Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Are You This Way? Different? Tell Me

When I wake up in the morning it takes me quite awhile to get myself to a place of anything resembling equanimity. EVERY MORNING of my life I wake up and feel as if I am the scum of the earth, a complete failure in every way. The clutter and dust and dirt around me is proof of this. If I were a halfway decent person I'd keep things tidier, cleaner. The garden that I love shouts at me that I have no idea what I'm doing out there and that I should have pulled those greens a month ago and planted another row of beans. I go to let the chickens out and note that the nests need cleaning which leads to my feelings of failure at not using the chicken poop as fertilizer the way I always thought I would.

Failure, failure, failure.

The simplest things which I may have planned for the day loom so large as to seem insurmountable. Anything which may lie outside my regular routine is something dreaded, no matter how much "fun" it should be. I find love notes from my husband and wonder why in the world he still cares about me. My thoughts become filled with "shoulds."
I should clean and mop the kitchen. I should plant those beans. I should go to a fucking museum or a movie once in awhile. I should call a friend. I should be a better wife. I should be a better mother to whichever child I feel I not been as attentive to as I should be. I should be a better friend. I should lose weight. I should get my sewing machine fixed and start sewing again. I should get Jack fixed. I should clean out my closets and throw away the things that I know without doubt I'll never wear again. I should answer letters. I should mail a gift I bought for a friend a month ago. I should take a walk. I should do crunches. I should, in fact, be a better person and a different person entirely.

This is my every morning routine.

I think this may be the way it is for many of us.

And yet, we do get up, we get out of bed, we face down the fears and the feelings of failure and the shoulds. We manage to do that which has seemed insurmountable. We make some headway on the clutter. We clean out the nests and we pull the greens and we plant the beans. We make the bed.
We do our best which is all that any of us can do although it is so tempting to compare ourselves to those who seem to accomplish everything that we feel we could never do and not only do they accomplish amazing things, they do it with grace.

I am about to go to town to hang out with my grandbaby mamas. Tonight I am going to go hear Owen sing at a school function. In an hour or so, I will have pulled myself at least partly out of my angst, my self-negativity. And I trust that this to be true because I have experienced it over and over again.

And tomorrow, I will start all over.

This is how it is for me. How is it for you? I would really like to know.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. It's been that way for me all my life. But now, at 65 (gawd!)it is changing just a little. Mostly this bit of change has come from the med's I take for bipolar and the fact that I have finally gotten my crazy family out of my life.
    Mind you, I said..just a little.
    Mostly it's the same way for me. It begins when I wake and is soundly confirmed when I drag myself to the bathroom to pee and then accidentally look in the mirror -omg

    I think you are so much stronger than you think you are and so much more normal than you think you. And you do a fucking-amazing job with what you have to work with xxx

  2. I'm not sure I feel all the "shoulds" that acutely. I'm certainly aware of them, but I also tell myself that it's completely unreasonable to expect everything to get done every day. I mean, there's only so much time! (For example, I can think of one important errand I've been meaning to do for days and I still haven't gotten around to it -- but I kind of need Dave's help so I'm using that as an excuse.)

    I for one am completely impressed with all the things you do every day, and I'm sure your husband is, too! I couldn't grow my own food the way you do, I couldn't cook the way you do, I certainly am not available to the same degree to support all my family members. (Since I live across the ocean, and believe me, there are lots of downsides to that.) You lead such a remarkable life, and you write about it so remarkably.

  3. Your description does indeed relate to some of the feelings I have as well...The sometimes huge sense of insufficiency can drag me down so hard as to completely wipe out all other aspects of a given day. I do not start my days at the low end, but often find the end of the day sagging horribly under me. I can lay in bed my brain talking to me about how I am all alone right here and now and just pulling out every single thing that needed doing or improving or something like that. It is all much worse when I have difficulties sleeping which I hope become less as I address a recently discovered severe vitamin d deficiency... And then again, some days I just travel through days happily bip-bip-bipping along seeing all the wonders and miracles and beauty. All while in my same limited environment, similar to your own with the yard and the garden and the yardbirds and the hardworking husband. My two kids are younger, and are wonderful beings and I love them so... Life is not just happiness said some wise oriental, or was it Yoda?! Thanks so much for articulating so well some of these challenges, Mary!Love from Vermont where the clouds are breaking up as I type this and the temps are said to be rising.

  4. I feel some of these feelings everyday. Obviously, today I should unpack, I won't. I need to brush the pool, wash some clothes and sheets. Clean out my closets for sure and the floors should be swept and mopped and very much more. I am still admiring the beautiful fresh eggs on my counter. Love Gail

  5. I just read this to Joey and he was shocked that you described his feelings about himself so closely. He says everyday he wakes up feeling like a failure because of what he should have accomplished by this time in his life. He is very touched by how your have similar struggles, he says he now feels less alone with these feelings of failure. He too, finds a reason to get through the day. Gail

  6. Every morning of my life. Mornings are hell for me and I think it is awfully mean of the gods to have put me in a job that starts at 7:00 a.m. When I wake up my stomach is a knot of anxiety and fear with the knowledge that most people have figured out this game of life and don't have these demons. I meet other people in the morning and they are... happy. They smile! I have so many people that tell me they love morning. Me? I curl up in a ball fighting back tears, contemplating calling in sick. But I am not sick. Just sick in my head and my soul and my spirit.

  7. Please stop shoulding on yourself. You set impossible standards for yourself. Does anyone or anything (man, children, cats, chicken, plant) ever not get what they need from you? No, you give and give and then give more. Don't be so hard on yourself. Cyber hugs

  8. I usually start by sweeping the floor. Better than vacuuming because sweeping helps me think. With that small accomplishment under my belt, I have a starting point. My energy doesn't come up until 10 am anyway, so better to save the harder stuff for after that. You do so much to help your family. You are an inspiration. Sending hugs. x0 N2

  9. I agree that you get up each day, stuff the painful feelings down in your pocket underneath the Kleenex and go on. Sometimes when you pull the Kleenex from your pocket the feelings spill out but you still go on. Some days the feelings seem far away and other days they loom too large but everyday they are there.

  10. Yeah, I do fuck all. I spend a lot of time in bed.

    A counsellor once suggested I change 'should' to 'could' and that was a good thing. All the failure talk is seductive negativity and we know the more we do it, the worse we feel and the less we'll actually get done. Is that why we do it? I dunno. Try to shout LALALA over it and do one little thing instead. And then give yourself a talking to about how proud of yourself for doing that thing. It's more productive and less self-indulgent in the long run, I find.

    Life is just hard and effortful for some of us. I marvel at the people who embrace hard work with ease and effectiveness.

  11. I'll be honest with you, Mary. The things you tell us about sometimes wear me out! You walk, you talk with old neighbors, you love on those grandbabies, and your kids, and their dad, and their friends, and your sweet hubby (who is just as lucky to have you as you are him!), you garden, you tend your chickens with love, you love a she-cat named Maurice, you give and give and give each and every day of your life! I know about feeling useless sometimes, but you are SO useful and worthy to SO many people! You deal with your demons and just keep on giving of yourself. You are awesomeness times a gazillion!

  12. I feel this way on days when life is calling me to get out of the house and requiring me to be in the world for whatever reason or good cause. I feel exactly this, and yet I get myself out of bed, as you do, and I get myself dressed (unless I have been able to justify canceling, which i confess happens more than it should) and I show up, I act like a normal human, because my parents in their wisdom planted the seed of responsibility deep inside me, and this helps override my true nature.

    i am sometimes at peace on days when i have a writing project, and i know what i am supposed to be doing with it, and i can spend my day immersed in getting it done. this can be a true escape from myself. but this only works on some days, when the harsh self talk in my brain, the army of "shoulds", gentles a bit. but otherwise, i know whereof you speak. intimately.

    and yet we go on.

    thank you for the honesty with which you write here, dear mary. you make so many of us feel less alone, less lost, less strange.

  13. While I know, and there are witnesses to the fact, that it wasn't always like this, you are basically describing my mornings. Well, apart from the chickens and grandchildren.
    There is nothing wrong about it. Seriously. This is how we do it. This is how it works out right now. You are doing a good job.

  14. I'm much more generous with myself and my self-talk. Otherwise I would be immobilized. I have too much to do, so it's one foot in front of the other. I have routines I follow closely because otherwise I get way too overwhelmed.

    I protect myself from people and things that sabotage me. I spin out about the stupidest things, so I don't allow myself to be tempted. Like, I can't go to regular grocery stores. They freak me out. The lights, the fake food, the aisles, the people. It's too much. So I buy everything from one small Whole Foods or on-line or farmers market.

    If I find a trigger, I avoid it. Much like avoiding Ziggy's triggers. Maybe that makes me weak, but I think otherwise - if I"m spending all my energies just trying to keep breathing through anxiety attacks from situations I don't need to be in, I can't do much else.

    And sometimes it takes me quite some time to handle novel situations, like months to get my windshield fixed, because it's just too much to do it all. But then I do, when I feel stronger. Because there are better days, which I have to remind myself of on the bad days.

    1. It hurts me how mean the things are that you say to yourself. You are such a loving, good person. If you ever doubt that just look at the fine children and grandchildren you created. I send you a big hug. Anon Suz

  15. Yep. "Should" is a dirty word. I remember a therapist telling me there was a difference between guilt and shame, and that "should" was (at least with me) associated with shame. It felt like a revelation.

  16. Well, I wake up, feed the dog, make a coffee, let the dog out, drink the coffee. Hope I poop because if I don't, it could be a long day. If I do, I'm happy. Then I walk the dog. Then I come home and try to fill another day in a life that has primarily been lived so that others can flourish and thrive. Martyr much? I clean things that other people wouldn't even think dirty, I binge watch tv shows, or I read a book or play candy crush til I run out of lives. Sometimes I'm so lonesome I could cry and yet other days, same circumstances, I find people tedious and needy. I frolic in my aloneness until the important people need me, the children, the husband, the grandkids, the dog. I'm Eleanor Rigby when I'm really deep in my head. I'm a Fort Holder-Downer when I'm not. Sometimes I feel like I'm wasting my life. That I should do more. Then other days I feel like all I'd do is DO.
    Life is hard.
    If we don't roll around in the mud of self pity every once in awhile, people might think we are uppity, what with our kept woman/lady of leisure lifestyles! HA.
    I always say, it takes a special kind of crazy to be a housewife. And Mary, you are my kind of crazy.
    Love your Self a little bit today. And you know as I do, that this feeling shall pass and gratitude will flow in, or anger, or sadness or whatever other dumb assed feelings we are cursed to have and you will hop on your surfboard and you will ride that shit to the shore like a boss.
    Like we do.

  17. My life got a lot better when i set a rule for myself that if i wouldn't let anyone get away with saying those words to my friends, then i couldn't get away with saying them to myself, either. You wouldn't let anyone yell at a friend that s/he should be tidier or should have done something better. Since you wouldn't say it to a friend, or let anyone else do so, why not try the rule that you can't say it to yourself, either?

  18. Just about every day, I think what you think.

    And I, too, agree with what Catrina said!

  19. I have a hard time getting out of bed. I love sleeping and I procrastinate a lot. Right now I am paralyzed by my insurance seeming to drop me and not getting it resolved when my surgery is Thursday. It will be cancelled and I won't be able to see and I will have to get new insurance and wait longer. It's just the type of thing that stops me in my tracks and I can't function. I get depressed and I isolate. I don't do nearly what I want and should do.

    You seem to accomplish so much each day. Beyond what Catrina wrote, you wash and sweep and clean and write and read and yes, give unendingly. Maybe it doesn't seem so to you. I'm curious what it is you want to accomplish beyond what you do?

  20. I just get up every day and do what I can. sometimes it's a lot, sometimes not. I do what I can or what I want and I don't worry about the rest.

  21. Oh my, Mary. This one spoke to me. It is the same for me, almost every day. My inner voice is stuck in the same loop, criticizing everything. It's hopeless, there's just too much to do. I'm trying to accept and chip away at the shoulds when I can.

    Those school programs? I cried at every one of them. So sweet. Enjoy.



Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.