Adrift In The Space of The Hardest Year


The thought occurs to me I’m broken.

It’s still a little dusky light out, and I’m lying in bed with my daughter, who’s already asleep.  Tears slide down my cheeks as they usually do at this time of day.  It’s become somewhat of a ritual. My crepuscular cry. 

It pisses me the fuck off.

I’ve never cried so much in my life.  It’s dumb.  It feels shitty.  Crying is supposed to make you feel better.  It’s science. It releases good chemicals in your brain. I tell my clients all the time about the beautiful and sacred purpose of tears. All. The. Freaking. Time. But it never fails to make me feel like a failure and a fraud and just so fatigued.

It’s been a hard year.  Probably the hardest.

I feel I have some sort of obligation to buy space in a newspaper and print a public apology to anyone who has known me over the past year.  I’ve been a horrible train wreck of a human.  I’ve been messy and loud and weird.

If you all could have known me a couple years ago, I want to say.  If you had known me then.  Those were the good days.  Those were the times I bore some semblance to normal, when I could contain my Self better.

That was when I was at my old job.  With E. just two doors down from me every day for years and years.

Those were the days when E. would leave me random clippings from the New York Times Sunday paper on my desk at work.  She’d cut out stuff she thought I’d find interesting.  I remember one about the healing power of fairy tales.  

The memory of these flimsy papers brings a fresh wave of grief crashing down over my head.  I’d read them and think of something pithy to say in return, then travel the five paces to her door to chat with her.

Those were the days when I was witty and reformed.  If you had only known me then. Sure, I had my rough times, plenty of them.  But I wasn’t broken.  Not like I am now.

Changing jobs was really difficult in ways I never could have predicted, but I think I could have adapted a hell of a lot better if I hadn’t had the sudden trauma of E. up and dying on me last October.

It’s not just work and death. It’s motherhood and marriage and financial instability. It’s never having enough time or energy to brush my children’s hair and feed them breakfast. It’s all the piles of things that make me want to curl up in bed and daydream for three hours. 

All the things. They have broken me. 

The thought occurs to me that I might not ever get fixed again.

I blame a lot on E. and maybe that’s not fair. But seriously…  

E.’s death changed me.  I kept thinking I would trudge through the grief and get to the other side and things would “get back to normal” and I would “feel like myself again.”  That doesn’t seem to be the case.  I think E.’s death altered me at a molecular level, shifted my DNA in ways I won’t be able to figure out how to switch back.

The light is fading and I’m so tired.  I consider falling asleep next to my daughter, but there is still a lot of laundry to do, coffee to set up for the morning, and messages to return to friends.  

I think about going to work this week and my heart starts to race.  I think about the stack of bills lying in wait on my desk and my stomach lurches. I’m no longer sleepy.

I try to think about how my five year old daughter rode her bike with no training wheels for the first time this weekend, and how my nine year old has his first band concert this week in which he will play the trumpet.  What brilliant triumphs!  

You see, I’m not a total Debbie Downer.  I still get blissed out by these every day miracles.  Life still has color and flavor and lots of sound.  I take every opportunity I can to indulge in rampant laughter.

But mostly I’m adrift inside myself, lost in the space within me.  I’m like an astronaut, untethered from her rocket and running low on oxygen, uncertain what will happen next. 

It’s a scary image.  I think of calling someone up and telling someone about it, but I can’t reach out because that is even scarier.

I’d like to go and sit in the grass with E. and talk to her. It is one of the only places where I feel at peace these days, and sometimes I feel frustrated when I can’t get there, but the thought occurs to me that you can’t live your life in a cemetery.

I roll onto my back and look up into the darkness of my daughter’s room.

I’ve stopped crying.

I know I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and panic at the brackish taste in my mouth. My mind will race back over all the things I said throughout the previous day and will try to remember if I said anything gravely wrong or damning to anyone. 

I’ll get up and brush my teeth. I’ll look at my reflection and think it’s so weird to be up brushing my teeth at three in the morning, but it’ll ground me enough to go back to bed for a couple more hours. 

I’m sorry I’m such a mess. I’m sorry I’m so much. I’m sorry I’m so disorganized and self absorbed. I’m sorry. 

I think that’s why I tend to drift away. I get big and crazy and too intense and then feel the need to take myself somewhere else. 

It’s been a hard year and I’m broken and I might not be fixable as I drift farther and farther away from things I thought I knew. 


7 responses »

  1. Dear Charlotte, Wishing you well. You are having a hard time of it. Trouble is, your children will feel it too. Can you use some therapeutic techniques like breathing light, getting enough exercise, toning down your work load, perhaps attending widow’s group or not, if it’s a lot of extra crying you don’t need. I feel for you. I also feel for your kids. I wonder if you can think of them and how much they love you and want to see you happy? Yes it is hard, perhaps impossible especially if you see yourself as broken. Maybe you have hit bottom and the only place to go is up. Maybe you are being hard on yourself, expecting too much. Maybe you need to sit in the present moment and look around you at what is right with your world. Yes, you are depressed however you don’t have to stay with that experience every minute. Just some thoughts. Ultimately the only person who can help you feel better is you. I hope you can do that for yourself and for your children. Wishing you every joy, even if joy seems far away, It might be closer than you think. Tasha

    • Hi Tasha. Thanks for your heartfelt and compassionate words. I always appreciate your comments. I do want to reassure you that my kids are fine. This post was reflecting some moments in time for me, not my life as a whole. Blogging and writing is one of the ways I care for myself and allow myself to accept and acknowledge difficult emotions in a safe and creative manner. Because I tend to feel things big, my writing is often indicative of that which is where this post went. Writing posts like this is highly therapeutic for me. Writing is self care for me. I also do exercise and listen to music and do lots of other things that I just didn’t write about here. You might also note that when I said I was broken there wasn’t really any judgement attached to it. I was sort of attempting to open to the feelings and sit with and accept them. I do realize there is a lot right with the world and my kids bring me a lot of joy, but there is no denying that my reality as a working mom is also very stressful. I’m doing my best to manage that stress. While I’ve experienced grief and depression and anxiety, my children have been maybe only minimally affected by it, if that. With them I am a mom who is a goof ball but also instills discipline and consistency. I believe I model that having feelings is okay and that we can manage feelings in healthy ways. Plus if I really need time out, I have an amazing support system of people who love and care for me and my family. This is all here it just wasn’t in the post because it wasn’t really what I meant for the post to be about. I just wanted to thank you and reassure you.

  2. One breath at a time. This isn’t forever, it’s just right now. I thinks it’s heartbreakingly beautiful that you’re showing the honest horrible side of grief & you don’t shy away from all of the real feelings. The feelings most don’t wanna share or have the courage to share.
    This isn’t forever, it’s just right now. You will find your way through this.

    • Hi and hugs. Thanks so much for reading and for your comment. Yeah you make perfect sense. Thanks for resonating with me on this. It’s important to talk about. Xoxoxo.

  3. Pingback: The Kids Are Alright. . . I Just Have a Lot of Feelings | momaste

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