Covid-19: Emotional weather

I do not think of emotions as bad or good. None of them are bad or good. They are information, controlled by electrical impulses and hormones, evolved over millions of years (or endowed by our creator, for those who swing that way).

I don’t dismiss emotions. I listen to them.

I think of myself as an ocean. There is all sorts of stuff happening in the depths that I don’t understand. Probiotics, for example. I don’t take them. If not for penicillin, I’d be dead many times over, from strep A pneumonia twice and other infections. I don’t think we understand probiotics yet. We don’t understand the brain, either.

The emotions are the weather in my life. I don’t really control them but they don’t control my ocean, either. Some days are sunny and gorgeous and then a storm may blow up. I am afraid of hurricanes, one destroyed my grandparents’ house in North Carolina, on the outer banks. I think all the cousins still mourn that house. And I miss my grandparents too, all of them. And my parents and my one sister.

See? The weather got “bad” there for a moment, but it isn’t bad. Storms have their own beauty though we hope to batten the hatches and that not too much damage is done. Maybe there is rain, scattered showers, sun breaks, a lenticular cloud. In the Pacific Northwest on the coast, the weather can change very quickly and we have microclimates. My father lived 17 miles away, but inland from me and in a valley. It was warmer in the summer and colder in the winter.

My goal with my weather emotions is to pay attention to them, let the storms blow in and out, and try not to harm anyone else because of my weather. When my sister was in hospice, we had a sign up in my small clinic. It said that my sister was in hospice with cancer and that clinic would be cancelled at some point with little warning. Patients were kind and gentle with me. And then it was cancelled, when she died. I got cards from people. They were so kind, thank you, thank you, and I could barely take it in. My maternal family then dealt with grief by having lawsuits. I don’t think that is a good way to deal with grief, but we just see things differently. Maybe it’s the right way for them. I don’t know.

Whenever I was having internal emotional weather that stirred me up, I would tell my nurse or office manager. Because they will sense my weather and need to know what is up. I had enormous support from them during a divorce, while my partners treated me horribly. My nurses and office manager knew me and my partners didn’t. My partners distanced me as if a divorce were catching. Whatever. Their loss.

Sometimes patients sensed that I was upset. I could tell by their faces. If they didn’t ask, I would. Bring the emotions out. Reassure them that I AM grumpy but not at them. Stuff in my own life. No worries.

Sometimes clinic is about a patient’s weather. They ask if they can tell me something. Often it is prefaced by “Maybe I need an antidepressant.” or “I feel really bad.” When they tell the story, usually I would say, “I think it is perfectly reasonable and normal that you feel angry/hurt/shocked/horrified/grieved/upset.” And then I would ask about an antidepressant or a counselor and most of the time, the person would say, “Well, I don’t think I need it right now.” What they needed was to know that their weather was NORMAL and REASONABLE.

I am seeing things on Facebutt and on media saying that mental health problems and behavioral health problems are on the rise. Maybe we should reframe that. Maybe we could say, “The weather is really bad right now for everyone and it’s very frightening and it is NORMAL and REASONABLE to feel frightened/appalled/angry/in denial/horrified/confused/agitated/anxious or WHATEVER you feel.” This weather is unprecedented in my lifetime, but as a physician who had very bad influenza pneumonia in 2003 and then read about the 1918-19 influenza, I have been expecting this. Expecting a pandemic. Expecting bad weather. This will pass eventually, we will learn to cope, be gentle with yourself and be gentle with others. Everyone is frightened, grieving, angry, in denial or in acceptance. The stages of grief are normal.

Hugs and prayers for all of us to endure this rough weather and help each other and ourselves..

I took the photograph in color. My program made a black and white version. It looks like the back of a stegosaurus to me, a dinosaur now living as a mountain.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: rainbow. Because sometimes the rain and sun combine to make a rainbow.

snow day

I am having a snow day. It snowed yesterday! Schools are closed and the roads are ice and it was 25 degrees when I walked into clinic. Clinic is cold and power and phones and computers are all out.

Now I have power back but internet is iffy. I have cancelled today’s patient. Some are 45 minutes or an hour away on good roads! We only have an inch of snow but the people north of me are reporting 6-8 inches. I have called people about tomorrow as well. Clinic will proceed if we have power and heat, but the people an hour away are cancelling. The weather forecast is that it will freeze at night all week, which is unusual here.

I am less than a mile from clinic and have ski clothes, so I should be able to get in unless we have an ice storm. We have paper files for back up so I could find phone numbers even with the power out. All except one new patient and now I’ve tracked that one down. We also have a battery lantern because the bathroom is really really dark with the power out. No windows.

I took the photograph last night. My ornamental plums were budding. I don’t know how happy they will be with a week of freezing weather!

grebe!

I think this is a Western grebe. Or a Clark’s. There was a pair together down by the water Saturday when it was stormy.  They were fishing quite happily.

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Together and then one dives.

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It was hard to steady the zoomed camera in the wind. Here is without the zoom:

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And both dived:

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prayer for gentle earth

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: monsoon.

Today’s prompt of monsoon makes me think both of the fires burning all over, California, eastern Washington, and of the floods in other places.

I took this on a vacation, two days on Herron Island. In the morning we were relaxed on the porch when I spotted smoke on the other side of the cabin. A lot of smoke. My friend explained that sometimes people burn slash, including tires. I was unreassured and insisted on going to look.

It was a house burning down.

The firetrucks must come from the mainland by ferry.

It was terrifying. I took this within 5 minutes of getting there, within 10 minutes of seeing smoke. There were oxygen tanks, live ammunition and propane, exploding.

At first we didn’t know if there was anyone inside. It was clear that we were not getting to them and that they were gone. The only person home had escaped, with the help of a neighbor on the other side. The house burned to the ground very quickly. I had our things loaded back in the car as soon as it was clear that the island responders were waiting for the fire trucks. This house was across the street and one door down.

Prayers for the flooded and the fires. Prayers for us to care for the earth and the earth to be gentle with us.

 

 

nasty

For the Blogging from A to Z, my theme is Virtues and views: two lists of seven virtues, but my goal is to write about emotions. Could feeling nasty ever be a virtue?

Have you ever felt nasty? Have you called someone else a nasty person? Have you ever felt that you behaved in a nasty way? And what did you mean by nasty?

Again, here are definitions from Dictionary.com and from Webster 1913. The definition changes over time.

Webster 1913 from https://everything2.com/title/Nasty

Nas”ty (?), a. [Compar. Nastier (); superl. Nastiest.] [For older nasky; cf. dial. Sw. naskug, nasket.]

1. Offensively filthy; very dirty, foul, or defiled; disgusting; nauseous.

2. Hence, loosely: Offensive; disagreeable; unpropitious; wet; drizzling; as, a nasty rain, day, sky.

3. Characterized by obcenity; indecent; indelicate; gross; filthy.

Syn. — Nasty, Filthy, Foul, Dirty. Anything nasty is usually wet or damp as well as filthy or dirty, and disgusts by its stickness or odor; but filthy and foul imply that a thing is filled or covered with offensive matter, while dirty describes it as defiled or sullied with dirt of any kind; as, filthy clothing, foul vapors, etc.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/nasty

adjective, nastier, nastiest.
1. physically filthy; disgustingly unclean:
a nasty pigsty of a room.
2. offensive to taste or smell; nauseating.
3. offensive; objectionable:
a nasty habit.
4. vicious, spiteful, or ugly:
a nasty dog; a nasty rumor.
5. bad or hard to deal with, encounter, undergo, etc.; dangerous; serious:
a nasty cut; a nasty accident.
6. very unpleasant or disagreeable:
nasty weather.
7. morally filthy; obscene; indecent:
a nasty word.

noun, plural nasties.
9. Informal. a nasty person or thing.

I took the photograph in the evening on the beach, with a gorgeous front and the mountains taking turns being lit by the evening. Is the rain nasty weather or is it the spring coming and bringing flowers? Do you celebrate “nasty” weather? Some days I do….

Heart call

I am lying in bed and missing my heart.

I prayed to the Beloved to fall in love and I do. I happen to be terribly sick because the Beloved is teaching me to take time off and not just work harder and longer to avoid grieving. This is the second lesson. Or the fifth, depending on how I count it. The previous one was two months, this will be ten.

But early on, before I realize that death is standing in my doorway, I am at a picnic. A sports picnic with parents and teens and some younger children. I see a man who has been flirting with me be nice to a tween girl. My heart falls out of my chest and attaches itself to him. It follows him home.

He is quite spectacularly wrong for me. I know it but my heart doesn’t care. And he is a liar, manipulator and a slut. Familiar ground, just like my family. I go to his place and try to catch my heart, but it is stubborn and skitters away from me. It is covered with sawdust, cat hair and motor oil. Also rabbit fur. He raises bunnies for meat and kills them. I cuddle the babies and then he does too.

My heart is brutally stubborn. I tell it it is stupid, it will get hurt, he doesn’t want it, all the usual stuff. I think the Beloved is laughing at me. By January I revise my prayers. Ok, Beloved, you win AGAIN, I am STUPID, now I want NOT ONLY to fall in love but to fall in love with someone who loves me back. I am so stupid I can’t believe it.

The Beloved ignores me, since my heart is already gone. Damn it.

The man tells me a dream. He dreams that his son is stuffed inside a giant teddy bear to keep him safe. He is fighting a war alone, being shot at and shooting a multitude of enemies. He tells me that his son is trained. If he needs to come out of the bear, he will be angry and he is trained to kill. Another dream is of zombies coming up from the shop and attacking the door. He and a teen or two are trying to hold them off.

There are no women in his dreams. At least the ones he tells me.

Uh, Beloved? Shit. I dream of angels, as many angels as there are stars. I meet with my minister to challenge his ideas. “The people in dreams are aspects of ourselves, ok, but not angels right? I can’t have that many angels. I was raised atheist, damn it.”

“The angels are aspects of yourself.”

And zombies…well, we’re well matched on a psychic level, right? I have enough angels to handle any number of zombies and more.

I connect with his small child self, because our small child selves are so alike. Abandoned at the same age and afraid and with desperate courage.

His pattern is obvious from the start. Mapped out like a constellation. I tell my heart, but it scurries up ladders, into boats, down the metal stands, under cars. It plays among the tools. I tell it to be careful of the saws and tools and it ignores me.

He lies and ignores emails and lies again and avoids me when he’s done something that will hurt me and like, obvious, duh. I get angry, but my angels map a new path to his small child each time. Boundary after boundary after boundary.

And now I am in contact only by text. Only by distant virtual message. He is showing up again, of course, because that’s the pattern. He has tried so hard to make me angry and make me abandon him in rage. I don’t really care. He fixes the leak on my boat that I asked him about over a year ago. He texts about installing the bilge pump. He offers to bag up the cushions and put them in his loft.

No, I reply. I have room in my house.

The only things left at his shop are a broken outboard, pipe clamps that I inherited from my father and my heart. I will go to get them.

I lie in bed, thinking of getting the motor and clamps. I think of asking for my heart too. But he has never noticed that he had it. I didn’t tell him. It was obvious. And he didn’t want it. So why would I tell him now?

And then I think, I can just call my heart. I don’t need to go in person.

I call my heart. Come home, I say. He never noticed you. You could stay, but we have done everything we can. He is still fighting the zombies, he doesn’t know he is fighting himself. He is fighting his own feelings. Come home.

My heart comes home.

It is in my chest. Filthy, sawdust, bruised, motor oil, banged up, with old tears that I mended with ribbon and dental floss and sewing thread and artificial cat gut.

Welcome home, my heart. Welcome home.

This is for the Music Prompt #63: Daniel Powter Bad Day. I took the photograph on the train from Chicago, in the evening in a storm. Prayers for those hit by the hurricane and other disasters.