I used to face the fall with a sense of dread, like I knew the hard times were coming and I had to get pumped up and cope and throw all the pumpkin spice in the world at it just to survive. When I worked in the world of constant work, constant "on," I would wash my suits, my 60 pairs of underwear, grab a PSL in each hand, and buckle in for the wild ride that was both exhilarating and exhausting.
The last few years have been different.
In truth, blazing through the fall was a happy coincidence, because then I didn't have to sit with the sad memories, nor did I have to watch the world go to sleep around me. This past year I've watched the odometer click (again) on the number of years I've been trying to get pregnant.
Most often, this ends in tears. Or historically, this has ended in tears. The world is dying, the echo of the misinformed doctor's voice telling me my eggs are "old," and the worst part was that I had given up the PSL because it wasn't good for my fertility. Coffee is bad, chemical pumpkin whatever isn't great, and of course there's the sugar and the dairy.
(It was particularly frustrating when the pregnant woman in line ahead of me ordered a grande PSL and gleefully sipped away).
But this was the ritual that helped me face the various anniversaries of death, of loss, of going to sleep. And I had cast it away as a crutch that I didn't need, and prematurely walked on legs that weren't ready to bear my full weight.
I'm learning these days that I don't have to bear my full weight, and more importantly, I don't have to punish myself for the lies I told myself for so many years. I don't have to work hard and push myself to the brink of collapse to be worthy of what I think I want. And I recognize that one crutch is helpful, two is a bit better, and there is no use for three.
I would like to tell you that I can meditate and drink only chamomile tea, and that it gets me through. That sunshine and exercise and a good night's sleep help me through the dark times, but that is not the truth. The truth is that the help I need is bigger than me.
Crutches are self-help, and I have (historically) had a bad habit of letting the weight of my body fall to my armpits to relieve my weary legs instead of accepting the help that comes with it's own legs and can walk beside me.
And this is what is different this fall. This time, I'm leaning and allowing others to help me carry my burdens.
If you are reading this, I am leaning on you.
If you are walking alone, muscling through in a power suit and armed with a latte in each hand, then let me tell you I have been there. And leaning into cups of coffee or Facebook or other flavors of time-sucking, life-force-sucking behaviors is not the answer. Neither is 108 sun salutations, or 1,000 hours of meditation, or "just smiling."
You can do this alone.
But you don't have to.