How’s It Going?

I’ve been a little quiet this week because I’m under water.

Not a LOT under water.

Just a bit.

Probably.

Maybe.

Although, to be honest, as a person with mental illness, I wouldn’t really know if I was all the way under water, so I’m historically unreliable on the whole self-assessment thing. I mean, what do I know about how I’m doing? NOT MUCH, friends. Not much at all.

Still, as best as I can tell, I’m just a little under water. Like, the kind of under water where I yelled at Greg on Christmas Day because he didn’t put his pants on fast enough.

Merry Christmas, Greg!
With Love,
Your Sweet and Darling Wife

In my defense, Greg put his pants on really slowly that day. Really, really slowly. As in, really, really, REALLY slowly.

Because it did not matter that the children left the front door open and the dogs escaped.

And it did not matter that those canines were gleefully running roughshod over the neighborhood.

It did not matter that Greg’s wife was fresh from the shower, soaking wet and naked, and therefore not as well positioned as he was to chase said dogs.

Nope; those things were irrelevant, and it was not possible to simply grab pants, throw them on and chase three dogs down the street. That is not how Things Are Done. There is an Order, after all. A Queue in Greg’s scientific mind. A Specific Process from which a properly ordered man shall not deviate. And Pants-Donning is faaaaarr down the list, it seems, after lots of other things that have to be done first.

First, for example, Greg had to source a pair of socks. Not the pair of socks laying next to him. No; he had to find a clean pair of socks as though we suddenly have sock standards at our house. And then a shirt. And then another, long sleeved shirt to go over the first shirt which, turns out, was just an undershirt and not a shirt shirt because God Forbid you chase three giddy, sprinting dogs with dirty socks and without an undershirt. That would be wrong. 

Eventually, Greg put on his pants.

And then he had to find a belt.

And then he latched the belt on the wrong hole so he had to redo the latching of it.

“DEAR, SWEET, BABY JESUS, HUSBAND WHOM I LOVE AND WHOM I SHALL THROTTLE. THE DOGS ARE IN CHINA BY NOW.”

“I only see my slippers,” said Greg. “Where are my shoes?”

“GO. GET. THE. DAMN. DOGS.”

Next time, I’m chasing the dogs naked. So let it be written. So let it be done.

So I’m under water a little, if you gauge drowning on the Yelling at the Spouse Scale, which I do, I guess, even if the yelling wasn’t yelling so much as, you know, me helping Greg. Helping him become a better person, really. I give and I give.

Still, I’m under water a little.

A little breathless sometimes these days.

A little emotionally gaspy lately as I surface for a minute and drift back under, not weighed down so much that I can’t see or participate in the joy which surrounds me, but weighed down enough that I’m not as gentle with my people or with myself as I feel I should be. And not gentle about not being gentle, either.

I have Things to Say, though. Things to Write. Thoughts about the year almost past and the year swiftly coming. Ideas about how we might lay this one to rest and welcome the year almost upon us in ways that are more full of freedom than fear, more graceful than grim, and more mindful of relief than insisting on rigor. But I’m under water a little, so I’m not sure how to start. And I’m metaphorically naked and wet, too, and rather sure someone else should go chase the thoughts that keep running roughshod through my head; certain others are more equipped than me to run them down.

I don’t know how to unstick the log-jam when I’m under water. I’ve never been good at this part. I don’t have neat endings or lessons learned when I’m in this place. The best I can do is kick for the surface every now and then. But I made a promise a long time ago — to you and to me — that I’d write anyway, even from here. Even badly. Even unsure. Even when I’m simultaneously yelly and breathless. So here it is, friends. The truth as far as I can write it from here.

That’s how it’s going around these parts. And what I really want to know from you — my companions above and beneath the water, who sit in the mud with me, and wave in the dark and wait for the dawn — how are you? How are YOU these days? And how can we hold hands in the dark?

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
37 comments
  1. Yep. Wading through water in the basement. Literally and figuratively. Turn on some fans and head for drier ground, girlfriend. This “Nino” shall pass. For future purposes push your husband’s naked butt outside the next time. I would. Then grab a lawn chair and put your feet up. A fruity drink and a camera. I promise. The sun will come out.

  2. I’m surprised at how well I’m doing this year. Winters can be hard on me, and that usually would have happened by now. Despite a big decision I’m avoiding, (not the healthiest way of dealing, I just haven’t found the time to step away and really think about it) I’m doing well. I blame my kids for that, and maybe the mild weather here in Michigan. I’ve been where you are ladies, and there is light and hope and fresh air. I’ll hold a spot open for you here,and am reaching in to the depths. Just grab hold of what’s important and let go of what is not, and keep on kickin’.

  3. So far underwater right now. 2015 has pulled me down farther than ever. Depression and anxiety are at an all time max. Not even sure where to go or what to do. Wish I had a husband to hold me but no. I have my precious 9 year old. I pray 2016 brings us all up but not so sure these days. Work is just getting worse, new boss was suppose to be better but not. Coworkers are nasty. Not even a friend to talk to. Just hang my head and cry. My mom tells me “fake it tell you make it” well not sure how long you can do that, huh. So sorry for how you feel, I totally get, as most do not I have found out. I don’t tell anyone because no one gets it or they just don’t care. Even it I fake being happy, no one wants to be my friend. just so very lonely these days. So deep under the water, the sun is almost gone.

    1. Take care of you!

  4. Thank you Beth, for admitting when you are in the water. You make it safe to admit that we too didn’t achieve perfection, that things aren’t always ok. I am treading water right now, but I feel it getting deeper. I can handle this depth but beneath my feet a current is beginning to swirl and the blue is getter darker. I’m waving from the dark, trying to kick the mud off my feet, and treading the water with you. Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone in here.

  5. I love the image of being underwater. I can see us all in this body of water floating at various depths. For me the water is clear and calm and I can see the light filtering in. I can look over at deeper darker places and parts that are turbulent where vision is obscured. I wonder if I’d have enough courage to sit there with someone. I’m not sure I do. I generally hover here. Sometimes I dip a little deeper or bob a little higher. I hope it helps you all as much as it helps me too see other people in this sea of dysfunction.

  6. I feel like I always do after Christmas – worn instead of revived. Expectations dashed once again. Not only do I suffer from anxiety and depression so does my 19 year old son. Losing his father 3 years ago makes Christmas too much for him to bear. Trying to make everyone happy is exhausting. I have realized I’m extremely controlling. I want everyone to get along and be happy so I’m continually maneuvering people and running interference. I hate conflict of any kind so I do this mostly for my own benefit. But, I got called on it by my eldest son. So, I’m trying to let it go. If my kids never have a close relationship with my new husband so be it. If one son still feels the need to hide away from family functions so be it. Divorced in laws hate each other so be it. I’m going to try in the new year to just Let. It. Go. I’ll continue to pray for peace but try and let God do his job and stop trying to do it for Him. Much love! Waving to you from my own little patch of crazy.

    1. I believe I have just met my soul sister. Our lives mirror, Amy.

    2. Let. It. Go.
      I never realized until I read your comment that my control issues were the reason that family gatherings are so traumatic for me. I try to make everyone happy as well and we all know that you can’t make all the people happy all of the time – in my family, you can rarely make anyone happy! Until now, I thought it was MY responsibility to fix the problem!
      Siblings – you don’t like my parenting style? Fine – I’ll parent mine, you parent yours…
      Children – you don’t want to visit your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins? Fine – stay home and I’ll go without you, all the while basking in the absence of your attitude…
      Spouse – my family gets under your skin? Fine – sometimes they get on my nerves, too…
      Let. It. Go. My new mantra.

  7. Oh Beth….I wish we could transport ourselves to some tropical island sans kids and husband…and just laugh and laugh together. I feel as though we are kindred spirits! I too suffer from a mental illness. After coming back from Christmas and the usual crankiness that affects us ALL,….I’ve been in such a funk. No inspiration for laundry, cooking, patience, and pride to put on actual clothes instead of the ones I’ve been wearing for the last 3 days!

    No dogs to go chasing after in this house….so no need to impress anyone right?

  8. !!! under the water here too. Only I think mine is because my in-laws are in town and totally screwing up my schedule. And the rain, holy crap the rain… 10 inches in three days… At least I have a hubs who, I guess loves me oh, SO much, that when I am screaming and yelling like a crazy lady, he will yell back something along the lines of “It’s time to go back to taking your damn meds! You’re acting like a crazy person!” (even though I’ve acted like a crazy person WAY before depression…) So I usually use him as my gauge of when I NEED to take the pills that suck oh so much… Much love Beth!!!

  9. Big hugs to you Beth, and all of us in our currently wet state. I see the light, but the depth of this water is just…so deep. I have had long talks with the hubs twice this month. Bless him he tries to understand, but we don’t even say things like depression or feels – just whys and whats and how can I helps. He tries. I try. I cry. He waits. I cry some more and the dog is all concerned. lol I confide in a friend, I read articles, I think about what we say. But here I am, waving in the dark depths of the water, still holding my breath, refusing to believe the darkness and it’s lies. I’ll kick some your way to help you bob up girl because we are not alone, and we’ll be in the mud, above the water, soon I hope.

  10. I am above water & wishing I could dust off my ancient lifesaving skills, swim over to you, and hold you up. Sometimes the slowness with which my husband does things makes me want to scream (I usually scream in my head), even though we have no dogs running down the street. Waving!

  11. I think I’m kind of like a bobber in the water – you know, under a bit, then up a bit, then dipping back under…

    I have a post-it on my desk that reads “Eucharisteo [thankfulness, gratitude] always, always precedes the miracle.” And I am trying trying trying to be thankful for all things and in all things. And trying not to think of that as a magic wand, like “If I am thankful then I will get a miracle and a sack of money or a winning lottery ticket will show up.” Because I know that it might not work that way. The miracle might be something more subtle, something that allows me to be up above the surface for a little while.

  12. Yes, yes, YES!!! Get the damn dog, Greg/Josh/husband/children/anyone-who-is-not-naked!!! Your writing makes me laugh, and also nod in acknowledgement that some days I, too, am not acting or thinking in a way I know I should be. ALL THE FEELS. We are here with you, waving in the dark, sometimes laughing and sometimes crying (that ugly cry is ug-LY!). Consider your hand held, from the midwest 🙂

  13. I have been checking for days to see if you had written to us because I needed some words to help me. You have helped me because, again, I know I am not the only one and you make me laugh even as I cry in recognition. I have no magic remedies for you. All I know, for me, is that I have to keep taking tiny steps, on a daily basis, towards being more well. I will tell you when I get there – hahaha! Sending a big, comforting cup of tea through the wires.

  14. Treading water, hoping not to go under, but knowing that this is treading because even though it’s exhausting and I can’t see the shore, it’s still not the same as being all the way under. For this I thank the estrogen patch! Husband is going through cancer treatments, son is a high school senior who Finally applied to some colleges this week, hopefully negating the possibility of being the only honor student, who also got third at the state cross country meet to not manage to figure out a college application process. And then there is the 7th grade daughter who is the 7th grade daughter. I’m not sure whether to be appealed or happy that she has decided to make herself less attractive by pulling her hair back into unappealing hairstyles. The nursing home the mom is in calls for various reasons wanting me to know things or deal with things that I don’t want to deal with. My house is never going to be organized, so I’m lobbying to move. At least then it can stay in boxes for a few years.

    1. The boxes! Yes! Hello, sister-in-tribe! (Did the nursing home manage to call during Christmas Eve dinner with a pointless unanswerable question? They get bonus points for that ….)

  15. Keep up the writing, you make us laugh, think, and sometimes both, so keep writing even under water if you have to…, they make paper, pens, and computers that work while scuba diving, so obviously they people will continue to need to write when under water (or maybe that’s one of the only ways you can communicate while underwater except Sign Language).

  16. Just a little underwater here too. My house is so chaotic and no one wants to fix it. My husband is off this week and the kids are home too and everyone has their own agenda, which apparently does not include any sort of order. I am far from a neat freak, but I am going to go crazy. Tomorrow is my birthday, so I hope my 7 year old gives me what I asked for (good behavior and cleaning something up), but it is doubtful. He said he would rather buy me something.

  17. After a very short (or very long, depending on perspective) night full of nightmares and flashbacks, I was hiding under the covers I MEAN nursing the baby! Yes! Mothering well and nutrition! while hubby went to change diapers on the other three kids and get them established at the breakfast table. Usually he plays music for them in the morning. I need Mozart or Beethoven or occasionally Metallica to get my morning brain in a happy place. But no. We had THE RAFFI STATION blasting through the surround sound. So, because Marital Harmony and Good Communication Skillz, I texted him, “This is horrid and I am moving out via the bedroom French doors.” Ten minutes later, when I’d received no answer because three toddlers I MEAN he was just messing around right? totally goofing off and doing nothing? I texted further, “Make me a cup of coffee and I might consider beginning to forgive you for ‘Whoooaaa ohhh ohhhh, Raffi rayyyydeeeeooooo’ bludgeoning my cerebellum with an ice pick.” It’s probably not even the cerebellum, is it? I mean I took one term of neurobio, but it was ten years ago and I drank way too much that summer, not because college but more trying to erase trauma and clearly that worked SUPER WELL if I am still having flashbacks and nightmares? Yay excellent coping skillz!

    So sixteen FULL hours later, 75% of the munchkins are asleep, and I am trying to make myself shovel the sinkful of dirty dishes and just wind down and relax already, and what’s in my head? Of all the beautiful music I have ever heard and played…nope we can’t have any of those songs be brainworms. “Whoooaaa ohhh ohhhh, Raffi rayyyydeeeeooooo” is chasing the little ditty I was treated to at Speech today. “M is a CONsonANT, a LETter in the ALphaBET.” All right, I’m glad my son loved the song and it’s getting him to close his mouth to pronounce some letters now, but can I PLEEEASE just have the ice pick instead?

    Waving in the dark!

  18. My husband = your husband. I lose it at the coat. And how he takes the time to fully zip it. Even if it’s above freezing and possibly even 55° negating the need for a zippered winter coat while the dog is off making new friends. Oh and the shoes. The ones he can never find that then need to be tied even though slip-on crocks are inches away. Sigh.
    And yes, I’m waving hard over here. Hard wave.

  19. My own five kids all just came to check on me. I was both histarically laughing and crying as I just read your post. We have so much in common…5 kids…3 dogs…a hubs who has an Order of Things…and I too have been feeling a little under the water. We’re spending a lot of time, emotion and resources to buy a fixer upper of a dream home for us and it’s taken all fall and winter to work the deal and I’m. Just. Feeing. Done. But every day there seems to be a little more of something to hope towards and I’m trying to let life live itself out. Thanks so much for your writing. It falls on tender heart here.

  20. I’m a little under water myself, but peering up at the sky.

  21. I am still pregnant. Almost everyone else who was due this month already has their babies, lots of people who were due next month already have their babies, this is the most pregnant I have ever been, and yet here I am.

    A little underwater in the mess and the chaos and the post-Christmas cleaning of the house and the not having any baby snuggles yet.

    Well, technically, I do have baby snuggles, but I was hoping to be holding a baby in my arms and kissing a tiny face rather than having somebody so big and strong and intent on spooning my liver still making a bid for control of my abdominal cavity.

    And the world is full of sadness and fear.

    And I am, too, in a way that seems so very petty considering my many blessings and comforts.

    This is where I am now, though. Afraid. Sad. Discouraged. Exhausted.

    But much beloved, and full of love myself.

    Waiting for dawn.

  22. I was physically ill for two days after christmas, just from the whole awfulness of it, and the overwhelm. I’m still shattered, utterly exhausted. So I think I’m underwater too. So we can hold hands friend xx

  23. Above water right now….but knowing that most likely will be under come January / February if 2016 is like 2015…

  24. I love you so much. I really, really do. Today my apartment manager rang my doorbell after I had just laid down for a nap and and I was all, “WHAT?!” and he said, “The lawyer wants to talk to you,” and because I live in the Dominican Republic and we were speaking in my second language and my apartment manager is crazy in mostly good ways when I asked him what “the” lawyer wanted to talk to me about all I got out of his explanation was “English.” So I, in my pajamas which included capri pants which showed off the fact that I honestly cannot remember the last time I shaved my legs and with my wet hair (I had showered post-nap), followed my apartment manager outside and down the stairs and around the corner to a lawyer’s office. The lawyer invited (still totally clueless) me into his office and offered me a little side job translating documents from Spanish to English. CHA CHING.

    The other day I got an e-mail from a blogger person I follow that said, “Hey, do you still wanna read my book? Because I’m done with the latest draft and am looking for some input.” UM YES.

    And I’m a teacher on Christmas break and the only plans I have for the next 13 days are read, write, watch TV, and eat dinner at other people’s houses and then play games with said people. So I am really, very great.

  25. this. so much this. right now.

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