Posted in Family, Recovery

The Death of Malaise

Malaise, n. a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness,lethargy, or discomfort.

If I remember correctly, my younger sister once had a gerbil which she named “Malaise.” It would have been somewhere around junior-high time for her, and she acquired the gerbil during a period of, well… malaise.  If I remember correctly, our cat dragged that gerbil backward out of the cage by its tail and ate most of it, leaving its remains in the middle of the living room carpet for my poor sister to discover during her breakfast.  And if I remember correctly, her comment on that event was something to the effect of being glad she hadn’t named it “Joy,” because that would have been a really crappy omen.

Suzy-cat (NOT the gerbil-murderer) sleeping in a box. One sympathizes.

That’s our Family Story about the Death of Malaise, and it came to mind yesterday because the word describes my last couple weeks pretty perfectly. I try to be cautious about applying inaccurate words (have been ever since a camp-counselor responded to my exaggerated exclamation that I was “starving” by asking if I were, truly… and challenged me to a day on just a bowl-full of rice to re-evaluate my use of the word) so I won’t say I’ve been Depressed. I have known Depression, and this wasn’t it.

This malaise still isn’t ME, though—not Me as I’m accustomed to experience myself…  I think it’s probably a good sign that I’m at least roused enough today to be irritated by it, and ask myself what the hell?

I’m a thinker—I over-think everything—so my natural inclination is to determine WHY I’ve felt so apathetic. Probably, though, that’s too logical an approach for dealing with emotion—and I freely admit that trying to “feel things with my head” has historically been one of my Great Character Flaws. One of them.

a Mugwump I’m Missing…

Well, there’s the one thing I have been grieving over, and it’s something that should NOT have caught me off guard as it did—namely, the end of the kids’ summer vacation… And with it, the end of our having the kids WITH US half the time. Two weekends a month has never been “sufficient,” and especially now, after the delights of a whole summer’s worth of Full Weeks with them… Well, frankly I can’t even come up with the right word for how I feel about that.

What’s the emotional equivalent of “starving“? On reflection… I don’t think, after all, that it would be an inaccurate or exaggerated description of being bereft of my kiddos.

(My Thinking Side reminds me to be grateful for the time we DO have with them—after all, just a year ago we couldn’t even have them overnight, as a result of our 2010 alcoholic relapse—but my Feeling Side, so far, has been rudely telling my Thinking Side to stuff it.)

I’ve always been a little bemused when bloggers feel the need to explain or apologize or excuse themselves for any absence from their blogs… But perhaps, after all, that’s what I’ve been writing here. And for now I’ll simply be content with the fact that I Felt Like Writing at all.  I’ve been averaging 600 pages a day of reading over these last couple weeks, but that’s not a Balanced Enjoyment when I’m not also Writing. So here I am, oddly enough, welcoming Myself back…  to Myself.  No gerbil sacrifice required.


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

38 thoughts on “The Death of Malaise

  1. I’m sorry about your not having your kids around as much when school starts, Kana. That must really be difficult. I can understand how it would make you feel as if you were starving for them. But welcome back, and I’m glad no gerbils were sacrificed this time. Also, I love your kitty in a box.


  2. Oh, Kana… I was only just now driving to the house after dropping my daughter at dance lessons, and thinking to myself, “you know, Kana hasn’t posted in awhile. I should see if I can find a link to her email address and reach out, just to make sure all is well.” And lo, a scant 30 minutes later, here you are on my screen! I’m relieved to read that apathy is the worst of your concerns! It strikes occasionally here too, and I just blame it on hormones and do my best to move on when I snap out of it. Snap, snap Mama! Your readers miss you!


  3. Missed you and was just thinking about where you’d been, when your post popped up. I can only imagine the emotional transition of preparing to be seeing less of the kids. Tough stuff.


  4. I wondered where you were!
    Well, part of me says you’ll feel better soon, but the rest of me acknowledges that I can’t really know how you feel right now. But I empathise.
    Things have a marvellous way of working out somehow and I can think of few folk I’d wish better luck on. The end of the holiday gives you a chance to gather all the memories of the nice things you’ve all done together and plan for the next one. Which, I’m sure, will be along sooner than you think.

    I how that makes some sort of sense. O.o its 3.30am here and my brain is a little fried! …bottom line; I’m glad you broke through the malaise.

    Oh and complete aside – have you heard the song Malaise Days by Po Girl? Its quite a nice one if you have a moment spare to find it on YouTube. :-)


  5. My stepdaughter used to stay summers with us & after reading your post I remembered how difficult it was every fall when she would go back to live with her mom. If it helps any, my relationship with her (she’s grown with her own kids now) is great. The time apart was difficult, but in the long run things worked out just right.
    Welcome back!


  6. Just as well, I don’t think there are any virgin gerbils left anyway!

    When we get out of our own way, our bodies and spirits tend to know what’s best for us, and the mid-summer weeks are just made for kicking back and reading 600 pages a day, so it makes sense that you did just that.

    I’m only just now coming back into what I would consider a balanced writerly life. The comfy chair down by the Widder-lake still has its siren claws out though. I’ll just pop out and … erm … make sure it’s still there … just for a minute.


  7. Welcome back! While I don’t have missing my kids to bring me down, I have been in a funk the last few weeks, too. Whatever it is bringing on the blues, may it blow away. Far, far away. And stay there. I’ve missed you and your thinking feelings.

    P.S. Two weekends a month is NOT enough. I think that sucks dog balls, quite frankly.


  8. Whether apathy, malaise, depression, or simply an inability to define exactly what you are feeling, one of the things that helps us be healthier versions of ourselves (and to stay away from those things that were once used to mask everything we felt that made us uncomfortable) is to say the words out loud … when we come to the keyboard, we let go of that thing that is simmering inside us that might threaten to topple our carefully constructed balance, and we use the words to acknowledge that sometimes, whether it is comfortable or not, we feel a little bit crummy about something that we can’t control. But we get through it, and we try to keep our focus on what we can appreciate, and then, if we’re really lucky, we even manage to find some humor in the situation. If not Joy, then at least the Death of Malaise. Nicely done, sister. Welcome back.


  9. Welcome back Kana.

    I remember, years ago, when school shopping for my then young children. The lady checking me out was talking freely with me. She stopped ringing things up and looked at me and said “I don’t like back to school time, I’m in no hurry for my kids to go back to school, it makes me sad. Not like others who I see who keep telling me they can’t wait for school to start so their kids are back in school and they get a break.” Your grief (that’s what it felt like when I read it) reminded me of her. I agreed with her then, and you now.

    I’m glad you could get yourself to write. I know your kids like that too, your writing. :)


  10. I’m just resurfacing after an extended malaise, usually happens towards the end of our winter, the promise of spring banishes it for another six months.


  11. I missed you too and are glad you’re back. I hope you’re writing will comfort you. I have found writing to be very therapeutic. Remember we’re here if you need someone to listen.


  12. Kana, I think it’s ok to give yourself permission to feel what you feel and give your thinking side the “stink eye” for offering up its platitudes. As a thinker, I know that it’s hard. You’ve had a great summer with the kids – many adventures – many new memories created, but try and remember that it’s ok to mourn. Sure, there will be more special days to come. You know that. Maybe you could start planning for the next grand adventure. Always know though, that you’ve got this gang of folks who are out there pulling for you.


  13. And it’s a pleasure to welcome you back.

    blah blah something philosophical blah blah changing of season blah happy memories blah blah…(yeah, doesn’t work for me either…)

    Hope you find yourself soon, and even though you have to share the kids with school now, you can take delight in watching their wonder as they learn!


  14. From one over-thinker to another, it makes perfect sense to me that the end of summer and time with your kids would be cause for a little malaise. Read, rest, and go ahead and feel malaise. “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” (Psalm 42:11) It’s a healthy question to ask. Bless you, Kana.


  15. “I’m a thinker—I over-think everything”…glad to know I’m not alone! Funny, both of our posts have a similar tone this week. I wonder, could it be the weather? (Bad joke, but in my household we like to blame things on the weather. In fact, I do believe I tried to convince my son, prior to his brain tumor diagnosis, that his symptoms were related to a barometric pressure change…so why not your malaise?!)

    In all seriousness, may the weight of the feelings be quick in its duration (crap, is it “its” or should it be “their”, duration? nothing like a little grammar dysfunction to cheer you up).


  16. wow… I never had the parental experiences of back to school, but plenty of the malaise type (sounds like a sandwich condiment)… feeling with your head – such a familiar ring to it… to balance is never a static thing, so we malaise, we write, we hide, we exaggerate… it’s what we do, my dear… and frankly, I do give a damn!!!
    you emoted so well, I even felt the throat tighten in anticipation of a tear… and here I though you might wonder where I might be!!!

    I send you metta love, Kana, and that is both here and there…



  17. I definitely understand that sense of malaise. I’ve been dealing with it on and off for the last year. Recognising it is at least the first step in the direction of conquering it, I think.

    May you rediscover all the joy in your life.


  18. Hi Kana, that little Gerbil story almost turned me back. So glad it didn’t. You’re a beautiful writer, easy to read and understand with has depth and honesty. I like that. :)


  19. Kana, I know it is not the same, but when my mother’s visit came to an end (she needed to go back to Colombia), what kept me strong was thinking of the good time we had and planning her next visit. I hope it helps. Hugs to you, Kana.


  20. Sorry I haven’t been around much lately, but my book, The Bellman Chronicles, will be FREE to download on Sept. 10 – 11! Check it out on my Amazon Kindle page.. You won’t be disappointed. And if you can slip me a review, I’d be forever grateful…


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