Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stuck ... at the Curb
Sunday it was 6:19 pm, ten hours after waking and I had not yet gotten dressed.  I had not changed out of my pajamas.

Despite all my best intentions, it became one of those days when try as I might (or not),  I could not get myself out of bed.

Not to The Merchant’s House Museum. Not to Kikoo Sushi (with a Groupon that will soon expire).  Not to someplace where I could get free Wi-Fi. (And not to the comfort of the public library — closed on Sunday.)  I just didn’t get outside.   Not even outside the confines of the sofa bed, except for the bathroom and food.

The most I did — and it took a lot — was to throw a top over my pajamas and pad down the carpeted hallway in my socks to tape a postcard with a message on the apartment door of a woman I’d seen twice and spoken to once in the elevator.  That was my attempt at reaching out.  Making a connection. But it was all I could do that day.

I couldn’t escape the waves of melancholy.  So rather than fight a losing battle, I decided to sink into it.  (I prefer to optimistically think of it as "sinking into" as opposed to drowning.)  Then a lightbulb moment and I saw something about myself I'd never fully seen.  

If asked to describe me, anyone who knows me would describe me as strong, forceful, stubborn, controlling.  There is certainly truth in that characterization (of at least one aspect of my personality).  Unfortunately, that tendency is in the fabric of who I am.

It started in second grade when I began worrying that things would not turn out alright.  Except at school — my safe haven — no one gave me any information about what was going on or how to cope with what was going on.   No one at home told me anything growing up.  (Well, maybe my sister.)  I quickly found out if I didn't pay attention, I wouldn't know how to avoid the next upset, disaster, explosion that inevitably was around the corner.  I was obsessed with learning all I could as a means of surviving in an emotionally turbulent household.  I tried hard to be perfect thinking that would make people like me, value me.

Once I had my kids, that instinct to control, to make everything perfect, to be perfect, became much, much worse.  I was bound and determined to tell my kids EVERYTHING. I was going to ensure that they had every bit of information possible.  I'd help them interpret the world and give them the tools to navigate it.  I was going to prepare them the way no one had prepared me.

It wasn’t until mid-way through my life (when a husband and teenaged kids kept telling me repeatedly to stop!) that I recognized this obsessive behavior and struggled to curb it.  But I hadn't really understood it in a big picture way until now.

Though clearly it comes across that way, I’m not trying to control people, I’m trying to control circumstances. It’s ridiculous to imagine I could control events.  Yes, ridiculous, but that never stopped me.  Even lack of success didn't deter the behavior — it’s so age-old, so ingrained in the fabric of me.   

Image by Michelle Arseneault
What a disaster.  This compulsion to teach, to assist, to share-all, became a curse.  At times, my drive to give everything I could to those around me, led to the smothering, crushing, suffocating of them and eventually, all but exhausted me.  

I still struggle to curb it.  It's hard to weed out.

The day in bed?

I felt kicked to the curb.            
                                               Time to get back up.


  1. Honest and bold, your discoveries help us with ours as well. Eloquently written. And we all identify with those "days in bed."

  2. Oh, yes, so many of my own life lessons reflected here! Thank you! My current mantra: more research is not the answer...