Trina at Deer Creek, (c) SALYesterday while I was hiking under blue, blue skies, the blues jumped onto my back. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Sunshine, warm weather, fresh air, fall colors. What was there not to love about the afternoon?

All I can surmise is that since I hadn’t had that much time to think, when I got the time, I thought too much! I turned grumpy when the path we took seemed to be much farther than we had anticipated. That meant we weren’t going to get down to the car until dark. Then I wouldn’t be able to pick up those supplements for my mother that I can only buy outside of our neighborhood. More left to do on my to-do-list. Plus, it might mean we couldn’t visit her—and not only would she miss us, but also I really prefer visiting her with Sherman once in awhile so I’m not alone with her pleas to take her from the memory wing for good.

(c) 2009 SAL

(c) 2009 SAL

That morning we had gone to a session at church on being sandwiched. Oh yes, I could relate. But hearing about the difficulties of my life reminded me all the more about those difficulties. I didn’t leave feeling supported as much as feeling less hopeful. Not the intent at all—because we didn’t have much time to share with one another, those feelings and thoughts had time to grow in my head afterwards.

One of the things we talked about was how much caregivers needed help and how to respond if someone offered to give us some. That led me to thinking about what I need most right now, even though no one was really asking.

What I decided would help me feel better is to have a cleaner as well as less cluttered home environment. I’m the only one who is here all day—I don’t get to go away to a place where the “stuff” is limited by others or where there are janitors and cleaning crews, etc. I’m the one who sees the mess day in and out; however, doing the cleaning is never top on the list of urgent tasks for me. Decluttering and cleaning have always been my weaknesses and when I’m stressed, that’s even more true. What I need now is someone to help me put things away, including finding homes for those items I just can’t seem to figure out where they go. Heck, I need help just dusting and sweeping, so maybe I can clear out the cobwebs on my own aspirations.

The extra time on my hike seemed to bring back those thoughts from the morning—and the realization that I couldn’t even name my aspirations. Then I started thinking about how I had been working on getting out of crisis mode living and becoming better at daily living when the big crises began in our lives. All my life I’ve been good in a crisis, but I haven’t done so well at creating routines that allow me to have time to both do the necessary things and enjoy myself.

Well, this last year has made me even better at living for the moment and for the next crisis. As I struggled with that thought, I wondered if I’d lost all the ground I’d gained in my previous work. Then began the big questions: Who am I without the crisis? What do I do when I don’t have to spend so much time just reacting to the needs of others?

(c) 2009 SAL

(c) 2009 SAL

My hiking was not so different from my life. I could climb like crazy going up. But going down, I was slow and clumsy. I could do what was hard, but not what was supposed to be easy. Story of my life.

I admit that I am most likely depressed over the losses and lifestyle changes I’ve experienced in my life in the last year and a half. I have had to let so many other things drive my schedule, but these days, even when I can control my own schedule, I don’t know where to begin.

I don’t want to be like one woman we met in DBT. She was so depressed because she had some permanent health conditions that limited her lifestyle and would probably shorten her life span. Yet, she could not get out of the chair to enjoy what she was left to her.

So I’ve had losses. But how do I get back to enjoying what I can? Like enjoying a hike as an opportunity to relax and do something for myself? I don’t want to sit in the chair and miss the fact that I do get to control so much more than I could just a few months ago. My time is coming soon: my kids will be in college and, sadly, my mother will be gone, too.

The kids have even been gone a lot the last few weekends. With and without Sherman, I have known how to amuse myself. I’ve had fun with my husband. Seriously, when I’m not packing the blues, I wonder if more time alone really will resolve much of this dilemma for me. Although I have a hard time separating myself from others’ problems when they’re close by, when I have some physical space from the people, I do a much better job with boundaries. It’s not quite out of sight, out of mind, but a more balanced approach nonetheless.

(c) SAL

(c) SAL

The season when I get to be more in charge of my life is not so far away, yet I still have so much work to do on my journey to what’s next. So today after everyone left, right away I returned to the writing that had been interrupted by Christiana’s breathing crisis. Then I started this writing, even though I should have been preparing for a meeting with a financial advisor about my mother’s needs. I’m going to yoga. The sun is shining for another incredibly warm fall day. There is still time to be me, even if I’m a bit stymied by the process of figuring out how I want to be when I get the chance.

Last night, as the dusk deepened, together Sherman and I hurried down the path toward our car, the only lonely vehicle still in the parking lot. We’d hiked over ten miles together, but I’d been alone in my head for almost half of that trip—unless you count the blues I was packing with me. However, once I got into the car, my blues just slipped away—almost as quickly as they’d arrived.

I suppose sometimes I’m going to have to welcome them on my journey to what’s next, but I’m not about to carry them on my back the whole way.

Deer Creek (c) 2009 SAL

Deer Creek (c) 2009 SAL

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