“I’m not depressed. I’m not anxious. I’m in a mess,” I confessed to my therapist last week.
There has to be a different category of “emotional states” that appears on the well-being checklist that I need to complete at RVH before every appointment.
Depression would mean I am not able to surface above the “mud”. That’s not the case. I am surfacing.
Anxiety would mean I am nervous and tense. I’m not that either.
I am, however, simply a mess. My house sometimes gets this way – full of clutter. And who can function in the midst of clutter? There are things everywhere, nothing is where it should be. To be grounded, I need to clean. To be grounded I need to be organized. And that includes my thoughts – which never seem to settle.
Until I discovered something.
I love Russian music. I always have. My cousin, Pam, sent me a link to a Russian youtube birthday song the other day. I played it – not expecting anything to happen. Yet, what happened what amazing. I immediately slipped back into the arms of my mother. I saw her soft smile and her loving eyes. I cried. I had forgotten how much that music had meant to us – we – had always connected to that music. And that birthday song transcended time and place for me. Russian music grounds me.
That afternoon, I pulled out the cribbage board to play with my kids. I shuffled the cards. I dealt – got skunked by my daughter and my son – but found the words that spilled out of my mouth were the words of my father. “15 – 2, 15 – 4, and the rest don’t score.” I was filled with memories of the farm and the quiet afternoons when I would play cribbage with him. Oranges, browns, and yellows. The colours of the kitchen at the time, soothed me. The smells of Mom’s cooking while we played. I hadn’t a care in the world – but winning at cribbage. My memories of that time grounded me. Memories of my childhood ground me.
Heritage. Memories. Childhood. These things are stable in my life. These things are not messy. They have been stored away in my mind and I know exactly where to go to get them. I am comforted that I can access them whenever I want. They give me an identity. I know who I am and where I’ve come from.
“Messy, Stacey? Are you messy?” Yes. “But I know where to find the Russian music and the cribbage board.”
And then – miracle of all miracles – I have also discovered that corn on the cob grounds me. Dad and I planted so much corn in the front yard of our country home. “Corn adds a particular type of nutrient to the soil, Stacey, to make it easier for grass to grow.”
“Why not just add fertilizer, Dad?”
“This is nature’s fertilizer, Stacey,” he would answer.
And then the time came when the corn was harvested and Mom would boil it for a precise amount of time – not too long and not too short. She added just a pinch of sugar. We would devour the corn and enjoy as the kernels exploded under the pressure of our teeth.
The corn on the cob season harvest grounds me.
At 9:00 at night the other night, the same day I discovered Russian music and cribbage again, I cooked corn. The kids and I loaded it with butter and salt and feasted on the sweet, new cobs.
For a moment – I knew who I was. I was the woman who grew up to appreciate Russian music, cribbage, and corn on the cob. I was not messy – for that moment. I had an identity. I was not a woman living with cancer. I was Stacey, from R.R # 1 Barrie, Ontario. I had an address, a name, and I had an identity that was something other than diseased.