March is the anniversary of a time in my life when I had no control over events impacting me, and even twenty years later, my body still remembers. Like a a virus buried in my DNA, headaches, dizzy spells, exhaustion, nightmares, depression, confusion, and uncertainty surface every year that no manner of counseling can cure. With my Dad’s illness and stress at work, I was especially vulnerable when the wave of toxicity washed over me a few weeks ago. I could barely get out of bed. I stopped running. I ate without tasting food. I went through the motions at work, but seemed to get nothing done. I filed extensions for the corporate tax returns due mid month. I wasted my evening hours flipping channels on the television without ever watching anything, and snuck off to bed at 7:30pm. To say I was in a bad place is an understatement, but I’d sampled medical and homeopathic solutions for years.

During the month of March, nothing in my world is ever sensible or stable.

To make things worse, this March had kicked off with a misunderstanding between myself and a friend, and part of the insanity I experience during my annual slide into purgatory is that my mind grabs hold of an issue and blows it out of proportion. This year, I focused on the friendship that was now in jeopardy. I reviewed it start to finish (which took a while since we’ve know each other for almost three decades). I searched for something in those years to answer abstract questions bigger than the issue at hand. I wanted proof of something-right or wrong before facing him in New York at the end of the month. I needed indisputable answers, but I found none. Scenarios looping through my mind kept me awake at night as I anguished over my uncertainty. I could put on a smile and pretend everything was okay, but I really hoped he would absolve me of responsibility by canceling. The week before, I chose to defer, and because my poisoned mind wouldn’t allow for excuses, I texted my friend the version of the truth my brain believed at the time. I told him he was right, and I couldn’t face him. Send. It was done. My questions were answered. I was the bad guy.

Then, something strange happened… I slept well that night.

I woke up the next day, feeling refreshed. I was a whirlwind at work. I came home and completed one of the corporate tax returns. I slept well again. The next day, the process repeated. All the clouds had blown away. I was back to normal, but it was only March 19! There should have been more doom and gloom. How could I be cured already?

The only proven remedy for uncertainty is to make a decision and take action. It sounds pretty simple, but it can be an insurmountable challenge when paralyzed by anxiety, confusion, and depression. I’m not saying I made a good decision, but instead of sitting around waiting for the problem to go away, or for someone else to make the decision for me, I took charge. Making a decision provided the control I was lacking.

My next decision was simple and proactive: set a reminder in my iphone to utilize this golden elixir next March.


Staring Stan

Have you ever been seriously stared at before? I’m not talking about catching someone looking just before he turns quickly away. I mean someone who is fixated, eyes locked, seemingly unashamed…staring. If the guy was a stranger, label him a creepy stalker, and get on with life (hopefully never seeing the wierdo again). But my Staring Stan is someone I know. He is someone I’ve known for a long time. Should I ask why he is staring at me? What if he denies it? Seriously, I SAW you! Maybe he claims he was just spacing out? He wasn’t. Staring is staring. It happened repeatedly and intensely enough that it occurred to me to make sure I was fully clothed.

In high school, staring made sense. Teenage boys stare at teenaged girls, but high school was over twenty five years ago. I’m not a circus freak. Stop staring!

Really, I should be staring at him. What happened ? He used to be fun. He used to know how to relax. He used to have a personality, but we chose different paths: He recreated the “Leave it to Beaver” household with his perfect wife and two beautiful children. I did not select a spouse or give birth. I also didn’t become a completely different person. Maybe he is staring because he recognizes that I’m still me. I haven’t changed. Somehow I missed the chapter about growing up where everyone casts off their younger selves and becomes middle aged stereotypes who follow around behind their spouse saying “yes, dear”.

He is exactly the kind of guy HE used to make fun of.

Ironically, he now looks at me the way I looked at him twenty years ago. The expression is of mixed awe and disbelief, as if the object of attention is so amazing, it seems unreal. Does he wonder how his life might have turned out if he didn’t become someone else’s husband? Is he trying to recapture a sliver of a life he no longer lives? If so, then what he sees truly is unreal, but I know the feeling. It’s the moment, on the cusp of waking from a really good dream that you force your eyes shut tighter to hold on, but at that point, it’s already too late.