Today is the first day of Elul and I feel completely unprepared for this precious, sacred time.
I deal with difficult subjects and experiences by writing. I’m not the greatest speaker, but when I’m writing, I can articulate what I’m feeling and how I view the world. I’ve been keeping journals and writing stories and essays since I was very young. Writing has been a lifesaver and an important coping mechanism for me, which is why it’s been distressing that I simply haven’t been able to bring myself to do so lately. In a way, I thought that maybe if I didn’t write down what was going on, that meant it wasn’t really real yet. I know that sounds dumb, but I have been having a difficult time processing what has been going on.
Almost four weeks ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a complete shock. There’s no family history of cancer and when combined with the fact that my mom is still recovering from a traumatic brain injury, it’s completely overwhelming. The doctors believe they caught the cancer in its early stages, which lessens the pain of this news a tiny bit.
I am simply exhausted and I am angry and I feel like a failure.
I am exhausted mentally and emotionally from holding too many things: caring for and helping my mom, working full-time, trying to give myself grace and self-care, and so much more.
I am angry with God for letting me believe that things had calmed down and then dropping this bombshell on my mom who has already been through so much.
I feel like a failure because I don’t feel like I’m doing enough for my mom and work and the people I care about. After being off my antidepressants for two months, I broke down this week and then called my psychiatrist, who put me back on one of the medications.
And yet, I am also grateful.
I am grateful that my mom is under the care of good doctors.
I am grateful that I know my emotional limits and when I need to ask for help.
I am so incredibly grateful that I had trusted friends and clergy to text when we got the diagnosis and I am grateful for my community.
I made a conscious decision after my mom’s diagnosis to really bask in this time before the High Holidays, which means I’ll be posting every day. I also started painting watercolors again last week, which resulted in some pretty angry works, which you can see below. I’m unsure if I will also post a painting every day, but it’s been cathartic, so perhaps I will.
And that’s all I have for this first day of Elul.