I always thought I hated Winter with such a passion just because of the harsh, brutal temperatures, the raw wind and the mountains of snow and the biggest evil, ice. For someone with no balance looking down at a sheet of ice and having nothing to hold to grip, is pure terror. Those reasons alone are enough to hate Winter but I figured out recently there was something else that I hadn’t put into words before.
Winter is gray, black and white, while the other seasons are filled with vivid colors in various things. I miss the bright bunch of wildflowers popping up in the meadow, multi-colored and alive, the rich crimson of roses trailing down a newly painted white trellis. The bright green of a neighbor’s lawn, glossy and spiked like army soldiers standing at attention.
Nate, our neighbor, spends hours on his lawn, every Spring, Summer and Fall to make sure that each blade of grass is equal. I know that in the Winter he is just longing to be outside, as much as I am. I have dubbed him “The Mayor,” the unofficial mayor of our little neighborhood.
It’s a very long Winter here, the snow will start falling any day now and it will last, at least, until late April. I don’t like it but I have no choice so this year I am accepting it, not fighting with it. Moaning and groaning about it hasn’t helped before and it only makes ME feel worse so why bother? I will keep myself happy doing something else, I will learn to bake or cook new things. Maybe, I will write a book.
I guess after the long Winter I appreciate the Spring even more. Oh, when the first bud of a purple crocus pops up, sometimes even through the snow we know the end of Winter is near. Soon the budding yellow leaves of a forsythia bush in our backyard will slowly begin to show themselves and I cut some stalks to bring inside the house. I put them in a tall, dark blue vase, the only one I will use, loving the contrast of dark blue and yellow. They stand proudly waiting to burst, happiness from the outside proud to bring us joy inside our home.
In the Spring and Summer the sun is out shining brightly against a baby blue sky. Colorful birds sing to each other, we listen to their songs, we watch their beautiful, petite bodies flash in front of our eyes with different colors. I will try hard to let the absence of color in the outside world not strip the color of my world as well. I’m sure I can do it, it will be fine. I’m looking at Winter with a different attitude. I’ll find color inside.
Strangers in uniforms, hospital workers and cops, are bringing me here to this dark brown building, against my will. There is force, extreme force, holding me down and if I try to get away, their grip on me gets tighter, the cuts hurt more, blood-soaked white bandages. I tried to escape, I slit my wrists in the bathtub.
I had no way of knowing that my mother would be arriving home after her flight to France was cancelled. I wanted to die, I don’t deny that. Why is that a crime? I was hurting myself and no one else. I know, I cannot win. I know this particular dream is over but I wanted to be by myself and not face the bitter reality of my drunken, crazy world. How many times did I have to hear “you’re no good” until I really believed it? This is a solution for me. How dare they stop me. It should be my right.
If someone else says “the world does not stop for you” one more time I will slap them hard against their smug cheeks. That is how I feel when I have no choice. More likely, I would put my hands around their wrinkled, pale necks and squeeze, hard. I don’t like when all my options are taken away. Do you?
I live on the East Coast with my friends and we talk about Winter incessantly with the same passion and hatred. We hate winter and ice and snowstorms. We can sense, to the day, when the last shiny, glorious day of Autumn disappears and that first startling chill of ice
strips your body naked and you know in your gut that there is no turning back. You are stuck in this season for a very long time. You feel trapped, like in a “solitude” room where they most likely are taking me in the hospital, the room with the padded green walls so small you feel you will just suffocate from madness.
Our lives for the past twelve weeks had been mostly glorious in bold colors, people, the blue sky, birds, gardens, flowers
is about to turn into a mixture of black and white. Different shades of gray, from pure white to gritty black, for me, suicide producing thoughts. My friends talk about a vacation in Florida, they don’t want to off themselves like I do. Come on, don’t tell me you’ve never thought about it? Really. Well, I have, many times. I’d be dead before I lived in Seattle, Washington although at least marijuana is legal there. Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn’t but I would need more than that to get through those arduous, long, gray days and the constant drizzle of rain.
I cannot live with gray or black and white, I need color to sustain me, I consider myself to be an artist. I need the sun to smile at me, to touch my skin, to stroke my hair. I need to see color for my sanity, the ocean, the garden in my neighbor’s yard, playful dogs outside, children laughing.
I will live no longer in this world of dark, don’t underestimate me, stupid fools. If I want to go, don’t doubt me. There are plenty of ways which I can leave, you just won’t know from which door I will exit…. or when.
Frühlingsblumen verschiedene Krokusse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Circle of Life: Death & Rebirth
This is the time for introspection, to put things in order not just for my house, but for me. My life lesson: I have clung to old friendships far too long, they are dead, like the crumpled crisp brown leaves on the yard. Friendships where I am the only one who is trying. You can’t force a friendship and your real friends, your true friends are always there. “The past” is a nice memory not a basis for friendship.
It is the second week of November, I look out my window and see gray skies and naked trees. There is no more sun peeking from behind blue skies, I mourn the sunshine, the flowers, the bright, orange, red, yellow leaves of the Fall that used to embrace the trees. What was once my favorite season is now seen as the precursor to the worst season, Winter.
Winter is on its way, people are dismissive and say “add layers of clothing” as they stuff themselves into scarves and hats, mittens and feel warmer but not me and not anyone who shares the chronic illness of Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Disease. Those words taunt us, they are a joke, a cruel comedy, a farce. Nothing helps, the winter chill goes through our bones and latches on like a one huge tick, sucking blood. We are always exhausted, we have no energy, we have what seems like the flu without the fever, every day of our lives. In the winter our bones and muscles are stiff, unyielding and painful.
Many times I don’t get dressed. My nightgown becomes my party dress and my pajamas serve as my jeans and sneakers. I know when I am in a ” Fibro Flare” when I cannot wear anything, that strains against my body. My body is bloated and the jeans make angry red imprints on my stomach even though they are the right size for me. If I have to be outside, as soon as I come home I literally rip the tight, restricting clothing off, my bra, my pants and change into loose, soft pajama bottoms and a well-worn tee-shirt. It is only then I can breathe. To people with chronic pain, Winter is a slow death, a Tragedy.
After a long, bleak winter, when the temperatures get higher and we have weeks of rain, my body and mind change. My body hurts because of the dampness and the changing weather but my heart knows that soon I will see buds springing from the ground to show off the first fashions of Spring. One day out of the corner of my eye, I see several bright, green buds pushing their way from the deep, dark earth. It is the promise of Spring fulfilled, crocuses have pushed their way above ground: Hope. Once the crocuses have sprung forth, soon we will see the burst of color dancing before our eyes. It is a ballet I love to watch. I never get bored. In a matter of days the forsythia bush in my back yard has sprouted brilliant, bright yellow lights, buds and I know that we are safe and loved.
One day, the sun pulls out its lazy arms and stretches, beams its beautiful smile and soars to the top of a deep blue sky. It is officially Summer, It is time to Rejoice, to take advantage of every single day that we have been given, a reprieve, from pain, from gloominess, a treat. I enjoy the summer as much as I can. Even though extreme heat is not good for chronic pain patients, it is good for my soul to look outside and see the painting of flowers and sun and hear the laughter of children riding their bicycles in the neighborhood. The sun, makes me happy, it does affect my mood. It softens the world around us, like a soft, romantic filter on an otherwise hard life. I am grateful for the sun, every single day, it is time to Celebrate with friends: joyous laughter, food, children selling lemonade, dogs running around outside, people holding hands. This would be my final act.
Winter is alone. Spring is for friends. Summer is for families. Fall is for children. I need that tiny glimmer of hope when I look outside at 5 PM and see a bit of the sun still whispering down at me from the sky. Is the gloomy darkness giving us a chance to take a gulp of winter air and not get lost and turned around in the frost? How much longer can I see my breath outside as the car shudders and shakes itself to start? Is there a chance, a hope, a tremor, a twinge that Spring may actually be coming in the next few months?
I can minimally handle these cold and frigid days when the sun is out and the sky is a mellow blue. It’s when the limbs of strong, sturdy trees fight, swaying against the gray, dark clouds that I become a hermit and don’t want to leave my cozy house. That’s when I stay inside, if I can, and sip Eggnog Tea and pat my dog on her sweet head so that she closes her eyes and sighs a gracious thank-you.
Stronger and stronger I am feeling the connection between mood and weather, temperature to temperament. I don’t think it’s a fast science but a personal assessment. Some people like the sun; I need the sun. I crave it with my body that is still dry and rough from the long winter. Red, raw hands fighting inside the mittens that promise warmth and comfort but deliver neither.
How can one NOT feel better when you see the spry young spots of purple and yellow crocus’ emerging from the strong, solid earth? The first blush of downy yellow from the forsythia tree in the backyard. The texture of pussy willows as I stroke my thumb against them back and forth like a calming mantra.
Let this bitter cold winter end. The soft billowy snow that once was fresh is now a dull gray mixed with mud. We have been through this for many years as we mutter “I hate the winter” to anyone who passes by. Or we say it out loud to ourselves, over and over again.
We all need a break from the earth, from the world and from ourselves. We need to shine, to stretch like a cat after a long nap, to take long deep breaths that smell like daffodils or mowed lawns, or red wine. Let the spring come to us like a long-awaited for present, no expectation on when it will arrive but always deeply grateful when it does.