Thursday, February 20, 2020

Stay

At 1:30 in the morning last night, my 9 year old was standing next to my bed. My eyes fluttered open to look up as she spoke.

"Mom, is it bad that it's 1:30 and I'm awake and I can't get back to sleep?"

I don't think I said anything. I reached for her with one arm and  lifted the sheet next to me with the other. She folded herself into my arms, and within minutes was asleep.

I lay there, awake for a bit but just barely, curled around this preteen who somehow once grew inside my body, and just breathed.

I saw a post today on facebook where another mom of a third grader was lamenting her daughter's baby days. The baby days were rough for me, man. Sometimes I feel sad about that, wondering if I missed something, if I was supposed to feel differently about it. If feeling anxious and sad and frustrated and lonely all the time was the wrong thing. If I did at all wrong, if the baby part was supposed to fill me with something that I would always long to get back.

And these preteen days, they're hard too. They're different hard. Putting this girl to bed last night, I listened to her cry about school, about friends, about not knowing her place and worrying about whether people would like her. An hour before, I'd sent her to her room for hitting her sister because she was frustrated with me for not sending said sister to bed yet. Two hours before that I'd followed her and her friends up and down the street while they picked up trash, an idea that had been entirely their own.

At 1:30 last night, I held my big little girl in my arms, and I just wanted her to stay here now. And she won't, we won't, we'll all keep growing. And the next stage will be wonderful and terrible, beautiful and crushingly hard. And I hope that when we're there, I can BE there like I was for a little while last night, when my brilliant, dramatic, anxious, wonderful daughter curled into me like she did nine years ago. I hope that I can just stay.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Snow day

The phone next to my bed rang before my alarm did. 5:00 AM. I fumbled with the phone, managing to pick it up without knocking it over.

"Schools will be on a two hour delay."

"Oh thank God," I muttered, clicking off the phone and rolling over.

I stayed out too late last night, at a Girl Scout volunteer meeting that included more wine and gossiping than I'd expected. A meeting/impromptu girls night that I had been incredibly grateful for.

But it was morning, and I was supposed to substitute for third grade today, and I was not prepared to get up.

And now I didn't have to.

An hour later, without much surprise, I picked up the phone again to hear that school was closed. Told my kids to go ahead and turn on the TV. Fell asleep on the couch.

I slept off and on for hours. We played in the snow. Did crafts. Baked cupcakes.

It's night now, and my kids are in bed, and I'm grateful for today. Grateful and also... Vulnerable? Wondering if I wasted the day? Feeling guilty for my laziness? And I'm trying to remember that it's okay to have a lazy easy day.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Can we talk about courage?

I had a mini coaching session today (okay, just saying that makes me sound self-indulgent) (okay, probably just to me) where we talked about my limiting beliefs. There were a heck of a lot of them. Like, that I need to write something deep and meaningful every time I write. Like that people aren't going to like what I write. Like that it's embarrassing to try, that my worth is tied to my accomplishments.

What if I fail, we said. I'd be embarrassed. I'd be right where I am now. I'd be afraid to go on. I know that I SHOULD just start before I'm ready, that I SHOULD just write, just show up, power through. But I don't wanna.  It's scary.

Well, she said, you need to think about courage.

And you can't just sit around and wait for courage to show up (well why the heck not? That would be better). It's our thoughts that give us courage. What thoughts would give you courage?

Ummm. Uhh. Well. I don't know? I can't really think of anything?

Hmm, she said. And then silence. (Which meant she was judging me, right? That she thought I was hopeless? No, right? Of course not... right?)

I want to have courage. I want to be brave even though I'm afraid. But I don't know how to get there.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Quick, hit publish before you regret it

Where do I belong?

I think maybe this is the question I've been asking myself my whole life. I had two lunch tables in high school, and would float back and forth between them, never really sitting still anywhere long enough for anyone to notice what a freaking mess I was.

And now, here I am, 38 years old, and I still haven't really figured out how to be in the world. I go to PTA meetings, but I'm not really part of that group. I am a substitute teacher, which means I can float in and out of teachers' lounges without anyone ever really noticing me or seeing me. I post fluff and memes on facebook, funny things or heartwarming things. I make jokes about my life because if I'm laughing then I can't get hurt.

I'm freaking lonely, guys.

A month ago, I went to England, and I didn't tell anyone except my parents who were watching my kids and my neighbors who were getting packages from my porch. I don't know why. Because if I admitted that something exciting was happening, people would think badly of me? Because I was afraid of wanting anything?

I am tired. I am tired and I haven't even been doing anything. I am in this house by myself, pretending that I do something that matters, pretending that I am a person of substance, when really I'm just living on the surface of everything, trying to be small, trying to be just likeable enough that I don't offend anyone, trying to not get hurt.

I'm tired of not existing.

I want to come back.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The dark

There are days when nothing seems important, where everything seems disappointing, where my motivation to do anything is completely absent.

I've been having a lot of those days lately. I know enough to know that that's called depression.

I woke up this morning and went back to bed. I didn't feel like a human being until at least 11. It's the first day this week I haven't had somewhere to bring my kids first thing, haven't had a way to keep going through the motions and playing at being an adult.

So I didn't. I just full on fell apart.

I'm tired.

I'm tired of being tired.

Summer is hard, dude. My kids are either at home asking me to do something and wrestling each other to the ground, or are being driven around from event to event. I don't have time to think. I don't have time to breathe, let alone to read or write.

And then I stop for a minute to breathe and think and I realize that's much worse.

This is the dark. I've been living in the dark for a while now.  I've been improving my night vision instead of turning on a lamp.

It's time to ask for help with the lamp.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Between

I woke up this morning at 6:30 with a 6 year old nestled against me and an 8 year old standing over me, telling me that my alarm had already gone off twice. Blurry eyed and without emotion I climbed out of bed and, with both of them velcroed to my sides, trudged downstairs. Made them breakfast. Found them socks. Snuggled a little. Put them on the bus at 7:50.

It's almost 10:30. I couldn't tell you what I've done since then.

So much of my life feels like a failure lately.

I remember being good at things. I remember being funny. I remember being a good teacher, a good student, the person people looked to for advice.

I remember being the person who sat with kids at lunch when they were all by themselves.

I don't know if anyone else remembers that me.

I looked through old pictures yesterday, trying to piece myself back together, trying to put together the story of who I was. There were no pictures from before I was about fifteen, and the ones from then paint a complicated picture. They show the person I know I was, the girl with the heart who created her own circle of comfort. But they don't show the person she was running away from, the person that was hiding inside her, the one who knew that nothing she ever did could be enough. I need to look back further to see that, and I don't have anywhere to look.

I signed up for an online memoir class yesterday. I wrote in my journal more than I've written in it in the past year. I also spent way too much time on facebook, searching for ghosts, for names of people who I only remember, who I tried not to remember for years, who almost certainly don't remember me.

And I don't even know what I was spending too much of this morning doing.

I feel like right now I'm in between. I feel like nothing in the world is going to make sense right now and it's painful. I don't know where I'm going and I'm not even sure where I am. But for now, I want to keep writing. I think that's where all the answers are.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Fragments

Yesterday morning I woke up with a start. I'd dreamed about a boy I went to elementary school with, who hadn't necessarily be a friend. His name, a name which I probably hadn't thought about it in twenty five years, floated into my head and lodged there.

I knew him since we were six. He had always been very popular, at a time when I was decidedly not. He had often given me a hard time when that was what everyone else was doing. But, in the end, around the time we were in fifth grade, I'd seen something different in him. A gentleness, a kindness, compassion. A heart there where I hadn't realized there was one before. I'd met his little sisters and saw that he adored them, and maybe that was the moment that I decided he wasn't who I'd assumed he was. And when we started Junior High, and bigger boys on the bus had picked on me more viciously than I was used to, he'd sat beside me. He didn't say anything, didn't stand up to the older boys, but he sat next to me in a way that felt protective. I've never forgotten that.

Except. Except I had. Except I'd forgotten him completely, hadn't thought about him at all in so many years. When I started Junior High, I'd found a group of friends for the first time who really thought like I did. I'd belonged in a way I didn't know was possible before and so had left behind most of my elementary classmates, who probably never wanted me anyway.  I had found and created a group that made me feel, for the first time, seen and heard and known. And then, at the end of seventh grade, I'd moved away.

My life, it seems, is remembered in fragments.

I feel like I've had so many lives. Elementary school separated from seventh grade by what seemed such a new beginning and opening into the world. Seventh grade separated from eighth grade by distance, by a move which was completely traumatic at the time and from which came some of the most meaningful friendships of my life - and of course, also my marriage. High school separated from college, college from grad school, grad school from my first year teaching. That year separated from the next year when I lived in Indiana, separated from the three year long lifetime I spent teaching in Texas, separated from the now in which I am a mother, a PTA mom, a Girl Scout leader. So many lives. So many fragments. So many puzzle pieces from which to work out who I really am.

Brene Brown says that we orphan the parts of our story that don't fit with our vision of who we are. I don't know. I don't know if that's why my life, my memory, is so broken apart.

But I want to put it back together.