Every year, February hits me like a tonne of bricks. I don’t know why February is so hard. Part of it, I’m sure, is that the winter has gone on so long by now, and the end is not quite in sight yet. But on the other hand, the days are visibly longer, and this is usually a sunny month (goes with the cold, dammit).
Part of it is maybe that the pattern of difficult Februarys means that I start dreading it in advance, before anything bad even happens. As soon as I stop stressing about Christmas, I start dreading February. Maybe there’s no way I approach February with an open heart anymore.
Februarys are the month when I want to give up. Februarys are when I sleep as much as I can to escape my life. February is when I desperately need to be with people who care about me, but I can’t care about myself enough to make those phone calls. Februarys are when I have been suicidal, when I have made
poor disastrous decisions, when I get sick. Februarys are when I get bad news, and when bad things happen, and when I just can’t face picking up the bloody shovel after one more snowfall. Februarys are when I come home after work and I can’t get into the driveway because the snowplough came by and the ice ridges are knee-high and all I can do is idle in the backlane with my forehead on the steering wheel and weep because every single thing is the last straw.
February is the low point of the year. The pit in which I have no perspective and no long-range view. The room without doors or windows.
I have learned over time to be very, very careful with February. I approach it gingerly. I stalk it as stealthily as a cat. I try not to poke it. In January, I start planning to make less plans. To conserve my energy. To not overdo it. To build in time for sleep and for play and for regular meals. To survive it without falling all the way into the pit of it. I try not to make big decisions about money or relationships or anything else.
But this year, while I was trying to sneak quietly behind it, February noticed me again. February chopped away at my self-confidence, and gave me an extra serving of sadness and guilt. February gave me some bad financial news, some family conflict, and helpfully showed me that my old dog has a tumour. February topped it off with insomnia, a nasty endometriosis flare-up, some weird friendship glitches, and a few stand-up-for-justice moments where I quailed and failed.
And the little daily details that were just harder to handle because February: my phone died. The Fluffy Dog was on on twice-daily antibiotics and couldn’t go on playdates or to daycare. I made unwise choices about what books to read (Runaway? Lord of the Flies? Seriously? Not good February choices). Dealing with bank errors. My drive belt starting to screech. All things that would normally not be major problems but in February everything seems harder, and the underlying dread is, of course, that this is where the slide back into depression happens, where I climb into bed and stay there staring wide-eyed at the ceiling for the rest of my life. This is the fear: that February is when I am at my most vulnerable, and that I won’t be strong enough to get through it. (As if strength was the issue here; as if good planning would keep depression from my door.)
So yeah. February. This Leap Year Day is my sixteenth anniversary of quitting smoking, but aside from that? I’m glad it’ll be over soon.