Diary: First Day of Fishing Season Blues & How To Beat Them
*Written at the beginning of the 2022 season, yet still applies!
Today* is the first day of spiny lobster season in California, and I am currently writing to you from an empty house. The emotions are a mix of highs and lows, and although I am alone, I am not alone with my feelings because we get each other. (The number one way of getting through the weirdness is knowing there are plenty of POCFs who can relate!) With this in mind, here we go…
Our spiny lobster season started like this: I’ve been out of town for a week with family, and on my last day in NY, Chris texted that his deckhand had quit after only six days.
I panicked at the thought of Chris fishing alone but painstakingly calmed myself because there was absolutely nothing I could do. As a control freak, I tend to take over, and after seven years of being with a fisherman, I considered it my first step in a looooooong journey of letting go when it comes to Chris’s job. Instead of wigging, I said a prayer.
I get back to our house in California just before midnight on Monday. Chris left on Tuesday at four in the morning, and I haven’t seen him since. He’s expected for dinner tonight – no idea when – and maybe, if we’re lucky, a quick cuddle on the couch before he passes out to leave at four in the morning again.
We’re passing ships in the night; half-asleep kisses are the only real connection we’ve had. Although the spiny lobster fishery is local – compared to a very long distance when he fishes Bristol Bay, Alaska – the rush of a season creates a strange detachment that makes you feel miles apart even when you’re sleeping inches away.
Here’s a DM from a POCF in England who’s been through the same thing:
Although part of me looks forward to the quiet house the season brings, I sometimes trample over a hump to get there. I forgot about that hump until I noticed an empty space in the drive where his Sprinter usually sits, and a tinge of the blues sunk in.
Thankfully, over the years, I’ve learned to deal with it by reaching into my “don’t get depressed toolbox” and starting where I am. Here’s what I did that morning:
- I threw my routine out the window for the day and used that time to shake out the willies. For me, that was catching up on sleep. (My schedule is flexible because I work for myself, and I realize that’s not the case for everyone. Take a mental health day from work if that’s an option, treat yourself to lunch or coffee, or draw yourself a bath in the evening – look forward to something special that is all yours.)
- Next came a body scan. How do I feel physically, emotionally, and mentally? (Tired, a bit sad, a void.) I decide reading a book sounds helpful and do that for the next hour in bed. (Maybe for you, it’s cuddling the kiddos or fur babies a little longer. However you feel love, do it.)
- After reading, I still struggled a bit, so I put on a favorite dance tune to make the bed. This time it was Normani’s Motivation. Twerking ensued. Dancing like a mad woman ALWAYS seems to turn the day around. (What’s a favorite song that pumps you up? Please share in the comments below!)
- Yoga is my favorite way to get moving in the morning, but sometimes all I can muster is a quick stretch. Raise the arms overhead, slowly bend at the waist and hang there for a few breaths. This simple move decompresses the spine, gets the blood flowing, and helps quiet the monkey brain.
- Then I wrote out a schedule for the week (because a long list of “to-dos” can be overwhelming). I find it helpful to space out errands or projects through the week on paper, and it can be super inspiring to see what lies ahead. For example, I didn’t plan to work today, but I got inspired to write what you’re reading now because of that schedule. I would have started the next day, but here we are. Happy to see you. 🙂 If you like this idea, here’s a free calendar download to get started:
I spent the rest of the day unpacking from my trip, getting the house back in order (it wasn’t bad, but still, housework takes SO MUCH TIME!), laundry, meal prep, and embarrassingly watching reruns of Gossip Girl on HBO while I cooked dinner. (The old one from 2007, which I’ve never watched until now, and holy moly, it’s as cringe-y as Dawson’s Creek, and I am here for it!)
After all that, I’m feeling like myself again. Back into the routine of a POCF, doing the best they can for themselves and their household with many variables in the way.
The most significant mental health takeaway is to FOCUS ON YOUR FIRST, whether moving forward on a personal project or locking yourself away from the kids. This is not selfish; it is necessary for your well-being. You carry the household on your shoulders. If we don’t give ourselves a break, who will? (I’m telling myself this, too.) There is no one keeping tabs. YOU DO YOU, GIRL!
- Seriously, just five to ten minutes of personal time can fill your tank enough to feel like yourself again. Put that oxygen mask on first! Remember that this ship wouldn’t run without YOU!
I’m sure this sounds crazy to some, and others may think it’s not enough. Regardless, I encourage you to find what works because each season will bring familiar emotions that may seem foreign at times, but our resilience will emerge if we put ourselves first.
Happy fishing seasons to you and yours! WE’VE GOT THIS!
What’s your favorite “happy hack” when you’re feeling the blues? Please share in the comments below!
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If you liked this, you’d love Diary: What It’s Like to Ride Solo During a Fishing Season
*at the time of writing 10/5/2022. Feature image by Vladimir Tsokalo.