I suffer from what my husband calls “a tendency to be dramatic.” I also suffer from what psychiatrists call a “high stress level.” Occasionally, these two traits collide and send me into a funk of epic proportions, the kind that makes me put my hand to my forehead and very dramatically and in the most obnoxious way declare, “The world is too much for me!” in the spirit of Greta Garbo or Gloria Swanson or some other old-timey, fabulous actress.
Well, I’ve been in one of those funks for about two weeks now. I know what set it off — the reasons behind it are for another post. But needless to say, I’ve fallen far down the rabbit hole and my feelings are so raw that every reminder that the world is a cruel place or that people are suffering sends me spinning. And then there’s the little stuff that doesn’t matter to anyone, nor should it because it’s unimportant, privileged bullshit. Regardless, I fixate on things like the never-ending basket of laundry, or my daughter’s early signs of rebellion, or that my dog pooped in the house not once, but twice today, and if I have to clean up poop one more time, I’m going to barf. “Oh, the world is too much. Please pull the covers over my head and check back with me in three to five days,” I want to say. But I have a child, a husband, a family, a life. I care about my mental health and my well being. So I put on my half smile that doesn’t quite reach my eyes, put my head down and plow through the funk until it passes, which it usually does in a week or so.
But this one’s been hanging on, so I gave myself a good shaking. I decided, with the husby’s help, to try to let the unimportant stuff go. A little dog poop isn’t going to hurt anyone. And the world will still have its myriad problems when I’m out of my funk. No need to obsess on it now, or ever, really. Why obsess when I can take action and try to do my part to effect change? So, this past week, I stripped things down to basics, giving myself permission to do what I wanted rather than what I should do. And we did what the kiddo wanted to do too (…within reason. I mean, she’d like to eat nothing but gummy worms and run around naked in public.) We were loose with the schedules and demands, and we didn’t worry about the petty crap. Here are some things we did:
Baked the best damn oatmeal cookies we’ve ever had and ate the whole batch in two days.
Spent an entire Monday afternoon with my brother, my nephew and my daughter, three of my favorite people in the world. We went to the movies, laughed all day, played hide and seek in the backyard until the sun went down, and I had a beer with my brother on a weekday for the first time since college.
Took my dog (the pooper) for a drive with the sunroof open and shared a burger and fries with her.
I’ve lost almost 50 lbs. recently and pay pretty close attention to what I put in my mouth, but this last week I ate what I wanted and I gained 3 lbs. and didn’t freak out about it.
Had a long talk with the husby about my funk and cried real tears, and we came out on the other end closer, stronger and happier.
Spent an entire afternoon with my sister and my niece, two of my other favorite people in the world, and my daughter made us do gross food challenges the whole day. And we were good sports and did them. In case you wanted to know, barbecue sauce water is disgusting.
Flew a kite. A freaking kite. Yep. A kite.
I didn’t put my Christmas decorations up the weekend after Thanksgiving and I didn’t give a shit.
So I know what you’re wondering. Did my week of doing what I wanted cure my funk? It did not. I’m still feeling funky but I think I see light at the end of the tunnel. And this week did teach me that life is a hell of a lot better when you spend your days living authentically and stripping things down to the simpler pleasures. The laundry will still be there. It always will be. It’s not going anywhere, people. And the world and its troubles will, sadly, still be there as well. It has been for thousands of years. It has a new set of problems now, and better minds than mine will remedy some of those problems, but many will persist. The world can indeed be too much. But if you reframe it, the world can also be pure and simple and joyful.