Thank you for the kind comments and e-mails.
I've been thinking about this whole dark place thing all day.
And in the thinking, I realized something.
I've been here before.
Some recently with family and health issues...
Some over the past few years when we lost our business and our much loved house...
Death, betrayal, loss, grief...
Years and years ago the dark place almost consumed me...
Fueled by low self-esteem, a horrible and abusive marriage, health issues, no money, and encounters with ugly people creating ugly uncontrollable things in my life...
I can remember feeling totally and completely in a place so immensely dark that I prayed to die.
I can't really say I was suicidal because, to be honest, suicide would have taken too much effort.
But it was in those horrible years that I came up with a plan.
I made little coupons for myself very similar to this one.
They weren't nearly as cute...
But I told myself that I could use two coupons each month and for that 24 hour time period I would allow myself to totally wallow in my misery.
I told myself that I would find positive and happy as much as possible every day...
...but when I really needed it, I could let myself use a coupon.
I put them in my underwear drawer.
After all, is there anything more miserable than five year old underwear when you can't afford to buy any new ones?
I think not.
And please. Don't get me started on the whole subject of duct-taped together bras.
I knew those coupons were there.
I looked at them every morning while rummaging for a pair of undies that were more whole than holes.
And thought about those coupons often during the day.
And you know what?
When I went to get one out to use it, it made me think.
"Okay. I only have two of these to use for the whooooole month. What if things get worse?"
And I would put the coupon back.
On really, really bad days I would cut the coupon in quarters.
"Okay, Jenny. Today you can feel miserable for six hours."
I would shove that partial coupon down in my pocket and somehow it made me feel better.
Sometimes I would cut my coupons into eight or ten pieces for 2 or 3 hours of a personal pity party.
But I never, ever, ever let myself feel miserable for more than 48 hours each month.
Some months really tested that time period.
Some time when we are drinking margaritas I shall tell you tales.
But that's not right now.
Right now I am writing this stone, cold un-tequila'd up.
In all seriousness, though...
I used those coupons for a lot of years.
Things got better, eventually and I found a new life.
And I felt more in control of the fear and the gloom and doom.
Life's funny like that, isn't it?
Up and down...black and white...give and take.
But over time, I think I allowed myself to become complacent about focusing misery.
I've allowed the darkness to creep back so incrementally that I haven't really noticed.
Now, I think I need to remind myself where I've been so I can survive where I am now.
There's always going to be issues in life.
No-one has a golden ticket through the worries and woes.
No-one is exempt from the dark places.
These silly coupons helped me in even darker times.
So I'm printing up a new batch.
And focusing being miserable into 48 hours each month.
I think I'm going to stash my coupons in my underwear drawer.
At least now my underwear are entirely whole and almost brand new...
...and the only duct tape in my house is in my tool chest.
That was probably way TOO MUCH INFORMATION.
About the underwear, I mean.
But I really did want to tell you about the coupons.
Maybe that little idea will help you with your dark place, too.