On Lethargy and Spilling My Guts.

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So on Monday morning I dragged myself out of bed, sighed, shoved my feet into my slippers, and kind of slumped my way to the kitchen to put the kettle on. And as I shuffled and sighed some more, I thought, “… how have you come so early by this lethargy?” The perils of teaching English for thirty years, unbidden Shakespearean quotes spring to mind.

Of course that quote is from Twelfth Night, which I taught many times, and from which I can quote chapter and verse. Trust me. And in the play Olivia is not chiding Toby Belch for being mopey, and sighing too much, but for being drunk so early in the morning. Toby Belch, the rotund drunkard, was ever a character more aptly named? When I introduced the characters in the play to my grade nine students, I’d always add that Sir Toby Belch was no relation to me. Then wait for the kids to groan. Ha.

So yeah. Lots of lethargy, listlessness, foot dragging inertia, and moping and sighing going on around here on Monday morning.

While I waited for the kettle to boil, I had a little cry. And then gave myself a shake. Dried my eyes, drank my tea. Ate my toast. Read my book. Then I had another cup of tea and tried to analyze what the heck was the matter.

Maybe it’s because it’s birthday season. I turn sixty-four this week. Maybe it’s too much isolation. Maybe it’s the weather. Just when spring started we’ve been catapulted into the dog days of summer, with heat and humidity. And today rain and heat and humidity. Maybe it’s all of those things. And maybe it’s just me.

We’re all feeling a bit bedraggled these days, I know. Worn a bit thin by this constant nagging uncertainty. Dragged down by inertia, and lack of energy. By the loneliness. Sometimes feeling a bit angry at entitled naysayers and science deniers. And maybe feeling a bit jealous. I mean we were, at one point, all in this together, and it helped to know that. And now the sight of other people in other places gathering with loved ones, when we are still unable to do so, is difficult. Even if we know that many of those people have been in this limbo a lot longer than we have.

So on Monday morning I thought maybe I should just call someone. Spill my guts. Talk it out. But like really, who would I call? My mum? Who battles every morning just to get out of bed with her painful arthritis, and is longing for one of us girls to visit when she knows that we can’t, and has no idea when we will be able to do so. My sister Connie? Who had hip replacement surgery in February and then had to have the whole operation redone last week. Who faces starting that long painful journey back to full mobility all over again, from scratch? My other sister Carolyn? Who is still working the front lines in her drug store and caring for her husband who has Alzheimer’s. Really? I should maybe call up one of them and say, “Boo hoo, I’m sad?”

I should be calling them to cheer them up, not bawling over the phone about myself and my Monday morning emotional wobble.

So I decided that I wouldn’t call any of them. I wouldn’t lay my burdens (or imagined burdens) on them. I just wouldn’t. And then I did.

Yeah, I called both sisters. I am so weak, people. I am, to quote Lady Macbeth, “Infirm of purpose!”

Connie was sitting in a doctor’s office and would call me back when she got home. But Carolyn and I had a long talk. I was all cheery for about ten seconds, and then I spilled my guts. About how mopey, and lethargic, and purposeless I was feeling. About feeling sad, and feeling guilty for feeling that way when everyone else in the family had real things to worry about. And how that then made me feel even worse, how I was such a loser for feeling guilty for NOT having the burdens they had. I mean, how could I burden them with my lack of burdens? And yet here I was doing just that.

And then Carolyn said she was glad that I told her I was feeling miserable. Because it made her feel that she wasn’t the only one who was miserable.

“Okay, good,” I said. And then we both laughed. And my sadness and lethargy faded away.

I’ve always seen my role in the family as the jokey, youngest sister. The one with the fewest responsibilities. The lightweight. Probably because I am the youngest, and the only one with no children. Having children seems to lend people a sort of gravitas. And of course it does extend their sphere of responsibility, no doubt about that. So I see myself as the classic example of youngest child syndrome. Dancing to get attention. I also see myself as chief cheer-er-upper in my family. And usually I’m pretty good at cheering people up. Occasionally I’m even great at it.

But who knew that even when I’m miserable, and I spill my guts about how miserable I am, I’m cheering my sister up. Making her feel as if she’s not the only one who’s miserable. The great cheer-er-upper. That’s me.

Me and my siblings on my first birthday. May 26, 1957.
May 26, 1957. My brother Terry’s tenth birthday, and my first.

I wrote most of this post yesterday when I was almost sixty-four. And now I am sixty-four. And I feel pretty good. Better than yesterday. Spilling my guts seems to work for me. I will do it more often from now on.

And when I got up this morning I made myself a latté, and opened my e-mail to find a lovely e-card from my friend Susan. Another from my friend Eunice. And several birthday texts. And now I’m going to take the rest of my coffee out onto the deck and finish it in the sunshine. Before the day gets too hot.

Turning sixty-four feels kind of great, you know. So what can I say… “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Ha! I have been waiting years to be able to work that quote from Twelfth Night into a post.

Hubby is off doing some secret shopping. He’s making me a special birthday supper tonight. So I don’t know if he still needs me… but thankfully he’s still feeding me… now that I’m sixty-four. 🙂

How are you doing my friends? I hope you are finding someone to spill your guts to when isolation burdens, or just plain old life burdens, get too heavy. And I wanted to say thanks for dropping by here, and listening when I spill my guts. Like today.

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95 thoughts on “On Lethargy and Spilling My Guts.”

  1. I think there’s a time in this tortuous plague where – even those who are fortunate enough not to have lost loved ones – the emotions burst through. My small weep came a week ago when we went to a local nursery some 15 miles away. Seeing the beauties of spring away from the confines of my usual walk, just turned on the tap. Apart from missing two major business fairs and a holiday in Italy, and my two darling granddaughters, it was the culmination of seeing how much of spring’s riches I’d missed. Because I work pretty much full time, I’ve been able to compartmentalise my emotions, but there are times I know that the number of springs I’ll see are fewer than those I’ve experienced up until now. But this too will pass… Best wishes, Elizabeth

  2. I am writing this on our dappled patio after my latte, newspapers, and further delaying ironing tactics. Loved the T N references, still my favourite comedy. However, made me think of the great Stratford season we are missing. Your lethargy echoes mine and I can’t call my sister who has care of a grandson so his mother can work from home in solitude.
    Have a great day and send pictures of the dinner for those of us without culinary husbands.

  3. Happy 64th Birthday! The year I turned 64 I used a snippet of the Beatles’ song “When I’m Sixty Four” as my mobile ring tone. It always made me laugh whenever a call came through.
    Glad a talk with your sisters leveled out the playing field for you and provided some solace.

  4. Happy Birthday! And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say yes, he still needs you :~).
    I am still working so most of my days, Tuesday – Friday, are completely accounted for and I use the other three to decompress and get my equilibirum back. We have an adult daughter living with us, working remotely, so what I really miss most is having alone time. Other wise, just trying to keep my head above water. Here in Connecticut/Massachusetts (I live in the former, work in the latter), things are just starting to open up slowly and we are appalled at the scenes of folks flocking to beaches and parties elsewhere. The biggest pit in my stomach is not about COVID-19, but about the general state of affairs in the U.S. (and that’s as political as I allow myself to be online), which fills me with dread pretty much every waking moment……

    1. Ha. That’s what he says. Even though it’s just the two of us, I know what you mean about alone time. I have stopped trying to accompany Hubby on his bike rides. We go together once a week, and I walk by myself the rest of the time. We need some time apart. I hear you about the political thing. I try to stay out of the fray, at least publicly.

  5. Wendy in York

    Have a very happy birthday Sue , I’m sure Stu will be spoiling you . Wish I could give you a birthday hug . These black patches seem to come from nowhere & mine are usually early morning . Perhaps it’s waking up to realization all over again ? The morning dog walk usually helps me shake it off . Worrying about your mum & sisters is natural & is bound to knock you down at times but Carolyn sounds like a great sister to have at the end of the phone . Personally I’m just plodding along trying to enjoy one day at a time & not dwelling on the future too much . Tonight’s treat is a big pile of chilli bean nachos – I know , not healthy , but we rarely have it & it will take our minds off this totally dispiriting , rubbish government we are stuck with . I mailed my MP today to tick them all off so I’m sure things will improve from now on 😁
    PS Another lovely pic of you all

  6. First, Happy Birthday! I think the uncertainty of the current situation is probably more wearing than anything else. I try to remind myself that it’s OK to feel a bit “at sea,” because we are. Hope things are looking up today, and that you’re able to enjoy your birthday!

  7. Happy Birthday Sue! It looks as if you are set to be thoroughly spoiled today so enjoy. I think we are all struggling along with this in limbo state. I am trying to have small goals each day to aim for otherwise the doldrums set in!

  8. Happy,Happy Birthday,Sue!
    Sometimes happy occasions trigger something deep and sad about the conditions we are living in right now….and all is here at once,suffocating us…….
    Sharing it with the loved ones helps,brings it to light ……
    Love,
    Dottoressa

  9. happy birthday! i completely understand your wobble. i am increasingly finding it hard to get motivated to achieve anything constructive and spend way too much time on fruitless frustration. i do feel incredibly lucky to be in Australia and particularly in Victoria where our premier has done a fantastic job. we are just opening things up now and had our first ‘in the flesh’ visitors last weekend. restaurants opening up next weekend so there are glimmerings of hope. but we would be less than human if we didnt soak up the unhappiness and stress of so many people who are suffering.

  10. Hi!
    Happy Birthday from one who shares the day!
    I also share your feelings about the uncertainty of things, but am hoping we all soon see light at the end of the tunnel.

  11. Happy birthday! Having a birthday in quarantine is definitely a reason to allow yourself to mope around for a while. So glad that you and your sister cheered each other up. Here’s to future birthdays, when you can once again be together in person with friends and family. In the meantime, enjoy a wonderful dinner tonight from your husband who still needs you and feeds you.

  12. Happy birthday! I have a son who shares your day, and we have a family Zoom meeting set for this evening. (We wouldn’t have been seeing him in person even without COVID … he lives several provinces west of us.)

    I am sympathetic to your lethargy and listlessness of yesterday morning, experiencing this in varying degrees on an all-too-regular basis myself. I’m glad you are feeling a little better today. Hope you have a wonderful birthday celebration with your husband tonight!

  13. Happy Birthday. It would be very strange indeed if we were just pottering on like Stepford wives throughout all this. Disappointments, tedium, constant news updates, revelations, speculations…they all take their toll. And there is nothing for any of us to compare it to, no earlier experience to give us insights. Hope your birthday was filled sunshine and nice surprises.

  14. Happy Birthday, Sue!!! Am also 64 and am also having occasional cranky days with the state of things (sometimes it helps to know you’re not the only one!)

  15. Congratulations on another trip around the sun Sue! I think we are all having mopey days that seem to spring up out of nowhere. It’s great that you have bounced back though. After all tomorrow is another day (is that Scarlet O’Hara speaking?)

  16. Happy Birthday, Sue! I will be 64 in October and hope I remember to change my ringtone to that Beatles song. Fun idea! I had my worst day early in May. I was so darn sad that we couldn’t travel to Oklahoma for our only grandchild’s first birthday. I cried every time my poor hubby looked at me! We are slowly opening up in Pennsylvania, and I finally got a haircut yesterday. I didn’t get color, though; I’ve decided to let the gray shine. Right now my head is mostly multi-colored, but the cut made me feel better about it. Spring has finally arrived, and we are able to meet friends to golf and share outdoor meals at our homes on a rotating basis. There is a small light at the end of the tunnel. Enjoy your special day!

  17. Happy Birthday, Sue! You are not alone on this emotional roller coaster and I hate to watch the news here in the US. I’m 72 and share your feelings.

  18. Happy birthday, Sue! DH turned 64 on Saturday, so there have been a lot of Beatles references around here (and some jokes about me trading him in for a younger model, because he posted a picture on Facebook of me with a young[er] handsome chef in Porto). It wound up being a good one for him – I’d lined up a surprise Zoom call with friends who’ve known him since high school (!), and splurged on a new Le Creuset saucepan as his present. And picked up most excellent take-out from our most favorite Italian restaurant.

    We’re almost always traveling for his birthday, whether for a long weekend that coincides with our Memorial Day here, or for a longer trip that spans the time between his birthday and our June 2nd wedding anniversary, so this low-key, stay-at-home celebration felt especially weird, for both of us. Not a wobble, exactly, but a real acknowledgement of what we’re missing in this time of pause.

    I hope it was a grand day for you and Stu, and that he indeed treated you like the queen that you are!

  19. I know I wished you Happy Birthday on Instagram earlier, but thought I’d sneak in more wishes at the end of the day (although you’re likely sound asleep now, past midnight where you are). I’m sure Stu came up with a delectable feast to celebrate your added ring of wisdom. . . I see you’re in for some ridiculous heat tomorrow. Sunscreen, a book, some shade, and a G&T or two: that’s my prescription for the second day of your birthday week. . . xo from your (older, not necessarily wiser) friend on the much cooler West Coast. . . .

  20. Hi Sue … thinking about you and sending virtual hugs. Like Frances I’m sure you’re sleeping now , having enjoyed a lovely birthday evening with Stu. I bet your special meal was delicious. 😋
    Thanks for sharing your feelings here … I’ve been just the same. Emotional and tearful. Like Wendy, I find it’s mostly in the morning and I wake up feeling sad. I thought I’d overcome these feelings and reached the acceptance phase last week but then this week they’ve returned again.
    I think, although we remind ourselves how lucky we are, not to have been unwell or loose family or friends, have a garden or area to walk in etc, somehow the cumulative effect of everything we are missing just overwhelms us at times.
    Take care Sue xxx

    1. Thanks, Rosie. We are lucky. What bothers me most now is the lack of willpower of many who are rushing the opening of the economy in places. And doing silly things like gathering in crowds without masks or social distancing. It does not portend well.

  21. I also second Frances’ prescription for today 📚 🍸 … crazy how your temps have risen especially as you had snow a little while ago! xxxx

  22. Happy belated! I hope your day was as special as it could be given the unexpected heat…coupled with the still emerging black flies where I am, and that all these lovely birthday wishes cheered you up.
    I also find myself cycling through a variety of emotions these days. Sometimes it’s just too sad out there. My best was the full on toddler tantrum I threw last week when I realized how many days in a row I had cooked dinner..thought about what we were having, planned it, shopped it, disinfected it and cleaned up after it. Unfortunately, unlike the amazing Stu, my husband is from a family of three sisters and a mum who were all very comfortable in the kitchen, and he never had to cook. And yes, it is too late to teach him. I have tried.
    Looking forward to going out for dinner in the time to come…whenever that might be. Enjoy a post birthday book and a cup of tea looking at that beautiful view.

  23. Happy Birthday, young lady! Hope your “blues” turn into beautiful blue skies, and wish you a delightful celebration of your 64th trip around the Sun.
    Cheers!

  24. Happy Birthday Sue! Yesterday we celebrated my husband’s 71st BD. It was a good day, there have been a few of those. But interspersed are those “down” days full of fear of the unknown, frustration and feeling helpless. I’m still grateful for all these days and thank God I’m here.

  25. Happy Birthday, Sue! I hear ya, girl – everyone has been there in the last few weeks, I’m sure! I, too, am the youngest and usually Cheerer Upper in Chief. There’s nothing like having a good shoulder to cry on occasionally, though, and nothing beats my older siblings for that. I am also child-free, and agree with what you said about gravitas….And I just listened to my first Slightly Foxed podcast, and ordered the first of Tim Pears’s West Country trilogy, The Horseman. Thanks for the referral!

    1. I said to my sister yesterday that some days I can’t muster my Pollyanna at all. I hope you enjoy Slightly Foxed. I love those podcasts. A good antidote for the crazy stupid in the world.

  26. Will you still need me, will you still feed me…

    Happy 64th BD! Several members of my H.S. class posted this song the year we all turned 64. I always remind myself of all the folks who would have given anything to get to this age. Three years back for me and life is still pretty good. And I expect it will get better after this Covid nightmare passes. But like you, I have a down day off and on. Hang in there.

  27. We’re here for you girlfriend. I had exactly that same kind of day yesterday. Couldn’t get motivated and spent too much time on the couch wondering if anyone has come up with a Plan B for this terrible situation. “When I’m Sixty-Four” has been my enduring ear-worm for years and it’s also my ringtone. Happy Birthday and wishing you many more.

  28. A day late, but with a kind heart, I wish you a happy birthday Sue!
    I know exactly how you feel from time to time, because it feels the same for me. Here in The Netherlands the lockdown is slowly being unlocked, I have even been to the hairdresser! That was great, but the old normal is not here. I feel still safer at home. And I long for the good old times to return and fear life will never be the same. Let’s hope for better times soon! Take care dear Sue!

  29. Sending you birthday greetings from the Pacific Northwest. You are the best cheer-er-upper blogger I know…and we certainly need a lot of cheering up these days.

  30. HappyBirthday Sue….
    Good days, bad days, and the days that we really realize how very fortunate we are in the great scheme of things. Or the day that I threw a book across the room like a six year old having a temper tantrum in tears. Luckily no one was around to see this display….husband outside.

    Our weather is at least beautiful and maybe, just maybe there is a pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel that is not another train. Or maybe feeling better because my masked up, mummy wrapped, disinfected hairdresser was able to put my hair to right.
    Hope your dinner was REALLY SPECIAL. He is a keeper.
    Ali x

  31. First off, Happy Birthday! Glad you are feeling better. Sisters can be a great comfort to one another. I am the youngest sister too and can relate to what you shared. I am glad you called your sisters and they are too! My sister is ten years older. For many years, while my Mom was alive, Mom was the conduit between us and we really didn’t interact much together. Since Mom’s death 14 years ago, we have become very close – a more special bond. Thank you for sharing your wobble! My wobbles seem to be coming closer together these days – sigh…!

  32. Anita Jenkins

    Exactly right. Those of us who are fortunate to be safe and (so far) not financially threatened feel depressed, and then we feel guilty about being ungrateful. Very strange times. One friend said to me that is okay to whine, that “your sore toe is your sore toe.”

  33. Happy Birthday Sue! I hope you had cake for your birthday. Glad that that you are over your wobble and just want you to know how much I am enjoying and looking forward to your blog more and more especially during these unsettling times. Thank you.

    1. We had Key Lime pie. So yummy even if store bought. Hubby forgot the chocolate cupcake request, so we made a last minute substitution. I am glad you are enjoying my blog. I enjoy writing it so much.

  34. Happy Birthday! I hope it was wonderful!

    I also had my birthday while sheltering at home this month, and it turned out far better than I expected, mostly because two of my lovely friends dropped off birthday “care packages.” It really did make my day! And reminded me how important it is to reach out and let our friends know we care, even though we can’t engage in our usual social activities.

  35. Sorry to have missed your birthday, which I noted from a blog from Frances, and I am glad Stu made sure you enjoyed it. How lucky you are to have your sisters when you wobble. Mine died a few years back and I so miss the shoulder to cry on.

    I heard today that hair salons will open early next month. Like you, I can’t wait!

    Take care and keep perky!

    1. Our openings have been pushed back and my hairdresser doesn’t expect to be open before July. I must look at this as an excuse to experiment with my scissors. Ha.
      P.S. I’m sorry about your sister. Even when we exasperate each other, there’s no replacing a sister.

  36. Happy belated birthday, Sue! Yesterday would also have been my mother’s 98th birthday had she lived that long. She passed away almost six years ago. In some ways, she was gone much sooner as dementia robbed us of the person that she had been and left us with a mother who didn’t know who we were. Thankfully, her sweet spirit endured until the end. We lost my dad on March 1 this year just before this seemingly endless shutdown began. All of this has left me feeling a bit melancholy this week. Thank you for reminding me that sometimes we just need to spill our guts!

    1. I remember that you were dealing with your father’s death this spring. I’m not surprised that you’re feeling melancholy this week if it’s your mum’s birthday. Sending you a virtual hug, Elaine.

  37. Hi Sue…Happy Birthday!! Sounds like you had a very nice one! Heck, celebrate all week!! I’ve definitely have had my up and down days in the past 11 weeks of lock down. This past weekend the husband and I bent the rules, took a drive to San Francisco (40 miles away) and over the Golden Gate bridge. Oh my, it was such a spectacular day! That drive did wonders for my mood. BTW, I turn 64 in December.

  38. Colleen Gander

    I’m late to your party, because I was celebrating too. Happy 64th! Mine was today, my 65th. I was feeling it this morning but like you, greetings rolled in from family and friends, and my husband showered me with flowers and treats. So I counted my blessings and concentrated on gratitude. Sunshine is helping too.

  39. Leslie in Oregon

    Happy Birthday, Sue…and may the celebration continue!
    Like everyone above, I too have had sad, frustrated, angry times (and some resulting outbursts) during the pandemic, and I’ve been surprised by and most appreciative of the grace notes that dispelled the potency of those feelings. It’s amazing to me how even what seems like the most innocuous contact with another person (usually not in real life) can lift me up. I hope it does the same for them.
    Nonetheless, the bottom line (especially, I think for those of us already at our wit’s end after the last 3+ years in the U.S.) is that these are extraordinarily sad, tragic and otherwise supremely challenging times, and I really don’t know if, when or how they will change for the better. I too feel guilty for not relishing my relative good fortune…and guilty for sometimes almost feeling grateful for being as close to the end of life on Earth as my age indicates I am. There is always something to be thankful for, but I despair of whether we humans will survive the effects of our continuing vices. I guess the point is to do all one can to work toward that survival. 💜

  40. Felt I ought to add to the rather dour message I left earlier. We had a glorious spring here in England, which went a way to making the unbearable bearable. We were able to sit outside and enjoy the unusual silence, no cars rushing past on the nearby A road, broken only by birdsong. Life is starting up here, with some people back to work, but we must get used to the new order of things …a great challenge ahead.

  41. Happy belated Birthday. Just read your blog this morning…saved it for a few days, ’til I too was feeling better, not quite as weepy! Just woke up, checking email, and read your post. Thank you for your lethargy….we are not alone. I continue to cry daily, miss my grandchildren so 😢 much, have so many books, crafts, house projects I could be doing….should be doing, but no energy. What we as humans are going through is not normal….but we can and will survive, if we do it right. What is right seems to change daily, but for now….mask up, made my own. Glove up, ordered white cotton from Amazon…spa gloves, a layer of protection at the grocery store, alcohol wipes and sanitizer up and get on with it!….I think. Enjoy 64, I am right behind you in a couple of months. Here’s to at least 30 more birthdays. 😉🍷🎂

  42. Happy Birthday Sue. The 60’s are great! Enjoy them. When I turned 70 I celebrated…could hardly believe it, but thought it cool!!! 78 this summer and still painting, and those plans for travel this year were canceled we’ve already rented an apartment in Paris for October 21. You are adorable and make 64 look just the way it should, especially if you are healthy. Take care, stay safe and stay well. Enjoy your special dinner.

    1. Thank-you, Barb. My birthday dinner was delicious. Travel in the near future is off, but we are still wondering about our fall plans for Africa. Who can predict what will happen?

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