Friday, April 29, 2016

So this is weird

My mother is known for her sharp, sometimes lacerating, tongue. Sentimental is the last word you would ever use to describe her. So imagine my surprise when I asked her what she would like for dinner and she answered, “All I want is joy and happiness.” And then she told me that the previous evening, when my brother and sister-in-law and I arrived and ordered Chinese, was “perfect—nothing needed to be fixed.” And by "nothing needed to be fixed," I think she meant flawless. At 90 years old and counting, my mother is still fucking with my brain!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself

Then I listen to what other people are going through. During a single weekend, I heard updates on way too many sad tales. One friend struggles with depression and anxiety two years after her husband committed suicide following a lifetime of unremitting pain. Another friend helped his wife kill herself after a lifetime of unremitting pain. Two other friends cope with grief and loneliness years after their husbands dumped them for other women. Another friend is helping her brother raise his daughter because his sportswoman wife committed suicide when her chronic fatigue syndrome made living unbearable. That same friend, whose husband limps from a stroke, is helping her sister deal with multiple myeloma.  Two other friends are coping with the health problems of their adult sons, one with a disabling seizure disorder, the other with a life-threatening colon condition. Another friend, who recently watched her father die, is trying to figure out retirement as she watches her husband descend into “mild cognitive impairment.” The daughter of another couple cannot work because she suffers panic attacks in the wake of a concussion. And yet another friend is the single mother of a foster child born with fetal alcohol syndrome whom she has placed in a residential school because he was uncontrollable; he begs her to let him come home. And that’s not all. But I just can’t bear to go on … 

Monday, April 11, 2016

That'll work

Overheard at the bank from a guy talking on his cell phone: "Look, I don't want to fight about it anymore. Just stop being a bitch and I'll see you Thursday."

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hearing voices—mine!

I’ve been volunteering on a cancer helpline for many years. I think I give good advice, particularly to women dealing with the anxiety of a cancer diagnosis. “You’ve done everything in your power to maximize your survival,” I tell them. Or “Keep a notebook of your worries, so you don’t rehearse them when you’re trying to sleep.” Or “Remember to breathe.” Or “Go to a movie.” Or “Yoga!”

Recently I spiraled into anxiety over concerns about my own health. I began parroting my own advice back to myself. A psychologist I know says this is a form of “counterattitudinal advocacy.” And you know what? I give good counsel! (And by the way, I'm fine.)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Some days are hopeless

I’m one of those people who apologize too much. In fact, today I was at a medical clinic and found myself doing it again—saying I was sorry my paperwork was messy, sorry it was taking me so long to get my insurance card out of my wallet, sorry my things were cluttering up the waiting room. Finally I realized my apologies were getting annoying, and I had to fight the impulse to say, “I’m sorry I’m apologizing too much.”