This is science:
I read that for years,
after a miscarriage,
of the deceased fetus
in the mama,
having crossed a barrier
with her tissue,
and altering her own
body in ways of which
she may not
or ever understanding.
So it is
This is science.
So it is.
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.
What a fucking crock of shit.
Do you remember those “Chose Your Own Adventure” books from when we were in fourth or fifth grade?
They were these young reader books where you’d get to the end of a chapter and if you wanted to take the character to a cave to fight a dragon it would tell you to flip to a certain page, and if you wanted the character to get in a boat and sail off someplace, you’d be instructed to go to a different page.
As I got in the shower, and reflected on Mother’s Day, I thought how motherhood is sort of like a Chose Your Own Adventure book.
I thought this because I thought “Mother’s Day; what a fucking crock of shit.”
And then the guilty little people pleaser in me poked me in the ribs and said meekly, “But you should be so grateful! It really wasn’t all bad! Why don’t you just chose to think it was nice?”
It’s true. Overall it was a nice day. I felt loved and cared for, managed to please my own mother and my mother in law (nailed it!), and had good laughs among family. My children made me gifts and delighted me by creating beautiful cards for their grandmothers.
I got sweet, supportive texts from dear friends. I felt recognized by my husband who pulled out all the stops with four bottles of incredible wine, flowers, and a balloon. A balloon you guys! I got a freaking balloon!! I mean, how does life get any better than that?
If you want your character to chose gratitude and happiness, and to enjoy and be thankful for what she has, please turn to page 42 where she lives happily after.
Learning to chose the way you think about things is an important step in recovery from anxiety and depression. I know this as both a mental health professional, and as someone who has experienced anxiety and depression. When we are able to recognize our negative thoughts and rework them into something more positive and helpful, it often creates a more positive and helpful feeling space in us.
And when we feel better, we behave better. We get along better with our spouses and friends. We have more energy for negotiating with the little people in our lives.
So, as I lathered my hair with amazing-smelling coconut shampoo, I tried out some different thoughts about Mother’s Day and I wondered why my initial impulse was to be so negative about it.
Why am I always so negative anyway? I must really suck at life. I’m probably going to be rejected by all my friends and family because I’m such a Debbie Downer. Why can’t I ever just be joyful and super positive about stuff? What the hell is wrong with me? Oh. My. Gee.
It’s cuz I’m depressed you guys. That’s why.
I have been for a while. I’ve been ignoring it and working around the super high anxiety that makes me feel like I’m crawling out of my skin one moment and paralyzed with fear the next. I’ve been isolating and only talking to a few people in my life. I’ve had minimal energy to be with friends and family.
I’ve written almost nothing in the past few months because I’ve had so little energy and almost no joy.
Some of it, I suppose, is chemical- my genetic lot in life.
A lot of it is situational.
Work has been super stressful for me. I’m burnt out and experiencing a fairly intense compassion fatigue which doesn’t leave me with much of an empathy cushion for family or social life.
My son’s behavioral issues have been amped up lately and this creates exhaustion and a keen sense of failure as a parent which plays into my depression like a lyrical melody.
I’m also preparing for my daughter to graduate from preschool. While this is a joyful and exciting time and we are so proud, it also brings into focus a new era for which I am simply not feeling prepared.
Then there is preparing for the summer. As a working mom, arranging all the moving parts of summer camps, transportation, child care, etc. is hugely nerve wracking for me. Not to mention a drain on our finances.
Oh, also my mentally ill brother has gone missing again which never fails to throw my family into emotional upheaval.
I’m not sleeping well, so I’m perpetually tired. My body hurts. About 67% of the time I’m too stressed to eat so my blood sugar is wonky and I’m grouchy.
And because I’m already feeling emotionally fragile, every other little thing that goes wrong sets me off like a firecracker.
It’s hard for me to admit this. I actually hate the sound of my own voice in my head as I peck it all out into this post.
It’s hard for me to admit my negative thoughts about Mother’s Day when I should just be fucking grateful.
But you guys, it’s all so hard. It’s all just so fucking hard.
No one ever told me it would be this hard. Or maybe they did. . . maybe somewhere in my memory there is a shadowy recollection of my own mother’s bedraggled face dragging herself in at the end of a working day and trying to get dinner on the table. Maybe she did try and tell me. But let’s be honest, even if someone had told me, I would not have believed them, because if any of us believed such a thing we would never procreate. Our species depends on the very suspension of that disbelief.
I guess what I am trying to say is that it is all well and good to chose your thoughts and mood and destiny. It’s great. I respect it.
But sometimes the adventures of motherhood chose us and flip us into a cave where it is dark and dank and unpleasant. When you’re sitting there face to face with the dragon of your depression and your heart is thumping away at a resting rate of 150 beats per minute, it is really hard to have a cohesive thought, let alone a positive one of your own choosing.
If your character looks up at the dragon and says, “Hey there, guy. What’s up?” go to page 74 where you will work on acknowledging the shit out of your self worth even on your shittiest day and then eat a taco.
Yeah. This isn’t my character’s first trip to the cave. So I know the least helpful (albeit most tempting) thing to do is to put myself down for being depressed.
I also know that probably the first thing I need to do is look up at that dopey dragon and acknowledge he’s there, lurking and looming like he wants to devour me. He’s scared of eye contact and he gets a little smaller every time I call him by his name.
It’s all hard, guys, and sometimes holidays can highlight what feels like flaws and make things seem really raw and painful. Part of healing starts with choosing to make room for all those feelings rather than shaming myself for feeling them.
i would tell you how
all the petals
look like pink butterflies
and i would despise myself
for stating something
so obviously trite,
but you would not despise me.
The pearls of goat cheese in my salad
as did the chilled progression
of wine, glass after glass sliding
past the back of my throat.
Wandering the galleries pleased me.
I spoke with no one,
that pleased me too.
I touched a sculpture
(no one saw me tweak a nipple, then
twirl my finger in a navel)
and this made me feel
most myself, smiling sly with pleasure.
Degas hissed misogyny,
and Matisse blathered on
about the female form being
reduced to a few lines
and a bowl of fish.
I found you nowhere,
stumbled over my skirt
and lost my breath,
the heat of which was potentially
damaging to a collection
of rare photography.
A docent raised an awkward eyebrow,
asked if he could help
and I sobbed I needed to find
space in wich my heart
That last part didn’t happen.
This is what happened:
I thought I felt your shadow
in a hall of human degredation,
and tried to chase after you,
but instead I found Buddha
sitting in his lotus.
He looked so damn pleased
with himself I wanted to slap him
because I realized I was so alone
and I would not find you
and this displeased me.
I still tell you
all my secrets
sitting in the grass
at your feet
like a child.
I tell you other things
as well; how the birds
are popping in and out
of the house you gave us.
I want to see the softness
in your eyes
as I whisper I’m unravelling.
Please do not tell a soul.
My heart hurts so bad,
don’t you know?
Your eyes closed to me
and to the birds
and I am just a pile of stuff,
thread and twine with which
they might make their nest.
Not even a ribbon,
or anything silk
Someone suggested I ask
you to come to me
in a dream,
before I go to sleep.
But didn’t I do that?
Haven’t I pleaded
for dead not to be
I think now, the most
for which I might hope
is that I be plucked up
in a beak and carried off
to be woven into
someone else’s secret.
Written as part of the WordPress daily prompt.
stained by rain
i find myself fierce.
was all i had left of you
and if the moon and stars
hide from me
i am perfectly untethered,
feral, snarling in grief
at occluded sky.
it does not feel like freedom.
certainly, i could dance
or run or find the velvet lining
of a dream in which
i might learn to fly–
how might that feel to rub my skin
against the nap of night?
i do not care enough
to wonder or move,
but find my response is to
freeze, tilt my face up,
bare my teeth to the rain
and then fall back, stained
darker with wet in darkness.
tame, i whimper,
a star, a star.
Posted as part of the WordPress daily prompt. https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/denial/