Saturday, February 28, 2015

SAD Days in February

"Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what's the matter | That you have such a February face, | So full of frost, of storm, and cloudiness?" ~ William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing (Act V, Scene 4, Don Pedro)

It as been a brutal winter early in 2015. Winter Storm Linus blanketed Chicago, Detroit and our northeastern coast with record snowfall measurable in yards rather than inches or feet. It is almost as if the weather service knew Linus would be a blizzard maker .

It is almost as if, yet doubtful. The odds were in favor of the synchronicity. February is the suckiest month.

I cannot remember when I stopped "embracing the cold" but I have. I've had enough of the dark days.

The weather joke where I live goes like this. The weather persons display maps with icons depicting snow, sleet, rain, sun and fog seemingly to cover all bases. Last week in one 24-hour period our region was treated to snow, sleet and a bit of rain, all combining to create "isolated areas of scattered fog" as reported by the weather woman, who obviously works for her station's department of redundancy department.

As predicted there was no sunshine, just a dark, crappy, sloggy, slushy period of winter funk. I often wonder if the dark days of February are the month's payback for having been shortchanged on its allotment of days.
"Oh, so I get 28 days, maybe 29 every four years because no one can seem to get the astronomical math right? Well screw you all. I hope you've stocked up on your eggs, milk, bread and toilet paper." ~ February
I began writing this on a day with a cloudless azure blue sky stretching from horizon to horizon to horizon, the sting of the bitterly cold air tempered by sunshine providing comfort to reach, warm and comfort us. It seemed to buoy all who ventured outside. Drivers were a little nicer, kids were treated to outside recess, walkers and runners abandoned the treadmills and walked and ran outside. After days of dourness we acted as if it wasn't February. In our minds we were enjoying at least March, if not a day in early April.

The next day would bring a new front with a return to snow, sleet and temps in the teens followed by single digit temperatures at night. It would look and feel again as if we lived in an Ansel Adams world of grays, blacks and more grays, a colorless film-noir land, hopeless and lifeless.

I overheard someone say, "And we're not even getting snow days out of any of this!"

"February just messes with us," I responded.

Yes, February messes with us. February is unpredictable. February is the month when all of us feel as if we are saddled with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Those who have been diagnosed as the SAD afflicted are brought down by February - hard. February will provide glimpses of beauty, color, blue skies and yellow orange sunshine defying logic and providing hope for the future. Then, as quickly as the hope may have arisen, the month of grays will bring us back to our senses.

It's February. What were we expecting?

Does February remind us of anything?

February evokes memories of our darkest hours, hopeless nights and seemingly endless and desolate days with our children. As with February's occasional glimpses of spring, Addiction will allow brief Child Sightings that taunt and tease us unmercifully. We don't need to be sucked in by the addiction chosen by our daughters or the unpredictable addiction-driven behaviors of our sons any more than we should embrace the cold days of February. We can allow that the second month of the year is simply a part of the cycle of the seasons but need not sit in it, just as we can know and trust the Addiction journey of our children is not ours to undertake.

Nor should we engage in comparisons. What occurs in February in one part of the world may not be as oppressive as what we are experiencing, or may be more intense. Or we may look at the Februarys of others with disdain as if to say, "Oh, they don't have it so bad. My winter plight is much worse than theirs."

This is an unimportant, counterproductive and pointless exercise. Is three yards of snow in Boston any more devastating than a half inch of ice in Memphis or seemingly endless and unusually bitter cold in St. Louis? Comparisons of our plight to the plights of others moves our focus away from our journey and keeps us mired in the doldrums of February. The same may be said for our fixations with our childrens' addictions.

We are all different. We all have different experiences. We feel differently yet that simple experience of feeling is where we are all the same.

The Addiction loves for us to ignore our journeys. Our Higher Power is beckoning us to continue.

We can look February in the face and say goodbye to its darkness, its cold. its snow, sleet. and wind chills. We know there is a March and an April just ahead.

We can learn from February. We can isolate the month from ourselves. We do not need to identify with February. We do need to become February.

The Addiction that has engulfed our children is a dark, cold, paralyzing presence. Our immediate response Addiction may be to hibernate, curl up and wait for the sunshine, some sign of the Addiction melting away to loosen its hold of our boys and girls.

When Addiction attempts to cover us with its bleak blanket of hopelessness we can look ahead. The Universe will show us signs of March, April and May pathways laid ahead for us.

We can journal, be grateful for what we have, get out of our metaphorical houses and connect. We can visualize the warmth, the Sun, the beauty ahead.

Golf treats me in February to its West Coast and Florida tournaments it calls "swings" and provides a glimpse of what is just ahead on the calendar. I watch barbecue shows on the Travel Channel and Food Network. I immerse myself in what is to come. I recognize the month I am experiencing but I don't wallow in it. When I watch the golf and the barbecuing I can feel my spirit lift a bit above the frozen. The Addiction would have us believe the despairing must last forever. We know there are better times ahead for us and perhaps even for our children - but we know it is their journey to traverse.

Spring is not here, but it is beckoning. Let us revel in what our Great Creator has prepared for us. February might suck, but we don't have to.

As I end this it is the afternoon of February 28. The weather prognosticators are predicting 3 to 6 inches of snow this evening and into tomorrow, then sleet, then rain and by March 2nd, temperatures in the 50s for day or two.

The earth is tilting. February cannot stop this. February is not forever. The Universe has our pathways prepared.

Get ready, get set … GO!

… keep coming back
"If winter comes, can spring be far behind?" ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind