April 27, 2016 § Leave a comment

It isn’t that I am depressed. I don’t think I am. Or if I am, it is situational. There are many moments in any given day where I am truly enjoying my life. That is, the situation I am in, the people I am with, and my perception of myself within it. In these moments I feel expansive, full of hope, positively oriented toward my future.

However. Maybe I am depressed. Because, on any given day, I will experience a deep discord, a sense that the situation I am in, the people I am with and my perception of myself are all WRONG. In these moments I feel shut down, hopeless, trapped and unable to make positive changes on my own behalf.

These two scenarios remind me of my childhood summers on the Gulf Islands. When the tide was out tide pools would form in the sandstone depressions. These tide pools teemed with life. There would be miniature bullish, barnacles, sea snails, hermit crabs, and sea anenomes.

The barnacles and anemones were endlessly fascinating because they had two distinct states of being. When all was quiet and they did not feel threatened they would open up and extend their feeding tentacles outward. The barnacles would slide open their bifold shells and a delicate whips tongue would tentatively comb the water for food particles. The anemones did not have a hard shell. Their skin was soft, smooth and muscular. They would open up from the inside out, their pearly translucent tubules extending outward to siphon food into their centre.

When we children would sneak up on them and startle them with a splash, both these creatures would withdraw into an immovable object. Their gentle grazing explorations transformed into an inanimate lump.

That is what I feel like. In one moment I am open and receiving, the next I am shut down and blocking.

It is so frustrating to have my life operate on the level of a mollusc. I wish I was tougher, more resilient, able to laugh at the adverse conditions that erupt in my life without warning. Able to retire quietly to rebuild my energy, not collapsing in exhaustion when I am too tired or overwhelmed to fight off emotionally draining relationships anymore.

There are certain simple things that I can do to help myself, but I have a very difficult time remembering that I can. Most of the time I feel overwhelmed by other people’s emotional states and find myself struggling to cope with the most basic life tasks. When I can manage to ground myself, I can feel better and function at a higher level. But that is also hard won. I need energy to do even that.

The alarm has gone off and it is time to walk the dog before loading up and heading off to work. I did not sleep well last night. I am besieged by rumination about what I am going to do next in relation to this person or that. The fact is that, as we age, there are only so many toxic people we can shut out of our lives. And when we are married to an emotionally toxic person, who we love, it is all the more difficult.



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