July. This is it, the few brief months of warmth and wild growth and freedom and endless days. We are in the middle of it and tipping ever so slightly towards cold and dark but mostly just sweating in thirty degree heat, hanging out at the river bank or at the edges of tailing ponds, dipping our feet in the icy cold water and letting the delicious chill of it give us goosebumps. These are the days of working two jobs, squeezing in friends and family and maybe even some sleep. These are the days of wildflowers and mountain climbing and new friends and live music and festivals. It’s all happening, as it does every summer, and it should be great. Mostly, it is.
But the last two weeks, since the solstice, I suppose, I’ve been in a real funk. I’ve learned enough by now to know that this doesn’t mean THE END of happy days, but rather that it’s a bump in a very long road. That doesn’t make it any easier, though. For the last two weeks I’ve been saying such mean things to myself. I’ve stopped putting cream on my feet so that deep cracks have opened on my heels and it hurts every time I take a step. I’m so thirsty, and I tell myself to drink some water, and I don’t drink the water. Maybe I have some more tea because I’m so tired because I’m staying up too late and not getting enough sleep so I need caffeine to buoy me.
The fact that all of this was happening while my wonderful parents were visiting, while the wildflowers bloom, while life continues to happen around me, is such an insult. And it feels so shameful. How dare I feel like shit? One more thing to add to the nasty things I would say to myself. Stupid. Fat. Ugly. Talentless. And then: Ungrateful. Ouch.
I let it all build up for a while. I mentioned it to a close friend, and to my husband. But otherwise I smiled my way through it (or maybe not, I’m sure my mom knew something was up. Hi, Mom!) If I’ve learned anything in the last few years, it is to have patience with these things. I could feel tears dammed up inside of me, but I had no time to cry. Work, family, writing and poetry readings and friends and garden…no time for tears.
This morning, home with the kids, Colm threw a toy at Aedan and Aedan exploded, as he does (he gets it from me. We’re both learning how to stop doing this). He picked up a Transformer he got in a toy exchange at school, a hard plastic thing with lots of angles, and chucked it at his brother. And missed. He pinned me instead, right above my lip. Instantly, I burst into tears and I sobbed for a good little while, all three kids just staring at me. Finally, I regained myself and we talked about why that wasn’t okay and what he could do instead. I’m grateful that toy didn’t hit Colm, because it fucking hurt. I’m grateful something broke the dam and I had a good cry. I’m grateful that Aedan got shocked out of himself a little bit, and that it lead to a conversation about how to better handle anger.
I’ve started to come out of my funk. I think I’m on the other side of it. The nasty voice in my head is silent. I’m in my studio writing this, Wednesday night, and below the open window, people sing on the sidewalk. The swallows swoop through the air, gathering up the mosquitoes. One block over, I can see kids on the swings in the schoolyard–it’s ten thirty and the sun is still in the sky. There is still July, and if we’re lucky, August, too. But then it will be brilliant autumn, and then the gorgeous, difficult winter and I will try and remember to take the highs and the lows in stride. And if you’re having a hard time this summer, know that it’s okay. Drink some water. Ask for help. Do what you need to get through.