Spoons

I’m still alive over here. SURPRISE! I’m like that guy they drag out of the house in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Not quite dead yet.

I mean, I’m still sick.

Still working on it.

Still waving in the dark. And pondering whether the night is all bad or if it’s just gotten a bad wrap. For now, it’s quiet here before the dawn. The crickets went to bed a long time ago, and the birds aren’t awake yet to signal the sun to rise. The moon set, but the stars are still out so I can see the outline of my hand. A little light to see by is enough for now. And the stillness of this night is soothing, sitting inside a warm blanket, watching my breath. It’s OK for now to wait for morning; I’m in no rush to force the daylight.

I went to the doctor again. That’s my profession for now. I told her I’m Not Worse. I was rather self-congratulatory about it. She said, though, that Not Worse isn’t the goal. The goal is Better. So we’re working on that now. Maybe we’re making progress? Maybe.

I’m not quite dead yet. I think I’ll go for a walk.

I went to the psychologist, too. Or rather a lovely student working on her PhD in psych. She’s nice, and she’s FREE. So yes, please do learn your craft on me, Lovely Student.

This week, she’s got me working on spoons.

“Imagine,” she said, “that you have a number of spoons every day. I don’t know why we use spoons. We could use anything as currency, but we use spoons.” She shrugged.

“I’m down with spoons,” I said. I wanted her to feel good about her metaphor, even though she seemed fine already.

“So you have spoons. Let’s say ten. Ten spoons to spend every day. They represent energy. If you spend seven, you have three left over at the end of the day. You didn’t overspend your spoons. But let’s say you overspent your spoons. You spent 14. That means you start the next day with 6, not 10. You end up running a deficit. Get it?”

I did get it. She told me to pay attention to the Spending of the Spoons. Not to fix Spoon Spending, necessarily. Just to pay attention to see what gets the Spoons.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Paying attention to Spoon Use.

Only, I keep laughing at the Spoons.

All week, I’ve been dying over Spoon Spending.

Because I’ve already used All the Spoons.

Every single Spoon.

There is a DEARTH OF SPOONS around here.

I haven’t seen an available Spoon for YEARS.

In this life with 47 children and several jobs; this life of wife-ing and being a friend; this life in which I’m expected to feed myself and, theoretically, bathe and dress  and find my own caffeine; in this life, working on special education eligibility, and legal guardianship of my almost-adult man child, trying to keep my panicky kid calm and maybe even sometimes happy; this life where our churches are falling apart, and those who think like us are no longer welcome; in this life where we’re just beginning to understand what it looks like to actually love the marginalized rather than just think we love, or insist we love, or focus on our own wounds, or seek the approval of those in power in the Christian Machine; in this life of calendaring and doctor’s appointments; this life of trying to make sure my children each get a semblance of attention; this life of trying to learn to breathe; this life like so many of yours, I have already used All the Spoons.

THOUSANDS of Spoons.

Millions of Spoons.

I HAVE USED EVERY DAMN SPOON, friends.

My Spoon Deficit is ENORMOUS.

There is no way to recover from the overall Spoon Loss.

So all I need to know now is how to declare Spoon Bankruptcy.

Is there an office for that? A legal procedure? An online checklist? A toll free number to call?

I know I’m not the only one in Spoon Debt. I mean, I live in America; debt is our native tongue. Surely someone can walk me through this process. Yes? Any Spoon Counselors out there? A 10-Step Spoon Program? Someone hook me up.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here waiting.

Not quite dead yet.

And waving in the dark.

Yours truly,

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
17 comments
  1. I just wanted to thank you for writing about your struggles with depression so beautifully and so truthfully. My personality lies right on the border of the “manic-depressive” diagnosis and I just went through a mini depression, but I just can’t bring myself to write about it on my blog. Maybe it’s pride or maybe it’s because when I’m depressed the last thing I feel like doing is putting myself out there, but I’m so glad that there is someone here who knows how to do it. Thank you for sharing your life’s journey with us and making us feel less alone on ours.

  2. I have one of your spoons. You gave it to me 4 years ago. I was lonely and scared in the middle of the night and found your page.
    Here is mine. I´m sending it to you. It´s not that I don´t need it, I´m also running out of them these days, but maybe today you need it more than me.
    It´s been 4 long years since I wrote to you while I breastfed. I´m not sure wether things are easier now. But I keep trying. Just like you. Maybe one day someone will ask me what was the best thing I did for my children. “Keep trying” I will say. Keep trying as if you didn´t know the monster is on your heels.

  3. Sending you big hugs because you are amazingly awesome. You share in a way that makes me feel not alone, and no it’s not just a few friends here that understand, there are people EVERYWHERE who get it. Mad props to Ellyn who shared the Spoon theory, that’s beautiful. I think the world needs to read it.

  4. I got nothin’
    Love you always.

  5. This made me laugh because we are ALWAYS short of spoons around here. Because, teenagers. Silverware tends to grow legs and migrate and I swear if I had every $1 4-pack of spoons I’ve picked up from the $1 store back right now I could scrap them for metal and retire.

    I think all moms are a few spoons short of a picnic on any given day.
    Keep buying more spoons, Mama, with self-care and rest and music played quietly in the dark while you wait for the dawn. Know that you are loved, and you are surrounded by your fellow spoonless sisters, and we are rooting for you.

  6. Ah, but there is a place for spoon bankruptcy: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” And sleep. I highly recommend sleep.

  7. You leave me in awe of all you do, and wishing I could give you some of my spoons. Right now, for the summer, I have extra. If I could, I’d give them all to you. Sending hugs in the dark, because somehow waving just doesn’t seem enough.

  8. Wish I could lend you some of my spoons 🙁
    It’s hard but please keep on trying though because this world would be darker without you.

    It may seem a little creepy and crazy stalkerish but I recently found your blog (the infamous pooping closet post of course lol) and I’ve been reading back and falling in love with you (in a non sexual way) and your lovely family….and your kitchen!!! I can’t even…just so can’t even *sigh*. Anyway my point is, I’ve cried and laughed and hurt for you and with you, and if I was in Oregon I’d adopt you.
    Keep waving in the dark and know there’s people that care.
    Hugs!

  9. Yaaaaaasssssss! Spoons! I love that essay. It is my life.

    Sometimes I rub a spoon on my cheek or arm, hoping it will imbue me with its power to human. I don’t usually have much human to work work on any given day…

    Walking back, my friend!

  10. I haven’t had a good working spoon in so long I spend my days trying to eat soup with a fork. You get a taste but not much nourishment.

    1. I hate that I just liked that because I hate that that’s what you’re experiencing, but what an elegant beautiful way of describing it….

      I’ll admit that my first reaction when I read Beth’s cry for a way out of spoon bankruptcy is that Yes! There is a way! Pray, fast, read your scriptrures. He will replenish your spoon supply. You know this!

      But, while a loving God can replenish a spiritual deficit, that’s not the same as mental and/or emotional illness. I’m sure he can heal and cure those, but for reasons we don’t understand He usually doesn’t. Instead we are left trying to eat soup with a fork and severely undernourished.

      I’m gonna wave in the dark at both you and Beth. And hope and pray that you’ll be lead to ways to exchange your forks for spoons. If not lots of spoons, at least one good working spoon to start with.

  11. I haven’t had a spoon in ages. The children’s hospital has become a weekly destination on top of therapies. I was so looking forward to bedtime but realized I forgot to wash the bed after my son had an accident. Waving in the dark friend! Love the spoon reference but for my favorite cartoon character The Tick. Enjoy a laugh on me…

  12. That’s actually a reference to an article written by a girl about having Lupus, and how she explained it to her friend. The were in a diner and so she grabbed spoons to use as examples. It’s quite famous in the Chronic illness community- in fact, many of us call ourselves “spoonies”. There are hashtags for it and everything. I’m a little offended on behalf of the Spoon Theory author that this Ph.D student “didn’t know why we use spoons.” It’s called Google. I’m a little worried about how she is working on a Ph.D if she can’t use the Internet, but okay. It will be okay, my friend. There are highs and lows and times when you are going great for two months, get triggered by your therapist (!) in marriage counseling and end up almost destroying the room. (That last one could just be me and my rage at how effing hard it is to try to overcome Borderline Personality Disorder.)

    Spoonies have a large internet community. We’ve all got your back. ❤️

    https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

  13. Spoons? WTF, pardon my French! I love your willingness to put yourself in the student’s hands – but I think you can pro auto edit HER a strategy or two. But, I am waving in the dark with you. Keeping my own mental health in balance while walking that path with my “baby” as she navigates social anxiety/meds/college/I don’t know what the hell i’m supposed to be doing with my life, while being mom to 3 additional adulting kids, and sister to my beloved sister whose only remaining child navigates the start of a prison term, and her jackass ex-husband who left fatherhood behind with the divorce. Learning to find comfort in the mess, peace in the chaos, love in the crazy. You’ve got this – “better” is within your grasp. Baby steps and a more narrowed vision (as in screw church, politics, and world peace right now to spend your spoons on the truely important stuff).

  14. Ohhh the spoons. Never enough. I wrote a lot about spoons. *waves to all her spoon sisters*

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/grace-alexander/on-chronic-pain/1066220896749476/

    1. “I am lucky to have friends who get it. We speak wryly of our spoon count. (We don’t mention, even to each-other, that many of the spoons are old, and many more are rusty, and some of them are broken, and some turn out to be knives in disguise.) We support each other as best we can.”

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