Confessions of a Wallower

I’m sitting at what used to be my friend Ezra’s desk, in our New York office, when I first hear the news.  When I learn about the “historic, crippling storm” that is moving into the Tri-State area.  I don’t pay much attention initially.  I don’t have to fly out today; my flight isn’t canceled; this won’t affect ME.  But the buzz builds rapidly throughout the 10thfloor about this massive Nor’Easter, and I start to feel little flutters of anxiety rising in me, bubbling toward the surface like the carbonation coming up the straw in my Diet Coke.

What if I can’t go to yoga tomorrow?

What if I can’t buy my stepfather’s birthday gift?

What if I can’t go to Hoboken to see my godson?

What if I have to miss my friend Sonia’s workshop?

What if my flight IS canceled?

What if I get stuck in NJ?

What if it all changes?

I don’t do well with change.

My trip is so carefully crafted, every minute efficiently and effectively planned by the good little Type-A that I am.  There is no margin of error.  There is no room for late arrivals or backups on the runway.  The timetable is set.   This is how I operate.  Yet in the span of a few hours, it seems to all fall away, evaporating before the first snowflake has even formed.

By the time we get the emergency text alert from the weather service—“Prepare.  Avoid Travel.  Check media.”—I’m free-falling in a downward spiral of my own pity.

Nothing in my life goes right.  The mailroom can’t find my package.  My mom is upset.  My friend is stranded overseas.  My car service is an hour late.  My grandfather is annoyed.  My sister is crying.  I say something thoughtless to my boss.  It takes forever to get home.   Woe is me, woe is me.

I am officially in a funk.

This is dangerous territory.  I don’t emerge easily.  I can lose an hour, a day, a weekend to the funk.  It grabs hold of me, wraps its arms tightly all the way around me, and suffocates me until I surrender to it completely.  I always end up here.

Somewhere in the middle of this free fall, I stumble upon my lovely friend Sara’s blog post from earlier in the day, the one titled “Suffering is a Choice”.

Don’t you hate when you are deep in the throes of your pity party and someone more enlightened than you tells you that you are choosing to suffer?  She’s right of course, but I don’t want to listen.  I don’t want wisdom.  I don’t want enlightenment.  I want to crawl into my hole and stew in my crap until I don’t want to anymore.

Except…something in her writing permeates deeper than the funk has.   Something sticks.

I actually DON’T want to feel like this.  I don’t want to wallow.  I don’t want to let my day, or my weekend or one more minute be ruined by this mood.

My mom can still be upset.  My grandfather can still be annoyed.  My sister can still be crying.  But maybe I can be different.  Maybe I can be the one who changes, in the middle of everything I can’t change.


Now what?

This is unfamiliar territory.  I don’t know where to start so I just start.

I try meditating (this feels stupid)

I make a joy list (well, I don’t really because I’m too annoyed to write anything)

I make a joke (not really that funny unfortunately)

I make cookies (oh, this helps)

I read (this helps more)

I listen to music (ok, getting there)

I write. 

And slowly…it lifts.  It releases.  It burns off like the early morning Santa Monica smog that I am almost accustomed to waking to.  When you can’t see through it, and you think it will always be there and you will never have a sunny day again…it lifts.

Earlier in the night, I texted my friend: “Who can I pass this bad mood along to?”  She would understand; it got her this week too.  I thought maybe she passed it to me, and I would pass it on to the next person, like that crazy flu that everyone is just passing around.

I’m done with it.  I’m passing it along.  If you want it, it’s yours.  You get to choose.  You always get to choose.

It’s always your choice.



14 thoughts on “Confessions of a Wallower

  1. Perfectly said post! Is there a rainbow really awaiting? I agree choices are hard to make sometimes. Are they authentic am I faking it because I want it so bad. Agh the funking funks. Love your posts. They are always so relate able to me.

  2. LOVE this. “I want to crawl into my hole and stew in my crap until I don’t want to anymore.” I love the honesty. Especially because my own post was written after months of stewing in the crap that inspired said post. Stewing is part of it, I think. It has to be. It’s the dark and light thing, you can’t see what it is to choose gratitude, to choose to rise above the funk unless you have thoroughly stewed in it, mindfully, with utmost pity, loathing and irked-ness (I guess that’s going to be a word now).
    When I’m deep in the throes of a funk (to borrow and collage some of your words), I regularly read MBG posts and feel like, “Oh you’re sooo enlightened, don’t you just know. It. ALL,” as I sit simmering away in my irritation. But just every once and a while (like I’m glad my post did for you), a few words hammer through the top layer and seep down into my funk. It is a little annoying at first, like who let this light in?? I was perfectly concealed by this dark, dingy, pissed-off-ness (boom, another word). It’s that one little idea that slips in through the cracks and lights up the ding that has the power to be a life raft in the future. More funks will come along, ohhh yes they will. And we will hunker into them, we will stew, we will “choose” to suffer (because it’s just so DAMN satisfying sometimes!). But those little ideas, those little life rafts will be bobbing around the crap in which we are stewing and it won’t ever be QUITE the same to stew. We’ll always know there’s a way out. A choice. It will feel less and less satisfying to stew, each time we do. And maybe, just maybe, one day it the funk will no longer be as enticing, it won’t feel as comfortable to sit in, sticky and mucky and annoyed. And we will choose the light, because…”you always get to choose.”


  3. Fantastic writing! I’m so glad I’m not the only one that just doesn’t feel like writing a joy list sometimes. It seems like we all need to work on finding a tool or two that really works for us when we are in a funk… reading and watching re-runs of Gilmore Girls tends to do it for me… or at least it distracts me until I’m ready to leave the pity party! Hope you find some peace with being snowed in on the East Coast for the weekend!

  4. wow, you’re right… one little thing + one little thing + another little thing + another thing + thinking of one person + thinking of another person = bad mood & funk. I hate it when that last thing = immediate funk and you are annoyed because you don’t know how you arrived there. I guess it’s worth reverse-engineering the funk to notice the patterns–the triggers. I think they’re often the same things every time. In a hole… a ditch…that’s where I always want to stay, too. Read, music, write etc… yeah! I hate accepting that funks are a part of life. I end up comparing myself to other people and think, “why can’t I just stay consistent–they all seem consistent and because of that, they’re way more productive than you are.” That’s what goes through my head. All the time. Here’s an awesome quote I stumbled along recently and it gave me a new perspective. “the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” –steven furtick OK i’m off on a tangent. You have more important things to read and do! I just really liked this post. Ha…you should have named it ‘the funking funks’ like one of your commenters said. haha–that’s awesome.
    Glad you got to NJ safely. Safe travels back west. I got to PA late last night….after a funking trek… 😉

    • Thank you Lauren! I actually think this is one of the best things that I have read today, so don’t ever think something else is more important! You totally get it and I’m going to replay that quote for me the next time I’m in a mood….The learning your triggers and trying to re-engineer isn’t always the easiest BUT it cut my bad mood to about 6 hours when it normally might have ruined my whole weekend. So if we can figure it out…think of all the funky time we’ll gain back!??! Wishing you a great rest of the weekend that is hopefully all highlight reel 🙂 xx

  5. I have been struggling with this lately.
    I have been sick a lot lately, and it makes me feel like absolute shit. Just absolute, total shit.
    So, like you say, a bad mood wraps around me, a giant octopus dragging me down to the pressure-filled, anxiety producing depths of my being. All I can handle, sometimes for days, is lying in bed and watching Parks and Recreation on my computer.
    I hate not being in control. And I, even more, hate the way I allow my anxiety and crankiness rule during those times. I know that if I approach my illness with openness, a willingness to let go of what I think SHOULD be, it would be so much easier. But I just can’t let go. And so I just exist in a state of rage and frustration.
    I didn’t choose to be sick, but I can choose my reaction to it.

    I keep asking myself: What is the line between allowing myself to feel what I am feeling (anger, frustration, crankiness), and wallowing in it? I just don’t know.

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