“You can predict the future by looking at the past,” my first real love used to say.
He used this as a mantra in financially difficult times. He would declare with confidence and enthusiasm, “I’ve had money before and I’ll have money again!”
His logic, if there was any, was never clear to me, but when I get too sad for too long I remember what he said. I figure if I’ve been happy before then I’ll be happy again!
I know myself in pain, fatigue and sickness. I know myself in sadness, grief, confusion and shock. I know myself in crises, one after another. I know myself in defense of my dignity and integrity.
Fortunately, I also know myself in joy, peace and happiness, but if the truth was told, I haven’t been really happy since my son became ill when he was nineteen years old.
Depression had literally disabled me before my son’s illness, but I was managing and getting along. I had gone back to college hoping to finally finish about the same time my son began having medical problems. I withdrew for the second time, both times were medical withdrawals due to depression.
I know myself well in depression. Some days I think it’s no more than the way the sun shines that gets to me. Some days anyone in my shoes would be depressed. Then, there are times when I remember something that brings me down.
Recently, the memory of that awful relationship I was in not that long ago crept into my mind. I didn’t want to feel the memory. I didn’t want to feel the confusion that comes when I recall what I thought was love, only to remember that he said it was all a game.
The gloom that set in was soon interrupted after a brief phone conversation with a very good friend. I had called to ask him for a favor. He was able to help me, which relieved me of an hour-long trip.
It wasn’t his kindness alone that changed my mood, although I was certainly grateful for his help.
After telling me the favor I asked of him was no problem and something he could do quickly, he jokingly started pretending to be a ladies man. “Hey baby,” he tried to say, but we both laughed at how funny it sounded coming from him. He’s not the kind of man to call a woman Baby or Darling, or like one of my very southern friends, “Sugar,” who reserves a special name for the sweetest women, a group he says I fall into and calls me, “Sugar Bugger.”
My good friend who can’t even say, “Hey Baby,” without laughing and is not from the south thinks this is a very funny way to address women. On occasion, he enjoys playing this type of character. He knows it makes me laugh, which is why he does it.
He tried again, “Oh, baby. You’ll owe me. You’ll pay up –he had to pause trying not to laugh — you’ll pay in kisses! Chocolate kisses! I will exploit you to no end making you pay in chocolate kisses.”
We both laughed. I realized when we hung up the phone how much better I felt. The dark cloud was gone.
Having my friend joke about such a thing or me merely hearing the word, “exploited,” might have made me very sad or even physically sick six months or a year ago.
The joking around didn’t cause the dark cloud to rain misery down on me and instead brought only laughter. My friend’s silly imitation of this type of character made me see how lucky I am today not to be in a relationship where what he was joking about would be my reality. A peaceful feeling set in with me for the rest of the evening.
I feel lucky to have made it back to myself. What a long trip away it was.
This past summer brought healing to my heart in a new friendship with two sisters, both young and full of enthusiasm for the simple things in life. I laughed more that summer than I have in ten summers put together. My son laughed too and for the first time in years I started to see his smile when I snapped pictures of him.
One night we laughed so much and lost track of time. After midnight I realized the girls should have already gone home. They were grounded for a week. Secretly, I felt like a child. Not that I wanted them in trouble, but we all knew our time was innocent and laughter had gotten the better of us. Not so much a crime in the summertime.
The girls’ family is of a particular religion that has many rules, a few of which I unknowingly broke, like when I gave them both a birthday celebration. One of the parents was pretty upset and things changed after that. Nevertheless, our times together, especially when we all laughed so hard for hours that we would completely wear ourselves out, remains in my mind as a time of healing.
The first day I met the girls I was walking the dogs. I wasn’t long out of the bad relationship and I had two serious cuts on my fingers from an accident in the kitchen. They asked me how I was doing and I broke down in tears right there on the side of our road. I had to bend down and rest on my knee. I was completely taken by sadness. I cried while I told them all about my life, how hard it was and that’s when they asked if they could hold the dogs for me.
Most days after that they were here. Most days they walked my dogs for me. I cried a lot for the first month or so, but the laughter began healing my heart. Then when I took pictures and saw the familiar smile on my son’s face that I hadn’t seen in years, I felt that if there is such a thing as angels, those girls surely must be ones.
Not having the best luck in the world, my summer ended with a new neighbor who turned out to be a nightmare. The situation eventually thoroughly depressed me and the neighbor was soon after evicted for harassment. The girls weren’t visiting as often anymore.
I felt like I had taken ten steps back. I had to go through some of the same emotions I had felt that past winter.
The girls went back to school. My son went back into the hospital. I realized I was burned out.
Then, just to top things off, a stressful family event happened that caused me more turmoil. I felt like too much had gone wrong. I became seriously clinically depressed.
I feel like I’m walking out of depression, but it sure is hard.
In many ways over the past two years, life has called me to question who I am, what I want in my life and just as importantly, what I don’t want anymore, hence my love of the NO icon.
What I don’t want is pretty simple. I don’t want to be treated poorly and I don’t want to endorse cruelty by standing in the line of fire.
What I want is pretty simple too. I want to know myself outside of depression.
My mother recently gave me a few letters my uncle found that I wrote to my paternal grandmother in 1990. I couldn’t believe how happy I sounded in the letters. I was a little depressed back then but nothing, nothing like I’ve experienced since.
One of the letters reads very much like those happy Christmas letters people write. Other people. Not me.
I tried to remember how I felt writing the letters. I couldn’t remember exactly how I felt, but I know I wrote them.
My son’s letter is the best.
His childhood notes, creative school work and art definitely speaks to a happy kid. I like that. I take some credit for the good times he had growing up, which is a piece of happiness.
Returned also to me was a card I had sent my grandmother when I went to Texas to visit a friend. I think this was the time my friend and I rode across the horse pastures, she on her Arabian and I on a Quarter horse under the light of a full moon and in Texas, that’s a really big moon!
“Just having fun,” takes you a long way walking out of depression.
Thank you for visiting my blog,
PS If you haven’t laughed in a while, here’s a video that sure made me laugh.