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Emails to my Therapist

Feeling Worthless

Nicholas, I’m told it’s a bad idea to blog about feeling worthless. I agree. I’m doing it anyway.

This is not a ploy to get people to say encouraging things to me. Nothing anybody could say would help.

I have no excuse for this terrible mood. Quite the reverse.

I went with Bob today for his final check-up at Duke hospital after a medical adventure that began in December, involved three hospitalizations, and nearly killed him.  Today’s results? He’s doing great! He’s healthy! And I am so grateful.

We came home in early afternoon. I settled onto the sofa with my laptop to do some work. I woke up four hours later, with the computer slipped off into the cushions.  I’d dreamed I was still working on my novel Cobalt Blue, published three years ago.

Woke up feeling like, what? I don’t even know. Feeling discouraged about my novel-in-progress not matching current publishing trends. Not a new situation for me. I seem to be allergic to the zeitgeist. I don’t think I’m just being rebellious, but how would I know? Maybe the close of this medical saga frees my mind to think more about work.

Feeling low low energy. Of course, it makes sense; today’s medical report tells me that one rather challenging chapter of life has ended well. So it’s safe for me to sag a bit.

Detail of a piece of art that caught my eye. Illustrates feeling worthless


I’d rather be feeling celebratory. And I am indeed so profoundly relieved.

I already knew, though, that he’s doing great. Today’s report just confirmed what was already clear to me and to Bob.

Maybe it also feels safe now to have a gut-awareness of how things might have turned out. And to feel how helpless I’d have been to change the outcome. Bob seems to think that’s what’s bugging me; that and facing the fact of his/my “ultimate demise.” No doubt that’s true, along with whatever else.

I did a little exercise. Didn’t help.

Kicked myself for squandering time neither working nor playing, instead “resting” when I wasn’t even tired.

I watched a Netflix episode of Scandal, a guaranteed mood-improver. Anyone who has seen any of Scandal will recognize this as sarcasm.  Actually there were a couple of you-can-do-it-I-believe-in-myself speeches in the show that I told myself to take to heart. Can’t say that it worked.

Writing this is starting to lift the dark cloud, though, which is irritating. I don’t get to decide my own mood? Now I find myself fighting the impulse to stop feeling worthless. Which reminds me of lines in a Rilke poem quoted in a post by Franciscan priest Richard Rohr:

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.

That’s all for now.

Irritably yours,



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  • Gail Waters
    July 1, 2017 at 2:07 pm Reply

    For such a long time after Bruce had two heart attacks in St. Lucia and subsequent CABG-4 at Duke after mediflight back to States, I had a sensation of my life being suspended for an unknown period of time. All efforts were with his survival and rehabilitation.. when he was medically cleared, I had feeling of “hmmmm, what do I do with my life now”. One cannot pickup from where one left off, I,e , before the catastrophic event, nor can one invent a new life and purpose immediately. I also had a bit of waiting for the other shoe to drop! Getting comfortable with the new “normal” for me meant acknowledgement of the fragility of life, mine and all those around me. PS great about Bob’s checkup

    • Peggy Payne
      July 1, 2017 at 3:35 pm Reply

      Very wise, Gail. And having this trauma in St. Lucia! We’d just been in Iceland and I was so glad we were back in urban Apex when trouble struck. I’m glad Bruce got through it (you, too.)

    • July 2, 2017 at 3:02 am Reply

      So Glad it went well Gail! It’s equally tough on both spouses, I think, just different. And physical exhaustion is no more tiring than emotional and/or spiritual exhaustion. I’m pretty simple minded – when I’m tired I wanna’ rest, and if I rest hard, I figure I’m tired and need to replenish my reserves. These darn existential issues are always lurking around, at least as long as we’re alive, and Ive come to put a lotta’ belief in unconscious death anxiety – can’t get way from it, just hafta’ manage it best we can, bob

  • Renee
    July 1, 2017 at 3:06 pm Reply

    Dear Peggy! Try chocolate. Swear that helps all situations and moods. That being said, in all seriousness it’s just you rolling with the ebb-n-flow of the tides of life. And yeah, committing this via pen-to-paper (well, fingertips to keys nowa’days) does the soul a lot of good often times.

    • Peggy Payne
      July 1, 2017 at 3:36 pm Reply

      I did hit the Hershey’s Kisses after posting, Renee! Fingers-to-keys and fingers to the little silver wrappers are both a great help.

  • Amey Miller
    July 1, 2017 at 3:30 pm Reply

    Nice. Made me laugh. Not a belly laugh, of course. I have been there, and will be there again, all too soon. I like the quote. Carrying on, chopping wood, hauling water. . . Amey

    • Peggy Payne
      July 1, 2017 at 3:37 pm Reply

      I think the process of wringing a touch of humor out of something does help, Amey. I hope you won’t be there again any time soon. Good health to y’all!

  • Miller Sigmon
    July 2, 2017 at 1:04 am Reply

    Peggy…Step back..What is the basis of “worthless” ?????? “Failure”???? It’s in comparison to some unknown and amorphous standard…When I look at you I see a strong and talented writer .. a loving and devoted wife and daughter … and friend…with a professional career so many writers would envy… How can someone who gives so much to so many feel worthless..??? Whether love and support for family and friends..or the joy and insights you bring to your readers….This is not worthless …. this is your gift .. This is your “purpose”… This is why you get up each morning…..You’ve hit some bumps..but what you have to offer will transcend the stress and anxiety and fear of these past months…….You are going to be fine…Be patient…It takes time….

    • Peggy Payne
      July 2, 2017 at 1:12 am Reply

      Thanks for all these kind words, Miller! And I’ve recovered. Fourteen hours of sleep, some chocolate, some conversation on and off-line, and vacuuming did the trick. But I think there’s never a basis for a “worthless” mood, for me anyway; in that state of mind, logic and reason and evidence don’t count for a lot.

  • […] week I posted Feeling Worthless. That depressive dip passed within 24 hours, aided by 14 hours of sleep. Now I feel Very […]

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