A better morning could not be had if I’m looking for perspective. The cold has crept into the air and settled into the once warm ground, bringing a fog that hangs tightly at all corners. The best weather for web spotting. The dew hangs on the delicate strands, adorning the bare twigs and branches with strands of diamonds. It illuminates the meanderings and hard work of the spiders that live all around my home, of which there are many thanks to the river and woods close by.
The spider creates beauty just by being, just by going along it’s little way. If what it has made falls apart, which it inevitably will, it starts the process over because it is all it knows how to do.
The means to gain happiness is to throw out from oneself, like a spider, in all directions, an adhesive web of love, and to catch in it all that comes.
-Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy
Fifteen pounds. Giggles. Coos. Smiles. Yet, still skeptical.
Most days are better, easier, but then it seems it can all collapse so quickly. Fragile and teetering. Things seemed good today. Then, as the day started to end I could feel myself tipping and I couldn’t get a strong hold and down I went. Panic at the thought of things I need to do, haven’t done. “Why can’t I get this stuff done? Just stop thinking about it and be better. Do better already.” Too late, too deep to talk myself out of this one. And now I’m Alone in my thoughts, my tears.
It has been said to not base your happiness on anything you can lose. Don’t root it in anyone or anything external. You are your happiness.
But what if what’s inside is dark, lonely, and a little frightening? How do you make it light and open? A place where you want to be? Where do you get that foothold?
I’m trying. I’m not sure, but I’m trying. All I can do right now is draw myself in close, hold on to me. Start over tomorrow.
I’m not that close to very many people. I think this may be part of my problem and I’m working on it. I need to work on me. I’ve let so many other things and people become my center that I seem to have lost my own gravity and sense of worth and purpose.
Evelyn came home from school the other day with a “bucket” made from a paper bag, inside were small scraps of paper. It was an exercise in kindness, respect, and friendship. You would say something nice to someone and put a piece of paper in their bucket. Say something hurtful and a piece was removed. The idea is you are supposed to always try hard to fill up other people’s buckets. If we do that, all our buckets will be full.
The problem is I’ve put a lid on my bucket. I gave everything inside away and I haven’t let others close enough to refill it. They can’t even see that it’s drained, because I won’t let them. On the outside the bucket looks perfect and full.
I was recently reminded of the 16 personality types. I had taken the test a long time ago and never gave it much thought, but I took it again. I got the same type, INFJ. It rings true with everything I am. The counselor and protector. The innate feeling of loneliness. Being able to see through the walls people have put up around their feelings.
I know how those around me are feeling even when they don’t. And I take on and internalize all of this. Your feelings are now my own, good or bad. You tell me about your breakup and I now feel lost and sad. I read a story of a small life lost too soon and I will hold that devastation for days. You are elated with news of getting a new job or planning a vacation and I am as excited as you are. I go over conversations I’ve had or texts and emails I’ve sent again and again afraid I said the wrong thing. I love and need to be a support for others but I constantly take in and never let out my own feelings. All this has exhausted me. Time to refill my bucket.
So I write to recharge. I rarely speak words that melt like butter, smooth and perfect. It takes me too long to form responses and if I don’t take the time to calculate my words, I can get flustered and stumble over them as they clunk out of my mouth in incomplete thoughts. Lately even the words in my head seem jumbled and scattered but I’m going to keep trying. Keep writing. Hopefully clarity will return and I will feel more like me.
There is a surface.
Calm and smooth. It reflects perfectly in the form of a smile or laugh.
It is unmarred by the swirling current of thoughts that rush just below, which have been veiled by opaque collectedness.
These currents pull at my heels and hands. My heart.
They know they will have me if that surface isn’t shattered.
I have been through this three other times and three other times I was okay. Smiling, laughing. But this time was different. I waited for the keel to level out and come back to center. It didn’t.
“What a beautiful family you have! Four! You really have your hands full but you look amazing for just having a baby! How are you doing?” All felt like polite insincerity. Remarks on a body and life that didn’t feel like my own.
“I’m fine” was my response. An unwavering smile for reassurance. Polite obscurity.
I started feeling worse. I was split in two. That surface that appeared whole and happy and the woman drowning just below it. Surrounded by that beautiful family only to feel crushing loneliness, questioning friendships and relationships. Why haven’t they called? Why haven’t they visited? Why can’t they just text me? I needed help but no one knew and I didn’t know how to explain what I was feeling. I would try to write but I couldn’t grasp the words that would rise and fall back down into my blurry mind. I would walk around my house in circles, not knowing what to do and feeling hopeless. I would look at my sweet baby nursing contentedly and only feel sadness. And I would cry. I was exhausted from crying and exhausted from trying not to cry. Exhausted from forcing myself to be happy.
I keep a lot to myself. I don’t break down and I don’t let many people in. I’m there for everyone else but I’m not sure if they really know who I really am or what I’m feeling. Sometimes I don’t even know.
But I broke down. I said I wasn’t alright. I’m not okay. I shouldn’t feel like this. My openness and vulnerability were met with dismissal.
It’s just hormones. It’s just stress, lack of sleep. Give it more time and you will be fine. Buck up and talk yourself into feeling better. There’s even a book you can read that lists 14,000 different things that should make you happy.
Because nobody wants to hear about how sad you are.
I know depression doesn’t happen in a day. It’s a slow walk down a path that only gets narrower and darker, leading you away from those people and things you love, until not even the path remains. Just your mind in smothering darkness. Very sickly self-indulgent, a terrible cycle of feeling sad about how incredibly sad you feel.
I didn’t ask for help again but I filled out the postpartum depression questionnaire at my six week check-up honestly. My doctor didn’t like what she saw.
Finally, a crack in the surface relieving the turmoil it was holding back.
I’m on my way to doing better. I still have bad days but they aren’t so despairing. The genuineness of my smile and laughs has returned. I’m trying to have at least one small accomplishment a day- even if it’s a load of laundry or planning a meal. Somedays this means just getting dressed and putting on makeup. But i’m trying to not let things compound and get the best of me.
This might not be very eloquent (or coherent) but I wanted to be truthful about why my words here have been lacking. Hopefully soon I can say with all honesty “I’m fine.”
Fledgeling wings ruffle and open. Tentative steps to the edge. And just like that they let go of your hand and jump out of the nest, into a great big world.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Monster Truck showdown!
This guy turned four! He couldn’t choose between a TMNT cake or a monster truck one so I made both.
He thought it was pretty rad.
Little sister claimed these presents as her own.
Happy fourth birthday to my big guy. You are so funny and kind and still give the best squeezy hugs ever. Love you.
Pretend and real picnics in the front yard, lake swimming, bike riding and the loss of training wheels, rocket launches, a miniature steam engine trip, skateboarding. The arrival of a new brother. Our summer was spent close to home, especially since baby brother is mostly on the cranky side of things. Hence the lack of pictures of him in his natural habitat, which is comprised mainly of my arms and shoulder or any area that is safely within nursing distance.
But we did have lots of skinned knees and popsicles. And that’s what counts, right?
Now it is back to school and farewell to another summer.