Doggy December - Day 18 - The Black Dog
Sometimes, despite all the power-walking, running; having the encouraging ear, shoulder-to-cry-on and hugs from Love Chunks; effective medication and my own homemade version of cognitive therapy my own Black Dog can make its presence felt.
It is when I'm at my most exhausted - an unwanted triumvirate of physical, mental and social fatigue that seems to eat away my spirit, overly inflate my disappointments and perceived failings and destroys the ability to see the good things that surround me - the Black Dog arrives to sit by my side, making me lean on him for support; support that's anything but. Instead, his presence makes me stumble and again wonder why my back feels weak, why I don't want to go out the front door and talk to anyone or find the energy to do anything other than sleep.
But sleep is not something that comes easily, if at all. Sleeping during the day would be lovely, the perfect way to escape but I have responsibilities to fulfil - getting my child out bed, her lunch made, breakfast eaten, pets fed, safely to school. Start work, take care of the house, respond to phone calls, emails, letters, bills and enquiries. Keep writing; writing the stuff I want to write instead of the stuff I should write, and put it all aside again to pick up Sapphire from school, be a good mother, good wife, good worker, good friend, good person.....
"How was your day today, Who did you play with, Did you eat all of your lunch, What did the teacher say about me volunteering for the spring festival, Can Juliet stay for dinner, How on earth did you get green paint on your culottes, Where is your water bottle, You'd better go and feed Skipper before it gets dark, Why didn't you make your bed this morning, Do you girls want a cup of hot chocolate and to help me make some apple and cinnamon muffins?"
I prattle on, hating myself, but not knowing quite how to stop. It's as though I want to make up for any disappointments or anxiety I've inflicted on Sapphire and for the fact that the six hours previous I'd hidden away inside, wondering just what on earth was wrong with me and why the Black Dog had arrived again.
The irony is that my little orange dog Milly is such a constant presence by my side and she's far too jealous to share her space with another canine contender. If she was aware. Cars and kids toot and wave as we accompany Sapphire to school in the mornings - Milly's collar jingling as she strains to trot in front of us, proudly leading the way.
In the afternoons, she races for her lead when my alarm beeps and tells me to stop work and switch off the computer at 3:15pm..
"IT'S TIME, ISN'T IT?
It's time for another walk isn't it, time to see Sapphire and get pats from lots of other people and maybe go home the long way via the park and then let Skipper the rabbit out of his hunch so that we can play chasey before coming inside to play with Sapphire and her friend in her bedroom because they like to sing to me, stroke my ears and tie ribbons around my neck while I try to lick them in appreciation for at least a while until I get bored and go and sit back next to you in my beanbag, turning around and around until it's mooshed up just right, giving you my big sad eyes and hoping that you'll soon give me a bigger bowl of dinner than you did last night; with perhaps some stray rashers of bacon draped on top or a crispy fried chicken wing from that Coles BBQ bag that LC didn't eat for lunch today....."
Today I decided not to hide away inside and not to worry about what other parents at the school thought of me, or why having expectations only leads to sadness and failure - no. Instead, today Milly got an extra treat - a walk during the middle of the day. The sun was out, the birds were nesting, the blossoms blooming and there was even a rarely-found-in-Melbourne fresh Farmers Union Iced Coffee waiting for me at the corner deli.
"Bonus", Milly's twinkling eyes and lolling tongue said so obviously as she trotted ahead of me. My smile finds its way out again.
Tiny little steps that bring us happiness, but such very important ones to take. And to notice.