Writing again

Winter is Coming

 Working in an environment that fluctuates with the seasons the way retail does, one tends to notice recurring annual patterns. One of my personal patterns is a cycle of seasonal moodiness. Maybe it’s my Irish/Welsh/Scots heritage shining through. The astronomical calendar claims that winter won’t arrive until late December, but by the old Celtic counting of days, we pass from autumn to winter at the end of October. Every November, right on schedule, I sink into the delusion that absolutely no one on the face of the planet gives a flying fuck about anything I say or do.

 I know rationally that this is untrue. I know renouncing membership in every current Facebook group and purging my friend list of all but the small, loyal handful of people who respond to my posts is a crappy strategic move for an independent author. I know that social media are an important source of contacts and connections. My reality is not always rational. Not in the days of dwindling light. From November through the Ides of March, my life is a daily struggle against emotional entropy.

This is not Seasonal Affective Disorder. You want to see me get truly eloquent in my rantiness? Pull that cranky old cat out of its bag and wave it at me. There’s more to this than light. I crash almost as predictably in May when the days are stretching towards their longest, and to a lesser degree in late August, at the peak of the year’s heat and liveliness.  Yeah, I know my moodiness that well. I’m not exactly a spring chicken. I’ve sung this chorus enough times to know when it’s coming ’round on the guitar again. And no, my moodiness isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy either. Where’s my brightsider hammer? I know it’s around here somewhere….

Anyway. When a car is skidding towards a wall, predicting the collision isn’t self-fulfilling prophecy to know it’s about to crash. It’s an exercise in basic observational skills. I am observant. Knowledge is a weapon against the night-bleakness, not its cause. I leave my social media keys in the hands of others, I read more and train myself to avoid the sharper corners of the interwebz.

I complain. And I mope. And I withdraw to protect my wilting, drooping self from the accidental, inevitable breakages caused by rubbing along with other lives. I do all that to keep myself sane, but all the while, like Calvin snarling and griping from room to room in my favorite comic strip of all time, I live in hope that someone will understand that it means I need more hugs than usual. I’m an optimist, underneath it all.

Lastly, yes, I do know that this admission and my behavior generates annoyance or avoidance rather than sympathy. Historically and socially, I have found that admitting I hate life and behaving like Eeyore leads like night following day to confirmation that I am, in fact, a failure.  Faint praise,  perky aphorisms and awkward silences are the result that I have come to expect when not exhibiting Proper Social Positivity. I can recite every liturgical phrase from memory: cheer up, it isn’t that bad; count your blessings; smile more; appreciate what you have; look at all the good things in the world; stop focusing on the negative; complaining isn’t a solution; think of how much worse it could be. And so on. Ad nauseum. Nothing makes me want to hide in a corner and cry more than being told that feeling like crawling into a corner to cry is another thing that I do wrong.

Gonna share a secret here, with anyone whose self-awareness is high enough to recognize their voices echoed in those cheer-up phrases. They are not helpful, friendly bits of advice, no matter how good the intention . They’re emotional rocks. They hit with force, they pile up in a smothering weight, and they damage hearts, sometimes irreparably. If I don’t tell you when I feel awful, it’s a sign that I fear being pummeled senseless by happiness.

I’m far from alone in feeling the way I do. I am in a minority that is learning to speak out and defend my right to air my unhappiness instead of letting myself be buried alive.

Don’t stone others into lonely silence. During the darkest days, when lights are sparkling and the world is full of cheer-cheer-cheer,  please allow others their black thoughts and their dirty, messy negative emotions. If you can–and I beg you to try–be light and warm and open instead, as I try to be when my own inner fire is burning high enough to spark a real smile. Don’t push the positive. Pressure kills. Heat rises. True happiness uplifts.

That’s all I’m saying.

Little lights in the darkness. I am not subtle.

By K. M. Herkes

Author, gardener, and cat wrangler.