Wednesday, May 25, 2022

I can't today

The news is heavy today. I see it. I hear it. I know.

But I can't today.

I know that there is action to take, good work to do, right words to say, and I see the people I love deep in it.

But I can't today.

I want to be the kind of person who sees a need and leaps into action, who fights the good fight, who makes all the right kinds of trouble at all the right moments. Who goes after the guns, who protects trans kids and reproductive rights, who saves Ukraine and stops climate change. I want to be that kind of person and I love and admire those people and I know I KNOW there are right things to do.

But I can't today.

Today is heavy, and I have a brain and a body that crack when it's heavy, that need quiet to process and feel, that buckle under the pressures of tragedy and conflict and the unbelievable enormity of the world's grief. Tomorrow I will write my congressmen. I will do whatever it is I can think to do, whatever the people who are braver and smarter and stronger than I tell me to do. And you won't necessarily see it on my social media echo chamber. But I will be doing what I can in my own way. Tomorrow.

But I can't today 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Lost

 I am sitting on my bed in the middle of the morning. My kids are at school. My feet are cold. Outside my window, the sky is gray and misty and I have to turn on a few more lights to be able to see in my room.

In my head, it's gray too.

I am feeling lost in my life lately. I am fairly certain that I want to create, that I want to make something that's mine, that's special, that I can put out into the world. I am fairly certain that it's not optional, that not creating anything is eating away at my insides. Festering. 

But I'm still just sitting here, lost.

A few years ago, when both my kids started school, I went into a place when it was time for me to go out into the world. When I was ready to try things. When there was time and space to be not just mom. And I started, tentatively. I substitute taught. I wrote, some. I ran. I tried a variety of things, and I was just starting to maybe find my way.

And then the pandemic hit, and my kids were home with me all the time again, and there was no space in my head or in my life for everything, and I went into stasis. Survival. Get through the day mode. And that was okay.

But now I'm back to this place with the space, with the wide open world in front of me, and I don't know what to do. I'm paralyzed. I'm stuck. I'm hiding in closets or under the covers to keep from being alone and lost in the world. 

I know that I need to do something, make something, but I don't know where to begin. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Who do I want to be

I sat in the armchair in my therapist's office, my hands in my lap. She read from the open binder in front of her on the table. 

"So. The next target on your map for this brown  is trouble setting up your teachers pay teachers store. Do you want to work through that one today?"

"Ha. Umm..yeah. We can work on that. That's ... Kind of an ongoing thing?"

"Oh? So" she glances down again, "you'd say that's a present target?"

"Yeah. Yeah I'd say."

Chasing gold stars. Beating failure to the punch. I think those are the only two modalities I've ever had. If I'm not going to be immediately successful, if I'm not going to be praised and appreciated and adored, I don't want to do it. If I'm not sure I'm going to be successful, I don't want to try. If I don't try, I don't fail.

Or I fail every time.

I've been trying.

I took classes. I learned power point. I learned Canva. I practiced. I revised. And I'm not succeeding. 

No gold stars.

 And I haven't quit yet.

Except for all the times I've quit.

But I've started again. I've tried. Trying is hard. Trying is scary. 

So now I'm sitting in this arm chair and tears are running down my face. The floodgates have opened and honestly everyone in the room is surprised that this is the thing that did it.

"I just ... Wanted to feel successful. Wanted to be good at something. I think I had unreasonable expectations for what this was going to do for me."

"I'm sure," she said, "that you've been successful at a lot of things if you think about it. I mean, look at your girls! You're raising these wonderful girls."

I pause, longer than I mean to. "But. They aren't me. And the older they get, the more obvious that becomes. They are their own people. Their accomplishments are theirs. And that's good, that's right. But I want something that's mine. And I know I .... Have. I have done things that I'm proud of. But. They're in the past. What now? What do I do now?"

"Well. Why don't we talk about that next time? Why don't you try some things, some hobbies, try to come up with some things you can feel successful at?"

Sure. By next week, why don't I try to come up with some things I can feel successful at. That's not what I've been trying to do for my entire adult life or anything. I'll just ... Get right on that.

So, dear reader, do you know? Who do I want to be when I grow up? 

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Sad

 She sat in the chair across from me, looking down at her binder of notes open in her lap. "Can you rate your depression over the past week on a scale from 1-10?"

"3?"

She wrote it down before looking up at me.  "What ... What do you think is keeping your depression going? Because it seems like every week you have some. You're on medication for it, right?"

"...Yeah."

"Then why do you think it's never at a zero?"

I paused for a long time. We'd spent the previous half hour talking about my week, about how it had been hard. About my anxious 11 year old screaming every morning before school. About my perfectionist 9 year old crying for an hour instead of writing one page of a draft. About me trying a project that I thought would make me happy and realizing it wasn't what I hoped it would be. Why wasn't my depression at a zero?

"I think.... I think I'm just at a stage in my life that is full of a lot of drudgery and a lot of emotional labor, and not a lot of intellectual or creative stimulation. And I think that's really hard. And sometimes I get big ideas, like my blog or my teachers pay teachers stuff, that I think are going to just FIX IT. And then they don't. And it's disappointing. And if I wait until I WANT to do things like write, I'll be waiting forever. So I end up not doing the things that would make me happier."

"Oh. Okay." She flipped back through the binder. "You said before it's the weather. Do you think the weather contributes?"

Pause. "Yeah. Definitely the weather."

And. It was true. It was all true. It's the weather. It's the laundry. It's boredom. It's disappointment. It's emotional exhaustion from carrying the feelings of small people. It IS. 

BUT.

What I really wanted to say was, A zero?? What's a zero? What would it feel like to be at a zero on the depression scale. Would I even want that? Do I know anyone at a zero? Would I want to??

This morning, after fighting with my kids to get up and get dressed and get in the car, after sitting in two drop off lines, I switched on the We Can Do Hard things podcast. As one does.

And the episode was "Susan Cain on sadness as a superpower."

And I exhaled from somewhere deep in my body where I hadn't known I was holding my breath.

Susan Cain has a book out today called Bittersweet. A book about the beauty of melancholy. About being what Glennon Doyle calls midnight blue, about seeing what G calls brutiful.

And I thought, yes. Yes. This is who I am. I'm sad because I'm paying attention. I'm sad because it's brutiful. I'm sad and I'm okay with that. I'm sad and I can use that.

I'm not glorifying depression. When I'm at a 6 or 7, I need help. Real help. But I'm never going to be a 0 because that's just not who I am. I'm sad. And I'm grateful.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Hate

  I hate the laundry, how it's never done, how it expand to fill all the time and space available. 

I hate the dishes, how they are somehow simultaneously all dirty and all in the dishwasher clean and waiting to be unloaded.

I hate school drop off and pick up, the hours I spend in lines, following rules, just to get my girls out the door of my car and into school.

I hate when my kids fight, when they scream in each other's faces and push each other's buttons. I hate that we can't get out the door without one or more of them screaming or crying or losing their ever loving minds. I hate that at 9 and 11, the anxieties and worries and pain have gotten bigger instead of getting better. I hate that I can't fix it.

I hate when I try to explain my problems to someone, and instead of listening and acknowledging, they try to tell me why, really, I shouldn't feel the way I do because everyone compares, because I do things well, because everyone has different talents, because really what do I have to be upset about or disappointed about or discouraged about really ... Really.



Saturday, March 26, 2022

Do something

 I am sitting on the couch with my feet up, my feet bare in front of me and my toes wiggling, even though outside the window, there is snow. Leaning against my chest is a half full cup of blueberry white tea that I choked on moments before I started writing, when while drinking I tried to answer my eldest daughter's question about whether Piper appeared again in the last two Trials of Apollo books. She is writing. She is always writing. 

I feel like I've been sitting on my couch for years.

Depression is an old friend that comes to visit from time to time. That brings with it heaviness and darkness and doubt, an unwillingness to try anything, an inability to get off the couch. And I sit with it, I make it tea, I put out plates of Girl Scout cookies. And I sit.

I'm tired of sitting.

My cheeks burn with the salt left behind by dried tears, tears that have been falling silently down my face all day, though somehow no one who lives in my house has noticed. 

Today, I feel discouraged. 

I've tried things. I've been subbing again, but it has ended up being only one day a week. I tried to set up a teachers pay teachers store, but I haven't actually sold anything. I listened to podcasts and books on overcoming depression, on overcoming writers block, on starting a teacher business.

And nothing has broken through this shadow. Nothing has "worked."

I empty my dishwasher. I fold my laundry. I read Trials of Apollo to my children. I watch Mrs. Maisel. I go to bed. 

I want to do something. I want to do something that matters. I want to get off this couch, to get out of this funk, to get out into the world, to be seen and heard to DO SOMETHING.

I set down my tea.

I pick up my pen.

"I am sitting on my couch."

It's the only place I know to begin.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Delay

The text came through five minutes ago: "The school district will be on a two hour delay tomorrow due to the sub zero temperatures." 

I exhaled.

Another morning of not having to leave the house until after 9. Of extra snuggles with my kids on the couch before they go to school. A little more of this frigid January that I can spend doing what January is meant for: resting.

This is our 3rd delay this week and our 4th in two weeks. I feel a bit of a wash of shame at my delight over it. Ashamed of the privilege implied by being able to spend the extra two hours at home instead of scrambling for child care. Ashamed of my lack of productivity, at the thrill with which I melt into nothingness. Ashamed and afraid that once again, I'm doing everything wrong.

What is wrong, exactly? Is there a right way to do life? And if so, how do I find it? Is there a way to know that what I'm doing, what I'm thinking, what I'm feeling, are the right things? I don't know. I doubt it really. Is it okay to be happy about things that also seem like faults? 

Is my whole life just one big delay, melting into the couch to avoid the cold out there? And when I get there (where??) will there be time to do the things I had planned? Or will it just be a lost day, year, life.