When I woke up this morning, I just felt, to use a much overused word of the times, “meh.”
It wasn’t depression (I know what that feels like), it wasn’t even glass half empty thinking, it was just plain “I just can’t face it today”, and by “it”, I just mean living life, being awake and having to function. To be fair to me, I am completely and utterly exhausted, recovering from a stomach virus and so I’m probably just in need of a good meal and lacking in a few nutrients. Yeah, must be a lack of B vitamins.
I dragged myself out of bed at 7am (ish) and headed in zombified fashion towards the kettle, my usual routine, but today the heaviness was crushing me. It dawned on me what date it was.
15 years since I met my lovely husband. A day to celebrate!
Pay day (for my husband) – Phew!
I should be happy! Why am I feeling so low? I have two beautiful children, a home and food on the table, a husband who adores me, who just spent the last few days when he wasn’t working taking care of things at home, willingly, happily, so that I could rest. I mean he even held my hair for me when I was throwing up in the loo! (And cleaned said loo beforehand for me!). Yes, I am blessed beyond belief.
I am a musician, I play with some brilliant musicians, I’m doing some really exciting stuff with music at the moment. I love it so much, and when I’m playing good music, I’m literally in a state of bliss.
Most of all, I have Jesus! Hallelujah! The joy of the Lord is my strength!
Yep. All true. But still, that cloud of weariness, of can’t-face-the-world-ness persisted.
Why? Today, it is not the fact that I lost my much-loved mum-in-law and had a miscarriage within a month of each other during the summer. Those things, as heartbreaking as they were, were not on my mind this morning. Even though I wrote a blog yesterday about the whole experience, pouring my fragile heart out, shedding tears, and then lost the whole damn thing just as I finished it. I knew I couldn’t write it again for a long while, it was too emotionally exhausting.
But it wasn’t that that was making my day dark this morning.
I should have prayed and read my Bible instead. My normal routine, while clutching my mug of tea. My little bit of peace and quiet before waking the kids. But I couldn’t face any deep and meaningful thinking about life. And I couldn’t be bothered to talk. So instead I bombarded my mind with Facebook statuses and images about, um, LIFE. Good move. I scrolled through with half opened eyes, quickly, because I couldn’t really be bothered to read anything properly.
I am confronted, at 7 am, cuppa in hand, with LIFE in all its beauty, it’s ugliness, it’s mystery, it’s infuriatingness, (I realise that’s not a word, sorry, but, well, meh) – all shot at close range at my fragile, sleepy mind like rapid gun fire.
One mother is going to do a nature project with her children about something my son would love. Why don’t I get off my lazy butt and do stuff like this? I’ve been talking about it for ages and not actually DONE anything about it. But this mother has.
Sigh. “I am not a good enough mother”.
One person is lamenting the germs shared on public transport. Mentions something about Ebola. I feel sorrow for the people, deep sorrow, for them, those who are seeing it ruin their whole community, losing loved ones to it. Some people are risking their lives to help. Not me. Me, I’m too knackered to get out of my pyjamas.
Someone is ill. Needs prayer. A Bishop has been cleared of some allegations, someone nearly missed their plane, someone wants me to help save the polar bears, someone wants me to buy a spa party planning kit (ha! yeah right), someone I went to school with is holding a random baby I know nothing about (a quick thought flashes in my mind that I should be blooming by now), someone is remembering a lost loved one today, someone is telling me that “life is a rollercoaster, you just gotta ride it” (please sod off now), someone is excited about the Christmas markets (no, Christmas stress, leave me alone it’s October for heaven’s sake!), someone shows me a picture of their cat (ok, that’s cute but not enough to cheer me up), someone quotes a hymn about Jesus and hard trials and something about “though the whole world against me convene, I’ll triumph at last, there’s nothing between”, someone shares a picture of a dog collapsed on the floor and the caption “I just can’t handle life today“, someone is so excited about blah blah, someone has the best hubby in the world (really?) and another angry about blah blah. Someone is sharing a bluegrass song called “Life is like a Mountain Railroad”.
You got that right.
I wander into the kitchen and turn on the radio while I make up the children’s lunch boxes, get them breakfast, empty the dishwasher. I’m not really listening, I’m beating myself up that I just can’t seem to get back on that damn horse and achieve my goals. I remind myself that I did actually work myself to exhaustion to get the house back in order the other week and that’s probably why I got ill and now feel too tired to do anything. Alright, maybe I’ll let myself off a bit.
An interview with Ann Widdecombe comes on the radio and bursts into my consciousness (she’s got that voice you just can’t tune out…):
“So Ann, how do you manage to achieve your goals, to write books etc when you are so busy?”
“You’ve just got to sit down and write. Like my mother always said, things don’t get done themselves! I’m sorry there’s no other way around it, you just have to get on with it. Sometimes you take too much on and you have to work through that, but generally, if you want to do something, just get on and do it!” (or words to that effect).
Good advice Ann. I turn off the radio. But today is not one of those “just get on and do it days”. When life is on-the-edge-of-your-seat a plain disaster, I immediately pray. But when I just feel “meh”, like there’s no sense of urgency to get a smile back on my face, I sometimes just want to sit it out a bit. To explore it. Wallow in it. I used to immediately search for a plaster of sorts, a quick fix Bible verse or praise song. But today, I just want to feel my “meh-ness” in all it’s fullness.
I don’t want to become so cloudy that everything turns to darkness though, so I turn on some nice chilled out gospel bluegrass album and eventually some song called “The Unclouded Day” comes on. Oh the irony. But all I can do is listen to the violin and mandolin playing and think “I will never be that awesome”.
Even I am annoying myself now. Pull yourself together woman!
Yes counting your blessings helps. Thanking God for the good things, it’s good advice.
Yes praying and reading the psalms helps. It’s helped me more times than I care to remember.
Yes, a cup of tea is always a good tonic when you feel those blues.
All those lovely positive quotes on Facebook, not bad advice. Usually. But today they can all xxxx right off.
Yes, knowing that one day I’ll Fly Away to God’s Celestial Shore (Hallelujah by and by!), where sorrow and sighing shall flee away, can help me sometimes when life is an uphill struggle. But today, well, just no.
But I don’t want to write a three point blog-sermon that says 1) Here are the challenges of life 2) Here is me empathising that life is tough 3) Me concluding that it’s the times of difficulty when we know God’s love and comfort, when we change the most, learn the most blah blah blah (Hallelujah!) so just count your blessings and smile!
I might write one of those blogs one day, they can be helpful.
But today I’m writing to you honestly, I’m staying “meh” long enough to write about it from the vantage point of “I just feel low today” rather than “hey I felt blue earlier, but then I did XYZ and now I’m happy again!”
There will always be blessings mixed with frankly horrible, evil, terrible things in our lives. When I lost my mother in law and my 11 week pregnancy, it was a time of wonderful healing in my marriage. It was a time of doors being opened with my music. It was a time when I learned stuff I could only learn through experiencing loss. It was a time of growth I can’t describe. Honestly I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
I laughed as I met with friends, played at gigs, within a few days and weeks of losing my baby. I still don’t understand how I could have done that. But I did.
And then, only a few weeks ago, I stood in the middle of the supermarket while choosing baked beans and sobbed my heart out about the baby I lost. Took me completely by surprise. I expected the tannoy to announce “Flooded floor in the tins aisle”, such was my uncontrollable outpouring of grief. But people just walked on by. No one took any notice of this strange woman holding onto her trolley, as she attempted to stifle wild sobs on each inhale of breath. Sobs which were escaping without permission, leaking out from within the emotional pain which had surfaced following a casual glance at an innocent mum-to-be, who’d been lovingly stroking her bump in the laundry aisle.
We’d laughed within seconds of seeing our beautiful mum/mum-in-law take what we thought was her last breath, before making us all jump with another, final one, (“that’s mum all over – stubborn to the end!” we’d said affectionately). And then we’d wept bitterly. And we’ve been crying, and laughing, and feeling everything in between ever since.
This is the stuff of life. The irony, the mystery, the totally messed-up-ness of life and death and loving and losing. The making the most of precious moments, tinged with the sadness of knowing they won’t last forever. Whether with a child who is growing up too fast, or a dying parent.
Sometimes it’s ok to just be meh. Or be depressed. Or be wildly ecstatic. Or to pull yourself up by your boot straps and get on with it. There is a time for everything. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to be silent and a time to speak. Everything in its season. But often, the seasons seem to all come at once. It’s not the pursuit of that emotion called happiness that makes us happy. It’s not being happy that makes us happy. It just heaps more pressure on us. I have more to say about such things, but not today.
One thing I know, Jesus felt it all and everything in between. And I love him for that. It’s comforting. That’s not my point 3 of the sermon by the way. I’m just saying.
Now excuse me while I go and draw the curtains, cry my eyes out, feel sorry for myself for a while, stress about the responsibility of parenting and feel overwhelmed about what to cook for dinner (while feeling guilty for being overwhelmed and not grateful for food on the table!) Then I might just eat that chocolate my husband bought me and send him another silly snapchat of me looking fed up with a caption of “15 loooooong ass years!!!!”, giggling my head off.