Yesterday felt like a downward spiral. I looked out at the world through my computer monitor and saw black women dying in jail, Native Americans being killed by police in astounding numbers, a never-ending controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood, Donald Trump being an idiot*, Kelly Osbourne being just as much of an idiot, and people blaming minimum wage workers for getting the minimum wage raised to a livable wage like it’s a bad thing.
It makes me want to push my monitor off my desk, crawl into bed and never come out again.
A week or two ago, I watched Death to Smoochy again (for like the zillionth time). In the decade-plus that it’s been out, it has taught me a surprising amount of anger management. This is where I first learned to H.A.L.T.** and evaluate my situation. H.A.L.T stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired and it has helped me to determine what is really behind my strong emotions – could they be modified by giving my body some care?
H.A.L.T has been less effective as I’ve started dealing with chronic pain. I mean, I hurt. A lot of the time. And there is NO DOUBT that this affects my mood. I burn out at an excelled rate and find myself frustrated trying to do simple tasks like opening jars, washing my hair, or other things I didn’t think much of even a year ago. I miss my friends, but can’t keep up with them. I am not supposed to drink on my medication. I don’t have it in me to stand at concerts. Besides, its hard to perform*** when it’s difficult to bathe and dress myself. And I won’t even get into how self-conscious I feel in this body swollen from inflammation and puffy with prednisone.
I have been leaning towards distraction. I can read when my hands don’t get tired from holding the book. When that fails I have Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu to keep me company. But sometimes this becomes insufferable, too. And there I am stuck in my own head.
It reminds me of a conversation I had with my grandma before she passed away. She said to me, “I didn’t expect all this sitting and waiting.” She was referring to how she spent pretty much her whole life on her feet, raising kids and grandkids, caring for her house and her land, and still making time to contribute to the community. And in her Nineties she was forced to sit the fuck down, because her body didn’t want to hold her up anymore. Her brain was bored, frustrated and angry, and her body was giving up. I understand this more now than ever, and honestly it makes me panic a little when I think about the impacts of aging getting thrown into my own personal mix.
There’s no denying that it gets me down. It makes me angry. And I feel powerless to fight, whether it’s my immune system or oppression. Its through this lens that I watched Smoochy again and it was like watching it for the first time. A new scene stood out more than ever before. A very powerful scene in which he is on stage in his rhino suit telling the children that sometimes he gets angry. Sometimes the pressures of the world build up. And when it gets to be too much he…
wait for it…
That night I had a dream in which I went into an empty room and screamed and screamed and screamed. Until my partner woke me up. And it was intense and tense and cathartic and the first time I’d felt like I could do fucking anything. Well, not like I could do anything because I have super powers, more like there was anything I could do.
Since then, I have been giving myself some credit and allowing myself to be angry. When I step out of myself, I realize that I think a lot of people would feel similarly in my slip-on shoes. And it’s okay to be angry – as they say, if you’re not then you’re not paying attention. But I am also looking into ways to PROCESS it. It turns out feeling and processing might be more effective than, say, ignoring and bottling! Whodathunkit?
I have spent more than one session reading the reviews for boxing gloves on Amazon, trying to determine which pair will protect my ceramic-sausage-fingers from pain while I pummel the crap out of the giant deoder cedar in my yard. The tree doesn’t deserve it, but it can take it, and I like to imagine it understands. And I’m going to go ahead and say I DO deserve it.
I am also looking into things a little less violent. Things like RA support groups, the Alexander Technique, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and so on. Anything I can get my hands on that can improve my well-being, emotionally or physically, are on the table. When I see these options, I remember all of the potential I have, and the future doesn’t feel so dim.
Like the tree in my yard, if I can’t move, at least I can grow.
*Too many links to pick one.
**This is also where I learned the song, “My Step-Dad’s Not Mean, He’s Just Adjusting” which might be one of the most apropos songs for my generation that I’ve ever heard in my life. Seriously. If you haven’t seen this movie, just go onto Amazon Prime and buy it. You can thank me later.
***perform = be a human