Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

One day last week I stumbled out to the front yard in the morning, still blinking sleep out of my eyes, two of the dogs tangling with my legs, only to look up at my Bradford Pear and realize that it was blooming.  Just like that winter in Texas is over.  In the Lone Star State it works like that, one day it's one season, the next day it's another.  Of course, I say that, and yesterday it was rainy and cold, so go figure.  But, usually it works like that here, and even with yesterday's chilly exception, Spring is making itself known.  So, I was trying to wrap my head around that and thinking that I should take a page from the live oaks here and sluff off the old leaves and turn over a new one.  Well, I'm not sure I'm quite ready for all that.  But, I thought to myself as I considered the little white blooms on my tree, the new season is cause to take stock maybe, check the vital signs and see how I am holding up.  In the end analysis, some things are bad, but not everything.  Perhaps surprisingly, some things are positive.  Here are some glimpses at both sides of the proverbial coin:

The thing about time is it's relative.  For some people, June 20th seems a long time ago probably.  For Greg and me, it's not long enough to salve an open wound.  The fear, at least for me, is that everyone will lose patience with us, for the way we're still not whole.  I can't speak for Greg really, but I sense he worries about the same thing.  We go about our business, but we're not going about in exactly the same manner as we did before.  We lack much enthusiasm, everything seems to be like walking through quicksand.  And then there's the short fuse.

I had noticed it in myself, but this morning Greg told me he has had the same experience.  One might think we'd have this new level of ability to not sweat the small stuff and, face it, most everything in comparison is small stuff.  Oddly, however, that's not the case.  The little stuff just sends me into orbit.  I get highly irritated overly the smallest little things and, under the right circumstances, I've been known to completely come unglued over things that a year ago would have caused me to make some caustic comment or two, maybe bother me for a few minutes, but then I'd be done with it.  That was not always my personality, it was something I spent years struggling to achieve, and I hate that I seem to have lost it.  Larger issues I do better with, believe it or not.  Yet, when someone does something small, such as behave rudely (the trigger for a particularly bad outburst I had a couple of weeks ago was when someone responded to a work e-mail I sent posing a question with the response "WOW"), act pushy, or are willfully obtuse (a common problem, it seems, in my industry), I simply cannot stand it.  Greg's situation is worse because he has to interface with a diverse population, many of which are communicating because they are doing something "wrong" (not mowing a lawn, not paying a mandatory assessment, etc.), or they are upset with the associations Greg works with for various reasons and are complaining.  And, trust me, people in those circumstances often do not behave in a mature, business-like manner.  The way you survive that and handle it correctly is to not take it personally (even when they mean it that way), step back from the situation so you can see it for what it is and react calmly.  Greg has always been very good at that.  Now we both struggle with it.

For me, it is worse now than it was in the first months after Kelsey died.  I don't know why.  Maybe because there is the added stressor of Mother's situation.  But, maybe it's like when an arm or a leg is reviving from being asleep; it's that irritating tingling before normal nerve sensation returns.  Maybe, hopefully, this stage will pass, and I can regain some semblance of inner Zen.  I mean you have no idea how hard I worked to overcome my innate tendency to be a hot head, and I was so much happier with the Mellow Me.  I don't like it on the Dark Side.  It makes me really mad.

However, some unexpected things have happened for the positive.  Through this journey I have met a lot of incredible people.  Some people who I had not been in contact with for a long time have come back into my life and been highly supportive.  Granted, some of the people we know seemingly couldn't handle the intensity and have seemed to fade into the background, at least for now, but really they have been the minority.  As I have said before, I am blessed with wonderful friends.  I knew it before, I am more convinced of it now.

The largest gift of all was meeting so many of Kelsey's friends, now young men and women living their lives on the other side of the dark teenage years they were embroiled in when I first met them.  I love seeing them, always bright and attractive, now sober in most cases, heading for better things.  They are proof that there was light at the end of the tunnel.  And again, not reacting at all like I would have expected, instead of making me sad, because I am watching others have what Kelsey could not, it makes me very happy.  I feel a sense of satisfaction.  I realize part of it was because I was right when I concluded early on that there was a group of bad behaviors, but not bad kids, surrounding my daughters.  I would like to think it is less selfish than that.  I hope and believe I am genuinely happy for these young people.  I am so glad I have been, even if briefly, witness to their blossoming.  That has been truly amazing.

I know that this is an evolutionary process.  How I am today is not how I will be a month from now.  For now, please do not send me any e-mails all in caps.  I don't seem to like it much.   

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