
Awesome, right? So many of the suggestions were directly applicable to my life. They really resonated. Does this mean I will wake up every day with a better attitude? Not necessarily. Change is not static. I need to decide every day to view things differently, and make my outlook as positive as I can manage. For myself (because feeling miserable day in and day out and believing things will never improve isn’t a very pleasant way to live) and for my family, especially my kids, because they are still learning how to respond to stress. I want them to learn how to respond in a healthy way. Hopefully, every time I feel I’m about to unravel I can shift my focus to that, and them. They are reason enough to want to get better. Today, I choose to try.