Can I ask you a question? It’s not just me that is feeling rattled by “the second wave”, is it? I have been upbeat and practical about the pandemic all year, but these past couple of weeks here in England have been odd. Maybe it’s because we were away for a whole month that I have noticed the change, but it feels so much more unsettled. By unsettled, I am talking about people. I think I watched too much of the news last week, it left me anxious.
I grew up protected by my parents, especially by my father, who did not want me to be aware of the seriousness of his work. He wanted his little girl to keep her innocence and her joy. He wanted her to run free without fear. In fact, because he did not want me to see some of the troubles of the world, I spent much of my childhood with relatives while my father was posted to politically turbulent countries with unstable economies. Then when he thought I was old enough, he wanted me to grow up and take everything in the world very seriously. He steered me and trained me to take on a meaningful career in a field where he believed people could render change for the better. I still question the suddenness of his pushing me out of the family nest. I think he saw an opportunity and tried to push me beyond what I was ready for.
I ended up in a job that broke my spirit. Changing the world to make it a better place was the last thing on the minds of the people I worked with. I fled before I became like them.
Perhaps it was irresponsible of me, but I have tried not to let my mind become entangled with the complicated mess that this world is in. Instead I have floated like an innocent, joyful little girl. I have been able to run free without fear. Not entirely free. I have had so many friends who have been through huge trials. I have never been wholly immune to the serious degree of sadness and injustice that has infiltrated every corner of the globe and every layer of society. I also have felt shame and blame when I have been responsible for something. Guilt is one emotion that I have never known how to deal with on my own. It crushes me, especially when I don’t understand how what happened happened.
Yet, for the most part there is an exuberance, a joyful playful nature within me. Negative emotions are not my dominant mindset. Quite the opposite in fact. When I have been through low spells and through a period of depression in my mid-twenties, it was and still is bewildering for me because I know that inside I am that same innocent, carefree, joyful child my father protected, even when we were stationed in tense areas. At times when I have been overwhelmed with sadness I am totally lost and I have been quite dependent on people who care for me, to give me some practical suggestions.
Last week, it got to me. The world got to me. The pandemic, the upset amongst many normal English folk about their livelihoods as stricter social distancing restrictions effect work, the children who are malnourished during school holidays, the growing fear over looming Brexit. The news here covers enough of the American election for it to threaten my peace. My father is disturbed by the election. The dark grey English autumn, which is nothing like Fall in Vermont or Colorado. Then there were personal errors, misjudgments, miscommunications – I know you understand that because we all make mistakes. We all misunderstand even the people we love. It built up. I became sensitive and lost my way.
Ben is a truly wonderful man. He was concerned that I was overwhelmed. He gave me some advice on steps to protect myself, to protect me, the fun loving, carefree, joyful me. No watching or reading the news for a while. He will let me know anything that is important. He also told me I was overdoing it with running. Running every morning was a reaction to three weeks of quarantining, but he said I am exhausting myself. Ben is a steadying influence in my life. He is very balanced and able to remind me of where I need to be balanced. I have a wild spontaneous streak, like many adorable sex kittens, and he is helpful at keeping me from becoming a hazard to myself. Ben is looking after me in the same way my Daddy did when I was little. That’s a layer of his love I have become dependent on.
I know he is right. I was tired. I was overreacting to things. I was over dramatising things. I needed more rest and peace of mind. I am still me. I am still me. I am someone who just wants to skip and dance, flirt and frolic. The world may be a stinky place at the moment, but I am sure that change will come. Change for the better (and it won’t be lawyers who make that change). I cannot take on the responsibility for everything going on in the world. I do need to be allowed to turn off anxiety and just to breathe, to float freely without fear, to be joyful and fun-loving. That’s who I am. I had a bad week. I had a bad week. But I’m still me.
One bad week is not a reason to give up on someone, is it? I am still me, fun loving, carefree, joyful me. Ben is making sure of that. He has told me to drawer a line and forget the bad week that has now passed. Ben won’t let me punish myself for one bad week, and he says nobody else will.
Despite very little sleep last night, I am starting the week on an optimistic note. I am curled up on the sofa wearing snuggly socks and drinking coffee, hoping and wishing that this week will be happier. I have tremendous creative energy that is churning out poems, short fictional stories and is already working on our fourth novella, and I am often bursting to talk about my ideas with someone. I have three days of working from home ahead, and then Ben and I are taking a small vacation.