We all need therapy and DBT is the therapy I am most familiar with. Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I learned all about it with Addy in hospitals treating her eating disorder. DBT is useful for other struggles, too. The facets I take from DBT and that I use fervently are *we learn to radically accept our current state and life and *we learn to use distractions to not ruminate on the unfairness of life. (Obviously, not an official understanding of DBT but helpful for me personally.)
I radically accept that things have not been perfect again.
Tomorrow is family picture day. The quintessential family experience- that mothers hold their breath for and children dread. I radically accept that the photos may be imperfect and not represent the love and beauty of my six children. Mim may refuse and Tuck will most certainly close his eyes.
Things will be hard. Things go wrong, things are bad and people do not get what they deserve so much of the time.
Once, I radically accept that this is it. This is life. It is the holidays and my dad has dies and I’m divorced and on and on- then I can move to my other favorite practice Distress Tolerance. Lord help me tolerate my own distress. I sure do need this lovely help called Distress Tolerance. Which leads me to…
10 Things to do when Winter Gets you Down
I watch on Hulu. Skip the episode when they send Eagan home. That was horribly depressing and unfair. I watch and feel enlightened by the ability and creativity of the lovely contestants. The projects are delightful and the banter of Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman is mildly entertaining. I mean, I love them from Parks and Rec, but the beauty of the show is that it is low stakes for me, the viewer. I can change the laundry or scroll through Pinterest while watching and not miss a beat. It is a vacation.
2.Walking around my neighborhood at dusk and peeping in the lamp lit windows
It is like my joy of people watching and my love of interesting homes melted together deliciously. Frida and Linus pull irrationally and jerk my arms to monkey grass and mailboxes. I stare and find myself smiling dreamily. Catching an old couple reading newspapers. Or a dad arriving home for dinner. A mom turning off a giant tv. The fresh air is a necessity to protect me from the doldrums. I can’t focus solely on the warm bungalows or solid brick ranches or too new second story additions. I might get bitter or envious as I walk back down into the flood plane parking lot of my condo. The dogs and the fiery red berries distract me just enough to keep my mind on the lovely.
3.British Baking Show
This article from the Washington Post is fantastic at explaining my love affair with the umpteen seasons of this reality tv show. We could talk all day about the new version on Netflix not being as good but I love it anyway. In the original series, I wanted to be as genteel as Mary but now I want to be as stylish as Pru. And when they pan to the sheep or ducklings in the British countryside, I feel myself taking a cleansing breath.
4.Walking around thrift stores
Goodwill is a solid part of our weekly routine with Mim. She tries on heels. And then she searches the children’s book shelves for Golden Books which I collect. We meet up in children’s clothing. I find all kinds of goodies. Never worn infant sleepers for the pregnant teacher at school. Overalls for cousin Otis and J Crew summer dresses for Mim’s next season. Mim begins to complain about being tired and her legs hurting or maybe it is her stomach or her teeth. She climbs into the cart easily with her unusually long legs. I stroll through dishes and tchotchkes. Maybe stop at the CDs- but they are always the same. I search for colorful afghans crocheted by someone’s granny and forgotten in a trash bag in the trunk of a car until finally donated to the Goodwill. I’m lucky. Our Goodwill closes at 9pm. Mim and I often can’t make it between dinner and bedtime without a meltdown so perusing the aisles becomes a savior of sorts.
5.Reading Sean of the South’s essays
His words are funny and light and uplifting while making me cry and feel all cozy inside. He writes of life. All of it. He loves his wife and people dearly and his dogs, too. I hope you find his essays heart affirming. His website is a plethora of writings that renew my faith in people. He makes me feel like I don’t need to punch the next person I see.
Just yesterday, a cantankerous elderly man up the street asked if I would help hang his Christmas lights. I reminded him that it’s too early. He insisted. So, I pointed out that I’ve had two back-surgeries, one tonsillectomy, and I’m Southern Baptist.
He is Pentecostal and doesn’t believe in tonsillectomies.
It took three hours on a ladder to hang those god-forsaken lights. He stood below and preached my ear off for the entire time.
When we were through, I was sweating. He opened a garage refrigerator and asked if I wanted an ice-cold chocolate milk.
“That depends,” I said. “Is it manufactured by the Anheuser-Busch Company?”
Some Pentecostals can’t take a joke.
“Chocolate milk will be fine,” I remarked.Sean Dietrich
6.The Dog park
Nothing is better than a visit to the dog park. All those different kinds of canines with their humans. All of bumbling and dashing and chasing squirrels and throwing slobbery tennis balls. We all look so different. Fat and tiny. Furry and bald. Angry and meek. I just love it all. Mim has usually chosen to wear inappropriate foot wear so we hobble along. She grabs my shoulder violently. She wears one roller skate and one high heel boot (from Goodwill). She is testy when the old people ask her why one roller skate. She looks at them like a teenager looks at a parent who asks what is TikTok. Complete disdain. I explain that she falls a lot less if she wears only one skate. A few old people can understand her ingenious logic. Others can’t remember being a kid in the foggiest and they stare too long. Linus zigs and zags while barking like only a Dachshund can, making sure everyone knows he won. And Frida wants her rear scratched. She shows off for me by jumping on a row of stumps and balancing on a cut down tree. People remark that bulldogs aren’t usually agile and we swell with pride. Ida is a big white poodle. Major is a huge Pitbull-Rottweiller mix who entertains me by getting in the huge black dog bathtub. Scout annoys the hell out of Linus. They probably knew each other in a past life. I haven’t seen Cricket in a while but she is getting old. Community.
7.Lighting candles and arranging flowers
Anyone can tell you that you need candles to make your home cozy and I second that. Buy fresh flowers and bring them home. Put one in a Coca Cola bottle on your window sill. Make a tiny bouquet and put it in the bathroom. Use the chipped pink pitcher to hold the rest. Now the house looks nice even though you haven’t vacuumed up the dog hair.
8.Making a playlist on Spotify
Get out all your angst. Find some anthems to scream at the top of your lungs or some bouncy pop to strut your stuff. Or cry. Music can change the world so it can definitely change your mood.
I recommend Lucinda Williams for get over an ass hole type of mood and Shawn Colvin’s holiday album for some nurturing quiet time.
9.Asking one of the girls to braid my hair
I need contact. I need hugs and kisses and snuggles. My kids are getting older and they need my affection but don’t always know it. Asking them to braid my hair gives us that touch and a moment to savor. Having my hair played with is like a boat ride to peace for me. They won’t just sit and twirl my hair anymore even if I beg but braids are close.
10.Looking around my house for stuff to get rid of or donate
It just feels god to clean out a cabinet or rid myself of excess stuff. My home is small and so if I want to keep thrifting and buying piddly little plastic objects then I have to get rid of some possessions to make room for new but used possessions. Dumping out one bathroom drawer and separating the trash, from the donations, from the keep pile is magical in creating some sanity. I cannot take on a closet or a room. Now, I’m not actually going to do this graphic because it is organized and methodical. I am completely incapable of this idea that I pinned.
Baby steps. I just gotta shake off the blahs or grief or intrusive thoughts and get myself in a new frame of mind. It doesn’t make the hurt go away but it gets me back in the land of the living. And out from under the covers.
Family pictures to come soon? To be continued…