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depression

I sat at the desk with all my research around me.  My fingers itched and my mind raced.

I had carved out a bit of time and was looking to use it to my best advantage. I wanted to do something I could be proud of.  Mentally I checked in with all the outside forces that could pull me away from my task.  Everything was in order – or as much in order as was necessary  – and I took a deep breath. 

I was safe. I was happy. I had made it.

The bed behind me beckoned a bit, trying to coerce me back to its warm obliviousness, but I was only slightly tempted and refocused myself. 

I didn’t have a clue where to begin, but I was about to find out where the beginning was. It was right here.  This is how it started.  And I smiled, inspired by that knowledge.

My moment of excited contentment was as brief as it was satisfying.

A stirring in the corner caught my attention at the very last second.  My stomach clenched and dropped immediately. 

“Dammit! I had been so very close this time,” was the only thought I had time for before I heard the laugh I already knew was coming. It was cruel and heartless… and familiar.

“Hmmmmm… Just what exactly do you think you are doing?” she asked.

I didn’t answer.  I was not allowed to speak.

She stood up in the corner.  She was much taller and stronger than me.  She was much more beautiful, as well… but in a leering, jeering way.  I had a hard time looking up at her.  She was terrifying. She spoke only truth, but her eyes flashed with sinister intent.  She knew her job and she was good at it. 

“Remember!” she said.

Oh, I did. I never forgot. Not really. I had just been doing a decent job of ignoring it all lately. 

“Getting a bit big for those britches, aren’t we? Starting to believe some of those lies you tell others? Starting to think you have something worthwhile to say?? Forgetting is what you are doing.  We both know I am always right and no one else matters. Here, darling, let’s remember exactly who and what you are, shall we?”

Her contempt was palpable – and, oh, so bitter to taste.  I felt I would choke on it.

My faced burned with humiliation and embarrassment. I bowed my head, but pleading and explaining would be useless… not that I wouldn’t try before it was over, though.  I sank to the floor in a puddle of self-loathing.

She smiled a beautiful, horrible smile and, at her bidding, the memories play out in front of me, each more painful than the last. 

She was at my side forcing my attention… taunting and crooning… her voice almost sweet: 

That is what you are really like (screaming and drama)… That is what your true character is (lying and cheating)…. That is just how smart you are (failing and losing).” She said, following along with the ghostlike images playing before me.  “This is why you cannot forget (mother).  This is how well you manage (daughter). You cannot ever hide it (the ER). You stink of it (the men).  I am always watching (the psych ward).  I will always be here to remind you (countless therapists). There is no escape (the jail cell).”

I suppose she believes she is doing me a favor by keeping me in check. And if you could see the failures, sins and wrongs she shows, you may very well agree with her.  Certainly I do by the time she is done.  She gives proof to validate every doubt and fear I have ever had. 

And, as always, she reminds me that only she knows me.  And if there ever were anyone else who really knew me they would see me the same way she does – pathetic, stupid, manipulative, unworthy. There is nothing I can do about it.  There is no running from it and no redemption is possible.  She will always be there to judge and punish. 

Ah, she is enjoying herself now and there is no stopping her.

Any feeble attempts to defend myself or protest her harshness are immediately slapped down.  There is no defense.  Haven’t I learned anything from her?  It doesn’t matter what others have done or if they have done worse.  My crimes are not to be weighed against anything outside or against anyone else’s.  Others are not her concern.  No repentance matters and no absolution will be given.  Atonement is impossible and she revels in my damnation.

Once she is sure I am stripped down and firmly back in my place, she loses some of her edge.  A bit of spite is replaced by pity. She almost seems to care about me. A part of me thinks this is worse, but most of me doesn’t give a damn anymore. 

Just let it be done and over. I look longingly at the bed in the corner, my earlier excitement and contentment utterly forgotten.  I will do as she says and forget my ambitions. I knew I would as soon as I heard the slightest sound from her.  They were silly anyway and easily abandoned again. 

Finally, after what seems like forever, I am allowed to take what she gives me and crawl into the bed.  I am too tired to cry.  I am too empty to feel.

Her work complete, she whispers a final warning and promise, strokes my hair and retires out of my consciousness as I happily sink into glorious oblivion.

Her grin fades like the Cheshire cat’s, but even in my unsettled sleep I know she is there waiting… and I shiver. She will be back.  It is the one thing I am sure of.; it is the one thing I know…then, blissfully, there is nothing else.

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Do you ever feel like that? 

Like you know that the time of your life you are living right this very minute is precious and will be the time that you will look back on with nostalgia 10 or 15 years from now…. But you still have that overwhelming feeling that you are hanging on by your fingernails?

Every morning I wake up with either Jay and Sawyer or (most days) with Jay, Sawyer and Ezra sleeping soundly next to me.  We have a hard time getting out of bed at our house, so alarms go off starting at 6a.  That would be Jay’s phone first at 6a (not that we get up then… it is just the warning shot across the bow that time is drawing nigh).  My alarm clock goes off at 7a, and 7:30a (yes, I set 2 alarms on that baby) and it snoozes a couple of times in between (I must get up at 7a, I usually make it by 7:15).  BOTH Jay and I have our cells set to go off at 8a.  My 8a alarm on my phone is aptly titled “Walk out the door” because I need, every single bleeping day, to drop whatever I am doing and head to my car at 8a sharp.  This rarely happens. I usually make it by 8:10, which puts me rushed, but still most likely at my desk at 9a (unless Atlanta traffic intervenes, which it sometimes does). 

But in that time between 6a and 7:15 or so I lay there and bask in the quiet breathing of all my guys.  Ezra is not allowed to sleep with us, however, he is allowed snuggle time sometime after 5:30a.  Jay would rather this not happen, but I cannot help it. 

Do you know why?

Because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this will end without any prompting.  One day he will not only NOT want to snuggle up in bed with me, I won’t be able to bribe or pay him to do it. 

And I will look back on this time right now and miss it so badly that I will ache. 

I will remember the days of t-ball when he somehow switched teams after a base hit and, instead of running to second on the next hit, chased the ball into the outfield with the other team. 

I will miss the days when he said “LEL-LOW” for “yellow” and the way his sentences sounded before he learned “your” is the possessive form of “you.”

I will think back fondly to the days when he would look up and ask, “Mommy, you want to watch Caillou with me?”  patting the seat next to him, batting those eyelashes and looking at me with big blue eyes.  And I will regret telling him that I can’t right now because Mommy has to __________ (clean the kitchen/cook dinner/go to the grocery store)….even though part of me knew it was really because I could not handle watching another second of Caillou …for the millionth time. 

I will hate that I told him that Mommy could not turn on the music and dance with him right now because I had a headache.  Because I KNOW he will not want to dance with his mother very long. 

But as much as I know I will miss this and, even though I am getting teary-eyed as I type this right now, I know it HAS to happen. 

Because I have been faced with the idea of what it means if he doesn’t out-grow all those things. 

I know what it means if Sawyer still wants to do all those things with me when he is 14. 

It will mean that he probably has not developed normally and that he may not be able to live on his own – maybe he will never be able to.   And that is, oh, so much worse. 

But even knowing all this, I still struggle.  I still feel stressed and overwhelmed.  I still feel some days like I am barely hanging on and I am simply trying to fool everyone into thinking that I have it together – and that very thought makes me laugh out loud at myself to think I could possibly fool anyone into thinking something so stupid.  I still want that glass (or bottle) of wine at the end of the day on a Tuesday night to take the edge off.  And I still think about the last 3 xanax in my possession and wonder if tonight is the night I should take one. 

This worries me. 

Because how will I ever be able to hold it together when these boys are teenagers and have homework and girlfriends and social problems at school??  Not to even mention the hormonal crap (Jay knows this will be his area) that will hit around 12! 

In other words, if I am struggling with working and mothering and balancing it all now, during the easy part, how will I ever manage when it is hard?? 

Of course, that is borrowing trouble from the future, now isn’t it? And each day has enough troubles to fill it without reaching out to worry about problems that haven’t even happened yet (I am pretty sure that concept is Biblical, and put way more eloquently).

I suppose the only answer I need is found at 6:15a when I am surrounded by the people most precious to me. When we are in our little nest together I know that everything is perfect and I am exactly the person I need to be. 

I need to keep in mind throughout the day when I am feeling stressed and vulnerable and inadequate that this morning at 6a I was all I needed to be… and the reason that I am out here in the world working and doing all the other things I do is so I can be safe and content in that nest with them tomorrow at 6:15a. 

Please, let me keep this in the forefront of my mind.  Because when compared to my husband and my three children, there truly is nothing else that matters.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34. 

Told you it was more eloquent.

She walked into her bedroom and shut the door.  She lay down on the bed pulled the covers around her. Once comfortable, she flipped the mental switch opening her mind. Each thought rose out of her like wisps of smoke and swirled through the room.  Every fact, every memory, every idea, every worry, every guilt was acknowledged then consciously forced out of her mind and into the ether.  She could see it, but not think or experience it.  Some were beautiful shimmering and silvery tendrils.  Others were black and toxic.  No matter how much the thoughts tried to stay inside her, she forced them out.  How long it took for her mind to wipe itself clean she did not know.  But when she was done and the blackness descended over her like the covers she was curled up in, she slept.  Her mind, being cleansed of every thought, had no subjects with which to form even a dream.  Everything else swirled around the room in delicate colored strands as she escaped into the nothingness of her mind.  It was utter peace.

[For anyone who knows and cares, I am working on the Ideas of March.  It has been harder than I expected.  I write about one idea and become discouraged, trash it and start over with a different one.  This is not producing a lot of posts, unfortunately. But here is one, even though I am disatisfied with it.]

Pressure Addict.

It is flabbergasting how many ways I have for ratcheting up the pressure on myself. 

Not content with just doing a good job by planning and taking action, I unconsciously – and cleverly – place sundry obstacles in my way.

Like a person deep sea diving, I understand that should I relieve the pressure, I will suffer my own personal version of the bends. 

While this condition is not physically painful, it is debilitating. 

Decisions cannot be made.

Tasks cannot be completed. 

I fear losing the tenuous grasp I have on the ever-frazzling rope of sanity and reality. The grasp that keeps those recurring thoughts at bay and reminds me to face forward towards the world and not yield to the temptation of exploring the vastness in the dark recesses of the mind.

I wonder how useful this coping mechanism is.  Regardless, it is powerful –most of the time I can only recognize its use in hindsight.  Which, while enlightening later, is not necessarily helpful in the moment.

A fraud throughout, I act as though this does not happen or, if it does, I do not notice it.

I wonder, as I climb into my decompression chamber and let go, whether or not there will come a day when I can operate outside this haven without the normalizing and barely tolerable level of pressure required to keep me on task and productive. 

As I analyze how I operate and manage to maintain an acceptable level of functionality, I know I am not alone.  I am sure there are many women who can only rise to the task when the odds are stacked against them and others write them off as incapable. 

It is just that some days – most, actually – I wish I was not one of them.

I think I may have posted something that really sent me for a psychological loop.  I have been off in my head and not writing about the stuff whirling around up here.  I go through stages where I cannot stop writing and my fingers seem to fly across the keyboard…and others where I feel like a rusty well pump that hasn’t been primed in years. 

I suppose you can figure out which state I am currently in from my lack of posts.

After I wrote the post about 10 things I would not change about myself, I had to take a step back.  Somehow I had validated myself, which you would think would be a good thing.  At first it was.  I felt all good and confident.  But in providing myself with that validation, I inadvertently woke the Craken.  The maladjusted voices in my head keeping track of all the things I don’t like about myself went into overdrive.  It’s been a constant barrage.

“How dare I think positively about that?! That’s some political-class spinning, right there.  You should work for Congress.  HA hahaha.”

“Who do I think I am kidding?”          

“Yeah.  You are really put together, now aren’t you? Check out the crows feet.  Bitchin.” (this one as I look in the mirror and hear it in an especially nasty sarcastic tone)

“Look at this. Outfit? That is what you call it?  How about a bunch of semi-matched clothes that saw their best years a while back and you don’t have the money to replace them.  Why?  Because you are a LOSER.”

“Don’t worry, you can throw it out.  After all, you will never fit into it again.”

“You will never get it together, so stop acting like it is even a possibility.”

“Everyone sees through you.  You are the mess you’re expected to be.” 

“Yep.  You look 40. Over 40, actually. Too bad you don’t have any wisdom to show for the wrinkles.”

Maybe it is because I have been sick and taking Mucinex DM, and that stuff always makes me feel a bit off. But I think it is more than that.  I have been trying to get it to stop, but so far I have not been able to.  Lately I have been thinking I need to give them personalities. Kind of a twist on “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Of course, that may be how some people go insane, but then I don’t think I will be able to do a good enough job with it to actually lose reality.  Although, it would be kinda cool to be that creative.   

So I think I may do a little exercise naming the negative voices in my head and giving them personalities and back stories.  For some reason, I am pretty sure one of them will be named Emily.

It cuts somewhere deep inside when you think you have done your best and you look back and realize that a good deal of the time your “best” was pretty close to awful, for whatever reason.

In fact, one day you realize that you never even considered doing your best at all.

You just did what you did.  Without thought or consequence – at least any thought or consequence that mattered. Read More

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This thought came to my mind this morning not long after I woke up.  And I have a question: am I the only one who has heard or thought that and then immediately rolled my eyes and thought, “Good God, give me a break with this sanctimonious crap”?

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