The Winters of My Discontent

When I started this blog, I set out to be real, to be authentic. Big buzzwords for my generation and culture right now. And this is me owning up to them. You want real? Here’s real.

I’m not having the best day. It started when I found a jump drive of Mark’s in the dryer, which turned out to have documents for not just one but both of his jobs. It went through the washer and three dryer cycles because I couldn’t get my act together and get the clothes out before they were a wrinkled mess. Three times. A+ wife-ing, right there.

On top of that, the dogs are being crazy (I just found Luna chewing on a tub of Vick’s Vapo-Rub leftover from Mark’s bout of flu last week, and Bolt has eaten no less than four bottle caps and almost a pen), and it’s raining today, dreary and cold and gray and fairly hopeless-looking outside. That’s where this is all stemming from, I know, the rain – I’m so weary of the fact that my insides are a direct reflection of the outside, or at least of the weather. I’ve had no less than three breakdowns today, and almost had another over some wrinkled pants, the tears on my face mirroring the raindrops slipping down my windows and the storms digitally rendered on my phone’s weather app.

I have SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder – basically a condition that morphs winter from just another season into a heavy burden to bear, throwing its sufferers into depressive episodes that last for months at a time. I understand why bears hibernate. Some days I wish I could hibernate. From the beginning of Daylight Savings until sometime around mid-March, my life moves in slower motion, the cold chilling me from the inside out, depriving me of light and energy and motivation. I get snippy and whiny and weepy; every vestige of myself that I can’t stand manages to emerge. (The biggest? The complete irrationality of it all. Who almost cries over wrinkled pants??)

February is particularly bad. I can survive November and December for the most part – as the cold starts emerging, the crispness of fall feels right, what with the annual dawn of sweater-weather here in the South. Thanksgiving means food and family and wine and friends and love, all for which I will put up with a little cold weather. And come December, scarves seem festive and cozy instead of restrictive and suffocating, and holiday shopping just doesn’t feel right without a bite in the air. But then Christmas is done, and the world is just cold and bare. January is so anticlimactic, and the downward slope begins, but February? February feels hopeless.

I’ll never forget, three years ago almost to the day, Mark and I were going out for a Valentine’s date. It was a day much like this one – cold, horrid gray skies, an Eeyore-esque cloud over everything – and I was trying desperately to find something to wear. Of course in that moment my closet bursting at the seams with clothes held nothing appropriate, and outfit after outfit went onto my body and then straight onto the growing pile on the bed. Eventually I lost it.

“It’s so cold!” I wailed. (Add melodrama to the list of unsavory qualities.) “You can’t look pretty in the cold!” At that point I sank to the bed in despair. “It will never be sunny again!”

Welcome to my annual February meltown. It will never be sunny again. Thank God I married a patient man. He wiped my tears that day three years ago and took me out anyway, and this morning he did the same, happily indulging my clinginess with lots of hugs.

I started out the morning spiraling, in a funk because I couldn’t seem to stop it, and at one point I was hell-bent on overcoming this day and the spiral and the sadness. To a certain extent I have overcome it – I didn’t actually cry over the pants, I ran errands, accomplished 3 loads of laundry and I have a clean kitchen. But I think this – and any day like this, caused by rain or a fight with a spouse or a kid who spills a whole gallon of milk on the floor or a dog who eats God-knows-what or whatever this is the time when you need your own kindness the most.

I talked for a bit in Sarah’s blog about being kind to yourself, and how important that is, and how it looks different for different people. It also looks different on different days, I think. Today, for me, it looked like cheating on our “eat healthy plan” and eating a whole frozen pizza and a (small) box of half-off Valentine candies while sitting on the couch, watching three episodes of Criminal Minds in a row.

I have to forgive myself for days like today. I don’t think it’s healthy to wallow, and I try not to – I take 800IU of Vitamin D every day during the winter, on sunny days I try to make sure I get sun, and I never let myself sit in the dark. I think being proactive is important for anything like this. But bad days are going to come, and it doesn’t mean I’ve failed at life (although that’s how it feels sometimes, how I felt this morning.) The best I can do is the best I can do, and sometimes that means taking the dogs for a walk even though it’s like 40 degrees outside because I need to move, sometimes that means plugging along at a snail’s pace because things need to get done, and sometimes that means sitting. Resting. Allowing myself to be in the moment, for the moment, and wishing for sunny days again.

Because as hopeless as February feels, the sun isn’t gone forever. As much as I hate winter, I love summer. There’s nothing in this world like that first day of spring, green grass growing soft and made for lying in. There’s nothing like the first day of no layers, sweaters abandoned at home on hangers, sun-kissed arms. There’s nothing like the first day of sundress weather, naked legs bared to the breeze, flip-flops smacking against winter-white soles, warmth and giddiness bubbling up from toes to belly to lungs and out in a peal of laughter.

That’s summer to me. And just as sure as winter will come every year, and I will feel dull and lifeless and sad, the sun will come out and I’ll be able to put away the Vitamin D and boots will be replaced with sandals and I’ll feel alive and vibrant and myself again.

Sometimes all you can do is hope, and wait, and remember that for everything there is a season – even crying over ruined jump drives and wrinkled pants.

3 thoughts on “The Winters of My Discontent

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