The Guardian - Acrylic painting done over an 8 hour at home painting retreat I gifted to myself over the Summer.
It takes time, after you've been through an experience that leaves you miserable or hurt, to regain trust. Trust in yourself, trust in other and, sometimes, the trust of others in you. It takes time for the wounds to heal, for you to let your guard down, to get back to normal. And after days, weeks, months or years of being twitchy, angry and upset constantly it will take time for yourself and those loved ones around you to realize that it's truly over. That you won't be lashing out at every question or touch, that you won't dismiss invitations for your time or affection because you simply don't have time. It takes time to get back in to the swing of doing things you loved but forgot you loved because they were swept under the rug.
I've been going through that for a few months, this healing thing. And it's work. Which is sort of frustrating, because I wanted (hoped, really) everything would go back to the way it was 2.5 years ago, before I sold my time and my soul for the almighty dollar, immediately once the situation was over. That might sound melodramatic, it might even sound peevish or immature to some, but how it sounds to you makes it no less the truth for me. When I took a job two years ago at a bank, I expected a) for it to be temporary - as in a few months and b) to be a 20 hour part-timer. I'd worked full time in banking previously and had enjoyed it, and we needed the extra income, so I accepted the job when it was offered to me.
And at first, things were as expected. My boss respected my wish to be a 20 hour employee, even scheduling me for quite a few morning shifts as I had told him that my priority was spending time with my husband, taking care of our home and growing my fledgling art business. I made it clear from day one that this job was for extra income and that my home life was far more valuable to me. But, as time went on and my manager left, I began working 30 - 40 hours a week, because that's what my direct supervisor scheduled me for. And at first I was complacent, telling myself the extra money couldn't hurt. Then things at the office became miserable; understaffed, loud-mouthed opinionated (and incapable of explaining their opinions in a non-abusive manner) co-workers, a supervisor who would stand by and let customers curse you out and told I would either work the hours I was given or get out. I couldn't, in good conscience - despite his asking me to do so repeatedly - just walk out and leave the burden of financial responsibility on my husband. And so it became an ever-increasingly toxic and stressful environment. Yet, I refused to leave, believing a new job was right around the corner - after all, I was interviewing and applying for better positions all the time, right?
Not quite. Being trapped at work 2 hours past closing, getting home between 7 and 8 pm after going in at 8 or 9 am became the norm as was working 6 day weeks, because my boss decided to schedule me for the occasional 3 hour pointless shift here and there, thus expanding my work week ever further. Constantly exhausted and cranky, I fell in to a depression last Autumn that lasted over 6 months. 6 MONTHS. That's a long fucking time to be depressed. I was crying at the drop of a pin; constantly belittling myself for not getting all the things I wanted to get done at home done, telling myself I was a miserable excuse for a wife because Joe was doing most of the housework (without being asked or ever uttering a complaint... no, you may not have him.) and falling asleep on the couch most nights before 10 pm without so much as feigning casual interest in having a sex life. My garden was crunchy and dead in its boxes, the weeds choked out and murdered almost every herb in the kitchen garden. Spirituality was observed with a simple head nod to the altar or stars, Hermes went over a year without a single offering or token or joke. Having Luna come to live with us made me cry all the time, because in my over-taxed state of mind, I viewed her as both a burden and a precious soul who I was doing a terrible job mothering. My art shop closed up for over a year and my blog space, which I had always loved so much, was abandoned to grow cobwebs or else house passive aggressive entries about my depression and anger. Just take a look back in the archive, you'll see how spotty and angsty my writings were.
The lack of support at work - where I was spending over half of my waking life, the "I'm more important than you or your stupid life" attitude of my boss and customers, the being treated as if everything I did was wrong because I took initiative where others didn't, the constant badgering of insane right-wing politics and faux-Christian religion (if you spend 90% of your time belittling, mistreating or judging others, I'm sorry... I don't consider you a Christ follower.), the lack of time to do anything I loved or enjoyed in pursuit of some fucking currency made me such a volatile, angry and miserable person that I damn near lost every single person in my life who is dear to me. And that's no joke or exaggeration.
I was that far in the darkness of depression and rage that I was driving off every person I loved and who loved me because, two years is a long fucking time to try to help someone. I don't know how anyone did it, how anyone still loved and cared for me when I was such a self abusing ball of hatred and misery. I honestly don't. But I thank the Gods and stars and moon and Universe every single day that they did. That my husband is still here, still loves me dearly and didn't abandon me when no one would have blamed him. And when I realized how much I was about to lose, something snapped inside of me and I saw what I had become; saw my volatility and anger, saw that I couldn't have a civil conversation with someone of differing opinions than mine anymore, saw my untouched paints, my dead plants, the way my closest family of the heart tiptoed around me and I realized I was done. I was out. I was going to work one more month, if nothing came along, to get us squared away with some savings and then I was out. Just giving myself the freedom to walk away, seeing an end to the bullshit, was enough to snap me out of it.
It's been almost 6 months since I made that decision and a friend dropped a much better job in to my lap. The two happened within a week of each other, proving once more to me that the Universe provides for those who help themselves. I made the conscientious decision to save myself and my life, to take back my heart, emotions and time from a shitty paycheck. Yet, I'm still healing, as are those around me. I'm re-learning how to take time for myself and the things that I love and enjoy without giving myself grief or guilt that I'm not "doing something useful" like I did when my free time was virtually non-existant. Re-learning how to be patient and compassionate and how to laugh at myself again. I've broken out the scrapbook I haven't touched in 2 years, have started organizing and printing photos that are sorely in need of it, pulled out my DSLR rather than my iPhone to get some new photos and have a list 10 miles long of all of the projects I want to work on for Hallowe'en and Christmas. Making things makes me happy, it brings my hands and my heart joy. And somewhere along the way, right along with how to be patient, how to laugh at myself, how to be laid back and funny, how to not stress and yell and cry at everything, I lost that.
But I'm finding all of that again. Slowly, but surely. Sometimes I still stumble and doubt, take things to heart and give myself guilt that I shouldn't, but it's progress. And it feels so goddamn good. And I've learned that I would rather move in to a small space, with no bells or trappings, no vacations or trips and not pay off our debts until I'm 100 than let myself be trapped in something that churns out such misery in myself ever again. Because all that truly makes my heart sing, can't be bought. And I will never, ever, with all the Gods as my Witnesses, ever let something or someone take my power away from me like that again.
Not for all the money on this Earth. Because it won't buy me happiness and can't buy me love.
P.S. This all bubbled to the surface now, because I'm done holding in these residual feelings of doubt, guilt and annoyance. Six months is enough time to wrestle with them and beat them down and now it's time to release them and set myself free. Making room for bigger, better feelings.