Right now, I am sitting at my kitchen table with my laptop. I am rolling out my neck and trying to ignore or fix the headache that it creeping from the back of my skull to behind my left eye. I am passing crackers off to my 14 month old in her high chair to keep her quiet while I wait for the frozen pizza to cook. I am watching my three year old out of the corner of my eye as she examines the stickers she got in the favor bag from her friend's birthday party.
I am okay.
And I'm a mess.
Sometimes I wait for permission to take care of myself. I wait for someone to tell me that it's okay to get a massage, that it's okay to take a nap, that it's okay to ignore my kids and read a book. And then I resent them when they tell me such things because obviously, those things aren't true.
But really, I think sometimes what I'm waiting for is permission to not be okay.
I worry that feeling depressed, that wanting more out of my life, that having an existential crisis, that looking for meaning, that feeling like I have a deeper purpose, that wanting to feel fulfilled and being disappointed when I'm not, that these are first world problems. These are signs of privilege. They mean that I'm ungrateful. They are shameful.
I believe that I should just stop complaining.
When I went to the doctor and she put me on meds, she asked me how I was doing, and she really listened. I told her I feel overwhelmed sometimes and that I wasn't sure if it was just normal. She said I didn't have to feel that way.
Before I had kids, when I was successful, when I was getting straight A's and winning teacher of the year, no one ever asked me if I was depressed.
But I was.
I was so afraid of letting anyone down. I was so close to the edge, all the time. I had to keep succeeding, to keep helping, to keep giving, to keep being good at everything and good for everyone or I might disappoint someone.
I didn't love myself. I never have, really.
But it wasn't until I became a mom, until I couldn't just ignore the parts of my life I wasn't good at, couldn't just redirect everyone's attention to my successes that suddenly the world thought I was allowed to be depressed.
And they told me that what I need is a break, told me again and again, get a sitter, join a gym, go out with girl friends. Stop being a martyr and take care of yourself more.
And I get so mad because that's NOT the POINT. I just want to win again. If I could just get back to winning, I could keep that hateful voice quiet again like I used to.
Maybe I shouldn't. Maybe I don't want to. Maybe I'm grateful to my kids and my life for breaking me.
Maybe it's the only way I can have permission to become whole.