I try to be a happy person and I really am the vast majority of the time. I am usually that annoying Pollyanna who thinks everything is going to be all right. My down times are few and far between, but, man, when they happen they are fierce. I can be rolling along in my day, everything going just fine, and then my husband leaves the dishes in the sink for me to do after I make dinner. The boy leaves a wet towel on the bathroom floor alongside all of his dirty clothes. The dogs tear up something I never even knew I really liked. I suddenly find myself overwhelmed and overwrought. I have tears in my eyes and a sudden conviction that I just can’t go on. It’s highly overly dramatic and ridiculous. I hate it.
In full disclosure, in the last 3 years, my life has undergone a myriad of changes: I ended a 9 year marriage, filed for bankruptcy as a result of the loss of my former spouse’s income, took a better paying job to pay the bills, acquired a boyfriend who became a husband who brought along a child, did major and urgent home repairs, lost my mother to dementia.
As a result of all of this I took up smoking again after being tobacco-free for 5 years. After explaining to the woman at the Smoking Cessation Help Line the circumstances that led me to begin smoking again, she told me it was remarkable I didn’t take up anything harder than nicotine. I told her I felt like I deserved a cookie for not becoming a raging maniac. I am now smoke-free again but it was no easier this time around.
My first marriage was marked with anxiety, depression, heavy drinking, and emotional turmoil. And that was just on my end. I could never see the light, could never find the upside, if one existed. There were valid reasons things looked so bleak to me but I couldn’t even muster up the strength to end a bad situation and move on. Once I finally did that, I began to see that the panic attacks I had suffered from were largely situational in nature and changing the situation made them all but disappear. For the most part.
I no longer have to take anti-anxiety medication or anti-depressants to slog through my days, which is a huge step for me. My new husband is loving and supportive and does everything he can to keep my stress levels as low as possible. Even with his support, however, I find myself prone to occasional outbursts of misery that make no sense at all. The problem is that he can’t stop me from taking on too much and overwhelming myself. No one can do that but me. And I have yet to find that sort of control.
Do all women experience this sort of stress in the lives? Is it just our nature to take on more and more responsibility until we crack under the pressure? How do you balance work and family and community and friends and yourself without going mad?
I know that tomorrow I’ll be fine. Tomorrow I’ll be able to handle everything without batting an eye. Tomorrow nothing will be too much, I’ll meet challenges head on, I will be unflappable. If there is one thing I have learned from the last 3 years, it’s that I am capable of getting through almost anything and keeping my head together when everything is falling apart. Tomorrow will be a new chance to prove myself again.
But that’s tomorrow. It’s nice to look forward to but today is my challenge.