I seem to be suffering from some.
Way back when I studied medical anthropology, I learned about a disease called “Susto” experienced by some Peruvian peoples, which occurred when they were scared or publicly shamed. Symptoms are much like those of depression, plus some vomiting for good measure. As part of the treatment for this, a guinea pig was rubbed all over their body. My text at that time didn’t specify several things that I wondered about, namely:
1. Was the guinea pig alive or dead?
2. Was it claws up or claws down?
3. What happened to the pig afterwards?
I’ve finally found out more about this practice, and it does not go well for the poor piggie, alas. Which makes me glad I don’t have a curandero around to help cure me of my current malaise. The poor wee thing would end up filleted.
I suspect my susto, demonstrated as it is by bad dreams, insomnia, and a general feeling of “meh”-ishness, comes from two things – first, an overabundance of holiday and holiday “cheer”. There’s always a greyness that overcomes me after all the sugar and forced gaiety and etc are over. It helps that I have to have a “tree of broken dreams” (an artificial one) in my apartment and that my every evening is filled with sounds of the romantic endeavours of my rather amazing upstairs neighbors. ( Honestly. They go on forever!. Maybe they are merely doing situps..).and that my family lives so far away from me and often at this time of year I feel the familiar loneliness of missing those that know me best. My children have visited and have gone back to their lives, far away. I miss them awfully and yet want them to have their own lives, just wish that those lives were a bit nearer by.
The second part of it, though, is from a review of my year, and the identification of the times where I’ve erred or been inconsiderate or foolish or done something of which my father would disapprove. Of where I could have made an effort and chose to not. Of people I’ve hurt or ignored or mistreated or whatever.
It’s at times like this I miss the comfort of Catholicism, where you can go into the magic box with the priest and tell him all the rotten things you’ve done and then he gives you a few Hail Marys to say and sends you out to sin no more. And you are mystically wiped clean and shiny bright. It’s so much harder to take on the responsibility for your behaviour on your own, to admit your faults, and to let them hit you on the chin.
So tonight, after sending my son off to study again and doing my part with families near and far, I sat and thought, like Winnie the Pooh, head in paw. I have made mistakes this year. Most were sins of omission – like c’mon, DA, where are those submissions you vowed to make, that budding writing career you promised to encourage and water and harvest? Some were the other kind, where I did and said things I shouldn’t have.
I don’t make resolutions, but I do look over the past year every New Year’s. And I set goals for the year to come. Once I have them written down, and I’ve tried to make things right with those I’ve hurt, I can move on, cleansed just as if that guinea pig was rubbed all over me (only I’ll skip the sacrificing afterwards, thanks – I already know where my problems exist, and that’s for me to know and the poor piggie to keep to himself). I’m hard on myself, but I know I’ll let myself off for bad behaviour at some point, so it’s good to start with the dry bread and water. Makes the Devon Cream taste so much wickeder.
So, my evening ends with a cheerful toast to the New Year, which starts, as Anne of Green Gables would say, “fresh, with no mistakes in it yet”. Tomorrow, my susto will be gone and my new life will begin.