So on Monday morning I dragged myself out of bed, sighed, shoved my feet into my slippers, and kind of slumped my way to the kitchen to put the kettle on. And as I shuffled and sighed some more, I thought, “… how have you come so early by this lethargy?” The perils of teaching English for thirty years, unbidden Shakespearean quotes spring to mind.
Of course that quote is from Twelfth Night, which I taught many times, and from which I can quote chapter and verse. Trust me. And in the play Olivia is not chiding Toby Belch for being mopey, and sighing too much, but for being drunk so early in the morning. Toby Belch, the rotund drunkard, was ever a character more aptly named? When I introduced the characters in the play to my grade nine students, I’d always add that Sir Toby Belch was no relation to me. Then wait for the kids to groan. Ha.
So yeah. Lots of lethargy, listlessness, foot dragging inertia, and moping and sighing going on around here on Monday morning.
While I waited for the kettle to boil, I had a little cry. And then gave myself a shake. Dried my eyes, drank my tea. Ate my toast. Read my book. Then I had another cup of tea and tried to analyze what the heck was the matter.
Maybe it’s because it’s birthday season. I turn sixty-four this week. Maybe it’s too much isolation. Maybe it’s the weather. Just when spring started we’ve been catapulted into the dog days of summer, with heat and humidity. And today rain and heat and humidity. Maybe it’s all of those things. And maybe it’s just me.
We’re all feeling a bit bedraggled these days, I know. Worn a bit thin by this constant nagging uncertainty. Dragged down by inertia, and lack of energy. By the loneliness. Sometimes feeling a bit angry at entitled naysayers and science deniers. And maybe feeling a bit jealous. I mean we were, at one point, all in this together, and it helped to know that. And now the sight of other people in other places gathering with loved ones, when we are still unable to do so, is difficult. Even if we know that many of those people have been in this limbo a lot longer than we have.
So on Monday morning I thought maybe I should just call someone. Spill my guts. Talk it out. But like really, who would I call? My mum? Who battles every morning just to get out of bed with her painful arthritis, and is longing for one of us girls to visit when she knows that we can’t, and has no idea when we will be able to do so. My sister Connie? Who had hip replacement surgery in February and then had to have the whole operation redone last week. Who faces starting that long painful journey back to full mobility all over again, from scratch? My other sister Carolyn? Who is still working the front lines in her drug store and caring for her husband who has Alzheimer’s. Really? I should maybe call up one of them and say, “Boo hoo, I’m sad?”
I should be calling them to cheer them up, not bawling over the phone about myself and my Monday morning emotional wobble.
So I decided that I wouldn’t call any of them. I wouldn’t lay my burdens (or imagined burdens) on them. I just wouldn’t. And then I did.
Yeah, I called both sisters. I am so weak, people. I am, to quote Lady Macbeth, “Infirm of purpose!”
Connie was sitting in a doctor’s office and would call me back when she got home. But Carolyn and I had a long talk. I was all cheery for about ten seconds, and then I spilled my guts. About how mopey, and lethargic, and purposeless I was feeling. About feeling sad, and feeling guilty for feeling that way when everyone else in the family had real things to worry about. And how that then made me feel even worse, how I was such a loser for feeling guilty for NOT having the burdens they had. I mean, how could I burden them with my lack of burdens? And yet here I was doing just that.
And then Carolyn said she was glad that I told her I was feeling miserable. Because it made her feel that she wasn’t the only one who was miserable.
“Okay, good,” I said. And then we both laughed. And my sadness and lethargy faded away.
I’ve always seen my role in the family as the jokey, youngest sister. The one with the fewest responsibilities. The lightweight. Probably because I am the youngest, and the only one with no children. Having children seems to lend people a sort of gravitas. And of course it does extend their sphere of responsibility, no doubt about that. So I see myself as the classic example of youngest child syndrome. Dancing to get attention. I also see myself as chief cheer-er-upper in my family. And usually I’m pretty good at cheering people up. Occasionally I’m even great at it.
But who knew that even when I’m miserable, and I spill my guts about how miserable I am, I’m cheering my sister up. Making her feel as if she’s not the only one who’s miserable. The great cheer-er-upper. That’s me.
I wrote most of this post yesterday when I was almost sixty-four. And now I am sixty-four. And I feel pretty good. Better than yesterday. Spilling my guts seems to work for me. I will do it more often from now on.
And when I got up this morning I made myself a latté, and opened my e-mail to find a lovely e-card from my friend Susan. Another from my friend Eunice. And several birthday texts. And now I’m going to take the rest of my coffee out onto the deck and finish it in the sunshine. Before the day gets too hot.
Turning sixty-four feels kind of great, you know. So what can I say… “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Ha! I have been waiting years to be able to work that quote from Twelfth Night into a post.
Hubby is off doing some secret shopping. He’s making me a special birthday supper tonight. So I don’t know if he still needs me… but thankfully he’s still feeding me… now that I’m sixty-four. 🙂
How are you doing my friends? I hope you are finding someone to spill your guts to when isolation burdens, or just plain old life burdens, get too heavy. And I wanted to say thanks for dropping by here, and listening when I spill my guts. Like today.