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Pep Talk

Posted May 01 2012 12:00am

I feel kind of rotten about how much I am letting things get me down.

Feeling bad about being down? That's probably about as counter-productive as you can get, but there you have it.

Years ago I wasn't one of those people who thought you could, as the bumper stickers say, "choose happiness." But now, as an adult, I do believe you can.

It wasn't so much that I didn't believe it, when I was younger, I just didn't know it was an option.

I spent a lot of years living with a very depressed mother. She, no doubt, learned it from her own parents--I'm thinking, her father. I don't want to pass the legacy on to my own kids, and yet, we already deal with anxiety at very young ages, and, I am sorely ashamed to admit, they have both on more than one occasion witnessed me in one of those depressed stupors where I can't think, can't react, can't cope.

It is not easy, this choosing happiness. But neither is allowing sadness.

That said, I am having a hard time with it lately. By lately, I mean, for the past several months.

It's funny. I do think there is a chemical component to emotions, but I also think if you work at it, you can choose how you are going to live, you can change your perspective. It is so vitally important.

Seeing my own mother's anger and depression after she was diagnosed with MS--and before, but the years post diagnosis are more clear in my memory--I vowed that I wouldn't live like that. I think anger and resentment are like cancers. They will blacken your insides. To that end, I have worked long and hard to forgive my mother for some of the....let's just call them less-than-stellar parenting decisions...she made. It's kind of ridiculous to be angry with a woman who has lost her mind anyway, isn't it? So I forgave her. For selfish reasons, in the end, I suppose. Though in doing so, eventually, and though she cannot participte in the relationship in any real way, I found my way back to her. To the part of her that was a good and caring and loving and passionate and hopeful woman.

While I recognize I have these old hurts, I have mostly been able to dissolve them with some sort of mental goo-gone which is still working on the sticky bits.

Some days. Or, some hours in some days, I absolutely cannot "choose happiness". I know that about myself. But big picture, I like to think I can. Changing my diet and exercise, getting more sleep. Getting time away. All that stuff the experts tell you. It DOES work for me. When I let it.

Letting it is a choice.

Still though, I am having a hard time keeping the "big picture" in focus more recently, and ironically, that fact, has got me in a funk.

I don't like that my job right now--motherhood--is stressing me out so much. I don't want to be the sort of mother who is tired and depressed and stressed, and angry. Too often, I feel I am.

A common phrase around the women I know is that we, as women, need to "put on our big girl panties." Suck it up. Move on. Pull our selves up by our own bootstraps and all that.

While I categorically despise the word "panties," I tend to agree. I do need to. Despite the things I am missing and despite the things I lack.

I don't think there is going to be some magical elixir, I just think I need to find the strength and the courage within myself to do as the old stand-by says, "...accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

I am not a God sort, and yet, I do pray.

Most my prayers are based on two phrases. Please and thank you. I try to balance that out.

I think saying thank you and choosing happiness are linked. I need to ponder that for awhile.

Excuse me while I go put on my big girl panties.

What do YOU do to cope with the stresses in your life?

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