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On the other side of things

twilight in southern california

And this too shall pass…

The fog lifted. I’m okay again. All better. Still tired, but happy. Light-hearted, even. Hopeful. The last three months have been so hard and I just hit a wall. I couldn’t take any more. Writing about it helped some. And then last Thursday Theo spent the day in the hospital (he’s totally fine – the story is in draft mode) and on Friday we found out the New York State Tax Board had placed a lien on our checking account because they found an error on our 2009 tax return. I read the letter from our bank, felt the old familiar wave of terror roll over me, and I started laughing. I thought life couldn’t get harder or more frustrating and then life took two huge dumps on me, two days in a row. It was the universe reminding me that it can always get worse. I stood in my kitchen laughing and I realized, I have to stop panicking and start taking care of myself and my family. So I left the letter on my kitchen table and I took a hot bath, shaved my legs for the first time in two weeks. Then I went bowling with friends. Because you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help anyone else.

Not to say that I’m not still a heaping wad of anxious anxiety sometimes. Case in point:

So dramatic, I know. I can’t help it. It’s in my genes. (For the record, I happen to quite like my job. It’s incompetence that makes me want to smash my own skull in.)

Despite public online whining, I am feeling much better. I’m really trying not to focus on things like the lady who gave me such a hard time at the bank or the software that crashed every fifteen minutes or [insert any myriad of first-world frustrations here]. Instead I’m trying to focus on things like this:

Also, I’m not on my period any more so that’s probably got a lot to do with how much better I feel. Mostly. There are things nagging at me, of course. (I’m looking at you, New York State Tax Board.) But I’m trying not to obsess. So I dance in the kitchen while I clean up after dinner, paint my fingernails after I fold the laundry, take a deep breath, and keep moving forward.

Housekeeping: an Update

Last month, I was the kind of person who had  a panic attack when I saw pet hair on the sofa. I used to have to vacuum the apartment and all of our furniture on a daily basis to avoid the panic attacks. A glob of toothpaste in the bathroom sink would make my stomach lurch. A coffee ring on the counter made my eyes itch. It was exhausting and it was awful.

Last week, I went five days, five whole days, without vacuuming. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. No one died. No one caught a disease. No one even really noticed. We all just lived with it. Yes, at the end of five days things were pretty hairy but I didn’t mind because I knew that in a few more days the whole apartment would be perfectly beautifully exquisitely sparkling clean.

I just don’t stress out about the chores anymore. I no longer feel like I have to drop everything I’m doing to clean the house right now because it’s getting dirty and ifitgetsdirtywewillalldie. Now I look at the hairy sofa, or the coffee rings in the kitchen sink, and smile because a wonderful lady is coming over on Monday and she’ll take care of it me.

And it’s not that I have completely let everything go and the poor woman has to clean a filthy rathole every other week. No, no. We’re still doing the dishes every day, wiping down the counters, doing the laundry, cleaning the litter box, putting away the crap that piles up daily, balancing the checkbook, cooking, grocery shopping, recycling, walking dogs, watering plants, vacuuming every few (five!) days or so, we’re still doing all that. But what we don’t get around to? That stuff doesn’t make me want to kill myself anymore.

Also? I’ve started spending a little time every day just … relaxing. I’ve been spending more time with family. We’re running again. I did yoga this month! Twice! Last week when the weather was warm, I spent a whole hour before sunset one night stretched out on the balcony, my head nestled between the little dogs in their bed, watching the birds at the feeder. It. was. heavenly. This woman has saved my life.