The Little One in the form of an Owl...(but don't tell her I said that!)

February 18, 2012

Is it A Cycle or A Spiral?

I know something about myself that I haven't always known.  I have a rough time with transitions. Any transition, no matter how small, throws me for a loop, or into a loop as it were.  I knew this week would be tough. The Little One and I are on or own for the second time ever, and this time for much longer than two days.  Added to this, she has begun her lessons this week.  One would think this was cause for a celebration, but instead her increasingly familiar mood shifts, coupled with my own withdrawal into quiet has left us both in a funk that seems to feed off each other. I know what's going on with me, but am at loss to see why it should result in such exacting expression from someone else.

         For me, what I've come to call it is Cycling.  I have this theory I'm working on about my biorhythms-my physical, emotional, and mental states of being. I wrote about it last month, in a post I never posted, because then the cycle continued and it didn't seem so relevant anymore-life went on; things were fun, crazy, but mostly manageable.  And now when I know I'm just coming out of yet another of my...introversions, I still don't have much to say, I'm just remembering I have words. But I do want to write about it at some point-maybe a lot-until I get it right.  I think it's an amazing thing to witness about myself, though harassing to go through.  The threat to slip into psychobabble and very really psych-fears is... restraining, but who gives a shit.

          For the past few years I've witnessed an increasingly palpable wave my moods shift through, a cycle that begins say at the end of the month. I love the start of the month; I am always so ON IT, so AWARE, so high with connection and comprehension.  No matter what is going on in my life, these first two or three weeks (if you count from the last week of the previous month) find me in my most creative and initiating mood.  Even if I'm not doing anything new, I am usually remembering what I'd thought to do before but just never got around to it.
          Then it all goes to pot around the middle of the month-I say around because if I am being very careful and aware I can note a few days of.....frantic feeling where I'm still doing, still being thoroughly extroverted and functional, but it's like I'm Wile E. Coyote just after he dashes over the ledge, just after he realizes he is over a ledge, just before that realization leads to his downfall...literally.  Those are those few days-say the 13th to the 15th; it's where I'm already over the ledge, but now it's dawned on me, and peeeewww, splat, there it is. 
              I stay in an introverted funk, having nothing to say, no thoughts come to mind that I can lucidly follow let alone share.  [This is where we bring up interesting little words like depression and seek help. Yeah, you would say that, I would too unless I was me-which I am.]
           The thing about these cycles is they are not pathological though they are organic and natural; I don't feel bad at these times, I just go still and quiet, which only feels bad when I feel like I'm supposed to be the extroverted doer-maker-organizer I am at the other side of the cycle (like when it's the Little One's first week alone with me, and she's got lessons and tutors, and outings Oh My!)
            Without fail, no matter what is going on around the 23 of the month, I snap out of it-well NO-I slip back into the other side of the cycle.  Suddenly words, thoughts, and connections are alive in my brain again-like WOW (ha! can you tell I'm not quite there yet?) And that's it; the cycle starts all over again.
            There's another thing I've noted about this cycle thing but with less definition, it is that I think it happens throughout the year as well, but that may just be residual effects of living in a cold climate.  I am high as hell in February, my life just feels tremendously filled with activity even when it's just in my mind; in March things are okay, but in April and May I get that funky over the ledge feeling again-I'm usually working out like crazy, working, seeing someone new, but it's all starting to slip away for some reason. New guy disappears or turns into a sociopath in human clothing; working out hits a standstill, usually related to some such illness; and so on, and so forth.

         There, I've written it all out for once, not that it makes me sound at all normal or healthy, and worse, not that I have even begun to explain the nuances of this revolution-like those time-lapse photography videos of a carcass being devoured by insects in the forest-this is a messy, but beautiful thing. I just don't really know what it is yet.

          I began this post discussing transitions-this is a whole new layer of dealing with my tiresome self. You would never know it to look at me, unless you really knew me, and even then only if you were especially brave and curious.  Life continues as before-food is made, jobs are done, people are called. There may be only like 3 days of the 10 day downturn where I seem off or tired, but I know when it is there with some inexplicably exact timing.

           This last time it happened on...Friday, the day I went to the gym at 6am, the day I came back and did 3 loads of wash (by HAND-ahem-Africa), the day I took the Little One to the eye doctor, and sat there waiting to be called on a lovely, sunny afternoon, scratching at the crease in my arm, even though it didn't itch.  And my Logic mind thought-ah shit-what IS that itch?
            And Saturday we made a morning trip to the market and continued on to a lovely day at the beach-except that I was exhausted from too much gym time and I was expecting some-ka-guy (that's Ugandan for bloke, or mic, or homie) to maybe show up, though I didn't really want him too, and night came and all had gone well-it had been lovely, lovely, lovely...and I thought-fuck me, what IS that itch?
            Sunday I let myself read in bed thinking, let me just breathe and take my vitamins.
            And Monday she began her lessons but missed one because the driver forgot to show up and I thought-fuck me-I can't FIX this (nor do I even want to care)!
             And suddenly it just seemed all so tiresome. Meals were cooked, lessons were had, laundry was folded-but all the while, I was just so tired, each thought seemed to way down on me with its emptiness; like I just had nothing to say, nothing to give; like I just wanted to crawl into a simple grey space (not black, not dark, but the white was a bit too bright for me) and sit and lose myself.  This time around it was in SAG Award clips on youtube which led to any and all interviews of Ricky Gervais (who is beyond brilliant-I didn't know); followed by Adele songs on repeat (who is soooo talented-I didn't know) all things I never do and were utterly unimportant.

          Normally this is all okay for my life, not doing, not thinking, not being so damn...out there for a few days, can make me feel reborn (and yes, even in the biblical sense). But now I have this child who is perplexing to us-my mother and I-in her refusal to initiate anything with her imagination.  No matter how much attention I give her, she starves for more; like she can only participate in her life when I am right there next to her participating in the exact same thing-and It. Is. Never. Enough.  Her startling slip into apathy just because I have nothing to say to her in the 20 times a morning she comes and sits with me on my few days of introversion (I mean, feel free to watch the SAG Awards with me dear, but I am SORRY, I have no comments-especially not based on what an 8 year old, who has no idea what an awards show is, would notice or think about.) disturbs me as it strikes a very different cord than my own reclusion: I am not apathetic when I am quiet; I am biding my time, like a butterfly in a cocoon; I am doing what I gotsta to do, before I can fly free again. 
           Now she has storybooks, but won't so much as read them without me there; we've done calendars and paintings and shell decorations-even fucking papier-mâché- but when I leave my computer (where I admit I've thoroughly lost myself this week) to check on her in the 3 hours since she woke up to a prepared breakfast as usual, I find her lying on her bed sucking a finger and looking like some traumatized individual. I wake up at 6am to give her eye drops (she is not a morning person and this latest ritual may be contributing to her listlessness) then lie back in bed in an anxious panic trying to think of what in the world I'm going to say to her when she wakes up; literally willing the morning not to come. Not because I don't want to talk to her but because, just now, I can't think of a word to say to anybody; I just want to absorb and let my mind rest a bit.  

             My continued anemia may only exacerbate this situation, but that's why I mentioned the cycles; this is how my mind does; this is my cycle. I once read that though Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible; Bean Trees) one of my all time favorite authors is happily married with two daughters, when she is ready to write she actually moves out of her home and lives in a one room shack.  The PoisionWood Bible this is NOT, and perhaps will never be, but I've always had an affinity for that ritual of withdrawal.  

           It's times like this I wish we still kept to the ritual of oral tradition; I have a strong feeling that not too far back in my ancestral history, there is a woman who could tell me exactly what this was all about, and she would have a name for it, and a reason about it and it would NOT include the words depression and seek help (it's amazing how much conditioning can be blamed for our individual suffering; believing something is that when all along it is this, and instinctively knowing that difference exists but having no proof is enough to drive a person mad)

            The thing about transitions is they tend to make an already daunting task of inner harmony a bit...ungraceful for me; I get there, I almost always get there; but it's not always so pretty.  Well the Little One and I do share the same blood. Perhaps that's why her behavior frightens me so; I used to watch her mother do the same thing when she would visit us-she would lie under the dining table and mumble to herself-but again, she wasn't actually pathological, she had just shut off somehow because of a lack of stimulus.

          But how much can I stimulate another person, when I myself am watching award show clips just to give my head something to think about?  If I take her to the pool, she looks longingly at me waiting for me to come and play, ignoring all the other children around her. If I take her to the beach and after playing around for awhile, I try and just drift off in watching the light fall on the waves, she loses interest in her singing and dancing and sits next to me, not enjoying the view, just depressed that I don't want to sing and dance all the time.  I can barely find the words to articulate my own journey, how can I be expected to change all of who I am in order to keep this person happy? Is that an expectation-did I just make that up?  Is it okay for me to cycle down and just read quietly, is it ALLOWED? Is a mother really expected to lose herself in her child's needs just because that mother’s needs don't seem so especially critical? (meals are made, floors are swept, medicine and home remedies are given with sincere care and love)  I just don't know what to do with this little girl who has some of my weaknesses but very different strengths; how do I get her to snap out it, so I can be left in peace to snap in?



  1. That is so well written and described and I think will strike chords with many of us. But "is a mother really expected to lose herself in her child's needs?" I'm afraid so. But if you start with a baby, you learn to accept that and adapt to the needs of that particular child according to its nature. Far harder to adjust to a needy 8 year old. And what children really need is consistency, so if you do have to take a couple of hours a day to yourself she may learn to live with it, but if you sometimes distance yourself and sometimes don't, it's way beyond her understanding or ability to cope.

    1. I sincerely appreciate this guidance. Yes, it is sooo weird to be learning how to parent with someone who is already SO aware. There's a bit more pressure to get it right, because I don't have those 3 odd years with an infant who can't exactly tell when I'm spazzing. So again, I thoroughly appreciate the guidance-we both do ;p