Saturday, November 17, 2007


This week, I got some feedback from someone in my life about how I have been acting like it is all about me, to the exclusion of being conscious of others. My feelings, my discomforts, my everything. And while this was uncomfortable feedback to be sure, it started me thinking about the reality of my life right now. Which is to say that my day to day life, even to me, is boring and full of things nobody wants to hear about on a daily basis. I cannot believe myself, how much I am worried, focused, whatever, on what is going into my body, what is coming out and how that is all happening! Eating or the lack thereof has become a big focus. I used to really enjoy food, enjoy cooking it, certainly eating it. These days, it is just something else to worry about, am I getting enough in for protein? Do I need to supplement with Ensure or Boost (yeeeech). The whole joy I used to have in going out to dinner is simply gone. I keep hoping this is a temporary place I am in and that some of it will come back.

The other thing I am aware of is how limited my world feels right now. I am trying to read but often am too groggy to make sense of the words. I have finally given up getting the NY Times for now, because I was finding that I was not reading enough of it before the next issue. It is as if my brain is turning to mush sometimes.

And I guess I am spending too much time worrying. About the future, the time I have left, what will happen to my family, all that. When will I have time and energy to clean out that closet? (this is one of those projects my visiting friends will be able to assist with over the upcoming weeks). I still have lots of legal paperwork to move through and get going on. I am trying to make decisions about my will and to feel like I am doing the right thing. Time seems to be slipping by, measured in how many episodes of Jeopardy did I see this week. So yes, I guess I am in a place of intense self-absorption. I don't want to be stuck here but my world seems to have gotten so much smaller in the past month or so.

I am familiar with symptoms of clinical depression: loss of interest in the familiar things of one's life, withdrawal from friends, etc. I don't think it is that, not exactly. There is a difference between lack of energy for something and lack of interest. But for example, I realized recently that I cannot handle movies with dark deep plots, or serious themes right now. I am more interested in light comedies, ones that don't tax my brain too much. So I am going to miss out on a slew of recent films that have deep meaning, but I have to go where I can go. My Netflix membership is on "hold" for now, and Jamie is passing the light comedies to me for watching. And I am still trying to complete reading Eat, Pray, Love, which I really enjoy, but find myself just wandering from as I try to read it in long chunks. Reading has always been a joy and a comfort, so I don't want to lose that!

So much of what was "normal" in my life just a month or so ago, feels compromised or changed. I cannot bear to drink coffee right now, and I love coffee. But the smell and I aren't getting along, so I have switched to tea for the time being.

I was looking forward to going to a lot of Duke Women's basketball games this season. Hopefully once this cold has passed through me and I am really done, I will have the energy to think about that again. I loved going last year and there are some hot games coming up. I just need to have the energy in my body to be able to be there and stay awake!

Self-absorption is boring. I don't know how to answer simple questions like "what's new?". Nothing is much new, unless you want to hear about the changes in my head congestion from two days ago. I haven't been doing anything of interest. Just trying to get through another day, one day at a time.

The person who provided the feedback on all this pointed out this is not new behaviour for me, that I have always been self-absorbed. And that they had a lot of judgments about this and other things I have been doing. That was the tougher part to hear. I have never felt like a perfect person, far from it. But I have tried to interact with people without judgments about them. I find that having lots of judgments makes for an overly controlling relationship, which ultimately doesn't make anyone happy. Judgments on things that are part of my core values, well, that just hurts. And makes me wonder what the heck I have been doing, hanging around with someone who has all that brewing inside them. So letting go of this relationship, which was obviously not working for the other person either, was a good break.

I am not asking anyone to tolerate me if I am being obnoxious, sick or otherwise, but I am in a place right now where my world is small, and scary sometimes and what I need from friends is to be there, without judgments if at all possible, to just help me get through it all. Fortunately, many other people have done just that, shown up and said "what can I do" and not had a preconceived list of what would be "good for me".

If the tables were turned and I were asked to be there for a friend, I would hope that I could do so without bias, judgment or a lack of honest communication. Just being there is sometimes what is needed. It is still hard for me to ask for help with daily things like laundry, but I am getting better, because friends like Betty just offer and make it happen as if it were no big deal. And as I find myself failing health-wise, I am going to need more of that. Even if it feels self-absorbed!


Maria said...

Debra, For what it's worth, I have always seen you as an incredibly giving person who cares deeply about the welfare of others. Your work for ARI helped so many in profound ways. I've been struck by how this caring side of you hasn't disappeared, even in the face of your current crisis. I don't think I would have been able to give so generously to the fire victims if I had been in your place. I wouldn't even have thought of it. If you need to take some time to focus on yourself right now, that is only healthy. Personally, I think you're awesome!
Love, maria

Anonymous said...

Debra dearest,

There are times when people pretend to be friends then come up with the most insensitive justification for their "crassness". I have never known someone as un-selfish as you, and as strong in the face of adversity. Just shake off this unjust view of you and continue to share with us the daily course of your life now. For you have given much to the world and by listening we hope to give you back an iotta of your generosity. Love you and Sofie; momo