My partner is out of town this weekend and has been for the better part of the week at a conference on the other side of the globe, so I’ve been working to keep myself busy while I’ve got the apartment to myself. The quiet is nice, as long as it doesn’t get too quiet, and I’ve found myself enjoying working on little projects for myself. The ability to stay home alone for longer stretches of time is a newer occurrence these days that I am taking to hesitantly but gladly. I had spent so many years fighting deep depression that the idea of being left alone on my own was not just daunting, but possibly dangerous at times, and I pause to say I’m reveling in this newfound freedom, but it’s certainly nice to have the option.
I’ve been doing a lot of drawing to pass the time, mostly a larger project that I started after my partner left for New Zealand. A couple weeks ago, I bought a mixed media pad that measures 18″ x 24″ because I thought it might be fun to take on some larger projects. I finished the drawing today, though I found it’s really hard to get a good quality photo of something that large and my scanner is much too small for the paper.
(The above image is a pen and ink drawing consisting of a large swath of circles, each slightly overlapping with a different textured design inside.)
Still, you get the gist.
There’s still a fear I have that as quickly as this remission in some of the more severe symptoms of my illness came about it, the illness itself could rebound. I’ve been trying to fill my life with quality things I enjoy, hence the art, but lately I’ve been wanting more. The terrifying part is that being dissatisfied with the size of my world and the beginning symptoms of my mental illness don’t feel terribly different to me, at least not recognizably, and so I keep having these moments of panicked thoughts that the world is really crashing down around me. I think I’m a bit too Chicken Little at times. Fortunately, I have a really strong support system and people to help me realize that I’m not slipping back into despair but rather into regular old boredom and that this is actually a really good thing! It just doesn’t feel like a good thing…
Art is one of those things that makes me feel alive though. There was one time when I was in the hospital where I drew almost every spare moment I had because it was one of the few things that made me feel connected to anything. I don’t consider myself to be an artist, probably along the same reasons I don’t consider myself to be a writer. That would involve taking some sort of positive credit for what I do, but I do enjoy it. I’m hesitantly looking forward to seeing what comes out of this slow expansion of my world, that is if I can keep from running for fear that the sky is falling.
My therapy assignment over the past few weeks was to write a letter to myself as a child about the truth of many things and while I’m not going to post the contents of that letter here because it is long and deeply personal, I did really like the last paragraph and decided that I would share that.
The truth is that you are a math problem. You are the product of your environment and your upbringing and you are the sum of your parts and your only saving grace is that when you multiply a negative times a negative, somehow you wind up with something positive, no matter the size. Not that you will be able to ever hear yourself or any aspect of you as being positive without claiming it to be a lie, because even at thirty-two, that is something far beyond what you can let go. But you have survived thus far, to thirty-two and that is not a negative number so there must be at least a small positive in there somewhere and perhaps that’s not nothing.
Thinking this is bringing me a small bit of peace tonight.
Yesterday was one of those pre-spring days that I love. Blue skied without a cloud in sight, warm enough to get away with wearing a lighter weight jacket with layers underneath, feeling optimistically cheerful while waiting for the bus to go down to the center of this urban area for a cup of tea and wait for my partner to be done with work for the night. Just knowing that the spring equinox was today was enough to put me in a good mood.
When we got the first twenty-six inches of snow and the city ground to a halt in January, I didn’t realize how badly the end of winter was going to weigh on me. And really, with almost no snow for the first months, the cold temperatures felt bearable and as I struggled to hold the areas of my life that were falling apart in other grandiose ways together, winter seemed like the least of my problems. And then of course I got the other pieces of myself to fit back together in their jigsaw puzzle and with cautious optimism laid a thin layer of modge podge over the top right as the flakes began to fall and this hell of a winter that had apparently just been saving everything up for its last six weeks unleashed itself with a fury upon Boston. All I can think now is thank god for that thin layer of glue for holding me together until spring because now that it seems certain that spring will indeed arrive on this coast, everything just feels like it’s becoming easier to deal with again when for a while I wasn’t sure we’d make it through.
And of course today, being the actual equinox, brings with it another layer of snow depth still to be determined which does put a slight cramp in my spring-welcoming plans since it is the sort of weather that makes me want to hole up inside where it is warm and dry. Still, I think back to a month ago when I was making snow angels literally standing up while leaning against snow banks and a dusting of snow suddenly doesn’t feel like it will crush my spirit quite so easily. I’m able to remember how perfectly blue the sky was yesterday and hold onto that despite the less than choice weather conditions outside my door currently.
(The above image is of myself making a snow angel against a six foot pile of snow standing up.)
When I said that it was too early for green sprouts in my own yard, I might have been speaking prematurely. Walking home this afternoon, I had to stop to appreciate these along the front of my building. Spring really has arrived!
(The above image is of green crocus shoots beginning to make their way out of the ground.)
Spring is almost here. I can tell beyond my bottled up cabin fever because yesterday temperatures in the city soared above fifty-five degrees and friends are starting to send me pictures of crocuses poking shoots out of the earth hesitantly. I am anxiously awaiting the melting of the snow so that traces of green might start to be seen in my own yard, but I think that is still a little ways off still.
I love spring. Not just for the freshness and the green sprouting everywhere but for the sense of renewal that it brings with it. Especially after a hard winter, which this past certainly qualifies, I yearn for the chance to shed layers and start fresh and spring gives just that opportunity. There is a literal shedding of layers after all, sweaters and coats and scarves giving way to lighter jackets and caps, skin starting to be exposed to the sun again as it dares to peek out from the gloom of New England winter.
Here sitting in this coffee shop, I chose this seat intentionally because the sunbeam hits it fully. It sometimes makes the screen of my tablet a little difficult to see, but it is warm and enveloping and on a day where temperatures have dipped back near freezing, it is more than welcome. Tomorrow, the sun is due to shine and the actual beginning of spring frowns nearer. Those green shoots of spring, the crocuses and daffodils won’t be far behind the melting of the snow. For a winter that I was once sure would never end, I now have fledgling beginnings of faith that March will it allow a break through and spring will once again bring that renewal, as it has so many times before.