Sunday, April 8, 2012
Annual Bad Day Revisited
This year I tried to pretend it wasn't approaching, but I failed. Even when I try to forget, my body reminds me. In the days preceding my annual bad day, my skin grows more sensitive, my muscles tense, sleep is elusive and then all-consuming, my brain replays images in my dreams, and my focus suffers.
Emotionally, I become more sensitive. I feel things more intensely. My feelings are hurt more easily. I become a bit melancholy. I struggle to not feel overwhelmed by the sense of betrayal, or at least the memories of the sense of betrayal. It all floods back, and I am filled with anger, sadness, and even regret even though I know I am well over blaming myself for someone else's actions.
Meditation, yoga, and focusing on gratitude fail to give me complete relief from the physical or the emotional effects, but they do help me get through the days. The only thing that relieves the effects of my annual bad day is time.
Perhaps if I didn't have an innate urge to fight my annual bad day every year, I could find a way to get through it easier. Accepting it might make it go easier on me, but it's not in my nature to not fight against things that I don't like. So, I don't expect to embrace the idea of just accepting that this day is forever going to be my annual bad day. I don't want to accept it. That feels like giving up hope, and I don't give up hope. Someday my annual bad day will just be another day of the year... It may not happen until after I'm dead, but someday it will be.
No one but me remembers my annual bad day not even those closest to me. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a heartbreaking thing. If they remembered, they might ask me about it. On the other hand, if they remembered, they might do something nice for me. But, I don't risk it. In all honesty, I'm not even sure that someone doing something nice for me would be a good thing. I've talked before about how doing something fun felt like celebrating something that shouldn't be celebrated, so a part of me feels like someone doing something nice for me on that day would feel the same way. It's convoluted, but isn't that what annual bad days are - convulated remembrances of the worst things that happen in our lives driving us to rethink who we were and who we are.
Yet this year feels different somehow. I can't force myself to go numb. I've written poems that are more detailed than ever. I released poems addressing it in Reflections in Silhouette: Poems. Still, in some ways, I feel more alone than ever. Years ago I closed, locked, padlocked, deadbolted, broke the key in the lock and concreted in the emotions I didn't want to feel. I welcomed and embraced the numbness for a long time. It was oddly comforting at first. Yet, when I let my guard down, when I was alone, the emotions would trickle under the door and through the keyhole.
At some point I stopped hiding from my emotions. I unlocked that door and then blew it off its hinges. I started feeling again. I started remembering again.A lot of the things I thought I resolved years ago started surfacing. So this year as my annual bad day approaches I find myself wishing I could return to numbness...
No matter how deeply I've buried what happened, it always bleeds in to my work. The experience, the emotions, the memories, and the results all find their way into the words that make up my body of writing. Poems, novels, short stories, etc. all echo tones of the lessons learned as well as the feelings of victimization and survivorship. Weakness and strength, pain and triumph, friendship and betrayal, love and hate all weave together to inform my writing as I work through my demons. I only hope they also enrich my writing in order to help other people.
So, even as I see my annual bad day approaching, I struggle to find a way to take the negative effects on me and turn them into something someone else can find comfort and inspiration in. If you have an anuual bad day, please know many of us do for a variety of reasons. We, like you, just tend to keep quiet about them. We all try to leave the past in the past where it belongs no matter how much it bleeds into our current days even if only in the lessons we've learned...
While I don't think I'll ever be grateful for my annual bad day or the event that created it, I can, most days, find it in my heart to be grateful for the lessons I learned about myself and others from the experience. I hope, if you have an annual bad day, you can someday reach that point, too.
T. L. Cooper grew up on a farm in Tollesboro, Kentucky. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Eastern Kentucky University. Her poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared online, in books, and in magazines. Her published work includes a novel, All She Ever Wanted, five books of poetry, and a book of short stories. When not writing, she enjoys yoga, golf, creating plant-based recipes, and traveling. Currently, she resides in Albany, Oregon.