I remember when Mommy died, because well it wasn’t even two years ago, and whenever I got flustered or upset, I’d say or think (depending on the situation)… “my momma is DEAD.” Nothing was more serious than that. NOTHING. And for that reason alone, I gave myself permission not to deal with anything else if I didn’t want to. About 75% (a vast majority) of my energy was for figuring out my life without my mother, which meant living alone for the first time, altering my daily life which no longer included cancer, asking myself questions like “what now,” and trying not to be sad while frying chicken.
Whatever energy I had left was for me. It was for date nights, and “too much food” Tuesdays, and firsts, and cleaning my house, and whatever else I wanted to do. That means any negativity brought into my life was QUICKLY shut down and/or met with the harshest attitude, even if I didn’t mean it. I wasn’t able to approach certain things with the gentleness of a woman who had her mother available. But, somehow, most of the time I genuinely felt happy. Despite my loss, I was happy. Maybe because before Mommy died, about 90% of my energy was devoted to “my momma is dying”and I finally had some energy to spare, but I believe some of the reason why I did so well is because I chose what to give my energy to.
At the time it was because I didn’t have any energy to spare for negativity and high stress situations, but now it’s because I like it better this way. I haven’t gotten it down to a science just yet, but I know that it works. I just have to remember to use it. I feel better about life and I feel better about me. I get more stuff done. I know what and who stresses me out and I try my best to avoid or limit my interactions with them. I’m not saying it’s a good idea to ignore things that are important or time sensitive, like your dissertation, but I am saying don’t spend too much (or any) time with people who irritate you. I’m saying not to say yes, when you want to and should be saying no. I’m saying don’t pressure yourself to create a four course meal every night. Give yourself a break.
Then with all the time and energy you’ve spared yourself by avoiding things that may upset you, do something that gives you pleasure. Take a walk. Plant a tree. Enjoy a movie with your boo thang. Cuddle. Have a bowl of ice cream. Take a nap. Do something good. Quietly count your blessings. Focus on the good things that are happening in your life and if you can’t think of anything today, that’s what memories are for. Remember the good. Count the good. Focus on the good and sure enough, it’ll become easier to see.