Rising From A Haze

It seemed to descend somewhere around November of last year. Just in time for the kitchen renovation and the holidays, as if there wasn’t enough tumult and craziness. A haze is the only way I can describe it, but it manifested itself in an underlying current of trouble or tension that suddenly informed every action, and over-reaction, that seemed to veer dangerously out of control. Like one of the heavy snowfalls we’ve had of late, it covered everything and obscured all, confusing the senses and smothering every surface. It blinded me, and I didn’t understand then. It felt like I was to blame, and for some of it, perhaps much of it, I directly was.

The bottomless abyss of some of my moods will never be fully fathomed, not even by me. But this isn’t so much a depression as much as dissatisfaction with the way the world – at least my world – has sometimes gone. It’s an agitation brought on by things over which I have no control, circumstances I would like to be different, or situations I’d like to see improved. I see now that sometimes there is no way to change the world, and the only thing I can do is put faith in something greater, and keep the faith I once had in myself. We cannot control anything other than our own path, and even then it sometimes takes the guiding force of something more.

This is turning into one of those cryptic posts that means nothing to anyone but myself, and some will read all sorts of nonsense into it. Luckily, I’ve reached a point where this is less about pleasing others and more about getting out some cathartic inner-dialogue and setting it free. But for those requesting something more concrete, some bit of narrative to get a handle on what is being said, I’ll get plainly descriptive.

For a while now I’ve felt like I’ve been under this haze. I couldn’t see or understand what was going on, it just felt like things were cloudy, like I was unsure of what I’d always held true. More than that, this haze was becoming oppressive. Almost like I was under attack by some insidious evil that had invaded my home when I was not looking, a poisonous fog that infiltrated the smallest cracks and fissures. Terrible nightmares unfurled suffocating tendrils over the winding forests of my sleep. Ghosts of the living and dead fought on these landscapes of slumber, for and against me, but the whispers of loved ones kept me calm and eventually rose above the clamor and rancor. I distinctly recall the voice of a woman near and dear to me whispering directly in my ear, “It’s ok. It’s ok. You will be ok.”

The nightmares slowly shifted, until I was no longer afraid. Instead of filling me with dread, they instilled new hope, new guidance. I started to feel better. More importantly, I started to take better care of myself. Eating better, exercising, cutting out alcohol, working out, and educating myself on a healthier lifestyle. I’d done it before, but only with the intent of looking better on the outside. This was a change that began on the inside. That was the only way it could begin.

Eventually, though, the battle to be better wore me down, and after skirting sickness all around for months, I finally succumbed to a nasty head cold and sinus trouble. That’s what happened earlier this week. Yet even that was relatively easily to deal with – using a few sinus rinses, large quantities of green tea and honey, and some badly-needed rest. In fact, the sickness worked its own form of healing. There have been many periods in my life capped off by an illness, and each has marked the end of one thing and the start of something better.

It forces me to stop everything: work, projects, travel, writing and even blogging. I am captive to the stillness, a prisoner of the quiet. It only allows for reading and contemplation, the latter of which eludes me more often than not. This time I took three days off from work, from running around, from distraction. I had to re-examine some things, have another look at what was really important. Stability, safety, warmth ~ these are the unlikely components to my happiness, and instead of trying to find them in other people and material possessions, I looked deeper and began to see them in myself. All these months – years, really – I’d been trying to find that in another. As self-centered as the world likes to think I am, I’ve been remarkably willing to do anything and everything for others – to make an impression on them, to force them to feel something, to make a mark on someone’s life. In addition, I’ve gone out of my way to be fair to my husband and friends and family. I do not talk about people behind their back, I don’t discuss private matters among strangers, I don’t invite or invoke negative words or thoughts upon anyone. It’s not much, but I know not everyone can say the same about me. For a while, these last few months especially (only now do I begin to see), that was one of the underlying sources of ill-will that had bogged me down. It took a head cold to stop me in my tracks, to shake me and wake me and force me to see things I’d perhaps intentionally left unseen.

Rather than confront or go on the counter-attack – which I may have unconsciously tried to do at the start, resulting in epic battles, thrown objects, and otherwise-uncharacteristic behavior – I paused, took stock of the areas where I was in the wrong, and did my best to rectify what I could. It was no longer a case of defending or fighting back against darker forces, but simply a matter of bettering who I was, and making the world better for those around me. Suddenly, all the attacks I felt, subtly and subliminally – could not touch me. There was no longer anything to deflect, because they did not matter. Whether they imploded on themselves, or turned to cause strife at their own source was of no consequence to me now. That burden was gone. I felt better, this time from the inside out.

Slowly, the haze and fog were lifting. Slowly, I was coming back to myself, back to my senses, back to the clarity that is at times harsh and brutal but never untrue. I’m not quite there yet. Remnants of sickness remain – a runny nose, a lingering tightness in the sinuses, moments of doubt and frustration – but we’re on the way to recovery. And spring is within view. In a couple of weeks we will turn the time forward, giving up an hour of darkness for a longer period of light. Already the days are longer, already the sun deigns to linger.

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