Yesterday’s post is an illustration of the Seasonal Cycle I’ve identified in myself. It’s a literary painting, in extreme, of the way I almost always feel the worst during the bleak months. I have never been diagnosed by a professional, so I am loathe to apply any kind of disorder or condition by name (and I really dislike it when other people do that, with all manner of psychological disorders).
To be more detailed about what it’s like for me – it’s not as though Spring and Summer are magically free of any sadness. In fact, I ride a roller coaster all year long… but when the sun is high I’m on the Kiddie Coaster. During Fall, I transition and climb the peak to the Mega Drop-Off of Winter’s Coaster of Malcontent and Despair.
I’m also not so deep in depression during my Winter Lows that John has to hide my razors. I am, for lack of a better term, a functioning depressive. I can smile, laugh, and force myself to do what it takes to get by from day to day. I can even fake it hard enough to make people fairly unaware. And beyond that, I have moments where I am content. They seem to flit by, and they are fewer and shorter than during the warm months, but they are there.
It’s the core of me that changes. It’s the ability to keep things flowing regularly. It’s the feeling inside my heart. It’s the blank stretches inside my head. It’s the drowning desire to lock myself in a closet and close my eyes more often than not. It’s a lack of motivation that was there before, an inability to care as much about myself and others. It’s having to force action rather than being propelled from within with ease.
At some point after Fall has begun, I just wake up one day and realize that I don’t care about anything in the same way as I did the day before.
And I have no desire to care, either.
This year, that happened to me last Thursday. I got up with Braden and came downstairs. Before we had breakfast, I opened the blinds in the living room and looked out at the leafless trees. Standing close to the glass that separated me from the icy chill outside, I felt the cold leaching through. It nipped at my arms, it taunted me. And my head just… went numb.
I blinked, staring out at the gray.
And I didn’t care. I didn’t want breakfast, I didn’t want to look at my computer, I didn’t want to sing songs with Braden, or call my husband. I didn’t want to want to and I didn’t care.
And my realization of the lack of motivation in my heart just sunk me. I think that every year, I hope as I climb the ladder that there will be an escalator at the top this time. Or an elevator. Or a jet-pack. Anything to keep me from sliding down again.
After breakfast, I got on my computer anyway, out of a sense of obligation (and because it is here that I search for something to buoy me, so often). And I did something I haven’t taken the time to do much at all in a long while – I actually opened my blog reader. (Yes, I’m a crappy blog reader when I get too wrapped up in deadlines. Which is always nowadays.)
And right around the same time I was hitting the top of that ladder, waiting for that icy push on the small of my back, I found something better than an escalator, an elevator, or a jet-pack.
Sometimes it’s inspiring enough to watch someone else beat The Slide that you start thinking maybe you can, too.
I may not grow wings of my own, but here’s to never giving up on the possibility.
All spring and summer long (but for bouts of the bitchiness I’m cursed with, both by Nature and Nurture) I spend my time climbing the ladder.
I kick my feet back into the air after each step up, with a little grinning head toss and a shimmying booty shake, as I climb up, and up and up. Is that a spicy little theme song playing?
I hum a song as I let the sun shine on my face, feeling that warmth.
I look up and see myself getting closer to the top as time passes, but mostly, the peak holds no meaning for me. Sometimes a memory tickles buttons in my mind, but the sun has permeated even there, and its rays push those memories into corners unreachable for now.
The smile on my face keeps spreading.
I still shake my booty and kick out my feet as I step up, up, up the ladder.
By the time it’s bleak and cold outside, I reach the top. There’s nowhere left to go.
I look down at the sleek, cold, metal of the slide and I shiver.
My smile starts to fade. I’m cold. The corners of my mind come alive with recognition of what’s happening.
As the wind blows through me, rattling my bones, I look around and can no longer find the light of the sun.
My teeth chatter.
Before long, a sudden gust of wind slaps a strong, icy hand into the small of my back and gives a malicious PUSH, and with a gasp, I tumble into the metal.
There are no sides to hold. There is no amount of scrambling that can stop my descent.
As if it matters… for as soon as my flesh makes contact with that metal, the cold seems to leach out of my very soul all desire to fight the obvious.
As my face falls slack, I quickly begin the long slide down for The Winter.
Emotionally, I’m flighty, prone to daydream. Victim to whim, impulsive. Gripped by a
logical mind but owned by a heart that believes in magic,
fiercely. Taken to believing in miracles. Wanting to see
past the black and white edges of things, searching for
the blur. I am between the lines, but not inside of the
box. If you look deep enough, you will see me peeking
back at you. When the wind blows, my body is fixed, but
my dreaming soul is caught easily, and stirred in that
direction. Moved by the ethereal, I often close my eyes
and imagine I can feel things that don’t touch me, hear
things that make no sound, and taste things depending
on their color.
This is the part of me that is squelched more and more nowadays. This is the nimble of spirit little nymph caught in the net of the goblin called Everyday Life As A Mother. I find myself thinking nothing but rational thoughts all day long, being practical over and over again until the day has gone and I had no time to even appreciate its beauty. I find myself lingering on the fantastic less and less until it’s hard to remember the person who used to do so with such ease it was as second nature as breathing.
Once upon a time, I regularly dreamed of flying because I fantasized about it daily. What would it be like, with the wind in your hair and no traffic to slow you or physical law to bind your body to the earth? It would have to be the ultimate liberation to lift off from the terra by will, to fly for real, instead of being trapped against the hard surface of the earth, unable to soar without mechanization. What the soul knows the body yearns to hold; longs to savor.
I bathed in the moonlight. I sat, wrapped in the glow, lost in my thoughts. I shared company with it – just me and Mr. Moon, white fire in the sky. Have you ever been alone under the moon, in a place where it is otherwise quiet and dark? I challenge you to isolate yourself thusly, and stare up into that great, white orb, inviting it to open itself to you. I dare you not to feel the beauty of its presence, not to sense the magic of it.
Thunder and lightening are thrilling… like musical theatre, they beg a rapt audience. How is it that any of us carry on with dull and dreary chores and errands while this is to be seen and heard? I used to celebrate such a show, no matter the time of day or night. When did sleep become more important? To be shamed.
And a rainstorm with no lightning… well that is clearly meant to be played in. Not hurried past or hidden from, not feared or hated or cause for curse. There was a time when I went outside on purpose when it was raining. My wet, dripping locks would sway and slap at my neck as I twirled, dancing in the rain. My muddy toes skipped under and past wet leaves as each saturated blade of grass tickled my soles for a second before I brushed past and onward. The smile never left my face.
I’m reflecting quite often, lately, on this person that I miss. Life happened, it crept up on her over time, and drew her away, so slowly that I didn’t even realize she was gone before she had been absent for too long.
I shall have her back.
I’ve always felt a little bit crazy.
When I was a kid, I thought I was “crazy” because I liked things that it seemed the majority of other kids around me didn’t like. I enjoyed reading, while they seemed to think it was a chore. I barely gave a thought to what my hair looked like. If it was clean? I was okay. I was more interested in climbing trees and building forts than making sure my hair smelled like Pantene. I didn’t always know what was “cool.” I didn’t always really care. I had a shirt that said, “Dare to be different.” I embraced that message. There was a tree branch on that shirt, and 4 owls perched from it. One was hanging upside down, and smiling. That was me.
In grade school, my friends told me I was “crazy” because I liked to act silly and question standards openly. If something funny occurred to me, I wanted to share it. I suppose it was already obvious back then that my “filter” had bigger holes than people thought it should. And my penchant for crass humor was already making itself known. Can’t imagine where I got that from. *shifts eyes to father* I cannot deny being called “the loud one.” Or even, “the annoying one.” Or maybe, “the OMG AVOID HER AT ALL COSTS one.”
In high school, I was always searching for something to make me feel right. All of a sudden, the “crazy” was more than just an oddity or a quirk. Something was missing. I asked myself often what it could possibly be. “Is it fun? Maybe I should not read so much anymore. Maybe I should do some smoking, some drinking, some partying. Maybe I should skip classes and flirt. Maybe it’s a boy that’s missing. I should get one of those, or two, or maybe three.” It all made me happy. Momentarily. But then none of it made me happy.
I pushed on into college and grad school. A young adult now, I was “crazy” silly to my friends, “crazy” ridiculous when I was drunk, and “crazy” bitchy and controlling to my boyfriend. Add in “crazy” anti-social during those times when I just wanted to be alone in my apartment. Which was often. I have always really enjoyed being alone. I think, maybe, because there is no pressure to hide exactly how one feels when alone.
No one is there to see how crazy you really are.
Over and over I’d have these periods when I felt that the “something” that would make me happy was always just a few steps ahead of me. And I kept chasing it, doing the things I thought I was supposed to do, following the plans that I was supposed to make and follow through with.
Every day, going through the motions. Hiding the anger I had at people as much as I could, pushing it down most of the time. Hiding the tears, hiding the sadness. Pushing on. Past the crazy.
My outward “crazy” was manageable. When the anger seeped, it was mostly rants that had a humorous edge. If they stung a little more sometimes than others, I could usually cover with follow-up humor. I never started fights, never hurt anyone physically. But the anger was always there. The sadness was always lingering just below the surface, too. Humor is often a cover for so many things, did you know?
“Just be funny. Just be ‘crazy.’ Then they won’t know you’re… well, crazy.”
Taking just a few more steps. To try to catch The Happy. And a few more, and a few more.
I put all my hopes into the things I thought would make me happy… my jobs, my studies, my boyfriend.
That was unfair of me.
No one can carry such a burdon for someone else.
That was unfair to me.
Because when you put all of your hopes for happiness into something else, or someone else, and then they fail you…
[And they WILL fail you because nothing can make you happy, and no-one is your perfect answer.]
… all you have left is the crazy. And you might try to get away from that, too, in the only way you know how.
Funny thing is, if you survive that, you might somehow still push it down and keep on taking a few more steps. Thinking that you can still chase down that happiness all by yourself.
I’ve denied to myself that I need help. I’ve told myself that I don’t really feel crazy. Not really.
I’ve kept telling myself that “The Happiness” is just. around. the. next. corner.
“I just need to take a few more steps!”
But for the first time in my life, now that I’ve been a mother for almost two years, I do feel like I’m actually crazy sometimes.
People: there’s this little person who’s running around in my house and he needs me all the time.
Even when I need to be alone with my crazy, he needs me. When I’m feeling distant, when I’m feeling weak… He’s there. And he needs me.
And he needs me to not be crazy. But he’s not giving me time to take a few. more. steps!
Somehow, that is making the crazy that wasn’t Really Crazy, you know, the one that I could just push down and ignore? It’s making that crazy grow. The angry crazy is leaking out when he needs me, and when he doesn’t, the quiet, sad crazy is taking over.
For myself, I’m afraid of the latter.
For him, I’m afraid of the former.
Why? Because every moment I need to myself, he is there. Every toy has to be slammed into my face. Abruptly, he will run up and scream right in my ear. For No Reason. He dances around because he has to pee, but when I put him on the toilet, he looks down at his penis, grins, and then shakes his head, “No-No-No-No.”
30 seconds later, he is peeing on my coffee table.
Some days, I am amused. This is what being a mother is about, right? This is what kids are supposed to do!
I know this. And some days, I cope with it all brilliantly. Some days.
But other days, I honest to goodness have to fight the urge to slam my fist through a window, fling dishes into the wall, or God Forbid, throw my son out the door or scream in his face.
And I’m not speaking in silly exaggerations. I am not trying to color my words so they will be interesting. I am not trying to spice up the page. I literally fight the Real Life Urge to ACTUALLY do those things.
So far, I’m winning, but it would only take one weak moment for me to lose something I may never get back. That frightens me in a way I don’t know how to express.
I cannot stress to you how much I would never, never, never want to hurt my son. I love him abundantly. I give all of myself to keep him safe and happy, every day. And still, I feel that I fail him repeatedly, because I have raged at him in my mind so many times. In my mind, I am a monster.
And sure, sometimes I raise my voice, even yell, and I’ve thrown a toy down or walked out of the room when I couldn’t take it anymore. Will those things hurt my son? It doesn’t seem like it, if you take any one of those instances by itself. But a lifetime of memories filled with those instances, for my son? I don’t want that.
I want him to remember me as the owl who hung upside down. Not the one who came screeching at his face with its claws out, or hid behind its tree and cried all the time.
It’s time for me to admit that I need more than prayers, extra sleep, or a place to write about my feelings. It’s time for me to admit that I need help, and seek it out.
I can’t keep chasing after a happiness that eludes me, always a few steps ahead of where I am. I cannot keep trying to hold inside an anger that makes my chest tight and often seeps and leaks out, hurting others. I cannot keep denying that I am exactly who I am, and that’s okay. It’s okay if I’m crazy. It’s okay if I need help.
I don’t know exactly what kind of help I need, but I’m hoping the doctor I make an appointment with will have some idea. I’m hoping I don’t just get dismissed again, like I have in the past. I’m hoping that with all my heart.
Do you think it just might work out?
I’m almost afraid to believe that.
It makes me feel a little bit crazy.
As a part of Braden’s bedtime routine, we cuddle him in his rocking chair for about 15 minutes while a lullabye CD plays.
For the past week, he has taken to removing his Paci (aka The Evil One) and flinging it across the room during that cuddle time. This is a significant pain in the ass, because it requires us to forage for the damn thing in the dark and give it back to him. Another fine trick he enjoys is throwing it across the room from his crib after he has been put to bed and then screaming for it. It’s like Parental Unit Remote Control.
On Wednesday night, after having been told several times not to do that, he executed the Paci Throw during cuddle time again. I said, “No more Paci! Bye-bye, Paci!” and made the decision that I was going to take his hint, and leave the Paci on the floor. I figured, this would be the beginning of the all important Paci Wean… or at least teach him a hard lesson for one night. (When Momma says don’t do something? Don’t do it, ya little Punk!)
He fidgeted a lot, and made lots of sucking sounds. He cried when I put him in his crib and left the room. I braced myself for Armaggedon. He complained a little bit and then he went to sleep. SCORE.
He woke up in the middle of the night, crying. I feared the worst. I envisioned hours of consolation and finally succumbing to Paci Return. I entered the room, turned on his lullabyes, and patted his back. He went back to sleep. DOUBLE SCORE.
Thursday afternoon… successful nap without Paci! OMG, WE’RE DOING IT!
Then Thursday evening… upstairs AC died. Just below 90 degrees upstairs. All hell broke loose. He was hot, he was crying, he could.not.sleep. Long story short? The Evil One had to be administered.
Friday afternoon – nap without Paci attempted. OH, THE TRIBULATION. After holding him for over 30 minutes and trying to soothe him while he cried so hard that he made snot bubbles and started choking, I gave the damn thing to him again. He fell right asleep. I spoke curses unto all Pacis everywhere.
As I write this, he is trying to fall asleep on Friday night without the Paci.
He has been crying for almost an hour. I have distinctly heard, “Mammaaa” amidst the wails more than once. Can you hear that tearing sound? That’s my heart ripping in two.
He is beginning to sound frantic.
And I am torn. Do I let him get past this hump and fall asleep, enduring the pain of separation and anxiety that he is clearly feeling? Or do I go in there right now and end his suffering by giving him his beloved comfort item?
I am pretty darn tough about a lot of things, but I am not made of stone, people.
That child finds the maleable part of my heart without effort and bends it to his will.
Now I’m going in there. I’m either going to give him his Paci, comfort him to sleep, or fling him out the window. I am really not sure which.
I held out for 15 more minutes, b/c his wails were decreasing in intensity.
*strips naked and runs around the room laughing, madly… but QUIETLY*
LOTUS: 4, PACI: 2
- Crayons are stored in a closeable box, and said box is kept out of child’s reach.
- Child may have crayons and drawing paper if it is requested.
- Child may draw only on paper with crayons.
- Child with crayons must be supervised at all times.
- I repeat: When child has crayons, you must stay in the room and supervise crayon use.
- At no time may child be allowed to wander away from paper while still holding crayon.
- If child has crayon(s) in hand, child must stay in room with you.
- Seriously. CHILD MAY NOT LEAVE ROOM OR YOUR SUPERVISION WHEN IN POSSESSION OF CRAYON(S).
- When child becomes bored with drawing, crayons are placed in box, box is closed and placed out of reach.
What it means to have a Daddy who doesn’t understand
what it means to be a Crayon Nazi, by Braden Carroll:
Yup. John let Braden wander out of supervision with a green crayon.
The only thing John had going for him was that this happened when he left the room to do laundry.
For future reference – You can do almost no wrong if you are doing laundry for me.
Besides, I should really be touched that, of all the things he could have drawn on the kitchen wall, Braden chose to do a rendering of me and my glorious rack. Look at the photo of his scribbles again and see if you can isolate the stick figure with the nice bust. He’s talented.
HEY! Speaking of Racks! Don’t forget to send me a photo of your BEWBS or your PECS to enter the contest to be the next stop for The Travelling T-Shirt! Read THIS POST to find out about how you can join the fun and win a chance at a cash jackpot.
Because every time something reminds me of the time when I lived there, my chest aches.
I miss you, Austin.
I miss the friends I made there. I miss the guy for whom all food is Mexican. I miss the redhead with the unruly toddler who asked me, “did you smell my toot?” I miss the die-hard bargain shopper who loves all things lemon and tea. I miss the guy who showed me “too many colors!” I miss the kitchen ninja who made my hair become strands of many hues. I miss that lovely blonde girl who autographed my boobie. I miss the unruly, late-night-TC-eating, prankster. I miss she of the ripped skirt. I miss them all.
I miss hating, loving, and being challenged by my job. I miss my bosses, my employees, and my customers. (I also kind of don’t miss my bosses or my customers. There were moments, okay?) I miss late night floor changes that made me want to rip my face off, followed by late night drinking with co-workers, where I generally laughed what was left of my face off. I miss being late to work, because it meant I had a schedule. I miss being a part of the outside world.
I miss Pastor Jeff and his Hawaiian shirts. I miss how he looks kind of like Phil Jackson, but in a cuddly, teddy bear way. I miss being a greeter at church and holding the door for people. I miss the feeling of being in the place where I was baptised.
I miss our large dog in the backyard who used to chew pieces of our house off when he got bored. I miss the way he was over 100lbs, but The Mexican, at 5lbs, was in charge of him. Because he was a gentle giant. I miss how when we first got them both as puppies, they drove me crazy until I thought I would rip all my hair from my head. I miss the way they used to play together and bring me endless joy.
I miss giggling like a school girl, but then kind of throwing up in my mouth a little, as we passed by Hippie Hollow on our way to other spots along Lake Travis. I miss playing at the lake all day and then sipping a margarita on the deck of The Oasis. I miss feeling sun drunk and heady, sitting on that deck, set into the side of the cliff, as I stared into John’s eyes while the sun set over the water right below us. I miss the way they used to ring the bell right at the moment the sun slipped below the horizon, and how everyone in the whole place clapped.
I miss celebrating the sunset with strangers.
I miss living in the house we owned together… young, careless, stupid. I miss late-night partying and reckless behavior. I miss deciding to sleep until noon, just because it felt so cuddly in his embrace. I miss going out just for doughnuts at 2am if we felt like it. I miss taking my youth for granted. I miss being carefree.
I miss my garden. I miss being able to dig up whatever part of the yard I damn well pleased and plant anything my heart desired there. I miss the lime tree I planted just so that I’d never have a Corona in my hands that lacked a lime. I miss living where a lime tree would actually thrive.
I miss Taco Cabana. Whataburger. Kerbey Lane. CHUYS. (I would kill a man with my bare hands right now for that creamy jalapeno dip.)
I miss this guy quite a lot:
I miss bare-foot weather 361 days of the year and more blue skies with puffy clouds than you can dream.
I miss the way you look, the way you feel, and who I was when I was with you, Austin.
I could go on, but what’s the point, really?
I miss you, Austin.
I wonder if you miss me.
Several nights ago I was sitting in the dark of Braden’s room; he was cradled in my arms, breathing quietly. As we slowly swayed back and forth in the rocking chair together, lullabyes playing peacefully on the CD player, my mind jumped back and forth. It climbed mountains torturously, then lept off of the summits and plummited into the valleys below. My face was slack, but my thoughts rumbled and tumbled below the surface while I felt the warm, soft life in my embrace cuddle deeper into sleep.
Suddenly, I burst out crying. Crying for the tiny life that I wasn’t able to hold onto in this way. I sobbed – quietly, so as not to disturb Braden – for a few long moments. Then I placed him in his crib and left the room. As suddenly as it had come upon me, the weeping was gone.
It’s been like that for weeks now. Since the miscarriage.
The extreme dichotomy of my feelings and thoughts lately has been a confusion at times, to me. At others, it has made no less than perfect sense. See what I mean?
I was pregnant one day. Then, suddenly, I wasn’t.
Riding the rollercoasters at this Carnival From Hell that no woman wants to go to, but that is packed full of people, nonetheless, has been strange.
Some days, hearing about how many others have gone through this, multiple times, even, is a great comfort. I am actually incredibly buoyed by the scores of other women who feel somewhat betrayed by their bodies, or maybe even by God. By women who have experienced this same thing and are floating alongside me in this sea of uncertainty.
It means that I am not really standing out in the middle of a barren wasteland, alone, while a relentless wind tears and rips at my exposure ravaged limbs, muffling my cries and carrying them silently away into the vast nothingness surrounding me, where they will mean nothing and no one will ever respond to them.
Instead, at every bend, there are arms ready to pull me close, hugging me and imparting comfort and understanding; a place to cry and grieve and heal.
But on those other days, the “bad” ones, if this has happened to you? I want to pretend like you don’t exist. I don’t want to hear about what you’ve gone through. I especially don’t want to know that it has happened to you 2, 4, or 7 times. I don’t want to think about how sad it is that this happens all the time, multiple times to some women. And I really don’t want to think about how this could so easily happen to me again.
Then, the very next day, I probably want to run to you and make you hold me again.
(Please, if you shared these things with me, don’t be offended, and please don’t stop sharing. Please. This is the nature of the beast – while I sometimes want to pretend you don’t exist – I still find I need you! Just read the first part I wrote about it up there^! I just have a need to be really honest with myself and others about the dichotomy of my feelings right now, and this is part of it. If you have been through this, you will likely understand.)
The split, this back and forth, doesn’t end there, though. Ohhh, no. There is so much more.
Some days, I look forward to trying to have another child at some point. I think about a sibling for my son, a tiny baby to love and coo over, another dimension to our family. I think about the joy of being pregnant, meeting a new life, and discovering how another personality will fit into our home.
Other days, I am terrified at ever being pregnant again. I shrink away from thoughts of what it will be like to have another positive pregnancy test. Instead of bursting at the seams with Joy and Bliss like I did the past two times, I imagine that I will feel incredibly Anxious and Fearful.
I mourn the death of the joy that should accompany that positive test, and I imagine the fear and sorrow that will replace it – as well as the paranoia. I imagine it, and I feel a great sense of avoidance.
I picture a future pregnant me waiting to see blood every.time.I.urinate. And I can’t imagine being able to shoulder the endless stress that will inevitably invoke.
Some days, I feel strong and whole. Some days I actually feel more alive than before. I feel more passionate about living and doing and being. I feel more grateful and in awe of the life that courses through my veins, and that resonates through the bodies of my son and my husband.
Other days, I feel more vulnerable and fragile than ever. I feel more fearful and worried about the delicate nature of life – not just early life, either – any life. I feel guarded and over-protective about my son on those days. I feel anxious and worried about my husband. I feel scared. Terrified, even.
Some days, I take comfort in knowing that my baby is in Heaven. God wanted one of ours next to Him. I feel the complete peace that is, as a lovely friend of mine so eloquently said, knowing my baby will live for eternity never having to experience sadness.
But most days, I just want my baby back. And I feel selfish. (But it doesn’t stop me from wanting that.)
In fact, some days I want my baby back so bad that it really doesn’t matter to me one way or the other that I can probably have another child eventually. Hearing that does not really comfort, on those days. Because I don’t want another one. As John can tell you, because I’ve said it to him multiple times already, I just want back the baby I already had. I was feeling this so strongly one night that I just cried into my pillow, feeling guilty and selfish and immature. And whenever someone has said that to me… that I can have more… I have secretly been angry. Because you would never say that to me if Braden died. And this baby was no less my child than is he!
Then I read that I’m not the only one who feels this very way.
And it must have been a good day, because I felt a bit vindicated, and took comfort in that.
Proof that I need to hear all these things that you all have to say.
I’ve never wanted to get off a Carnival Ride so badly. I’m just ready to fall asleep in the car on the way home, you know?
And more than anything, I hate knowing that while I’m riding, the damn contraption is going to keep stopping over and over again to let, no, force new passengers on.
All I can hope for is that I’ll have something to say that will comfort them.
On the not so bad days, of course.