A Little Bit of Everything

by Susan Pogorzelski on March 15, 2010 · 11 comments

So take me as I am…
I’m a little bit of everything
All rolled into one.

Meredith Brooks, “Bitch”

“I’m not feeling well.”

Month after month, week after week, day after day, this would be the phrase that ran through my head and sprung from my lips.

“I’m so incredibly tired.”

It’s the excuse I would give when asked to go out to dinner with friends or shopping with my mom right before I rested my head back down against the pillow and closed my eyes, the fatigue overcoming me like night defeats the day.

“I’m scared.”

It’s the emotion I’ve carried with me for the greater part of my life — inexplicably clinging to me like a second skin, unsure of its origins and refusing to go away, no matter how much I try to understand it or how I attempt to face it.

For so long I carried these words around with me, holding onto them because, for so long, this is what I’ve known. Frustration at feeling ill and not having answers, never mind solutions; tired of being so tired and drained and struggling to make it through a day; wanting to replace that fear with courage and not knowing entirely how to do so.

Wanting desperately to return to who I am and get to where I long to be.

For so long, I let these phrases and words cast a shadow over everything I did or said or felt.

No more.

I say this now, with a strong will and a promise to myself: these words will not define me.

No words ever can.

And yet, it’s so easy to get caught up in that, to believe we are only one thing or the other.

We use words to label ourselves as if this will explain who we are and why we are: “I’m a Libra, I’m a dreamer, I’m the youngest child, I’m a woman.” We define ourselves by our jobs — “I’m a banker, I’m a writer” — and by whom we’re loved — “I’m a daughter, I’m a sister, I’m a friend.”

We sum up our lives in phases — “this is when I was happy, this is when I was sad. Then I was a child; now, I’m an adult.”

We hold onto how we view ourselves,how others view us, not certain that we can be anything else, perhaps afraid to see what more is possible.

And yet, there are so many other emotions and experiences tumbling around in this description of us, so much more that makes us who we are.

Do these words tell you how deeply I love? Do they tell you what I dreamed of as a little girl; do they tell you what I dream of now? Do these words tell you that when I’m walking down the city street, I look up to absorb and reflect on the beauty of these 19th century buildings? Do they tell you that in the summers, I sit out on the back porch and wait for the fireflies to emerge because they remind me of a thousand stars that I can actually reach out and touch?

Do these words tell you how I cared for my grandmother when she was sick, making sandwiches for her, watching her to make sure she ate and didn’t forget…caring for her, as she once cared for me? Do they tell you how it felt the first time I ever saw my parents cry? Do they tell you that the pride I felt at my college graduation was for them?

Do these words describe the empowering experience of complete self-reliance and independence such as when I went to France — discovering that great wide world on the first trip, discovering myself the last?

They can’t. They don’t. These are merely words, labels that create the image of who we are, though it isn’t all of us. Because who we are is so much deeper than anything that could ever be realized. These words may be the foundation, but there is layer after layer of memory and experience and feeling acting as the brick and mortar that make up who we are, that takes a lifetime to build and become complete.

I made a mistake. I caught myself in that trap of letting how I was feeling pave the way for everything in my life and, as such, I’ve limited myself. Because of this, I did the one thing I promised myself I wouldn’t do — I withdrew, once again, into reflection and solitude. I labeled myself, let my situation become everything, and tried to hide until it was all better rather than finding the courage to face it.

I’m ready to face it now.

Because I’m learning that it’s the experiences that define you, and that definition is always changing.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

MAC March 15, 2010

Thanks for the wakeup call! I think you have a good idea of how crappy I’m feeling these days, and that is not who I am either. In the midst of all of this, I have decided what I need to make myself happy in life, and after all of these years, I’m going for it! More to come on that. One step at a time first.

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Susan Pogorzelski March 16, 2010

Mary: I’m so sorry that you’ve been feeling so bad (but I’m relieved to hear you’re able to get that resolved!). It seems like we’re running a bit in tangent with our new outlooks and dedication to life 😉 and I’m so proud that you’re going for it, that you’re making waves towards your own happiness. Can’t wait to hear what you have in store! 🙂

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Sam March 15, 2010

You’re amazing, keep on fighting! I have faith in you, and I know you’ll reclaim your life. Love you

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Susan Pogorzelski March 16, 2010

Sam: I know I said it last night, but I’m going to say it again (and I know I’ll say it in the future). I am so incredibly grateful to have met you, so grateful for your friendship. I don’t think you even know what courage and strength you’ve offered, and these friendships are what have kept me going. Thanks for everything…Everything. Love to you!

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Harl Delos March 15, 2010

There are a lot of taboos in our society. Women don’t play “shirts and skins” touch football. You don’t have sex with your dog, no matter how much he humps your leg. And you don’t tell someone who feels crappy that they deserve it. But I’m not sure on this one: you’ll have to tell me. Is it OK to tell someone who feels crappy that it’s OK to feel crappy, that they are free to give up, give in, and just wallow in their misery?

When I’ve felt crappy, and God knows, I’ve felt that way often enough, everyone around me is constantly on my case, telling me not to be a gloomy Gus, telling me that I need to “Cheer up, Bucky!”. Excuse me for using foul language on your blog, Susan, but fuck them and the horse they rode in on. I don’t have any obligation to them to be happy, and I’ll be as miserable as I want to be. Or maybe I should be miserable just to piss them off.

That’s not to say I have an obligation to piss them off. It’s just that I want to, sometimes. If I am carrying the world on my shoulders, and I have a crook in my neck from doing it, is it asking too much that they should give me credit for knowing that I can put the damnable load DOWN any time I want to and perhaps the reason I am carrying it on my shoulders is because I’m busy moving the earth from where it was, to someplace I’d rather it be? Whose earth is it, anyway? Don’t I have something to say about it?

Everywhere I go, cashiers, people I don’t know from Adam act like pushy bitches, demanding that I “have a nice day.” Well, sometimes I already have that planned, and sometimes, I need to get some work done, instead. And if I have a migraine headache, and my joints are aching, and my ankles are buckling, and my gimpy leg is trying to get me to walk in a circle, it’s pretty damned unreasonable to demand that I have a nice day, because it’s all I can do to get through the day, one way or another.

It’s the Ides of March, Susan. You know what that meant to Caesar, don’t you? Exactly 2054 years ago today, someone, someone he thought was his friend, stabbed him in the back, and killed him. And I should complain about a migraine headache? But you know what, I betcha I know why Brutus did it. I bet Brutus was suffering from arthritis, and some bleeping cashier insisted he “have a nice day”. And then when Julius said, “Et tu, Brute?”, Brutus said, “You too, huh? I’ll show you!”

Dogs have it right. When they love you, they prove it by humping your leg, and when they are wounded, they crawl off into a dark corner, and simper and lick their wounds, and if anyone comes even close to them, they snarl a warning: “Don’t even THINK about telling me to have a nice day.”

It sounds, Susan, that you’ve been brainwashed by our society, or even by some particular individual in our society, into acting cheerful when you don’t want to. Mind you, I don’t want to be rain on your parade, if you can’t help being cheerful, but if you’re feeling down, you probably don’t have energy to spare, being all bright and shiny for some SOB who doesn’t really care that much about you, anyway. It’s your demeanor, and you have a right to be sad, mad, bad, glad, or plaid.

You wouldn’t have to declare on your blog that you’ve decided to be happy. Happy isn’t a decision you make, it’s something that is forced upon you without your consent. And if you aren’t happy, you should conserve your energy, because snarling at approaching strangers may be required at any moment.

Protect yourself, Susan. Stand up for your right to sit down in utter exhaustion. Trying to be happy when you’re not is one of those things that drains the life out of someone, right before he decides to argue right-of-way with a freight train – and I’m selfish enough to want you alive.

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greymous March 16, 2010

While I can very closely relate to much of what is said here I’d like to add that when I declare that I’m going to be happy (or whatever) I don’t do it to please some cashier , do gooder or someone telling me what I should be. I do it for me. And believe me, I spend a lot of time being a miserable SOB (according to others and sometimes myself too… 🙂 )

Maybe I feel that I’ve been in a funk for long enough. Maybe I want to try something different or to force a change from within. After being around for more than a few decades I think I’ve earned the right to be how I want to be whether that is positive or not, withdrawn or outgoing, active or passive, etc.

Susan, I hope that you are doing what you need to to for you (it sounds like it to me) and only for you! You know yourself best, you know what you need, want, won’t do and all that.

Keep the focus on you and you’ll do just fine. You’re way smart enough and strong enough to conquer anything that is in your way.

🙂

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Susan Pogorzelski March 16, 2010

Ken: Can I ever say thank you enough? I’m really beginning to wonder if it’s even possible 🙂 This is exactly what I’m feeling right now — I’ve been down for so long that it feels like that’s all I know, like I’ve forgotten what it feels like to have energy, to be clear-minded, to be, well…me. And I know that there is so much more to me — than all of us — than our circumstances (and even feelings) can claim.

“Maybe I feel that I’ve been in a funk for long enough.”

Exactly. This is exactly it. Feel what you feel — I said it to Harl and I really do believe it. Whether you’re angry or your sad or you’re happy, feel that. Understand that. Because that’s a huge part of understanding yourself. What has bothered me, though, is that I was allowing myself to feel the first two for so long that I forgot what that last one was. And it seems like I wouldn’t allow myself to be happy, even if I had the chance.

I’m looking forward to finding that again, finding my strength, finding that hope. It’s already beginning, with a little help from my friends 🙂

Thanks, Ken 🙂

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Susan Pogorzelski March 16, 2010

Harl: It’s true that there is such a taboo in our society. We don’t talk about stress. We don’t talk about anxiety. And we most certainly don’t talk about depression. It’s a shame and, truly, it’s one of the things that lights my fire — because understanding comes with communication and awareness. And maybe, just maybe, with both of those, those of us who experience these things (and so much more) won’t feel so alone.

That’s why I love being so honest on my blog. This is my life — for better and for worse. These are the situations I have to deal with and the emotions that I go through. It isn’t all sunshine and roses — it isn’t like that for anyone.

But what I’m trying to convey is that I’ve had enough of letting these situations get the best of me. I really do believe that we have to feel what we feel and that is entirely ok. As a (hyper)sensitive and overly emotional person, there are times when I just give in, curl up, and squeeze my eyes so tightly, blocking out the world.

But I don’t want to dream my life away. And who I am is that naturally cheerful and optimistic person — that part of my personality has just been shrouded in this depression, fear, and fatigue. It’s not who I am, and yet I let that become a part of me. Instead of taking control of my life, I let it control every action and every thought.

I don’t want that anymore. It’s not so much about not being able to give in on the rough days and not feeling whatever it is I’m feeling — there will still be times when I’m so exhausted I can scarcely move, and there will still be times when all I want to do is cry. And I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll do both.

But I don’t want this to define me. And I don’t want it to hold me back from who I know I am and what I know I want. It’s just a change in mindset.

I hope that clears things up…I’m still the rough and tough Susan — I’ll be the first one standing up for feeling what we’re feeling 🙂

Thanks, as always, for your thoughts and insights and especially your friendship, Harl.

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Positively Present March 16, 2010

What a great post, Susan and the comments are brilliant as well. I never fail to be inspired when I stop by your site. Keep writing… it’s wonderful!

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Susan Pogorzelski March 23, 2010

Dani: I have to agree with you — you guys are pretty smart and insightful (and inspirational!) 🙂 Thanks for being here, thanks for your comments, and thanks, always, for your support.

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