Amazingly supportive husband.
Beautiful children cheering me on.
I am healthy.
I put me first and accomplished what I needed to.
We will exceed expectation.
We will persevere.
Curled into a fetal position, incapable of even willing myself to sit up. Repeating my children's names over and over, just to remind myself that I must endure.
It doesn't even hurt.
I am numb.
I hear them cry, daddy is in charge and one is tired and the other is needing cuddles.
Mommy cannot cuddle, she is too busy holding herself.
I knew these few weeks would be hard. I knew that I was pushing myself too much without taking the time for self care. So it's not surprising that I find myself here. Balled up in my numbness.
Still willing myself just to sit up.
I manage to open my eyes. The tears abated a while ago, the numbness persists. I feel empty. I feel lost. I feel like I am continuing to fail. Taking care of everyone but me, losing myself a little more each day. I am fighting a losing battle. The comforts of "home" lost in our transition from Kentucky to Georgia. I blame myself for all of this.
I see my pain reflected in my son's frustration. His tears are my tears.
I beg for help, and then I realize why I am home. To be helped.
I am at least sitting up now. Baby steps.
Maybe tomorrow will be easier.
Maybe tomorrow I will run again.
I read a post recently about why women are more stressed out than men. It included suggestions on how the two genders could eradicate the inevitable escalation that typically occurs when men just "don't get it" or make the fatal mistake of responding "calm down." The article was written by a clinical psychologist, so please don't get your panties in a wad thinking I am wasting your time quoting some random blogger with no backing other than their glorified opinion.
But then again, here you are reading mine....so... ;)
Anyway, the validation of emotions struck home for me. More than anything I loathe being told I am overly emotional, or that someone else doesn't feel that way. Fabulous, since I was stating how I feel I can totally see why it matters that you don't feel or think the same way.
In that moment you have the option to sympathize and listen, thus connecting on a more human level.
I am not asking for you to agree or be my therapist, just for you to hear that I am expressing verbally how I feel. What ends up happening when you respond with an explanation of how you don't feel/think that way is that I translate what you said in my head as I should not feel/think that way either. Whether intended or not, that's how it is received.
Clearly we should live in a world of automatons that all think and feel exactly the same way. Why are you telling me this? I am sharing a vulnerability of mine and you are swatting it down. Maybe you are actually thinking you should feel the same way, I don't know.
I simply feel invalidated.
Now let us for a moment further transition this to how it affects someone not fully capable of processing their emotions, whether due to depression or anxiety or some other reason (maybe developmentally they aren't there yet, any parents of toddlers?). The emotionally charged mind now feels inferior.
How would someone take such an assessment of themselves? Perhaps they would agree with being incapable of controlling how they feel or how they are analyzing certain situations. This might lead to thoughts that being irritated by something so irrational means weakness. Strong people don't lose control.
Only the weak cry.
You see it does not matter how you interpret it; which is not to say you don't matter, of course you do.
When I am sharing with someone how I feel all I really want is for them to listen.
Typically ANYONE yelling how they feel or crying is only asking to be heard.
My latest attempt at not being a yelling parent is to turn listening into something fun. I will ask my two year old if his ears are on, he even goes so far as to pretend to turn his ear knobs. It's pretty darn cute, and is occasionally effective. But it is not only toddlers who need reminding to turn their ears on sometimes.
Are yours on?
On the days that you least expect it, that's when the silent yet numbing pain attacks. It starts with crying. The uncontrolled tears simply falling. The harder you try to stop them, the faster they come. You see the reflection of this numbing pain in your children. They act out, they seek you, they cry and whine. They are unsettled by your discomfort. This makes the pain worse. Now you are stuck in a cycle, forever spinning the wrong way.
You grab something to hold on to, anything that will ground you. Desperate to hold yourself amidst reality so the irrational thinking will cease, or at the very least go silent. You try and try to reorient yourself. The numbness spreads, physically overtaking your entire body until it feels like a tangible entity. A force you are no longer capable of fighting or fending off. More tears.
How did this happen?
Wasn't today a good day?
You had an amazing solo run yesterday, you accomplished so many tasks, everyone is 90% healthy again.
You felt so in control only hours earlier.
Now everyone is tense and upset.
And you blame yourself.
You want to make it all better, but the stupid tears keep falling and the pain makes it impossible to do anything.
You want to run. Just leave it all behind. But then what?
The pain is still there and now you are causing more pain with your absence.
You cling to yourself. You keep repeating that it will pass.
You cry some more.
You cry until arms embrace you and tell you that it is hard, but we will find a way together.
And if there are no arms right now, here are mine. Wide open.
Don't be alone with your silent pain.
Just cry with me.
Rage with me.
Today was a hard day. As a parent, as a spouse, as an adult. It sucked. I was pooped on, literally gushing onto my hands in my lap and onto the couch. I've been tending a sick baby for days now. Oh and now the toddler is feverish. Today was hard.
What's worse is that it started out hard because it was a bad day for me. I woke up a wreck. My mental well being warped. It was a rough morning that turned into a difficult day spotted with moments of pure awesomeness. How I wish I could focus on those moments and not relive all of the bad ones over and over and over.
Just don't dwell on them and you won't feel so bad.
We all have those days, it's ok.
If you would only stop being so negative you would feel better.
Well I say to hell with that.
It's ok to not be ok. More importantly it is ok to have a bad day.
They don't know, they have no clue. How could they? You want mindreaders? Go find a circus. This is reality. Unless they have lived it, felt it, survived it...they don't know. I don't really think I can ever come to terms with this. How can people not know what it is to have depression? How can they not understand the inability to control your emotional and psychological interpretations of every minute detail?
But they can't.
Not because they don't love you, not because they don't want to.
It is simply impossible unless you have been in that dark place. Pushed by feelings that impose upon those blissful moments.
Maybe that is why I am writing this. Because you need to know that not everyone will be able to understand or offer support. Of course they care. That's not what you need though.
I am living it with you.
It's ok if today is a bad day.
Tomorrow might be better, or not.
But you keep going, keep moving.
Or in my case, you keep running.
So cry with me. Scream if you must.
It's fucking hard to live like this.
Ask for a hug.
Ask for someone to hold your hand.
I promise you they don't need to understand to be able to do that for you. They are human.
And hey, you are only human too.
At least we survived the bad day.
If you came back for some autobiographical purging be forewarned, I am operating under the assumption that we are already well acquainted. At this point you already know my deep dark secret. So let's leave the past in the past. Therapy often begins with a recounting of all the shit we have been through, and I always find this part silly. I know where my demons come from, I determined that about 5 therapists ago. It's not relevant. What I want to know is how to kick their asses out of my head, or at least how to slap a muzzle on them. Granted, the past will slip in from time to time. Please don't expect it or ask for it. It is mine to share or not.
So since we are so in the know about each other it should come as no surprise when I tell you that I am a TED talk addict. And that having my own TED talk may be a daydream of mine. Similar to the beauty queen that practices her crown acceptance speech, I daydream about the badass TED talk I will give. No, I do not know my topic yet, but I assure you it WILL be epic. A lot of my defining life moments have been inspired by a TED talk. The latest inspiration came from a talk about failing to obtain a great career. Watch it...then meet me back here and we can chat about how I have lived in fear of success my whole life. I mean it. Watch it.
So? Feel inspired yet? No? Let me guess...at least one of those excuses hit home, right? I know. I've used every damn one of them. But here I am all the same. Admitting my flaws to the world, watching TED talks, writing for me. What a selfish jerk of a mom and wife. I mean seriously. I have mountains of student loan debt, a PhD in neuroscience. What the hell am I doing?
Dreaming. Living out my passion. Being exceptionally grateful for a life partner that encourages me every step of the way.
You see, the truth is I hate the word unless. Unless what? I feel like Marty McFly after someone calls him chicken. And a good job, well what difference will that make? And are people really so fantastic when they are wasting talent slaving away over some job or another? Losing themselves to a quota? Not even sure what they are working for at the end of each day?
Greatness comes from risk taking. Jumping off the proverbial cliff.
Head first with no parachute.
Welcome to my cliff. Don't get comfy. It's a non stop and very awkward ride. And please do not make the mistake of believing for a second that I'm not scared, I'm terrified.
Yet as my little Japanese character tattoo suggests, or at least I am hoping it does, strength and courage are entertwined. What I mean to say is, courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it.
What are YOU afraid of?