I’m struggling this week. I know what happened to my joy. It was taken by mental illness. Years of living with someone else’s self-loathing was not good for my self-esteem. He took my joy, so much so that when a therapist asks me to think about things I used to enjoy, I picture the 20-something me exploring the country, living in New York City, so open to adventures and knowledge, and I look at her and I don’t know who she is.
I don’t know who I am anymore.
Anyway, I’m not going to go into details, but I will say that I’m trying, I really am, and this is a good time to try. I’m on break, and the yoga studio is, too. The kids are in school, though, so I’m stuck in town. I still need to drive them, cook, clean, etc. I’m even finishing up an article with a co-author. But in the midst of daily responsibilities, I steal time.
On Sunday I gave my bedroom a fairly thorough cleaning. It feels fresh and open and peaceful. I do some yoga on the floor everyday. I listen to Yoga Nidra meditation cd’s. I went to the public library and pulled a tote-bag-full of poetry from the shelves. I listen to music and read poetry at odd moments. I read Man’s Search for Meaning and connected with it more than an Irish-Catholic girl from the suburbs should. I consider this my own little retreat, captured for an hour or two in the morning, and again in the evening. I started journaling some of the nastier memories that I won’t talk about here. I unearth difficult memories, then when I do a Yoga Nidra session, I’m able to face them, with peace. I feel safe. I feel like I’m making progress. But this is difficult. It’s heartbreaking. It’s crappy. It’s unavoidable.
Apparently, achieving our New Normal will involve much more than me learning how to use a power screwdriver. I need to heal from his illness, in addition to coping with his death. It’s a horrible thing to do, to face the fraught life of this man I mourn and loved. I’ve been so protective of him. I protected him in his life, and I’ve continued to after his death. That has taken its toll on me, because I haven’t fully faced what his illness did to me. I have to face it now, because I need to wrest myself away from his illness, which still lingers in my bones, in broken things around the house. in my lack of self-esteem, in the absence of any self-worth. I need to wring it out of me. I need to feel that I’m worthy and really believe it. That’s not navel-gazing, that’s the basic stuff of survival, for me and these children.
I don’t really want my joy back, but I’m starting to accept that I should want my joy back, and I need to fight for it. Time to get tough, in the gentlest, yogic, mindful way. But that’s strength, too.