(Addams, scoping out one of the new folks)
Warning: Very Long Rant/Post ahead. If you get bored, just skip over it.
This post is about my personal journey during the recent past.
Backstory: A few days ago (ok, maybe a couple of weeks) I took a hard look at my life and attitude. Lately I have been really angry and sad, mostly (almost entirely) at the fact that I am so isolated by the MM/CFS. I have so few folks in my life. I was beginning to be quite miserable and in a bad mood all the time.
It is no fun to be in a bad mood all the time. I decided that something had to change.
BUT ------ I cannot change the fact that I am fairly bed-ridden. I cannot change the fact that I can't do all the stuff I used to do. I cannot change the fact that I don't have family or friends near me to care about.
So, what can I change? The way I look at things.
I decided to put away the image I have/had of myself as an outgoing, engaging person, surrounded by laughing people. You see, I like having other people to think about, to care about. I like hearing their stories and adventures. I like having others around to talk with, to engage in discussions about how to accomplish stuff, or how to change the world for the better, I love political discussions and religious philosophy sharing. (You can maybe see why I truly loved being a minister) And, I miss all that. But that was the Old me.
Fortunately, I am an introvert (actually on the cusp between introvert and extrovert). That does help. I do enjoy my own company. And I have all the animals. They are not so great on the discussion end of things, but they are pretty good at accepting love and caring.
So I decided to change my self-image. No longer will I see myself as a poor, pathetic, bed-ridden, isolated person. Instead, I shall see myself as a Hermit. A Happy Hermit. A Happy, Spiritually Inspired Hermit, who gives herself over to the care and well-being of animals. Someone who can listen to music all day, if need be. Someone who is called to pay attention to the differences between the cats various personalities and the preferences of the dogs. Someone who gets to watch the trees being kissed by the sun and the clear blue sky (it's always clear blue here) being a safe backdrop for the miracles below. Someone who can indulge from time to time in expressing all this beauty and wonder in small works of Art.
Also, someone who does not have to deal with Bad Moods from other folks. Someone who does not have to apologize for being happy, or laughing at how ridiculous she is from time to time. Someone who lives in the NOW, because there is no other time.
And strangely enough. That has worked -- much to my surprise! It was as if my bad mood simply dissolved. It just wasn't there any more. I am calm, relaxed (even when the pain gets really annoying), and non-stressed. This is my life and that's OK. I can't save the world from my bed, but I can add to the over-all peacefulness. And I am happy, calmly happy. I wake up Happy, even when I am in pain (Lately my pain is between 4 and 7, so not a big deal). And this has now lasted for well over a week, almost two weeks
Now, add onto this that I haven't taken my Zoloft for about a month or more (and before that it was getting quite sketchy, remembering to take it only about once a week or so) and no pain pills for a very long time. This is not a chemically-induce euphoria. It's just me, all by myself, just doing what I can. I know this calm will not stay forever, but I can invite it to stay for as long as possible and invite it back frequently.
(an old picture of Fred and I)
Of course, no sooner had I decided all these things when I got a phone call. My social worker had arranged for a non-profit group to some over and clean my yard. Turns out they were from the Sheriff's Dept, volunteers working with at-risk youth. 3 adults and 7 kids showed up and cleaned my front and side yard. They were lovely and I enjoyed them very much. I talked with the head guy and asked him if he would be interested in letting me work with some of the kids, teaching them Art with polymer clay (I have so much extra of the stuff). He was very interested and it may happen. They have the facilities, I have the clay and tools.
After they left, I went back to thinking about how to be a Happy Hermit. It was good, I liked it. After all, a Hermit does not necessarily have to be totally isolated from other people, just does not seek them out.
Then the phone rang again. Someone else was taking a van that night with lots of folks to look at the Christmas decorations that people put on their houses, would I like to tag along? Sure! We had a lovely time (my favorite was a home that had the house only partly decorated, with a life-size mock-up of the Grinch taking down the lights). Towards the end of the ride, I was really sore and hurting from sitting up for so long (better part of an hour), but happy. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to spoil it for the others, but I did have to be helped back into my home. Ah, well. The next two days I really paid for it, but I tried to remember the lights and the decorations when it got too bad. Took my mind somewhat off the pain.
Several days passed. I was still happy and starting to get over the van ride.
Then, Joy of Joys, the Half-cat changed her ways (Her name is Tabygail, BTW). She is now a Full Cat, staying inside all the time except for outside potty breaks. She still doesn't like to be where people are, because that is also where the dogs are, but at least I know she is safe. And when I go into her room (it's the junk room), she looks up and purrs and jumps down onto the table and weaves around so that I will sit down and spend some serious petting time with her. We both love that.
To add to my joy, at least 5 of the ferals came in the house and began to explore. I left the french doors to the porch open (just a crack) to air out the place, and they took that as an invitation! Charming lead the pack, followed by Blaze, Xena, Noddy and Scamp. I think a couple of others may also have come in for a while. Scamp was especially bold. He is by far the friendliest of the group. Scamp took one look at Fred, the Blind dog, and went over and Head Butted him! Then Scamp started purring up against poor Fred who just stood there, not really knowing what to do. I saw Fred's tail hesitantly and questioningly wag, just a a bit. I tried very hard not to laugh out loud. I didn't want to discourage the scene.
The ferals stayed around for over an hour, but Scamp decided to spend the night. He was mostly a gentleman the entire time. Yes, he did a lot of exploring, but he didn't knock too much stuff over, just a few CDs in their cases. He kept on coming over to me to ask if it was OK he was inside. I reassured him with pets. He loved that. I will be very glad when he finally learns how to use the Cat door. But the night itself was surprisingly peaceful, what with all the new cats in town.
Then there was Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I had no ride to church (my Christmas tradition is the midnight service with candles) so I stayed at home this year. But I did get to feed the ferals late at night (an extra treat) and it was at that point that I fall into the dark welcoming sky, cats tangling around my legs. It was pure bliss. But Christmas Day had a surprise for this newly-minted Hermit.
I decided not to go to the movie on the actual day of Christmas (want to see "Into the Woods"). I wanted to spend the day around home, I can go another day for the movie. So I lay back in bed, putting the finishing touches on some artwork, when the phone rang. It was a friend from my polymer clay days (I used to be Very Active in the polymer clay community). It was a delight to hear from her and we talked for about an hour and a half. No sooner had I hung up with that conversation (My hand was still on the phone) when it rang again. Long distance SKYPE call from Ireland. Yes, It was a Sister of my Heart (not a blood relative, but Dearly Beloved) - who does not usually like to talk on the phone. We chatted from around 11 AM (my time) until 4 pm. (!!!?!!) When we ere finished, I went to the bathroom. Upon returning, I picked up the phone to return it to the charger -- but it rang again! Another long-distance friend, another 2 hours. Then I made a sandwich -- and the phone rang. A Local friend, four and a half hours. Finally I was finished. Turned on a movie. Before the opening credits were finished, another call. Total? well over 15 hours on the phone!!!
So much for Hermiting.
Anyway, today I am back in Hermit mode, happy and content. A quiet calm. I intend to enjoy this mood while it is here.
I may take a nap.
(Addams, after a long night, hosting)