Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kicking and Screaming into Acceptance

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous has a very famous section that all 12-steppers know: "...for acceptance is the solution to all my problems". It means letting go of trying to control people, places and things, and it's a very good idea.

The idea, however, is under trial by fire, as it were, and while I'm kicking and screaming against getting sick with another depression, I'm also sad and scared by how much has careened out of -- well, I never pretended to have control, so maybe the word is out of its customary places in my life.

I need to list what's making me wring my hands.

  • I turned in the revision of my book ten weeks ago. I know that it's going through a legal vetting but I finally begged my agent yesterday to try to shake five words of reaction to the work itself from my editor. She duly emailed my editor and said I'd be expecting her call yesterday or today. No call. Do they hate it? Is it too hot for the ledgal department to permit publication? Is it going to be canceled? How much revision will I need to do of the last round? I'm feeling hurt and angry that my editor can't take three minutes to email, "Some good work here. I'll be in touch soon with more specific comments" or "I have some major problems with what you've done which we'll need to discuss in depth". I can't count on any part of it -- the timing, the revisions, the money, the commitment. Worse, all this belies faith in my work and in the praise my editor shared with me before the revision was done.
  • My sister-in-law was maybe going to come out to take author photos of me. My brother said in an email last week that she was checking into flight. No word. I'm feeling frustrated and confused about how to proceed and angry that if she comes, I'll be put on the spot to clean and prepare for a guest. I'm confused as well about whether to book another photographer or simply use my PFT photo.
  • My mother is home with my father. He reports she is getting stronger but also that she's had some bad breathing attacks (she has congestive heart failure). They've been sleeping in their recliners because it's too hard for Mom to lie down and/or because she's not breathing well. Of course, my father is being run ragged and no one is particularly worried about what this is doing to his 93-year-old health. I feel guilty for not being there; scared of the inevitable; angry that I have to deal with this and angry that they aren't going into assisted living up in Montana ASAP.
  • I never know when I'll be paid by certain clients. My funds are low. It make me angry because they'd sure as shit say something if they were failed to be paid. And I'm scared because with extra expenses of nursing and moving, I can't ask my parents for help.
  • One of my favorite dog's owner just told me he and his wife are putting their apartment on the market and will move to Westchester. I'm sad because I'll miss her desperately and scared about income. Nor do I know when this will happen.
  • I abstain from sugar and then I give into it. I eat at night when I can't sleep -- I'm powerless over sleep, too -- and because I feel both as though I need consolation for the faults of the day and because I deserve the punishment. I can't count on myself and my sponsor is out of the country for the next month, so I can't count on her either. This makes me furious.
  • My concentration is shot. I can remember one thing at a time, can't read, can't focus on anything that asks me to step out of myself.
Helplessness. I am besieged. Even the editing project I have, which I struggle to concentrate on, is in a state that I feel helpless to do more that point out the flaws, with little idea how to really fix it.

What are the common threads that threaten my peace of mind? Anger, frustration, fear, estrangement from myself and from the parents I've relied on for 52 years, hurt, lack of faith, loneliness.

I feel as though I've built my house on the tide line and the foundation keeps sliding further out to sea. But each day I get up, more often than not feeling vile from the food of the day before, and suck up the hope that I'll get something done or run into serendipity or that somebody will recognize that I simply, fucking exist.


Quilting Martha said...

Wow, Frances, that must feel really chaotic. Hopefully, tomorrow the editor will call with good words.

Maybe you should just tell your sister in law, thanks for the offer to take pictures, but you're just too overwhelmed right now, and then book some one else.

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

So sorry that you are so overwhelmed. It just makes every little thing feel worse. Could you get a day healthcare worker to come in once in a while to check on your parents? Some hospice volunteers might also be able to go there and help with respite care. Wash dishes, help your folks, run errands for them, etc. (I used to do that years ago.) And what about just finding someone with a good digital camera and having them take a photo that you like and could use in the book? Digital cameras have made that so much easier. Take care. You're really NOT alone, but you're the one who ends up having to do all the work. We care about you.

Gallis said...

It's the hardest thing to do when you feel this way, but that's the nature of depression.

You need to make your needs known. You need to ask for help.

Anonymous said...

You exist. You are a real person, sensitive and creative and hurting. You're right - you needed to list the things that are tying you into knots. They are big thing even taken singly; put together, it feels overwhelming.

Do one thing at a time, then do the next thing. Find one thing to hang on to, to do or eat or say or pray, and then do it every day. Just one, until you're able to do more. Sometimes that's all that keeps me going, that one thing.

Love you lots.

April said...

Anger, fear, resentment... these are not pretty feelings. They do not make us feel valuable, needed or known, just when we REALLY need to feel valued, needed, recognized and known.

Feeling out of control must be hard, just when you were starting to feel some tentative success. Don't give up on YOU yet...

The parent thing is hard... you are feeling like you need them to take care of you because the pressure of the reality ~ that you may need to be caring for them ~ is too sad to think about. Sad and scary.

But still you share your thoughts and impressions with US and I thank you for that.

There is a saying that has been turned into a country song... "If you're going through hell, keep on going..." So, Frances, keep on going until you come out the other side of all of this.

And keep sharing...

Anonymous said...


You need a lifeline. If your sponsor is going to be gone that long, make some phone calls and at the very least, find someone to be your temporary sponsor. Reach out for support. You never know what angel(s) may be on the other end of the telephone line. Finding the right person to sponsor you or just to "hook up" with can make all the difference.

I don't know what 12-step program you are involved with, but there are phone meetings (OA HOW) that can help if you can't get to a meeting. Look online for phone numbers.

I have been dealing with relapse, and just recently got myself back to the 12-step meetings. I have tried other programs, and they don't work for me. Twelve-stepping is not perfect, and I wish there was something else, but I haven't found it yet. One day at a time, and use the support of the group and the 12-step fellows.

I have also gone through having a parent in failing health (strokes, congnitive impairment), as well as dealing with the family of origin conflicts and chaos that often accompany this life stage. It is devastating, and can shake you to the core. All of the childhood issues that contributed to the compulsive overeating seem to return with a vengeance (at least in my case). You need to tell yourself that much of what is happening is out of your control and that there will be better days ahead for you. You need to focus on yourself right now, perhaps even more than your parents.

Take care....

Unknown said...

It's good that you've laid it all out there, Frances. Now... try to stop yourself from thinking about more than one of these challenges at a time. In your anxious state, it's overwhelming. (Hell, in a non anxious state it would be overwhelming.)

And while I would never presume to impersonate a psychiatrist, I will say that on a few occasions in the past when life situations have set my mind spinning past all point of reason, a prescription for Xanax or Xanax XR has been a huge help -- the med seems to short-circuit the spinning vortex in my brain so I can take a breath, get my hands back on the controls, and tackle my challenges one at a time. Just a thought. Not trying to be a pusher!

Bea said...

When my dog get really anxious and can't calm down she goes and sits in the bathtub. In the dark. I tried it. No water and fully clothed. It worked. I felt calmer and could stop my out of control angsting. If you only have a shower...I guess you can soak a foot in the sink. I'll bet this would work too. Hard to worry while balancing on one leg with water running over your toes.

Good job writing about needing help, now call and actually ASK for some. Cheers

Anonymous said...

One of the worst things about depression is that we isolate ourselves. Good old-fashioned inertia keeps us from reaching out when we most need to. And so, I'm going to give you a push--call SOMEBODY, dammit. Somebody from your meeting, or even somebody who will take you out for a coffee, just so that you can get out of the loop for a little while.

Oh yeah--and your editor probably meant to email you but hasn't because she had to pick up the dry cleaning. Inconsiderate wench! ;-)

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