The importance of self-care when living with a loved one’s addiction (and what this looks like for me)

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Small, simple acts of creative self-indulgence can make an enormous impact on our sense of well-being. This antique wheel barrow was planted with alyssum…to feed the soul.

by Patti Fish Stephens

January 26, 2017

A few months ago I promised a post on self-care for those dealing with the effects of a loved one’s addiction. It has taken me a while to write about this, but I am glad I waited, because recently I happened across another blogger’s post about self-care for persons with depression. Then a reading at a recent Nar-Anon meeting focused on grief. Reading these two pieces helped me to think about the connections among addiction, depression, and grief. I personally have struggled with depression, grieved a complicated grief, and currently live with a recovering addict, so I have had to redefine self-care for myself numerous times. What amazes me is how difficult it can be to practice during the times I most need it, and how similarly the stresses of living with addiction, depression, and grief have affected me. Here I will be sharing what has worked for me; maybe some of it will work for you, too.

On self-care

Before talking about how I personally practice self-care, I want to comment on the term itself. The blogger who wrote about self-care during depression commented that this phrase is thrown around so often in professional development programs for social workers that it has become virtually meaningless. My own experience in the workplace supports that claim; I was one of only three non-nurses in a department of more than twenty full-time and many more part-time nursing instructors at a small college. All of these nurses either had practiced or were currently practicing in area hospitals. During department meetings and professional development programs, self-care would be stressed alongside the statistics of burnout, medical errors, and other major issues of this helping profession. But during these same meetings with exhortations to take good care of ourselves –get plenty of rest, eat healthfully, exercise, drink plenty of water, etc.– I was, on numerous occasions, the recipient of thinly-veiled martyr-complex comments simply because I went to the ladies’ room. Comments like, “I have worked 12 hour shifts without ever taking a bathroom break” and “You’d never make it as a nurse” or “As a nurse you learn to hold it because you have to” were common.

These comments, although generally spoken in good humor, contained an undercurrent of judgement which I found to be not only unkind, but hypocritical. (Now, lest I sound judgemental here myself, I freely confess I have been guilty of the same kind of self-martyring comments from time to time; just ask my husband about the “definition of full handed for moms vs. dads” diatribe I have spouted at him periodically since our kids were in diapers.) Freedom from physical discomfort, including hunger, thirst, cold, heat, need to void, etc., is the most basic human requirement on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. “Holding it” is, therefore, a denial of a most basic human physical need, and is nothing to brag about or shame someone else for not being able to do, especially after encouraging “self-care.”

Meeting the body’s most basic physical needs is self-care, but it is only the beginning. Self-care ideally encompasses the mind and heart and spirit as well as the body, but during crisis mode–such as a bout of clinical depression, the sudden onset of grief, or living with active or recovering addiction–taking care of even the most basic physical needs can be overwhelming. This means self-care will look different not only from person to person but from time to time in the same person’s life.

Over the past year I have sincerely tried to embrace self-care, especially since my daughter’s overdose in March of 2015. When she came home from the hospital I spent so much time taking her to appointments with specialists, driving her back and forth to IOP (Intensive Out Patient therapy) each day, and making sure she took her medicine every 12 hours that I had begun to ignore my own basic needs, as well as the not-so-basic ones. What made this worse was that when she relapsed again just a few weeks after her nearly-fatal overdose, I felt betrayed. I had worked so hard to help her stay healthy. How could she do this to herself–and to me?

Nar-Anon Family Group

This is where Nar-Anon came in for me. My husband and I started attending meetings while my daughter was still in the hospital, and those meetings soon became our lifeline. It was in these meetings that I found the strength to refocus my energy on myself instead of the addict in my life. By listening to the experiences of others in the group, I was able to see that focusing on my own needs–that is, practicing self-care–was truly the only thing I could control in my life. I couldn’t control my daughter, her addiction, her recovery, or others’ response to this crisis in our family. The only thing I can control in my life is my own response to whatever occurs around me. While this has always been true, it took my daughter’s journey through addiction to teach me that this is simply another way to express the core belief of recovery: that I am powerless over anyone else’s life choices.

So, my journey of self-care began at Nar-Anon, but seeds of certain aspects of recovery had been planted before this at family programs we attended at our daughter’s outpatient and inpatient rehab. I have mentioned in previous posts that my daughter had two especially gifted rehab counselors who not only helped her but our whole family. One of these counselors suggested I try, among other things, restorative yoga to help relieve my symptoms of stress, which had reached an all-time high. I was most appreciative of her kindness but highly skeptical of her suggestions, which all sounded like New Age mumbo-jumbo to this WASPy, midwestern, middle-class mom.

Restorative Yoga Classes

It’s funny what you’ll try when you feel you have nothing left to lose.

True story: I cried through most of my first yoga class. I left puddles on my mat on either side of my head where the tears silently dripped off my face as we did “legs up the wall.” Mind you, this was a Gentle 1 yoga class. In other words, the only level below this class would be sleep (which also happens to be highly therapeutic). All of the poses are done on the floor; there are no standing poses. There is nothing highly strenuous–physically or mentally–about a Gentle 1 class, as it is meant to be restorative. Yet the simple act of stretching out my over-stressed body released so much tension that it hurt, both physically and emotionally. We talk about being “stressed-out” in our society, about getting tension headaches. We know that when we are stressed, our shoulders get tight. But what happens to our bodies when we let go of that stress? There has to be a converse reaction (Newton’s third law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction) and this is just as true for our physical bodies as it is in science class experiments and car crashes. So when we release our tension, stress, and emotional pain, it is no surprise that we then feel physical pain, as our bodies are reacting every bit as much as our minds. This is the mind-body connection at work.

Meditation Classes

While attending weekly yoga classes I saw a flyer for six-week meditation sessions offered by the instructor I had come to trust during gentle yoga. I had, for some time, been curious about meditation, but once again my conservative upbringing judged this to be another New-Agey fad. The yoga had helped my stress levels so much, though, that I decided to give it a try. Another true story: I cried through almost my entire first Yoga Nidra session. By now my instructor knew me a little bit and I had shared some of what was going on in my life, so she probably wasn’t too shocked when the pools formed on my mat again. I, however, knew I was crying for more than stress relief: during the guided meditation of Yoga Nidra, I envisioned my brother, who had been dead for ten years by then, and physically felt his presence. New Agey mumbo-jumbo? Sounds like it. But have you ever had a dream about someone you’ve lost that seems so real that you forget for just a moment when you wake up that they are gone? That’s what this was like, except I knew this was just a visit. It was so intense and so real that I could barely contain the noise of my sobbing during the meditation. Meditation, like yoga, has both physical and emotional/mental/spiritual benefits.

Individual Counseling

I had actually begun seeing a therapist several months before my daughter’s addiction came to light. I had been having a difficult time managing several chronic health issues–mostly related to or exacerbated by stress–and had tried everything I could think of on my own. I had implemented an exercise routine, lost a significant amount of weight, and completely changed my eating habits. I had read self-help books, worked through their exercises, and tried to change my mindset in addition to my body. But still my physical symptoms persisted. I was beginning to show signs of depression from dealing with the frustration of so many chronic health issues, and that was the tipping point for me. I had tried to change everything about my self that I could control and I was still stressed beyond reason. Clearly, I needed another perspective. I did some research on the Cleveland Clinic website and found a psychologist who specialized in dealing with chronic health issues and grief, among other things.

From my first meeting with my therapist, I knew I had made the right choice for me. I know that I was lucky, as not everyone develops a good rapport with the first counselor they meet, or even the second. It helped tremendously that I live in a suburban area flush with hospitals and healthcare providers of every stripe. I had a lot of options. Not everyone is so fortunate. I also have excellent, affordable healthcare which allowed me to visit my therapist as often as once a week if necessary. I am aware that many do not have these advantages, and for what I have, I am truly thankful.

I had been seeing my psychologist for several months and just starting to get to the root of some of my issues when my daughter’s addiction came to light. All of my focus turned to dealing with this new challenge in our family. I have, for about two years now, largely been operating in crisis mode. My therapist, in conjunction with my Nar-Anon Family Group, have helped me to focus on taking care of my own needs while also trying to support my daughter in her recovery. It was my therapist who helped me give myself permission to leave a position in a workplace that was so ill-fitting and toxic that I could no longer deny it was the major source of my stress. My daughter’s disease was the factor that tipped the scales and finally gave me the impetus to leave, but it was my psychologist who helped me through the practical steps of actually quitting and embarking on a new kind of life, one that truly suited me and that helped reduce my stress levels despite being in the worst nightmare a parent could imagine.

Gardening

The summer before I left my job I had grown various herbs and tomatoes in containers on my deck. For years I had fantasized about having a garden, but it always seemed to be such an overwhelming task to undertake for someone who hadn’t grown anything since about first grade. The following winter was when our daughter’s addiction came to our attention, and by the first summer of living with her disease, the planting a real garden had taken on a great deal of symbolism in my mind. I needed something to focus on other than the physical and emotional pain I was in. This was during the time of my worst chronic health symptoms, and my therapist fully supported and encouraged planting and tending a garden as a therapeutic exercise. I was still at my job but taking extensive FMLA time to try to get my health issues under control and also deal with my daughter’s ongoing battle with alcohol and heroin addiction.

That summer was a revelation. Planting and tending that garden was truly life-changing for me. Not only did it give me a place to focus my energy, it gave me tomatoes. And basil. And lemon thyme. (How did I ever cook without it?)  And a sense of purpose. And real, living proof that something I invested in did indeed reap a harvest. The garden was a tangible reminder that, despite how long it took to be visible, real growth was occurring, both in me and my daughter. In a word, the garden gave me hope.

Journaling/Writing

The first thing I did upon leaving my job that summer was to start blogging about my garden. It was the smallest of gardens, but that didn’t deter me from sharing my thoughts, experiences, successes, and failures with others. I was done with being self-critical, so I just wrote. My 4 x 4 foot garden plot was worthy of my time and attention, and it contained revelations I had never imagined. Soon I was writing about other things as well: my quest toward minimalism; the whole-food, plant based diet we had adopted; different types of exercise I had experimented with; recipes I concocted and, more recently, my experiences with my daughter’s heroin addiction.

In addition to writing on my blog, I returned to my practice of journal writing. I had kept a journal on and off for 15 or more years, ever since first reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way in the late 1990s, but while working full time I had let go of the habit. Writing just 3 pages first thing in the morning, in longhand, helps me purge my anxieties onto the page, leaving the space in my brain to process and address the more urgent issues in my life that need attention. These journal entries are never meant to see the light of day; they are not structured or planned in any way. They are free-association, stream-of-consciousness babbling with no regard for grammar, punctuation, handwriting, or even logic. They are simply a means to an end: a warm-up exercise for the brain, if you will. And you don’t have to be a writer for this practice to help you. Everyone and anyone can benefit from the practice of Morning Pages. For more information on this practice, check out The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron from your local library or used book store.

Walking in Nature

One of the other things that has helped keep my stress level in check these past few years has been exercise. When I first started my full-time job in 2012, long before my daughter’s addiction was on our radar, I handled the stress of all the changes in my life by hiking almost every day in Cleveland’s MetroParks. Admittedly, we have one of the best and most enviable MetroPark Systems in the country, but anyplace outside with fresh air will do. For me, the benefits were many: first, the fresh air and natural surroundings had a calming effect on me; second, the aerobic exercise was good for my circulatory system, my respiratory system, my weight, and my muscle tone; third, the time with my husband (my hiking partner) helped us stay connected and strengthened our bond; and finally, talking about our respective work days helped us work out our frustrations and celebrate our successes.

Other Exercise

Eventually I added Barre classes to my exercise regimen, and these classes, which combine yoga, pilates, strength training, and ballet, helped me lose a significant amount of weight. I also developed more core strength and muscle tone than I had ever had in my life. My husband and I purchased a pair of bicycles for each other for our 25th anniversary, and we added that to our exercise routines as well. Being active is the best anti-depressant I have ever known, and has at least as many mental/emotional benefits as it does physical benefits. But I suffered a serious injury on my bicycle in June of 2014 which has plagued me ever since, and I have not yet achieved the previous level of physical activity we enjoyed up until that time. After my injury (a tibia bone bruise) hadn’t healed in over a year, I was put in a boot in the summer of 2015. I was supposed to taper off the boot and do physical therapy starting around Labor Day, but my daughter had a major relapse that weekend and I transitioned out of the boot too quickly and delayed my physical therapy. I can see the negative consequences of not making exercise a higher priority in my self-care regimen, and plan to work very hard this spring and summer to get back on track in this area, as I know how much better I feel physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually when I am exercising regularly.

Small Creative Indulgences

I have always been creative. I loved art class in elementary school almost as much as I enjoyed writing and reading. I also loved singing and dancing. But somewhere along the way from junior high to high school, I lost my confidence in doing most of these things (as most adolescent American girls do). I still loved writing, but I felt sure I was no good at anything else. I now know that’s completely untrue, and what’s more, why does it matter if I am any good at it? If I want to draw a totally crappy drawing, who cares? If it makes me happy to paint a terribly cliche, saccharine painting of wildflowers, why shouldn’t I? There is no reason I shouldn’t. And so I have.

A few summers ago (okay, maybe 10 or more) I was at an estate sale where I stumbled upon an old Roger Burrows coloring book from the early 1980s. I was delighted! I had had one of these as a kid and spent hours upon hours coloring the geometric designs with crayons, colored pencils, and markers. I loved the feel of the slick markers on the smooth paper, the waxy smell of the crayons, the pastel subtlety of the pencils, and the planning of what color scheme I would use. If you aren’t familiar with Burrows’s books, they are full of geometric patterns that can be colored in infinite combinations to emphasize certain patterns over others. Long before the adult coloring craze began, I bought this cast-off coloring book and rummaged around our school supply cupboard for some colored pencils and stealthily colored when no one else was home. It felt like stolen bliss. It felt like childhood. So it was no wonder to me when the adult coloring book market exploded a few years ago…my only question was, why did it take so long for others to discover this joy?

The discovery of that Burrows coloring book made me realize something else, though. And it’s that small acts of creative indulgence can go a really long way toward restoring our sanity in this crazy world, especially when we’re dealing with predators as big and scary as  depression, addiction, or grief. I have developed several creative hobbies through the years–chiefly scrapbooking and rubber stamping–and while my craft room is currently a source of stress due to my over-abundance of supplies, I try to take a creative respite at least once a week, even if only for a few minutes, and make something. Lately I’ve been making greeting cards and inspirational bookmarks. Last winter I was into coloring with glitter markers in a snowflake-themed coloring book.

And last summer, I splurged and bought two whole flats of alyssum to fill a trash-picked wooden wheel-barrow with a sea of pastels–just because it made me happy. It made me happy all summer and fall to look out my kitchen window every day and see the delicate lavender, pink, purple and cream blossoms peeking over the edge of the whitewashed wood. And it makes me happy still, every time I look at the photo I took of it. Really, what other purpose is there for us to plant flowers, other than to make us happy? Isn’t that why we buy hyacinths–or alyssum–to feed our souls?

Find what feeds your soul and do it as often as possible.

Practice self-care for your body, mind, heart, and spirit.

And remember, you don’t have to go it alone. Reach out.

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If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my blog to get email updates about new posts.

If you liked the idea of morning pages, regular walks, and creative indulgences, check out The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

If you want some sweet coloring pages, check out any of Roger Burrows’s geometric design books.

And if you want a reminder that you don’t have to go it alone, listen to “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” by U2. You can find it on YouTube, or on their excellent 2004 album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

 

 

 

 

Minimalism Monday: Starting Over

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6/14/2015 craft room

When I started scrapbooking in 1997, I couldn’t even afford to buy the Creative Memories starter album for $36.00; I hosted a party to earn it for free. By that time my son was 9, my daughter was 4, and I had already saved drawers of their artwork and school projects, Safety Town badges, swim lesson certificates, and birthday crowns. I just knew I had finally found a way to preserve all of the wonderful treasures I had saved for them! If only I could afford all of the beautiful papers and fancy stickers to decorate our scrapbooks, my job as a mother would be done, I thought. Well, maybe not exactly those words, but the sentiment was the same: saving their memorabilia and chronicling it for all time was what a good mother was supposed to do. So I began to save my pennies for stickers and host parties to earn papers and page protectors and cutting tools and museum-quality adhesives. A year later, everything I owned for the hobby fit into a fancy tote bag just for taking to crops where I could work on my scrapbooks all day and all night without interruption. For several years, my hobby stayed within manageable margins.

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6/14/2015 craft room scrapbooks

And then things became less tight for us financially. Finally, I could have more of the fancy supplies to make even fancier scrapbooks! I started lots of scrapbooks–one for the family photos; one for each child’s school pictures and grade cards and awards; one for my husband’s coaching team photos; one for our Disney vacation; one for our anniversary renewal of vows; one for our new dog! The possibilities were endless!  The supply options were infinite!  The new design companies and lines of themed supplies were being released every few months, and I was like a kid in a candy shop. There was even a line called Candy Shoppe!

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6/14/2015 craft room stamping area

And then I discovered stamping. It was 2005 and I was appalled at the prices of the products when I attended my first home stamping party. I came home and told my husband that I would never become one of those fanatical stamping ladies. Then I was invited to another party. And another. And I loved it. It was so freeing!  It was like scrapbooking on a miniature scale, only with no pressure for perfection to be encased in archival-quality materials for all time! And thus began my stamping supply collection….

After 10 years of stamping (and teaching classes and selling my creations at several points), I still love it, but I am taking up an entire room of my house with all of the supplies to make personalized greeting cards for absolutely any occasion…but I almost never do. I have so many stamps, inks, embellishments, die cuts, and embossing folders to choose from that it is paralyzing. Add to that the boxes upon boxes of memorabilia I have saved from every trip, event, and loved one who has died, and I cannot even move in my craft room. When my brother died 9 and a half years ago, I essentially stopped scrapbooking because I couldn’t bear to look at family photos knowing that he would never be at another family event again. You might think the photos would be comforting instead, but it was too raw then. It just hurt too much, so I stopped the huge family heritage scrapbook project I was doing for my mom, step-dad, and brothers.

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6/14/2015 more stamp sets in basement

At different points over the past 18 years of these hobbies I have sold or given away many supplies. I used to participate in a big swap every year where I would sell my cast-offs and go refresh my stash with bargains from my papercrafting friends. Even so, I still counted at least 75 sets of stamps as I was moving them to the basement to prepare for sale. That doesn’t include the hundreds of single stamps stacked in baskets and artfully arranged in antique printer’s trays on my walls. What was toughest of all about moving all of these supplies to the basement was the fact that they had lived there once before, but I moved them upstairs to the spare room a few years ago. Many of the boxes of memorabilia have never even been opened in all that time. So this is it:  my chance to start over. How many times have I said to myself, If I knew then what I know now, I would only use this line of supplies for simplicity, or that style of tool because it works better than all the others. I have been using Miss Minimalist’s book The Joy of Less as my guide in this process. Of course, I have purchased countless organizational books in the past–even one specifically for scrapbookers:  The Organized and Inspired Scrapbooker. None of those books ever told me how to be happy with less supplies–only how to dream about storing more in space I don’t have or don’t want to use for supplies I barely touch.

My approach is really two-pronged:  First, I am limiting the amount of space my supplies can take up. This will be equivalent to my library card catalog and a Creative Memories tote bag and Longaberger craft supply basket. Completed scrapbooks will go in a bookcase and do not count toward the supply total. Partially completed scrapbooks will go in a separate area of the bookcase until I can complete them. The second part of my approach is to choose what to keep, NOT what to get rid of. So, I have been choosing only my absolute favorite items that I know I used consistently. I haven’t made all of my choices yet, but having a process for doing so is extremely freeing at this point.

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6/14/2015 end of day 1 of room transformation

The biggest dilemma I have yet to face is the memorabilia. It is a whole category unto itself. Purging the memorabilia will be emotionally draining, so I am being gentle with myself. Much of what is saved is from my kids’ early years, and now that they are in their twenties it seems even harder to let go of those precious memories. Another major source of memorabilia is from trips we took. I would always purchase stickers, postcards, and whatever else they had that I could use in a scrapbook, but I rarely got these themed books completed–and often I didn’t even get them started! So that is a bit hard to swallow throwing out things I collected and paid for but never used. I will get there, but it will take time. Yesterday I was able to clear out almost all of the supplies from the craft room (with the help of my wonderful husband, of course) and most of what is left in the photo here is boxes of old photos and memorabilia.

So, I have my work cut out for me for the rest of the summer, both in selling off 90% of my supply collection and in purging memorabilia…but I know it will be worth the peace of mind I will have in the end when I am not feeling overwhelmed and guilty every time I pass another pile of kids’ drawings or family vacation photos I haven’t scrapbooked yet. And this is only the beginning. Stay tuned for my minimalist journey as I venture into each room of the house, paving the way for a new way of life unencumbered by past regrets and a future burdened with endless projects of chronicling the past. A life where I spend more time in physical activity and less in sedentary hobbies. A life with room for both types of activities within reasonable boundaries. A life with margins. A life of living in the NOW, in which ENOUGH is enough, and more is too much. A minimalist life.

Thank you for reading. Please follow my blog if you’d like to read more. Leave me a comment to let me know how the minimalist philosophy has improved your life. I’d love to hear from you! Have a great week!

Stamping on Sunday: Father’s Day and Wedding Cards

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Father’s Day card made with map paper, Tim Holtz Jalopy die, A*Muse “Enjoy the Journey” stamp and SU “Journey” definition stamp.

Although writing is my first love for creative expression, scrapbooking and stamping feed my need for visual and tactile creativity. When I started scrapbooking in 1997, I became hooked immediately. After all, scrapbooking is about telling stories using photographs, journal entries, and creative design.

When I was later introduced to rubber stamping in 2005, my first thought was I will never be one of these stamping fanatics!  Ten years and hundreds of stamps, ink pads, papers and embellishments later, I definitely qualify as a papercrafting fanatic. (Discussion of treatment for aforementioned fanaticism will follow on Monday’s post on Minimalism…)

Although I haven’t stamped much lately, I would like very much to get back into the craft room once the supplies are reduced to manageable proportions. In the meantime, sharing some of my favorite past creations will help inspire me to get that creative space back into a usable state–and hopefully inspire you along the way.

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Wedding gift of “Mr. & Mrs.” thank you cards presented in a Longaberger basket.

This set of wedding thank you cards was designed to match the black and white theme of the couple’s wedding colors. These cards are the standard finished, folded size of 4.25 x 5.5 inches. I used solid white cardstock for the base, then added a mat of textured black cardstock cut to 4 x 5.25 inches, creating a 1/8 inch frame. I then cut the patterned paper, which is from Basic Grey’s Black Tie 6×6 inch paper pad, to 3.75 x 5.0 inches for the top mat.  I used a variety of patterns from the same collection to create continuity while still having variety within the gift set. The label shape was then cut from the same solid white cardstock that I used for the base. The die cut is from the Stampin’ Up! Apothecary Accents Framelits die set, and I used the coordinating SU paper piercing set to create the detail all along the edges of the die cut. The Mr. & Mrs. stamp is also SU.

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The detail of the paper piercing is a little easier to see in this photo, but what isn’t showing up are the two SU Rhinestone Basic Jewels I applied over the periods after “Mr.” and “Mrs.” I then added black and white trim to the 2009 Longaberger Horizon of Hope Note Basket in Warm Brown and tied it all together with tulle ribbon.

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Here is another, more elaborate version of the first design. I used a white base, burgundy mat, and silver top mat embossed with the Cuttlebug Swirls embossing folder. I used the same die cut and stamp, coordinating the ink to the burgundy base color and substituting self-adhesive pearl accents for the clear rhinestones. I also added a sheer white organza ribbon for a bit of elegance. As you can also see, the mats were cut to show a larger section of color, so the base is 4.25 x 5.5 inches, the burgundy mat is 3.75 x 5 inches, and the silver mat is 3.25 x 4.5 inches. I also used Stampin’ Dimensionals to adhere the label.

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Here is the finished gift basket (using the same Longaberger basket mentioned above) with a coordinating ribbon found at a local monogram store. They also had a primitive heart-shaped ring holder in the same color scheme and font as the ribbon so I added that to the gift as well.

My “Dear John” letter to Old Man Winter

6 more inches. March 29, 2014

6 more inches. March 29, 2014

Dedicated to (and inspired by) Sister Ann Kelly at Ursuline College

Dear Old Man Winter,
We’ve been together a long time now, and let’s face it: things have gone cold between us. It’s just been too long, and I need a change. It’s not you; it’s me. I wasn’t made for this kind of intense, monogamous relationship. I think we should see other seasons. There is no easy way to say this: I want to be with Spring.

Sure, there was a sparkle during those first few snows when the light would glint romantically off your crystalline beauty. The cold air was crisp and fresh; your fluffy white drifts made the whole world look like a clean slate. The fat, lake-effect snowflakes held the promise of holiday festivities, and the kids were excited to get a few snow days to sled and build snowmen.

But that was months and months ago. You just couldn’t stop at the snow days; you had to pile on the ice days and wind chill days as well. You came on too strong. The routine got old: every time you would turn the skies dark with your lake-effect clouds and blow into the snow belt, you would back off and promise to let up for a few days. But then you would storm back in again, with more bluster each time. You even tried to get your friends to make excuses for you. On The Weather Channel they promised repeatedly that you would be on your best behavior soon, but every time you made them look like fools. Even they finally stopped defending you.

I hope you can see now that it’s time we went our separate ways. I just can’t take your abuse anymore. During our time together I have grown pale, depressed, and developed cabin fever. Everywhere I look you have left piles and piles of snow-dirt. You and I were just not meant to last. It is time for you to move on. I promise you that we will see each other again one day, but now is not our time. If you ever loved me, let me go. I need this. I need to be with Spring.

With warmest regards,
A Clevelander in the Snow Belt