Bridges…

I’m trying to figure out why I’m so depressed, and I’m hoping there is an external cause, like maybe it’s just the holidays. If there is no external cause, that sucks. Time will tell. 

I honestly have never liked Christmas. I’ve tried to like it. I’ve liked aspects of it. I have had some really nice Christmases in my life with beloved family and friends and even alone. I loved my Christmases in Zürich with my Swiss family. I loved my Christmases with my Montana aunts. I loved a very special Christmas when my stepson, Ben, and his wife, Sandi, brought German Christmas (Sandi is German) to my house in the mountains of CA on Christmas Eve. We took a hike in the afternoon to decorate a pine tree with bird seed. Sandi didn’t. know it had snowed in the mountains and that was the best Christmas present she could have gotten. That night we exchanged gifts and opened presents — that was the tradition in my family as well. With my family mostly gone at that point, I’d never expected to participate in that custom again. I could (and maybe should?) write a long list of happy Christmas memories. Maybe that would fix this, but I doubt it.

The closer it gets, the more I wish I could escape to a non-Christmas place. I’ve tried this year to just sample the meaningful things that have come my way — and I’ve enjoyed them — but it still seems to go on and on and on and on and on and on and on. 

When I was a kid, Christmas was happy if we went away. Otherwise, it was often horrible and maybe that’s why I dread it. One year (when I really really really really wanted a long flannel nightgown like the girls wore in Little Women) I bugged my mom about it (as kids do). Suddenly my mom said, “You only think about yourself. You never think about other people. Come here.” She grabbed my wrist rather brutally, sat me down hard in front of the Christmas tree and opened my presents. I kept my eyes closed, but really? I was 8. 

Usually I’ve gone away, but this year there is no money for that — $700 for car insurance, $400 for new tires, $150 for car registration all due in the last two months on top of a year that was filled with lots of expenses.

Any-hoo, in other somewhat less self-indulgent news, I made a Christmas ornament for a tree that a family puts up downtown in memory of their family members who have died. They write the family member’s names on ornaments and invite others to do the same. I lost my last two aunts in the last year. A dear friend of mine lost her two sons in a car crash 5 years ago and the lawsuit has (thankfully) just recently come to an end. Her son and his wife (who also died in the crash) were good friends of mine. Out of that disaster I “got” his mom who’s a very inspiring person, a fine artist, and a kind and vibrant soul who’s lived an adventurous life. I love her very much. My friend Lois always misses her mom and then there’s my brother about whom I have intensely mixed feelings but he’s still my bro. I decided to make a star and write their names on the points.

The dogs and I got in the car, drove the star down to the tree and then we went for a walk at the slough. Because Dusty is somewhat stove up, we couldn’t go far so we went to the place where I run into the Icky Man. He wasn’t there. We walked fast because I expected him to show up any time, but we were lucky. As we were driving away from the spot — already on the road — his truck passed us. Perfect timing and a great Christmas present since Dusty and Bear really had a lot of messages to read and leave. 


“I’m happy, Martha.”
“I’m glad, Dusty T. <3”

25 thoughts on “Bridges…

  1. Martha, are you taking any statins? I was semi-depressed for two years and sore and tired. Since I went off my cholesterol meds I’ve felt like a new person. If not statins, still check the side effects of any medicine you are taking..

    • Hmmm. Funny you mention that. I haven’t had my meds changed in 5 years with no problems, but last night I was thinking I should call the doc and get new tests. Since my hip surgery I’ve lost 20+ pounds and maybe I don’t need the same meds any more. Maybe I’m getting more than I need and it’s affecting my mood. Thank you! You’ve given me confirmation. 🙂

      • I cut the blood pressure and cholesterol meds. The cholesterol were the worst. My dr. cut my bp meds in half and I’m not having symptoms..Hope it helps to check yours!!!

      • Me too! I’m not the same person I was five years ago. I’m not living under the same pressures, I don’t have the same body, LOTS has changed. So maybe… 🙂

    • Statins didn’t have any affect on mood at all for me. For that matter neither did the Prozac I tapered off several months ago. I’m keeping the statins because otherwise, my cholesterol is way too high.

  2. I have never liked Christmas. Even as a kid. They were OK when I had my kids at home, only it was Hanukah instead. But with the kids gone, I don’t see the purpose. It is just a big commercial enterprise.

    • I don’t see the purpose, either. I like some aspects of it, and I’m open to good stuff that might appear in the maelstrom of absurdity, but I could live without it.

  3. Also, have you been sleeping well? It is okay to do nothing. It has been a long and busy year for you.

    I mostly avoid posts about Christmas lights, etc. Not all though. I can like that other people enjoy the whole Christmas festivities thing. What makes them happy, makes me happy.

    I will do only one post on Christmas. I have found a great version of Silent Night, Martha. You will love it. 🙂

    • I’ve been sleeping OK and you’re right. It’s been a pretty intense year. I’m going to schedule a physical. I think my meds could be the problem, anyway, I’m due for one. I have never felt like this on the holidays. I usually just take it in stride

      I look forward to hearing the song!! 😊

  4. It could be the meds Martha and often, when we have lost family members and friends during the year, the first Christmas without them can bring our grief to the surface again. Writing their names on the ornament that you made and placing the ornament in a commemorative tree is a beautiful thing to do 💜 xxx

  5. Hugs! You don’t have to like Christmas! In fact, if I have an emotion that I consider inappropriate and uncomfortable, I try to enjoy it. Exaggerate it. I would try to really channel the grinch or Scrooge in my head. My first college Christmas I came home and I really hope it was the worst Christmas of my life: my father was drunk and out of his mind silly the whole time and my mother and sister had frozen frightened smiles and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong…. until I got back to college. Then I went off to AlAnon and tried to intervene at spring break. My mother and sister refused: they were too wrapped in this familial disease. I confronted my father alone and then he refused to speak to me for the rest of the break. My mother and sister pretended it was not happening. Love to you and kindness to those feelings.

    • You were a brave girl!

      I think my dad knew, but no one in our family knew my mom was a drunk until a month or so before she died. I know alcohol had a lot to do with bad Christmases in my life which is probably why they were always better when we didn’t stay home. 🙂

      I figure I have about 10 days of this left and it will intensify early next week then dwindle off on its own. I’m also going to see if I need my BP meds adjusted. And maybe it will snow. Writing all that out yesterday helped as has all the kindness and support it’s gathered. Argh…

      • I am not sure if I was brave or lucky or some weird combination. I was gone for a year as an exchange student to Denmark. When I returned it was clear to me that something was really off but it took me two years to get past my mother’s denial….

      • I think you were brave and maybe lucky, too. I learned from my mom’s doctor after he did a brain scan and found the scars and lesions from alcohol abuse. He told me on the phone and said, “Well, you knew your mom was an alcoholic and has been most of her life.” I didn’t know. Even her sisters didn’t know. A few years later I sought out a therapist and learned a lot. I also did a lot of reading in the publications of Al-Anon regarding co-dependency. Great and very very helpful. It’s hard to push past denial and the existence of a false-reality to see what’s really there.

      • My father drank heavily for years and then stopped after my mother died. No intervention needed. He also threw out all the family photos. Not all drinking problems are alcoholism.

  6. Sorry you’re hurting, Martha, and I read a lot of support and good ideas in the comments thus far. It can indeed be a hard time of the year. Half my clients disappear during the season, and the other half need extra time because of the season.
    BA has a fine pair of grinch fleece pants, cozy, ridiculous and grumpy simultaneously. I’d lend them were we more nearby. I’d wear my cat in the hat version and we could stomp about and terrorize the town. Crazed old ladies!

    • I didn’t want to “publish” this but I’m glad I did. I’m grateful for the support, some very useful advice, the reminder that it was a pretty extreme year for me. I guess I feel ashamed when so many other people are facing real difficulties and (for now) I’m actually not.

      I would love to terrorize Louisville. I don’t think it would be possible to terrorize Monte Vista. I don’t think anyone would notice us. It’s an absurdly accepting place. I will write about that sometime…

  7. And oh yeah, I love your star. Hospice used to do a tree (at Crossroads Mall, you know it–now transformed to an outdoor mall) where you could hang a similarly labeled star. The early years after Mom died, it was meaningful, and you’ve reminded me of this. Thanks!

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