You have permission to be just….tired.
Last night about 5 pm I dragged my shovel and hoe -and my raggedy ass-back to the garage, where I had also piled my implements of destruction, of blackberries, that is, in the far corner. I hurt all over. I’d spent the day, my last for a while I most fervently hope, pulling out the considerable root balls of the mature blackberries that had been flourishing in the common area between my neighbor’s yard and my own.
My hands are trashed. My body is trashed. Despite all the hard work I’ve done to be in shape, and I am, I am just weary. It’s not just from having to crawl underneath mature junipers, the branches scraping my face, poking my eyes and leaving shit in my hair and inside my sports bra. Junipers eat small children; they just maim adults. But to get the berry bushes, hadda be done.
It isn’t just from curling myself into weird positions to get an angle for my shovel or to somehow pry out a root from between two rocks, far below the big felled tree blocking my access. This was possibly decades of exuberant growth.
Sometimes you have to acknowledge defeat. There are two root balls that I cannot remove. Fine. Swell. Screw it. I’ll keep cutting you back, you mofo, see how that works for ya.
The berries took me three solid weeks, nonstop. And still, new ones are popping out of the ground, babies ready to turn into bulldozing monsters.
I take myself out for a walk, or a short run, at night. Still go to the gym. Still do the workouts three days a week.
But I am just weary. My heart and soul are just broken down. I feel rode hard and put away wet, as they say in horse racing.
Sound familiar? Here you go:
From the article:
Chronic stress also triggers low-grade inflammation, she adds.
“We have this inflammatory response when we’re feeling severe states of stress that can last. It’s subtle, it’s low grade and it can absolutely cause fatigue and a worse mood.”
If you’ve lost people, or if you were having issues before the pandemic, chances are things might have gotten a bit worse. A lot worse, for some, who find themselves facing eviction, or the stimulus checks never arrived, or any one of a number of issues that placed more and more layers of dis-ease on people without possibility of relief in sight. A few of my closest friends are dealing with all of these together, which is, in fact where a few of my stimulus checks went.
After moving here last August, having packed and moved a five-bedroom house four times largely on my own but for pieces much larger than I am, I got everything here. I’ve had two major surgeries, a serious car accident, two fractures of the same toe, a fire season that nearly ate the house I had just bought. I set up my house, moved shit around, sold stuff, bought stuff, installed a wood floor, took on the blackberries and weeds, and generally did my best to put down tentative roots.
And, insisting on do-it-yourself work around my own house, managed to explode a fingertip with a hammer while installing a huge Buddha carving.
Stress leads to stupid shit leads to funny stories, yeah, but I’m still tired. Sometimes I’m tired of making fun of what threatens to steamroll me.
Last year, in a moment of supreme idiocy, I told friends I’d be set up in about a a month and ready to head back to Mongolia. That was January.
It wasn’t just the 10k deck repair. It wasn’t just the 8k patio repair. It wasn’t just the …well, you get it. And at that time with all the rest of my Medium buddies, our incomes dropped precipitously just as my bills skyrocketed.
Before moving here I’d never heard the term “deferred maintenance.”
I’m sorry, I fell off my chair laughing just then.
While my lovely real estate agent — whose company was a lifeline during this past year when my neighbors wouldn’t answer their doors and the only folks I knew were people trying to stitch me back together — told me that I had timed my move perfectly, sometimes it sure didn’t feel that way.
But it was perfect.
I hesitate to say lucky, because I make my luck. Still, I give thanks every single day to the Universe for a roof, a nice one, food that is good for me that I can afford, and niceties in life that many cannot and will never afford. That said, I am still tired.
I miss my travel, which was the finest teacher of being able to roll with punches there is. A year out, some of those skills need greasing. The lessons remain, but they need practice. Like now, when I let things tire me out.
Part of that is I care way too much about things I can’t change, issues that often hurt people and cultures I care about. The older I get, the better I am at shutting some of that down simply because there is nothing I can do right now, especially send money to the myriad causes that need it. Under quarantine, though, it was harder, as winter and inability to travel or even head to a gym or run conspired to keep me indoors way too much.
Like for many of us, unless we are front line workers, which is a whole other kind of weary. It is not mine to speak to that, I have no idea, and am damned grateful I didn’t have to pay that price. Too many still are, and their willingness to sacrifice is precisely what allowed so many of us to quarantine in place, as it were. At least, those who took it seriously.
Those who didn’t take Covid seriously, and still aren’t, make me fucking weary, because now we have to be wary of them. Probably from now on. I think they should be tattooed on the foreheads, but that’s just me.
That said, my weary isn’t your weary. Their weary isn’t mine. Comparisons aren’t just odious, they’re cruel, as in saying that one person is just so lucky because at least they have X, which utterly disregards whatever genuine sadness, loss or pain they may be experiencing.
What, there’s a caste system for pain now? It’s now a competitive sport like my yoga has to be hotter, harder, longer than your yoga? My loss is bigger than your loss? Shall we have a rating system of one to ten on the emotional pain level so that we can compare pain like penis sizes?
Medium peep and weaver extraordinairePenny Nelson wrote on a article of mine the other day:
I think the hardest thing for me during this past year was letting go of all the anger I felt at people who were so obviously doing things wrong. You would be right to ask “Wrong according to who exactly?” It doesn’t really matter. I still have my beliefs about what we should all be doing but a greater understanding that we all see our circumstances differently. I think I’m kinder and more understanding now than I was before the pandemic. Still opinionated, of course. That hasn’t changed.(author bolded)
The reason I love this is because this lightens the load a bit. When I don’t carry anger at politicians for being stupid, people for refusing to vaccinate for being selfish, blah blah, I am less weary. That isn’t just being more kind to the world at large, it is above all being kinder to myself.
We cannot do others’ work for them, whatever that work may be. While a great many folks would LOVE you to do their work, it ain’t happening.
But there is work we can do, for it pays off. To that, then.
My neighbor, Emily, a young mother, was watching me go after the huge root balls in her yard, blackberries which send their thick, thorny spines into my yard to choke my garden. I’m sure she saw the blood running down my arms as the pile of dead bushes rose to several feet. It was righteous work. I love that kind of labor even if it does kick my butt. She doesn’t. Doesn’t make her wrong or bad. Not her thing. Is my thing.
Vive la difference.
We’d all love for someone else to do the work for us. In some cases, certain kinds of work can be shared. She’s going to spring for seeding where the brambles used to be, I commit to bramble patrol, we both enjoy a beautiful, safe garden, for her toddler and for me, for people who visit us.
That is a microcosm for what community looks like. I pull up roots so that I can put down roots, if you will.
Or, even if you won’t.
I hear the hoping for a return to normal. Kindly.
Truth, there is never a time when things will be back to normal, as the very idea of normal is ludicrous. It’s a carefully-curated way of being that likely never was, but our minds pine for a respite from the constant stresses. So there’s this imaginary normal as though everything was peachy keen at the time.
That’s why we want what’s familiar around us even if what’s familiar was painful, hurtful or not helpful. It’s just familiar, and therefore, feels safer.
This time last year I was taking my very first look at the house where I now reside. I took one look at the popcorn ceilings, and said NOPE.
It didn’t quite look like the picture I had in my head (which probably looked a lot like my previous house).
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Those lessons in unpredictability are the very lessons which are the reminders that a) I can’t control my future, but I can learn to navigate it better, and b) the only normal available to me is what calm I can create inside. And c)
the more I hang onto what was, the more I block the Universe from delivering what can be.
So perhaps one of the lessons I learned this year is how to quarantine fear, especially fear of the unknown.
The unknown has always and forever delivered far better results than I could possibly have ever imagined with my own feeble brain. It is my desire for predictability, for “normal” or at least the lie of normal, that prevents me from having the Next Best Thing.
As far as the Next Best Thing goes, every single time I walk outside, I never know what I’m going to see. Today it was this:
Didn’t even know I had iris in the garden. See? Surprise.
The other day I discovered Bleeding Hearts next to my kitchen door. Who knew?
People don’t mind change, but they want to know what to expect. Doesn’t work that way. What does work is to learn to not mind the changes, for they are inevitable.
No matter how far I think I’ve come, the road continues to surprise, and rise. As my buddy JC says,
“Don’t blame the mountain for getting more steep.”
If it weren’t, it would be all downhill from here.
So yeah, I am weary, bone tired, and need a nap. After that, I’m going get up and go out and see what else is new in the garden of this life.