I’m a cyclical creature. A creature of habit. A creature of of comfort. And when life overwhelms, I have a tendency to go inward to rest and rejuvenate. Sometimes it takes a weekend. Sometimes several months.
I’ve talked about my “cycles” before. They drive my Husband mad, because these cycles directly impact my writing, and…more importantly to Him, my sex drive. In fact, these cycles impact everything in my life. And while I truly apologize for the impact that they have, I’m not sure I’m sorry that I have them. I mean, quite honestly, I think they are a natural part of the ebb and flow of my emotional output.
I’m an introvert, which means I can only give so much before I need to retreat and fill back up (away from the world). And I also have bipolar disorder, which means I have ups and downs in energy, mood, and production that can border on the slightly unbalanced side. I apologize for the negative impact that these traits can have on those around me, as well, and while I sometimes wish I were a completely balanced extrovert with endless energy and boundless capacity for productivity, I’m not. And I’m not sorry for the person that I am.
Fall is a stressful time of year for me. There’s no getting around that, and it isn’t likely to change anytime soon. The commitments that I have made to my career make this a time when I work later and have to put in more time and mental energy than at any other time of year. It’s creative and emotional work that both infuses and strips me of energy, and by early Winter I find myself a bit listless and worn out. This entire period takes a toll on my writing and on my sexuality, because I only have so much to give to so many people. And everyone seems to need something from me at this time. Working full time in education puts a lot of pressure on a person to fulfill the needs of students, parents, administration, community, etc. And I give this my all. And while I apologize for the stress that this puts on my family (because, believe me, I’ve often wondered if my priorities are askew at these times), I’m not sorry that I devote myself to a career that I love. It takes a lot out of me and doesn’t always return what it takes. But, it fulfills me emotionally and mentally. I’m good at my job, and though I know my family should be my priority (and it is), I can only fully focus on one thing at a time. Successful, long-term, multi-tasking is a myth. To do anything well, one must take energy from one thing and apply it to another to do it to the best of their ability. This necessarily means that one area of my life will always be doing better than others at any given time. The trick is knowing when and how to shift gears, before any part of my life begins to suffer, and that is where I could use some practice.
I usually experience a deep lull in creativity and sex drive during November and December, namely due to exhaustion. And winter break usually provides the rest I need to pull myself out of it. January through May are better months, when things run more smoothly. It’s not because less is expected of me. Those first few stressful months of school are when I lay the foundation upon which I will be able to relax later — building relationships, creating routines and setting expectations, training students to be self-sufficient learners, etc. All of these things help the rest of the year run more smoothly. But it’s a lot of work. And it’s work I love.
My Husband is a different creature. I’m not sure He gets the same high from His work. He certainly isn’t as laser-focused as I am; He’s not as easily “all-consumed.” And He tends to feel left out during this season…which leads into the lull after the storm, where I am now.
This is the time of year, when I’m just coming off the stressful high of September and October and the overwhelm of November. December brings a more manageable routine, less expectation on my time, and vacation. But, even with the decrease in stress, I’m not all that interested in sex right now. In fact, I’d rather hibernate for a few weeks. And that is killing my Husband, as He needs sexual intimacy to feel connected. Without it, He becomes irritable and depressed.
I’m truly apologetic for the turmoil I cause Him, as my natural rhythms and cycles draw me to and away from Him. I’m also sorry that my libido has been so unpredictable over the course of our marriage, and that my sex drive is so different from His. I’m sorry that our needs are so different and that we struggle to fulfill them for each other. But, like Him, I’m not sorry for who I am.
Right now, I’m tired. And He’s in a funk. We had good sex this weekend (three times) after a several-week-long dry spell, but it’s not enough. Where I could have sex a few times a month and be perfectly happy, He’d be better off with a daily dose. My inconsistency, with pretty much everything, drives Him crazy. (Maybe it drives my readers crazy, too.) But, I’m not sorry that I gain and lose momentum. Trying to keep up a steady pace for long periods of time is impossible for me. I ebb and flow in pretty much every facet of my life, finding new energy repeatedly, new inspiration. And as it falls away, I wash-rinse-repeat my way right back to good. This is draining for Him….as I think He’s a much more consistent kind of person, with no need for that sort of “regenerative” existence. I’m sort of like a phoenix…and that can be exhausting for anyone to put up with (including me). But, as a “creative,” I find it sort of necessary…and
I guess I’m not sorry for that either.
These are “problems” we’ve faced for the majority of our marriage, and it’s not likely to go away. After 13 years, this is who we are. We’ve have good times and bad. We’ve compromised in a lot of ways. We’ve made concessions and mistakes. We’ve grown apart and then back together again. And I’m not sorry for still loving what we have, in all of its crookedness…for maintaining my commitment to it.
The darkness of winter in the Pacific Northwest is a difficult time for a lot of us. It’s dreary and that sort of wet-cold that gets into your bones. It dampens my spirit, saps me of energy, and draws me inward. But, it’s a beautiful place, and I’m not sorry for accepting the negatives to benefit from the positives. Every thing we do, every choice we make costs something. How I spend my time, my love, and my energy is something I am mostly proud of.
I don’t have the easiest job. But it’s rewarding. I don’t have the easiest relationship. But it’s rewarding. I don’t live in the easiest place. But it’s rewarding.
I could trade it in for an easier career that pays better, a different relationship, a sunnier climate. But those are not the choices that I made. And I’m not sorry for my choices.
I’m not even sorry for the rambling nature of this post.