Many moons ago, when I worked for Grinnell College, I got this cup...
I love this cup. It's large. It's heavy. It's red. It's a shape that feels good cradled in my hands. Everyone in my family knows this is Mom's cup.
When we moved to Carlisle, this simple cup served as my daily comfort and connection to a place I had so loved. To a time in my life when I learned so much about myself and what truly nurtures my soul. Over the years it has become somewhat of a security blanket. My security cup.
Santa left me a new cup in my stocking this year...
My kids at school love books by Mo Willems. Mo's books are silly, and witty, and his Elephant & Piggie series are some of my favorite read aloud books. This cup makes me smile every time I pick it up. I have grown to love my little school library space, and although it can be frustrating and exhausting at times, I'm glad to have a job to go to that I feel makes a positive impact on the students entrusted to my care there.
Admittedly, I have a bit of a thing for coffee cups, so event though we have more than plenty in our cupboard, I could not resist adding this cup to our collection when I randomly ran across it at Marshalls a few days after Christmas...
While different in shape, both of these cups are large, and weighty, and feel good when cradled in my hands. Since being added to our collection, these two cups have spent very little time in the cupboard as the frigid temps of Iowa winter ha required many warm drinks.
It seems fitting that new cups of comfort have made their way into my hands as of late as I have also felt a bit of the fog that has hung over my heart for the past few years starting to lift. During one of the darkest parts of the year, a time when the air is cold, the nights are long, and my inner grizzly wants to hibernate until spring, I've been feeling quite sunny.
I'm sure a lot of people in my life want to roll their eyes and tell me to just "get over it" when I say I don't know that I have ever really found my sunny side since we moved 6.5 years ago. Yes, I know, it's been 6.5 years. I SHOULD just move on and get over it. Trust me, I'd LOVE it if my heart found it to be just that simple. That doesn't mean that I haven't had sunny days. Life has continued to be lived. Some great memories have been made. Lovely people have been added to our tribe. New passions have been discovered. Life goes on, even on cloudy, foggy days.
Two and a half years I ago I stopped trying to "tough it out", realized I wasn't going to be able to just "choose to be happy", and admitted I needed some help dealing with the depression that had been unraveling the comfortably knitted warmth of my life. Clouds had taken over my inner environment, and I needed some help finding the sun. For about a year, I was experiencing brighter days on a pretty regular basis. Talking to close friends about needing some extra support, and getting a little pharmaceutical help in keeping my serotonin levels balanced, helped me to keep a better perspective on life. It helped me more fully enjoy the sunny days, and remember that when clouds blew in, they wouldn't being hanging around forever.
Then in August 2016 a BIG storm rolled in on a very scary, very surreal night I never expected to experience as a parent. For weeks we were in emergency clean-up mode. As is the case with any rebuilding after a major storm, recovery takes time. Sometimes there are set backs. It was a rough, rough, LONG year and my inner emotional environment did not fair well through it all.
(I have not written much about this particular struggle mainly out of respect for the fact it is not only my story. In fact, I feel a bit uncomfortable talking about here because I don't want to give the impression that the storm, and the after math, were about me. I only mention it because of how the events of that 6-9 months have affected my own mental/emotional well-being.)
There are a lot of areas of life when struggle and failure does not bother me for very long. As confident as I can be going into just about any adventure I decide to take on, failure does not surprise me. Self sabotage much? Yeah, probably. I will own up to that. And when it comes to most failures in my life, I'll own up to those too.
Failed business? I could have done more to promote my services.
Failed friendships? I'm sure I said something or did something to push the other person away. (I mean I even think I'd be exhausting to be friends with!)
Financial struggles? Yep, probably largely my fault as the keeper of the budget and payer of the bills.
That being said, I think I've always been able to accept my weaknesses and failures because there's one area of my life where I've generally felt like I totally have my shit together...being a mom. So when something happens that makes you question every decision you've ever made related to something you felt like you generally really do pretty well, your world kinda falls apart. In my case, a huge dark cloud hung over my inner world for a very long time. A cloud full of sadness and frustration and anger and worry. In hind sight, I should have probably been a bit more responsible for taking care of my own emotional needs as we worked on making repairs in the structure of our family. I should have probably participated in some counseling to help me find some peace, and keep perspective, with all that was going on.
Slowly over the past few months, that dark cloud has been lifting a bit. With time, we've been able to repair much of the initial damage created by that storm. There will always be scars, but life has gone on to find a more comfortable rhythm again. The general mood in our family environment, the center of my life, the holder of the dearest parts of my heart, is lighter. I'm starting to remember what it's like to have more sunshine in my life. Part of welcoming those sunnier days is simply accepting what has happened in the past is the past. Those events can not be changed and lessons have been learned. What we can look forward to is the potential of the future of finding a new place of comfort in the present.
It's kinda like being open to adding the comfort of a new favorite cup, or two, to the cupboard.