I have a cold today. Thankfully, it isn't a full-blown flu, I just feel a little under-the-weather and I would prefer to stay under the covers than be out in the world. I usually write my blog at the public library (away from distraction) but it's cold outside today - the high is only 46 degrees - and there is a frigid wind blowing. The sun is shining, but looks are deceiving - it isn't a day that I feel like being outside. Unfortunately, there have been a lot of days when I have stayed inside and this winter has felt colder, longer and darker than any other winter I've ever experienced.
This winter has been really...really long.
This isn't an un-commonly cold winter. Albuquerque usually has some frigid days and I make do by bundling up and braving the elements (at least while I get from my door to the car). I'm a social person and have always enjoyed being out in the world - except for this winter. This winter I have been somewhat of a hermit and being out in the world has taken a lot more energy than it ever has before. I still go out when I'm invited and I still play gigs and go to parties, but it feels like the dark comes so early and lasts so much longer than the light. I hate being cold and braving the weather has not had any sort of appeal, regardless of how much I bundle up. Interestingly, it seems like a lot of people I speak with feel the same way - we've all become a bunch of hermits.
I am not completely sure why I have felt this way, but I have a pretty good idea that leaving my job has played a big role in my hermit-status. I was a community educator specializing in violence prevention and I felt the effects of burn-out long before I quit. I lost all motivation and passion for my job, and I had a huge amount of stress. Because I was in constant movement and rarely slowed down, I didn't really pay much mind to the signals my body was sending me, including sleepless nights and my hair falling out. When I spent an entire day staring at my computer screen and not typing a single word, I knew it was time. Without a plan, I resigned from my job (I didn't just up and leave - I gave six weeks notice and left on relatively good terms).
My first few weeks of unemployment were great, then my sciatic nerve flared up and I was in the worst pain I had ever felt in my entire life. I could not walk, stand or sit and I stayed in bed for the better part of two weeks. As I slowly began recovering, I found myself less and less motivated to leave the house. Part of me was afraid - I was physically vulnerable (I could barely walk, much less run or protect myself if I had to) and the other part of me just felt...sad. I don't think I fell into a deep pit of depression, but I definitely found myself feeling completely un-motivated and everyday tasks seemed daunting. My friend D. instructed me to get out of the house everyday and I had to try and put myself on a schedule. I didn't begin feeling motivated until after the new year, and even then, it took some time to find a routine. Winter has not been all that great.
In so many other ways, however, this winter has been really good. I began recovering from a job that took the wind out of my sails; I've been hosting a monthly poetry night, my back has recovered and I worked at a flower shop during the Valentine's Day season. Not only did I make some much needed money, I remembered that I am a good, capable worker. I felt like such a failure after my last job, I needed a reminder that I am not and in fact, I felt stronger than I have in a long time. When I can silence the voice that whispers doubt and worry in my ear, I can do anything.
This winter I also began dating someone who sees me for who I am - who I truly am. He doesn't see the poet, the musician, the blogger or any of the other hats I wear - he sees me, the sum of my parts - even the parts I feel like I can't share because I'm afraid that I'll be rejected. I have always wanted to be with someone who truly sees me and doesn't run off screaming into the night and here he is in the flesh.
Sometimes, it scares the shit out of me.
I've written about fear extensively. I am well aware of what fear can do to me and while I would like to say that I have a grip on the fear, I do not. Truth is, I am a worrier. I worry about everything and everyone. I come from a long line of worriers and being unemployed only gave me more time to sit and worry. I wasn't really worried about money (even when I was broke I was okay) but I worried about family, friends, writing, weather, politics and of course, my budding relationship. My initial worry was that he was going to change his mind and not want to date me anymore. Then I worried that he regretted opening up to me the way he did. Then I worried I shared too many of my thoughts and feelings. I worried that I worried too much and then I worried even more. The voice that whispers doubt and worry in my ear was trying to get my full attention and I had to struggle every day to silence it.
Fortunately, he is a patient man who is honest and upfront with me - even when the truth is hard. We are honest with each other and this something I have never had in any kind of relationship with a man - complete and total honesty, regardless of how hard those conversations can be. On Valentine's night, we had another one of our honest conversations - and as much as I want to worry about what we talked about, confidence in who I am and who we are overshadows that worry. I am beginning to learn that worrying is a complete waste of time - especially when there is so much to enjoy about this process.
To be continued...
Next time: "...and yet, I'm...."