This year has been tough, to say the least.
Depression has been my biggest issue – so many times this year, I’ve been barely able to function. Work, knitting, even socialization, all came to a halt, like they always do when I’m at my breaking point. This spring was tough, and I spent a lot of time hiding from life in general.
I was doing better, though. I was starting to pull myself out, was actually animating again, started working on projects that had been sitting around for years… And, then, it all came crashing down.
My daughter had just tested for her Tae Kwon Do black belt, and I was so proud of her. My ex’s family all came down to celebrate, and I got a chance to talk to his mom for the first time since I gave her her shawl. That was Saturday.
Sunday, while my daughter was at lunch with her dad, just after everyone else had left, I got a phone call… It was my best friend’s mom. Sylva (not her real name, but the one she went by online, for privacy’s sake) had suffered a heart attack the day before, and had passed away. I was in shock.
I’ve worked alongside Sylva for many years. She taught me a lot about animating for Second Life. She gave me a job when nobody would even give me an interview. She was there for me when I was down, understood when I was hurting, offered help and advice when I needed it, and never once judged me when I didn’t take her advice and wound up in trouble because of it. We were so much alike that it was scary – especially what I learned of her from her family. We never met in person, but all those years we spent together…
Years ago, Sylva made it known that, if something ever happened, I was to take over her business. I promised her that I would do it to the best of my abilities – she had two daughters that needed to be taken care of. Of course, when I made that promise, I had no idea that it would actually happen – that, years down the road, I’d be struggling to fit all the pieces together.
And it is a struggle. Not just with lawyers, and finances, and customers, but with myself as well. I have a hard enough time juggling my own life under normal circumstances, but now I have a huge pile of responsibilities that I need to work with – on top of my own – and she’s not there to help me out.
I’m lucky, of course. I have some amazing friends. My other best friend, Raya (again, not her real name) has been there for me the entire time. She went down to Texas with me to visit with Sylva’s family and help work out what we were doing there. She’s agreed to help me deal with customers and the like – which is a major help. She doesn’t complain when I go on endlessly about all my crap.
And, then, there’s Dray. He’s… Well, I’ve known him online since we were both in high school, but we’ve only met up once. He’s this amazing guy that shares a lot of my interests, and doesn’t judge me for the things that I normally wouldn’t share with anyone else. Even Raya. (Mostly because Raya is somewhat innocent, in some areas at least!) There have been times that we haven’t spoken for years at a time, but he was always in my thoughts, even if we weren’t actively talking to each other. It was never a matter of disagreement, just falling out of touch… Anyways, he came back into my life around the beginning of January, and having him there has been a major help. He’s always been special to me, and likely always will.
It’s because of these two amazing friends that I’ve managed to not fall apart completely – at least, not permanently. But it’s been a struggle. My entire life has been shattered, and even with help picking up the pieces, it’s going to be a long way to where I can put everything back together. I’m trying, though.
Looking back over what I wrote in December, and everything that has happened this year, I think there are a few things I need to focus on.
- If something is worth doing, I need to do it. If not, I need to let it go. No more WIPs hanging out in limbo. No more “someday, I’ll…” If it’s worth it, I need to make it happen.
- I need to put myself first, at least sometimes. I’ve been working on this one. I keep healthy snacks around for my afternoon blood sugar drop, even if they’re not cheap. I finally pushed myself to get insurance, I’ve even knit a few things just for myself (though, the knitting has dropped off completely for the past few months.)
- I need to stop trying to control others’ reactions. This one, I struggle with. It’s hard for me. I want people to be happy, to react well, to smile and be positive. And if they don’t, if something’s wrong, I take it personally. I can’t continue like this. I need to take reactions as they come and move on, not dwell on them forever. (They haunt me at night!) This one is going to be tough, for sure.
- I need to give myself permission to not be ok. There are going to be times where I’m going to fall apart, where I’m not going to be able to face people, where all I’m going to want to do is curl up in the dark and hide. This is part of who I am. Fighting it only makes it worse. I need to stop beating myself up because of it, and I’ve been working on that. Giving myself permission to curl up and take a nap, or step away from a situation where I’m getting overwhelmed. It’s ok. It’s not the end of the world.
…and I’m sure I’ll come up with more, but for now, that’ll do.
Now to go curl up in bed with my butt-head cat and get some much needed sleep. Tomorrow: Work!
For the past 5-ish years, I’ve made something for my niece (and, after he was born, my nephew) every year for xmas. I’ve put months into these things. I plan, and I spend more money than I have, and I work so hard, to the point where, every year, I wind up with numb fingers from knitting so much to get these gifts done.
Only once have I seen anything I’ve made for these children worn anywhere. Once.
Today, I peeked at my sister in law’s Facebook page to see if I could find a picture of the hat I made my nephew last year. He’s really into dinosaurs, and I knit him a dinosaur hat and mittens last xmas, and I thought, maybe, they might have made an appearance this year.
Instead, I found a picture of my niece in a hat very similar to the one I made her last year. But it was crocheted, not knit, and the colors were wrong. Obviously NOT the one I made her. There are no pictures of her in the one I spent a week on and tore my fingers up by knitting with the metallic yarn. None.
I love my niece and nephew. Knitting is how I express that. And this feels like a major rejection. My love isn’t wanted. Not good enough. It’s something to be shoved in the back of a closet and forgotten about.
And I can’t and won’t subject myself to that anymore.
I crocheted stuffed animals for them this year. My niece’s is done and waiting to be boxed and wrapped. My nephew’s has a few small things to be finished, then needs to be stuffed and sewn together. After this, I’m done. There will be no more knitting or crocheting for these two. I’m not going to pour my heart into something only to have it tossed aside. Again.
And, since I’m perpetually broke, this likely means no more gifts for them. Which sucks.
But I’m done.
So, after the major push to get everything ready for Christmas in 2012, I spent Christmas without my daughter. It was tough for me, and I wound up sinking into a major depression that lasted for months. On top of that, my main computer died, and I didn’t have the money to fix it, and I was under a lot of stress from multiple directions… I wound up totally caving in on myself, crawling into a hole, and hiding.
It’s been a long road since then. There have been ups and downs, but mostly downs. I’ve realized, only lately, that I need to majorly rethink the way I approach relationships – romantic, friends, and family – and life in general. I have a lot of changes to make, the biggest one being taking care of myself – in all senses.
There are many parts to this… One is putting myself first, and thinking about what I need and want to be happy, instead of pushing that to the back burner. This means allowing little indulgences, and rewards when I push myself to do things – and actually following through with those rewards. Doing things for me, and not just for everyone else – something that I rarely do, and have never really prioritized. Another part of this is not letting things dangle indefinitely – either wrapping them up, or letting them go. And another is, when I do something for others, not expecting anything in return. Not a thank you, not equal effort… If I don’t enjoy the giving of the gift in and of itself, without any strings attached, no matter how small, then it’s not a gift I should be giving – whether it’s time, energy, or a physical gift.
All of these things apply to knitting, too. So, for 2015, I have three goals.
1) When you leave a large number of WIPs together, and they get jostled around, yarn gets tangled, and dusty, and picks up cat hair, and things just get messy and complicated – just like when you leave loose ends in life. As I work through my figurative loose ends, one of my goals is to go through my drawer of WIPs and sort them out. Figure out what’s worth saving, and what needs to be frogged. Holding onto all of these is holding up my needles that I could be using for other things. So, anything that’s worth saving, I want to finish – or, at least, make decent progress on. Anything that’s not, I want to frog and, hopefully, find new life for the yarn.
2) Giving gifts is great, but so is selfish knitting. The fact is, there are very few people in my life that appreciate how much goes into every little piece as much as I do. There are a couple, but really… I put so much work into these things, and never really do anything for myself. It’s not just knitting – I’ve long lamented that every cent I earn goes toward bills, that I never take time for myself, that I’m always being dragged in this or that direction, that I never get anything that I want… And, honestly, that’s all on my shoulders. Nobody is going to take care of me the way I want to be taken care of – except myself. I need to do more for me – be more generous with the time, money, and energy I put into making myself happy. So, one of my goals this next year, is to do just that. To do more things for me – that means knitting those things that I want so badly, but never can justify simply because it’s for ME. I deserve these things just as much as anyone else. So I’m going to have them.
3) Along that line… Giving gifts is still something I love to do. But my final goal is to change how I go about it. I’m not going to pour months of my time into things for people who don’t appreciate it, because I always wind up hurt. Instead, I’ll put myself out there for people who I know DO appreciate it, and others… Well, there are things other than hand knits. And I’m going to stop expecting anything back. No more 3-month shawls, only to get a towel and an insulting book in return. If I put 3 months into something for someone, then that’s my choice, and I can’t expect them to reciprocate – especially if they don’t know and -can’t- return the effort, even if they did know. All I can do is give, and hope that it’s accepted, and let go of everything else… And this is the hardest thing for me – letting go. But I can’t control what anyone else does, how anyone reacts, whether that shawl is worn with love or balled up in the corner. But I can know that I put a piece of myself into that, to show that I loved them… And that’s enough.
There will be more later – I hope – but, for now, it’s time to close the computer and head to bed.
Here’s to a better tomorrow.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Hope your holiday is full of love, hope, and happiness – and none of that icky drama (family or otherwise) that seems to hang around this time of year.
So, this week marked a very significant point in my xmas knitting plans… I finished the sweater!!!!!!!
Thanks to a lovely stranger on Ravelry, I managed to snag a partial skein of the yarn I ran out of, which gave me enough to finish not just the hood of the sweater, but the optional attached mittens as well!
Needless to say, when we exchanged gifts this morning, I had a very thrilled 3 1/2-year-old on my hands. She was running around with a HUGE grin on her face while she wore the sweater.
I know, the moment I held the ears & horns up to the hood, I literally squealed with excitement. It’s possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever made, and I love it to death, and hope she gets a lot of use out of it!
Now, I seem to have gotten out of the habit of sharing yarn & pattern info, but for anyone who is interested in knitting the most adorable giraffe sweater for a young child, the pattern is the Twiga Hoodie by Megan Grewal, available on Ravelry, and the yarn is Knit Picks Swish Bulky in Hickory, and Bare Swish Bulky hand-dyed in a semi-solid yellow.
Now, I could be ranting about how some of the yarn I used in my nephew’s sweater felted in the dryer, despite being superwash, but… I’m too happy with how the giraffe sweater turned out to really care.
I mean, come on – who could be sad when they made this happen?
So close to finishing the niece’s sweater. I can see the end in sight.
…so, of course, I run out of yarn.
Well, ok, I’m not quite there yet, but it’s sure close. Not sure what I’m going to do – I’ve got half a hood to do, and preferably mittens, too, though I’m guessing those won’t happen.
One week – to the day. Not enough time to order yarn from the slowpoke yarn company, and this isn’t something that I can get locally, either. And it’s not a popular color, so there aren’t a ton of people who have it listed in their stash on Ravelry – and none of those that do have it listed for sale. *sigh*
I guess this is how defeat feels.
…and I was so close!
I’ve really done it now…
Apparently, simple stockinette stitch socks go really fast – especially when they’re for little kids, and knit with fun, self-striping yarn! Woohoo! :D
On top of that, this morning I finished all the miscellaneous sewing I had to do. Buttons are sewn on to various projects, conductive thread is sewn into the fingertips of gloves and mittens, broken buttons have been replaced…. *whistles innocently*
I’m down to just a few more projects to finish, and then I’ll be ready to go. Tonight, I think I’m going to work on my niece’s sweater, and hopefully that will be done by Wednesday-ish, so I can wash and block that and my nephew’s sweater, and have those wrapped by next Friday – just in time for our Christmas get-together with them on Saturday!
Now, that being said, I’m in a bit of a moral dilemma. Certain people in my family have decided that they’re only doing gifts for kids. Which is fine… Even if I think it’s a bit stingy, as there aren’t that many adults, and they only have one niece and no nephews on this side of the family, and they’re the ones in the family who actually have money, while the rest of us – who can’t really afford it – are much more generous and enjoy giving gifts… But that’s beside the point. They’ve also made it clear that it goes for giving gifts to them – they don’t want any.
Every year up until now, I’ve gone against that and either bought or made gifts for them. Last year, I made hats for both of them (hers was out of a gorgeous, not-cheap, Angora blend that I wanted so badly to keep for myself – it was the only hat I ever made that looked good on me!) Now, they put the hats on for pictures when they got ’em, but I have no way of knowing if they ever actually wear ’em – I’ve never seen it. For all I know, they never have, and they’ve either been shoved in the back of a closet somewhere, or they’ve been given (or thrown!) away.
Needless to say, this year, with my hands acting up and my bank account perpetually empty, I decided not to give them anything. Up until now, I’ve been alright with that decision, but now, with just over a week before we exchange gifts, I’m starting to feel bad about it.
You see, gifts aren’t an obligation to me – they’re something I do out of love. If I make a gift for someone, every little stitch is a bit of love, a wish for happiness and well-being, a drop of hope. And, whether I buy or make a gift, a lot of thought goes into finding just the right thing for the person it’s going to. I don’t just grab a pair of socks from some store and call it good, I scour the internet for hours at a time, looking for just the right thing, and then either I buy it, or I spend many more hours making it for the person it’s intended for. Every gift I give is an act of love, and a way of showing how much I care for someone.
And not giving a gift, to me, feels like I’ve turned my back on that person. As much as these two get on my nerves at times, I don’t feel right turning my back on them – they’re family, whether or not we always agree on things.
What should I do? I don’t have money, but I do have a bit of time… Do I make them something? Or just not give them anything, knowing that they don’t give a damn, so why should I? (Yes, I know, this may not be true of them, but it sure feels like it most of the time…)
Do I stick with my initial decision and not stress myself out trying to do something? Or do I find something simple to do? Or just run to the dollar store and call it good? ;)