Not Too Wild-Eyed

That moment, after a super intense period of stress, where your body takes revenge for the emotions, whatever repression you’ve done to manage the worst of them, and the nail-biting anxiety? That’s where I am. The Princess brought home a cold from work, and I put off getting sick until the gauntlet was finally run. I knew I was storing up trouble, but in classic Lili fashion, didn’t care.

*sigh* I give myself very good advice, sometimes don’t follow it, and often decide to just run the fuck through at full speed and worry about the bruises later.

The good news is…the stressful events are done. I am once again producing paid work for a publisher. Someone I love very much has passed on while in hospice care; he is in no more pain and I was able to see him before he went on that greatest of journeys. I am over the worst of the cold and can get back to running next week. The meds mean I’ve been sleeping, at least.

Now it’s just fallout to deal with. I retreated into a good 200 pages of the third volume in Shelby Foote’s Civil War narrative yesterday. A good fifty of those pages were lit with sunlight coming in the front window, so there was probably a little vitamin D in there. The cold is retreating, and I think I’ve probably cried all I’m going to for a little while. I’ve turned my email autoresponders on; whatever business is left over for the rest of this week can wait.

The kids are healthy, my sisters are in contact, the dogs are content, the cats are their usual selves and the cavy is monstrously fat and extremely active. Agent and editors seem to be happy enough with me, though I’ve been somewhat of a trial to them in the last month, I’m sure. The people I rely on to keep me on the straight and narrow tell me it’s fine, I’m not too wild-eyed.

I had to make an emergency trip to the PO box recently, and buy stamps from the automated kiosk there as well. It was after hours, and a woman who spoke little English was in distress, with something she had to mail. My fierce maternal instincts took over, and I went to work–grabbing an envelope, addressing it, putting her return address on it, popping enough stamps on it to cover the cost of the envelope AND the postage. We both had Google translate on our phones, and between that and gestures and babble, we solved the problem and got the thing into the mail for her.

I tell this story because I realized, when I got into my car–still in my pyjamas, having driven all the way over muttering to myself over having to leave the house at all when I felt like warmed-over crap–that I felt…better. Helping someone else is an anodyne, especially when one’s own life holds some unpleasantness. It feels good to pitch in, to help solve someone else’s problems or to simply listen to them and share the weight, knowing you’re relieving some of the pressure inside someone else just by being there.

It almost makes me pity people who lack empathy, because the dopamine hit from helping someone else out is so nice. I wonder if they just don’t feel that, and it baffles me. Doing the Right Thing, pitching in, helping where one can is one of the few surefire ways to ameliorate the black hole, at least for me.

All the way home from the post office, the sun peeked through clouds as it sank, and the light was golden. The crows were out, and they help too. They’re smart, strong survivors. I know the recent stress won’t break me, that the overwhelming feelings will pass, and that even the runny nose and annoying body aches will pass as well. It’s not comfortable, but I can get through it. That’s what forty has become for me: the consciousness that I’ve made it this far, that the feelings will pass through and away, and I’ll still be here when the wave is spent.

It’s enough.