Sunday, August 17, 2008

Putting the Smack Down on Self Pity

Last night, dear reader, I hit rock bottom.
And it was rocky, you know. Down there, in rock bottom. Lots of rockiness and rock-like bottom-ness. Oh, yes! Sharp and jagged, all those rocks, and dark and cold, that bottom, down there.

The day had started off well enough. By 10AM, #4 was asleep, and the older three were with Brandon at a Primary activity. This gave me a good hour or more alone, and I was determined to break through this cruddiness and self-pity. I spent a good 20 minutes on my knees, and another 20 in the scriptures. I drifted off to sleep, drenched in tears, and I was woken suddenly by a phone call. I was asked to substitute for the ward organist (for today) and I said I would. Minutes later, Brandon came home, and we spent some time talking. I felt a bit better, but at the same time, I didn't. In fact, the "bit better" didn't last very long.
As the day progressed, I got worse and worse. My motivation was gone; I refused to do even the simplest of tasks. I was short with the children, I was angry with my husband. I didn't want to do anything, and I didn't want to sleep. I got involved with an verbal altercation with a friend (via email), and I was beyond depressed. I sat on the couch, refused to move, and even though I was focused on a few tasks via the laptop, I was pretty much idle. I couldn't understand it, either --hadn't I prayed with most sincerity? Didn't I feel the presence of the Holy Ghost? Didn't I seek and ponder and ask?
And then a thought came to me: It is always darkest before the dawn. And didn't Joseph Smith and Moses experience the worst darkness and despair after seeking out God?
It made me pause.
When I went to sleep last night, I dreamt I was somebody else. When I was woken up by #4's small cries in the wee small hours of the morning, I cried to myself because I wasn't somebody else.
And that scared me.
When my alarm clock went off this morning, I stayed in bed until after the first snooze went off; and by then, my plan was formulating.
I took an extra long shower --extra long --and I continued to plan.
By the time I got to Sacrament Meeting, my plan was coming into light. It wasn't just an idea or a desire. It was a goal.
This desire-turned-goal formulated in my mind as I played the prelude music. Every once in a while, I would glance at my three oldest children, sitting alone on the 2nd row of the middle section in the Chapel. Brandon was at home with #4, and I felt tears come to my eyes as I watched #3 misbehaving and causing problems. I prayed so hard that #3 would behave himself. I hadn't had time to ask anyone to watch the kids while I played because we had come early so I could practice, and we didn't realize #4 would still be too ill to come to church until an hour before. I hoped that somebody would come to my assistance and perhaps notice? And sit with him? Nobody did, and #1 did the best she could at convincing him to sit still. I was half tempted to run down there when all of a sudden, #3 looked at me, felt the glare, and miraculously sat still. For the rest of the meeting, no less! In fact, he was better by himself down there (with #2 and #1) than he was when I was sitting with them (during the bulk of the meeting).
This tiny miracle, along with a Sacrament Meeting talk on the power of Acting on Faith and Music and the Spoken Word's message of finding joy in simplicity solidified my goal.
What is this goal, you ask? Well, dear reader, Here is the goal:
To conquer my self-pity and sense of despair.

Yeah. Well, I didn't say it was an easy goal.
Please notice, however, that I didn't say I was going to conquer my depression, although I know self-pity has a a lot to do with it. I want to conquer the self-pity and the despair. I want to stop feeling so sorry for myself.
For months now (maybe years?), I've felt that I couldn't accomplish this because I have small children. Because I have depression. Because I was so used to wallowing in the self-pity that has become such a part of me I often wonder if it's another living entity, feeding off of my disappointments and frustrations. It has become such a part of my life that until I noticed another woman's own self-pity, I never realized how unassuming and pathetic it was --and frustrating to others, I'm sure.

So! Here is what I'm going to do in the next few months, maybe weeks, maybe days? to see if I can put the smack down on my self-pity. I'm not above a Plan B, but this Plan A is going to get a good ol' fighting chance:
1. I received a Priesthood Blessing from Brandon this afternoon. Why I've gone so long without one is beyond me! The power of the Priesthood is amazing, and as I felt Brandon's hands upon my head, I could feel his love for me, my Heavenly Father's love for me, and the love I have for myself. It felt good. And right. And necessary for these steps I'm about to take. Best part? Brandon didn't know about this blog post (well, he does now, when you're reading it, dear reader, but he didn't know about it when I wrote it, eh?), but he spoke words to me that only Heavenly Father and I had known up until this point. Another beautiful reminder of His reality. I'm hoping to be wise and seek out more Priesthood blessings in the future, attend the Temple more often, and remember this particular blessing when times get rough.
2. I am going to put my house in order. We may not be able to paint and replace the carpet right now, but that doesn't mean I have to sleep on the floor anymore (okay, okay, the mattress is on the floor, but you know what I mean). The office may not be unpacked, but it needs to be! The laundry room needs a good scrubbing, and my bathrooms need to glow. I'm realistic enough to know that this is going to take time, but the motivation is going to be forced a bit until I can get it going again. Forced motivation? If it's self-inflicted it's okay, right?
3. Priorities are going to be rearranged. Things of a spiritual nature will take over things of a physical nature for the time being; time with my children will increase. If this means to get up earlier? I will. If this means less blogging time? I must.
4. I will focus on the positive as much as possible and stop caring so much about what people think of me. This is harder than it looks, but I'm sure gonna try. This means no self-pity because Brandon doesn't notice I did the dishes or did my hair. No worrying about what random bloggers think of me, and no "woe is me!" goin' on when I face hard trials like the ones I've been having.
5. I will think of others before I think of myself, because self-pity, when it's prolonged, goes beyond just having one's feelings hurt. It becomes the worst form of selfishness, because it is not a love of self, or a hate of self, it is just the state of self. Self-pity means that nobody else is good enough to help, nobody else is good enough to understand. I hate self-pity. I've always hated it, and I've always had it. As a child, I remember feeling sorry for myself constantly. I can see it in #1, too. She's just like her mother, you know. And I can't stand it anymore! I don't want her to grow up with my worst faults, especially if they are ones that can be conquered, slowly and surely.

I know it's gonna be hard, and I'll have set backs. But I'm ready for the fight. This has been years in the making and I'm so tired of being unhappy. Tired! So,you hear that, Self-Pity? You listenin'? Bring. It. On. This time, I'm ready! And you're gonna get it in the face, baby! I can feel it. There ain't gonna be no backing down this time.
Yeah, you heard me!


sandra said...

I've been feeling a little self pity lately and being a little moody. I am sure that we are not the only ones feeling this way. I really believe that it is a way for Satan to get at us, because we have a powerful effect on our families. You go girl. You can do it and I am going to try to be better too. It is nice to know that I am not the only one feeling this way.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

I like your plan. And if it means that we see less of you around the blogosphere for a while, that's ok. We'll survive, and we WON'T forget about you.

You need to do what's most important for you and your family. Maybe you'll take my advice and stop reading/commenting at all of those community blogs? You have all the community a girl needs right here babe!

Forced self-motivation....that's a good idea. I think I'll try it too. Self-pity, look out. We're coming to kick your hiney!

Never A True Aggie said...

I am sorry that it has been a little poopy for you later. I am glad you got a blessing. I know that helps me. Man, if I were in town, I would get a babysitter for the both of us and we would get out and see a movie or something. I'll be thinking about you and sending a few prayers your way.

Julie said...

Do you know any great babysitters? I'd love to come help you make your bathrooms shine. For some reason a sink with no dishes and bathrooms that smell good make my life so much happier.

I'm so happy for you! You will do this and do it well. You have it in you in huge proportions!

I'm thinking of you and praying for you and loving so much!

Kelly A. said...

I think you are on the right track. Way to go! I have a personal philosophy about always having to have a plan, be it weight loss or attitude or whatever, you always have to have a plan. Planting the little seed is half the battle.

Good luck with your plan, you will over come this!

Grandma Rozla said...

Good luck Cheryl. Change is hard, no matter what kind it is! I'm behind you all the way - cheering you on from far away and loving you!

flip flop mama said...

Good luck! I know you can do it if you put your mind to it! And from the looks of it you already have.

The Motherboard said...

I love this post because I had been thinking some of the very same things tonight on my walk... I love your "to do list"... I think I will join you... its time to pack up the pity-party monsters and send them packing!

Good luck! you will soar!

m&m said...

I'm sorry you have hit rock bottom, but I'm impressed with your plan. It's always hard to grab our bulls by the horns, but that act of agency is, imo, the first step to real power.

I love you, chica!

RoAnn said...

Cheryl, this is a wonderful, courageous post, and I'm sure you are inspiring all of us who read it.

As you said, you know there will be setbacks. But understanding that will help you to fight off the temptations to give up when they come. You can decide to let a bad day just be a bad day--not the evidence that it's no use trying anymore!

You have a great support group in your family and friends--including cyber friends like me who have come to love and admire you through reading your comments on other blogs as well as your personal blog posts.

We are all pulling for you, and you can be sure that there will be lots of extra prayers on your behalf!

SilverRain said...

We just barely got our bedrooms repainted and floors refinished. It's amazing how much more comfortable the house feels. There's a lot more to do, but it's progress. One thing that helps me is to focus my thoughts on what I have done, rather than on what still needs to be done. It's so easy for a mother's sense of contentment to be wrapped up in the orderliness of the house.

All I can do is send you hugs, unless you'd like some help with your house. I'm only an hour away!

Heather said...

Way to go, Cheryl. I know you can do it. As I am sitting here at 9am with dishes undone and kids running crazily around the house doing blogging I realize I need to get up and get my house in order and make my spirit glow. So peace out bloggers, it's family time! Yahoo!

Amanda D said...

I think you have a great plan in place, Cheryl! It wont be easy, but you can do it! I know it!

I'm going to join you, because I need to do much of the same. Go us!

Leslie said...

Awesome Cheryl! AWE.SOME!!! I love your plan! You are (let me say it again). AWESOME!!!

(BTW - award for you on my blog)

Dave and Kathryn Dodds said...

woo woo! You go girl! I'm motivated after reading this!

Julie P said...

I am sorry you've been having a hard time lately. I am impressed by your attitude and hopefulness and willingness to WORK. Our prayers aren't answered when we're sitting on our butts, right? Bless you, friend.