I've got a whole slew of half-written posts started in the Notes app on my iPhone. Sometimes its a song title or lyric, sometimes a phrase, sometimes a whole paragraph. I think of things I want to say and pound it out in Notes, and once it has left my brain it leaves completely, closing the door tightly and leaving the key under the mat. By the time I look again, usually to start another thought- it has become irrelevant, life has moved too fast, as it does. So I never write them here.
This last week has been tough, for obvious reasons. I haven't wanted to weigh in here, and I've stayed away from the fray on the news and Facebook and Twitter as much as possible. I even deleted the Facebook app from my phone for several days, to take away the temptation. Several times this last week I've caught myself darting my eyes around my classroom and planning what would I do if someone stormed my building and how I would protect my kids. I have a vivid imagination, and I'm a worst case scenario emotional planner, not a great combination when tragedy strikes. I tend to get stuck in these things, and depression finds me easier there if I don't protect myself.
But its safe to say depression has found me, sneaking up on me as it is wont to do in winter, despite some walls I built as a safety precaution. Those walls were made of straw anyway, and I knew that, but I didn't count on things like the Newton tragedy and a couple of other devastatingly bad news things to come along all at the same time, blowing out pieces of hay like so much grass from the back of a lawnmower.
A month ago I was feeling great and alert and happy, this past Sunday I could barely get out of bed. I know now that great, super exhalted happy month-ago me? Pre-depression mania. I didn't even recognize it. A friend even sent me a message on Facebook and suggested I sounded depressed, which to me was the craziest thing I ever heard. But it went downhill from there, slowly at first, and then this past Saturday it sped up, like being in an elevator with the line cut and you can't get out. It takes your breath away, when it goes that fast.
Crazy is as crazy does, Ma'am. And no, its not the weight of the suggestion that carries you down.
So here we are. Snowed in, to boot. Which is probably what I needed, frankly, to sit on the couch with a cup of tea and my dog and a book. Salinger's Franny and Zoey, a book I'm rereading after many years, and yes I know, it is probably not the best choice right now. It may even have conributed to the swing in mood. But it could be worse- It could be Joan Didion. And I've ordered Tiny Beautiful Things as my Christmas present to myself.
Tiny, Beautiful Things is one of the notes I'd written into my phone, by the way, several weeks ago. As tired and hammered as I feel in the state I am in now, I cling to it, this collection of advice columns written by Cheryl Strayed, especially the one where someone wrote to her asking simply, "WTF?"
Because I feel like that, too. "What The Fuck" sums up nicely these devastating events that keep flinging past me and other people in my life, like a tennis ball machine with faulty wiring. The answer she wrote as Sugar to that particular question of "WTF?" is so perfect, so devastating in it's divulgence of her own personal hell that you begin to realize your own life is not so bad, and so the summary sticks with you.
"Ask better questions, Sweetpea. The Fuck is your life. Answer it."
I don't have better questions. But her answer soothes, just the same.
I got an email from Typepad this week, that my credit card on file has expired and they couldn't run the charge of the annual fee for this blog. i have a few days to either update my info, or let it lapse and say goodby to the whole thing. I'm...considering. Inaction is itself a decision, you know. I also know, however, that depressive episodes are not a good time to make (or not make) major decisions. So I will probably pay up anyway.
But before that happens I thought I'd write maybe one more time and see how it feels. So here it is, another note that I'd written to myself, almost a year ago. It kind of fits, again, in light of Newton, although it didn't for a long time.
I don't often admit that I'm weak. It's not part of my character, and its definitely not part of my outward personality. I try to be a free range parent, and a free range spouse. And then I read posts by Jenny the Bloggess about Lifeflight helicopters and I realize, I am not that strong. I am a faker. (I can't find the link to this post now, sorry.)
Oh sure, I'm pretty good in an emergency. I can focus as a caregiver and go into triage mode. It is afterwards I'm a mess. I try and stay away from drama, but it tends to find me. Still, I fake
my way through as much as possible. "never let them see you sweat" is my outward mantra, emotionally. This blog is different, in written words I can let it go in ways I will never be able to do in person, out loud.
And everytime my husband gets on a plane, which is ridiculously often, I know he's fine. Nothing to see here. But there's a voice in the back of my head that says, Girl, you are
not this lucky. You don't deserve him, or those kids, or that dog, or that house, that life. Your time is coming. My self-esteem is a bitch with a red, pointy tail, and I've been holding her at bay since I learned how to manage her, so many years ago. My life is pretty good, but every once in a while I hear her snickering, and I start counting heads.
I was grateful last Friday to be able to see my youngest son in his classroom across the hallway from mine, to get a text from my oldest that he was home from school and could he play the Xbox, to get a text from husband to pick up something for him from the grocery store. Grateful to count heads. And now I'm grateful for winter break, Christmas celebrations, a little holiday travel and vacation, time to get away and breathe (as much as one can indeed breathe, during holiday travel and extended family vacations.)
I'm reminded this week of Kate Braestrup's book, Here If You Need Me. A book I read several years ago and dig out during these times, along with anything by Anne Lamott. It is a memoir of loss, opening your heart to let in new love, and following a road of Christian belief. It is a salve to me, despite its melancholia. I thought of it many times in the past week, before I cut myself off from the finger-pointing and politicking of Facebook. Specifically, this line:
"Nowhere in scripture does it say, 'God is a car accident" or 'God is death.' God is justice, kindness, mercy, and always - always - love. So if you want to know where God is in this or in anything, look for the love."
This is true of Newton. It is true for my friends facing their own personal devastation. It is true for me, a mostly innocent bystander with a vivid imagination and an Id with a mean streak. It is true for you, whether you believe it or not.
I guess what I'm saying is, I'm here if you need me. But if you don't, I'll be tending to my own. And I'll probably see you soon. I wonder if Typepad takes Paypal? I should look into that.