Tuesday, September 7, 2010


We went to Calaway Park yesterday, a popular kid's amusement park outside of Calgary, because we wanted to do something fun as a family. I had been depressed all week, owing to a mix of the kids going back to school and an intense period of conflict with several people. I realized over the long weekend that it is devastating for my people-pleasing nature to have people actively disliking me, for a variety of reasons, and I had to look this sadness full in the face, and figure out a way to deal with it.

I added up everything in my mind, what I had said and what the other parties had said, and I grieved for the open conflict that festered like a wound because we weren't able to achieve a common resolution to the problems. I wanted to raise an issue, have it be discussed respectfully and honestly on all sides, and then resolve it with genuine apologies and new action plans. The other people involved were not able or willing to give me what I was looking for, and I had to come to terms with that.

On Sunday night, I stared out my front window at the night sky, and decided to lay these burdens down by the side of the road and walk away from them. I had to forgive the people who had hurt me, and ask again for forgiveness for where I had failed and made mistakes and inflicted pain on other people. I had to accept that it doesn't always work out the way I want it to, but I can't carry the responsibility for the whole process. I can do my part, and then I must wait, and I have to accept that not everyone is happy with me all of the time.

Depression is a frightening thing, because it works like a wet blanket, smothering out our enthusiasm, energy and zest for life. It makes you stagger under its weight, until the smallest obligations and efforts are utterly paralyzing and awful. You trudge uphill, and think about how you would rather be in bed, shutting the world away. Laying down those suitcases with rocks in them gave me immediate relief. I felt lighter, more capable, and less terrified.

We went out for breakfast, our holiday Monday tradition, and then carried on to Calaway Park. I still wasn't sure if I was back to myself, but I knew I was on a better path. Standing in the line for the balloon ride with William, while Ava and Jason went on a scarier ride somewhere else, I felt the wind in my face, saw the sun and the billowy white clouds, listened to my son's happy voice chattering away, and I felt the first twitches of recovery, like a very sick patient who squeezes someone's hand and you know that they are going to make it.

Life is so incremental. We move forward at a snail's pace, and sometimes take ourselves backward with increasing speed. It's all a process, and can't be rushed or manipulated to suit our own needs. It's a road, and we walk it, and hopefully learn lessons that will make the next crisis a little easier for us to bear. I want to keep walking, with one foot ahead of the other, and be as honest as I can in my relationships. All I can do is what I know how to do, each day, and be as kind as possible to those around me. Where I fail, I offer grace to myself, and get up and try again.


  1. I totally agree - at some point (as much as it hurts), you have to just realize it's now their issue and walk away from it. I'm glad you are feeling better!

  2. Thank you! I thought I had dealt with most of my "people-pleaser" issues, but old habits die hard, and sometimes sneak up on you. I know I can't please everyone, and I have to reconcile that with myself, and move on. It's hard, but an important part of life, and as you say, at some point, the other party has to work on their issue, and I can't do that work for them.

  3. you are a gifted writer - you describe so well the feeling of your depression and the feeling of it lifting away. That people pleasing thing is a tough one to shake. I work on it too, but am still not there yet.

  4. Thank you so much, Sharla...I'm not sure any of us ever completely arrive at working through those kinds of issues, but I think being aware of them and improving little by little is all we can do.