In Like a Lion

The snowstorm has come and gone. We only got about seven inches, which is still a lot, but it’s on the lowest end of the estimated ranges I heard in the forecast; I’ll consider that a win. It’s the wettest, heaviest snow we got this winter and it fell in concert with a wicked wind. The nice part was that Ben was released from work at 11:30 yesterday, so even after his long drive home, we had a lot of time together in the afternoon.

Initially, when he texted me that he would be heading home at 11:30am, I was confronted with those old familiar feelings of stress because of the sudden, vastly altered schedule. I was in the final stages of a massive work project that I needed to finish before I could relax the rest of the day and I worried that his presence would make that harder because I’d be enticed to just hang out and have fun without working like him. This frustration was somewhat dissipated when he asserted that it was perfectly fine if I needed to tell him I had to focus and work while he kicked back and found something fun to do. I take my job responsibilities seriously and though I wasn’t up against a hard deadline on the assignment, I had set the goal of completing the project that afternoon and it’s important to me to honor the commitments I make regarding work, even if they are arbitrary, self-imposed deadlines. I guess I feel pressure to engage and offer him my full attention when he’s home, though he’s never set that as an expectation or even requested it. My own brain has established this courtesy. Additionally, there is certainly a degree of frustration I feel simply because I have responsibilities to uphold and since we see so little of one another during the work week, his “bonus” presence is tantalizing and teases me with its appeal to blow off my planned duties and hang out.

I guess that feeling makes me upset because I don’t like feeling torn between what I feel I should do and what I want to do, especially when what I “want” to do also feels like something important. Spending quality time with a spouse (or friend, family member, etc.) is vital to happiness and fulfillment. Because my social connections are so limited and my face-time with my husband is a scarce commodity, the desire to capitalize on every opportunity we get together, whether the usual weekend time or the spontaneous extra time afforded by a blizzard, doesn’t just hover in the “want to” category, but straddles the “need to” one as well. Even my type-A personality is slowly learning that life isn’t just about productivity, hard work, and accomplishments; it’s abundantly clear that solid relationships breathe meaning into life and they require nurturing in the form of quality time together to build new memories and a deep emotional connection. This is something I’ve often overlooked in the past, but have begun to understand and respect as true.

The night wasn’t optimal for uninterrupted sleep because we live next to a business that does much of the plowing work in the town (though not our driveway!). It seemed like the string of idling engines, road scraping sounds, and beeping kept returning every hour, eventually dying down, only to crop back up the next hour. Even with my white noise machine cranked up and two fans whirring on high, the plowing cacophony couldn’t be drowned out. I’m pleased with how calm I stayed even when I was startled from sleep numerous times by a sudden drop of a plow as it abraded the road below, and then had to lie there listening to the constant rumbling engines. I put extra blankets over my head and just tried to rest and listen to the TV show playing. With sensory processing disorder (SPD), low rumbling frequencies are the epitome of irritating repetitive noises that feel like a staple gun being continually driven into my brain’s auditory processing area. The longer it goes on, the hotter and more agitated I get. That’s why I try to build a sensory-friendly cocoon out of the softest blankets and I surround myself with them like a gentle hug. I also have a weighted blanket for sleep, which is thought to help calm anxiety and provide a feeling of security and groundedness, especially to people on the spectrum. I’ve been using mine for the past six months or so; I do enjoy the hugged feeling it imparts.

After shoveling the heavy snow this morning, the driveway and walkway are cleared down to the asphalt. The snowbanks created look manageably small, so my panic that this snow will linger for what feels like forever has evaporated. Meteorologists are predicting another bunch of snow for Monday, but I’ll hold on to my hope that the storm will change course between now and then and blow out to sea. At least I’ve amassed another reassuring data point that we can handle the blizzards with surprising alacrity. Plus, spring is coming; though the view outside my window couldn’t typify “winter” more than it already does today, the calendar indicates we are in the final stretch. The way that time is flying these days, I know I’ll be donning t-shirts and basking under warmer skies before I know it.

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