That Thing I’m Always Afraid To Say
I’ve been feeling sad. It is now autumn. These things seem to go together in my world, which is inconvenient because I love fall. I love watching the leaves turn and snow down from the trees every time the wind picks up – whoosh! — another drift of them come down and cover my doorstep. The colors are amazing, the weather is crisp or damp or stormy or weirdly warm, or whatever it is, but it isn’t boring. Things are changing, everything in nature seems to be slowly winding down and turning inward and preparing to stick out another winter.
My schedule doesn’t change, because it operates by the clock and is buffeted along by a social engine that presumes every week is equal to every other week (holidays excepted) and that the shorter days just mean we’re active during more of the dark hours and we turn the lights on more often.
This feels completely wrong to me, but because I chose the work situation I’m now in, there isn’t an easy way to honor my need to slow down with everything else. I keep going at the pace demanded of me for my work schedule, and because I do this, I start to feel tired and dragged out, and I start doing less socially. Then eventually I start taking shit from people who have more energy than I have about how I never show up to things anymore or how I’m going to bed so early.
I’d prefer to do less in the way of working and instead preserve my energy for people I care about, honestly, but I didn’t find a way to do that this year. So consequently I’m tired and the tired feeds the sad, and because my family already long ago lived through two suicide attempts of mine, they’re understandably wary of hearing about normal depressed feelings from me. I don’t mention it to them; it seems kinder not to. Fall is not a good time for me to embark on any significant changes. Fall is for hunkering down and hibernating.
Being busy during the summer feels natural – the long, shining days are the perfect excuse to stay up too late and go out too often and try to get too much done. The bounty of summer inspires excess. Whatever is ripe only in summer I will happily eat until I am sick. Whenever a sunbeam falls into my space, it is a welcome one. Whenever a friend drops by, I’m happier for it. Any time a road trip is proposed, I am on board. Summer is for going off like a firecracker and running until you collapse, exhausted.
Summer is now past. It’s fall. And that means I’m sad. I’ve never been good at talking about it (see Suicide Attempts, I and II) – when I’m sad, I’m not reflective, I’m just riding the waves and working hard to stay on top of them. It’s become easier since I’ve gotten the right medication (thyroid; your mileage may vary, but it’s been an amazing help for my mental state); instead of feeling punishing inadequacy and guilt about the way I feel, I just feel it and there’s no judgment attached to it. It just is and I just live with it. Believe it or not, the sadness is completely survivable, it’s the mental gymnastics I used to do to make myself a terrible person for feeling awash in sadness that made me so miserable. Sadness alone just is what it is. Misery is a side dish that didn’t have to be served up with it, and now that I’m free of the misery I find I can live with the sadness. It comes, it stays as long as it needs to stay, and it lifts on its own. I just slow down while it’s here and it lives a natural life and dies like everything else does, and then I go on.
Something I’ve been working on for a while, a little social and math problem that I need to solve, is this: I built my tiny house and my reduced-bullshit life just big enough for myself to fit into it. I carved it out of the wood I had, essentially, and now that there’s someone very special to me whom I would like to include in my life, I’m finding it very difficult in a practical way to make that work. People are different, we need what we need, and because my downsized life was only ever designed to fit me, it’s been hard to make room for someone else. Not mentally, and not in my heart, but practically – because I have exactly what I have just because I personally needed it; I didn’t overbuild by a single inch. That was by design, and I would never have been able to guess what a person I’d never met would need me to leave room for, anyway.
As it turns out, the person himself will fit just fine. I built tall enough and wide enough, it’s that certain aspects of living like very fancy camping — aspects that do not bother me in the least – are unappealing to my love to live with while he continues on his own life trajectory, which for him very happily includes full-time work and therefore an understandable desire to live with more luxury during the workweek than camping entails. I want my love to be able to live with me, and it is now fall, the season of snuggling, and not having him here full-time with me feeds the Sad a little more than the regularly scheduled Fall Sadness would. At the same time, I have no energy to pursue new things, the daylight fades earlier and earlier, and I just need to curl up in a ball for a few months and wait for hopeful green shoots to appear and inspire me to spring to action.
But I do love fall. I really, really do. Watching the leaves come down in swirling drifts the last few days has been amazing. I hear them rattle on the metal roof, I shuffle through the piles on the ground, I break out the sweaters and the fuzzy socks, and I make tea more often. I buy more chocolate. I nap when I can get away with it. And fall marches on toward winter.