Friday, May 13, 2011

Mercurial Me

mercurial, adj (muhr-KYUHR-ee-uhl): characterized by rapid and unpredictable changeableness of mood

On Sunday morning I was full of positive energy, unflappable even in the face of spring-fever-crazed Sunday School kids. Monday morning saw me sobbing for a good bit. By Tuesday afternoon, I felt even-keeled and motivated. Wednesday I was joyful to near manic. Then on Thursday I was dogged by anxiety and directionlessness, resentful at my own inaction. I don’t even know what to plan for today. Kind of like the weather this week.

Maybe it’s my own spring fever. The school year is winding down at a pace I can only describe as frantic, with IEP meetings and picnics and final projects and band concerts, trying to figure out summer plans and even fall ones, and all this on top of the usual slate of appointments and obligations that thickly populate my iCalendar. I’m probably not alone in the mad dash mentality.

But it’s possible my up-and-down nature is just part of living life on life’s terms. When I’m fully engaged in life, rather than trying to stay numb through compulsive eating and similar behaviors, there’s no artificial buffer between me and my feelings. Being suddenly confronted by a challenge over which I have no control brings me face to face with naked reality. Whatever my immediate reaction, be it calm decorum (appropriate) or wounded rage (not so much), I still have to feel what I feel.

Often my own, imperfect response to a situation exacerbates the feelings. On Sunday afternoon when my daughter’s hypoglycemic meltdown in the middle of Orchestra Hall infuriated me, my response was to make sure she knew just how angry I was and just how awful a human being she was. The incident itself was unpleasant, to be certain. No one wants to have her pre-adolescent daughter dissolve into a temper tantrum in a public place. But upon reflection, I could see there were a whole lot of things I could have done better as a parent before, during and after the debacle, which would have minimized or even prevented the problem. So now I had to deal not only with the feelings that come from the challenges of raising high-needs children, but also with my own sense of failure for the way I handled it. Hence Monday morning’s sobbing.

The good news is that allowing myself to truly experience my feelings means that just as quickly as I can slump into a funk, I can also bounce back. When I’m wallowing in self-pity, it honestly feels as if there is absolutely nothing right in the world; that I’ll never recover from whatever is painful at the moment. Yet, as I frequently tell my daughter, when it comes to this kind of thing, the quickest way out is through. It’s not easy and it’s not comfortable, but it’s not permanent either. And once I’m on the other side of it, it really is gone. The resentment seldom lingers and I’m free to skip back into life with my preferred buoyancy.

I guess instead of trying to plan for what today might bring, I’ll just accept things as they are in the moment and go with it. No matter what might smack me upside the head, I can call a friend, write in my journal, and pray, and I know it’ll be fine, even though I might feel otherwise for a while. I’d rather be fully alive, even when it hurts, than spend my time and energy wishing the world would just go away.


  1. Better to have loved and lost than to be an island. Love on, Bek! Hugs!
    And thanks for the dictionary entry - I was going to have to look it up! :)

  2. It completely baffles me how, in the midst of whatever emotion I'm feeling (usually the 'unpleasant' ones, but sometimes the 'pleasant' ones, too), it feels like the emotion is PERMANENT - it will NEVER end. Then, just as quickly as it comes, it *does* go away, to my pleasure (if 'unpleasant') or chagrin (if 'pleasant'). You think I'd learn, eh? :) But yes, I agree, the best way out is through; and the happiest way to live is with life on life's terms. I'm not always there; but I am trying...