Every February, I exhale.
I made it. January’s over, and I didn’t die, I’m still here.
Most years I don’t even realize I’m doing it, that I’m holding my breath. I make a few jokes about how much January sucks, and paste on a smile as I crawl my way through it, fingernails clawing at the ground in front of me.
It’s post-holiday blues, definitely. The letdown after the buildup. It’s the weather, surely. January in Pennsylvania is utterly repugnant.
|This is my 6' son standing in waist-deep snow on our patio.|
His feet aren't touching the ground here.
It’s back to school, the end of holiday eating, ramping up of schedules and appointments and back-to-lifeness of life. Feeling run-down and overspent and sliding into a new year, full of promise and fresh starts and a huge credit card bill. Knowing I should make better choices and grab life by the horns and NEW YEAR NEW YOU but man, it’s the middle of winter and all I want to do is hibernate.
My grandmother died last January. Death anniversaries definitely don’t help.
This year my husband and I took a short trip to Mexico specifically to alleviate my post-holiday funk. It was fun and a relief to get away, but five days isn’t enough of a chunk out of January to make it less of a letdown. We came back and things were busier – lifeier – than ever and I scrambled to get myself in order. Then I suffered a severe cold that lingered for two weeks.
And January marched on as forcefully as every other month, fiercely determined to trample me into oblivion as I grasped at anything to set myself straight.
I think what happens in January is that when the sparkle of the end of the year is removed, we see the dents and dings that make up life. The festivities at the end of the year obscure the mundane. We trick ourselves into thinking that life is on hold for a month or so, and when it comes back, we see the tarnished areas more clearly.
The cupboard door needs to be fixed. Someone needs to see the doctor. Unpleasant conversations happen. Children’s schedules have to managed again. Work propels us forward. I’m not ready.
Every year I try something different to make January less of a blight on my mood. A trip. Making the holidays less. Clearing the schedule of all non-essential appointments and tasks. Working ahead to get in front of the rush of the new year. Mentally preparing for a good month. Nothing works.
My husband would tell me that I’m doing it to myself. That I prime myself for a terrible month by focusing on it so much. That may be true, but it’s also true that I’ve worked hard at trying not to let January bother me so much and yet each year I welcome February like a long-lost love.
It makes me feel foolish, silly, immature. That after this life and the wisdom I have gained, I still struggle with January. Haven't I dealt with this enough? Why can't I be over it already?
I wish there was an answer.