Have you ever been in a funk and had a friend show up on your doorstep, and a few hours and laughs later, you feel better? Have you ever tried desperately to put yourself in a better mood, only to have someone else’s black spirits cause you to spiral down into a worse disposition than you started out with? Have you ever been so completely, joyfully happy that you, in turn, make everyone around you happy too?
All my life, I have been affected by the moods of people around me. I’m sure, to some extent, that every reader of this post can relate. Only, the likelihood is that the majority of you can control just how much someone else’s mood affects your own.
I won’t say I can’t, because someone will inevitably say that I can… but I will say that controlling my own mood in the shadow of someone else’s mood is EXTREMELY hard for me. I’ve always felt that I was more affected by other people’s personalities and energies than a typical Jane or Sue. (Perhaps that is why I enjoy being around animals so much… They radiate calm, peace, happiness, hope, love, interest — and even on a bad day they’re usually not grumpy enough to trigger a similar mood in me.)
What I’ve found extremely difficult about this holiday season is that no one seems to be in a good mood… and all of this Grinch-y grumpiness, feeling SAD, fiscal despondency, lonliness and general discontent is really making me feel blue.
I’m finding it hard to gather up any enthusiasm for waking up in the morning; I have no excitement for what the day might bring. And once I drag my exhausted self up and out of bed, I operate at about the pace of a lumbering, half-frozen, tranquilized polar bear. (Which is to say, I’m running roughly 45 minutes behind to everything, instead of my usual 15.)
I’m finding no pleasure in having conversations with anyone. Rather, idle work chit-chat (abundant now because no one wants to be at work in the middle of the holidays) leaves me spent and ever more aware that I really don’t have anything nice to say — so why am I speaking?! It’s incredibly frustrating, because deep down — I don’t want to spend the last two days of 2008 hiding under the covers, wishing humans hibernated.
The bright light in all of this? Yesterday around 6 p.m., my friend Denise arrived from Charlottesville. She’s staying with me throughout the New Year, which involves our family Christmas tonight, a trip to D.C. tomorrow, New Year’s Eve dinner & partying with Courtney tomorrow night, New Year’s Day fried sourdough bread for Mom’s birthday on Thursday, and recuperating on Friday.
Denise is one of those rare individuals who can let you be you (or in this case, she lets me be me — funky disposition and all) without reacting to it. And so after six hours of togetherness last night, including dinner, a lesson in Being Organized With a Calendar and a Highlighter, hours of girl-talk and working out new life-plans, laughing at Miss Kitty, and spontaneous gift-giving… I found myself smiling. Laughing. Relaxing. Enjoying myself. I found myself equilibrating — shedding all of the attitudes and emotions that have been impressed upon my own personality over the course of the past few months, and rediscovering what it feels like to be “just me” again.
I actually started to get tired before 11 p.m., and while a part of me didn’t want the evening to end, I knew I had to say goodnight and turn out the lights. I was able to fall soundly asleep and wake up without that persistent dread pressing at my temples, and I daresay that I’m even looking forward to having our family’s belated, night-time Christmas tonight (it’s the first time we’ve ever not done Christmas on Christmas, which has left me feeling very discombobulated this holiday season).
I know New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight is when you’re supposed to raise your glass and give a toast… but I’m going to break tradition today.
Denise, I raise my coffee mug to you this morning and would like to say, “Thank you for being such a great friend — you’re truly indispensable! Three cheers to old friends, a new apartment, an old dog, a new life-plan and a new year! I love you!”