I walked yesterday with someone I trust more than anyone in this world and she said, “but you’re feeling better? it seems like you’re feeling better.”
And I lied. I can’t think of when I’ve ever really lied to her. I laughed and I said yes, lots, like it wasn’t an issue any more because I’m afraid she’ll get tired of me if I tell the truth. Plus, the truth is so boring. Actually, I feel sick and sad and anxious all the time and I don’t understand why. I was fine three weeks ago. I keep trying to get back there in my head, but it’s kind of like reversing time. It doesn’t work that way. I keep waiting for it to go away. I keep trying to find the source. The two year anniversary of our baby’s death? That hurts like hell, but not in this crazy, irrational way. I’ve come to terms with that grief and it’s a part of me. I’ve poured so much love into the five little boys who have spent a little or a lot of time in our home since, and it’s made a huge difference for me (and hopefully for them too). A relationship I trusted went very, very sour six months ago, maybe before that, though I didn’t know it, and it hurts, of course, and I’ve tried to examine myself and accept my part in it, and I’ve let it go, but in my newly acquired less-than-completely-stable emotional state I keep running up against this hard, awful knot of fear that other friendships I treasure have unseen fault lines. Things I normally never even think about. That an unreturned text is a sign of intentional distance. That someone I’ve called nearly daily for seven years, without thinking, would rather I didn’t.
I’ve always been an anxious person and an insomniac – I spent weeks in law school stressing about failing instead of studying – so a week without sleep and a little repetitive inside-my-head craziness seemed fine. Normal even. Three weeks not so much. I started to react to things in a weird way, to have to talk myself down. I took a depression test a few days ago and the score was a little shocking. I mocked it. Really? Severe. Um, run that again, bitch, I said I DO NOT feel hopeless, I DO enjoy my life, I get out of bed every morning and make lunches and I like it. Well, fuck that, I hate packing lunches with an intensity normal reserved for child molesters, but so does every single sane mother on the planet so score one for sanity and we are not counting those bento box mothers who make animals out of carrots and beets because everyone hates them.
The test was all, um significant change in sleep patterns? weight loss? feeling guilty about normal things? loss of interest in activities you use to enjoy? unexplained crying? Does any of this ring a bell? You answered the damn questions, dumbass.
Keep it up, and I’m going to hit the little “x” button on your questions, stupid.
So basically, I was now in an unhealthy internal dialog with a depression website, in case you are wondering just how crazy we’d gone here.
ANYWAY. The thing that’s fascinating to me – and sad – is how we lie. I have incredible friends who love me and have reached out to me and 9 times out of 10, I fake it. I wonder how many times when I’ve asked someone I love if they are okay and heard an easy laugh in response has it been untrue? I think part of that is natural maybe even necessary, there’s only so much other people can do no matter how much they care. At some point, you have to laugh and enjoy spending time with people or I do because otherwise I’ll just lie awake all night feeling bad about how not-fun I was A-GAIN.
I try to breathe slow, push the thoughts I know are crazy-anxiety lies away, and focus on some truths that help me. Brene Brown’s statement that shame is fear of disconnection. Kent Hoffman’s ideas that everyone needs to be delighted in. That we are hard-wired for connection, not judgment. That mindfulness is being present in a given moment with empathy for yourself and others. I believe these things and when we close our eyes and hold out our hand despite the fear, I’ve always found there is someone there to take it.
This may be a case of there being the proverbial season for everything. I seem to be having a little dance with sadness and irrational, insecure thinking, but it’s mostly good for me, I imagine. I’m not sure I’ve always noticed when others are in this space.
Fortunately, insomnia and sadness can’t stop little boys from turning nine. They can’t stop the leaves from turning the exact same color as his hair.
They can’t stop Xavier from taking his first stiff-kneed steps. They can’t stop Hampton Noodle from trying to get underneath the dining room table with his post-surgery inner tube around his neck, which is so funny to Xavier that I dare you not to laugh. They can’t stop sweater weather (UNFORTUNATELY) or the first fire in our fireplace. They haven’t stopped our daughter from having a smart mouthed retort to every single word I say (though they have caused me to consider throttling as a possible solution a few times). They can’t stop the school bus from rolling around the corner every morning and they can’t stop me from watching Nate, little Kindergartner Nate, climb those big school bus steps with such confidence like he owns that damn school bus, while the lights flash and I hold my coffee tight on our damp front porch and cry because his legs are so little and the steps are so big and all the traffic in the whole entire world stops until the orange arm folds in and the lights turn off and he drives away in the belly of the bus to a whole day without me.
That’s the truth. What have you lied about lately?