Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sharing the Hard

{For You. And You.}

In my mind lives a mental list of cards I want to send and emails I should return. I'd like to read a big stack of books. I'd like to be a better friend. I'd really like to get caught up with Liz Lemon - I miss her. I think about all of these things, all throughout the day, but when it comes to this - a quiet house - I'm just done. Altogether, in every way.

On Saturday I may have had a panic attack. It's possible. True, I have weirdo health issues that have made random chest pain a part of my life, but this time was different. I stood alone in my living room while my heart thumped out of my chest. I felt like Pepe Le Pew when he sees his skunk crush - I could swear the imprint of my heart was pushing out through my ribcage. I thought, This can't be a panic attack. I don't panic. But the longer my heart thumped, the more I remembered that my life has become a fight to survive. And I never thought I would say that. I am on my game every split second of every single day because it's not optional. I worry that everyone else is drowning in the wake. I worry that I've lost my mind.

And somehow, a lot of the time, I do it with a smile. This is the part that scares me.

I'm not smiling because I'm fake or clueless or Pollyanna. I'm smiling because I have found that life is better when it's mostly seen as a gift and I go down with the ship if I stop smiling for too long. I'm smiling because all of this crazy has become all I know.

If there were an Olympics for griping and self-pity, then I'd take the bronze. You might as well just know that. And if you're inclined not to believe me, I'll get you Cory's number. But I like to think that the scales of my life tip in the favor of the smiles. It makes me feel sane to believe that and sane is good, or at least as far as I can recall.

Then I remember how I burst into quasi-inconsolable tears this morning when the toilet clogged while Cory is out of town. I saw no possibility that the world was right or good in light of the clogged toilet. I tried to unclog it. I almost vomited. (*Important side-note: my mortal fear in life is clogged drains of all kinds. Clogged toilets give me nightmares and the shakes.)

Ruby sat by me and rubbed my back while I cried. My instinct was I should be hiding, but even clearer was the voice telling me that I don't ever want Ruby to feel like she has to hide. I want her to know that it's okay to feel all of these things. I sat there and cried and I thought of all of the women whose husbands are deployed right now. They probably save their emotional breakdowns for more important things. I wanted to bake them some banana bread and spritz some perfume on their hair. I thought of all of the moms dealing with the same kid stuff I'm dealing with and I wanted to march into their homes and demand that they go take a nap while I hold down the fort.

My muddied-up heart started to see that this is one reason we feel pain. It makes us human. It connects us. We remember the bruises and we recognize them on the hearts of others. I'll take empathy over sympathy any day.

I don't know when this season of my life will pass, but I do know that it will. In the meantime, I'll scratch and claw for some sanity. I'll daydream about getting out to do something fun, all the while knowing that there's no way in heck I'll have the energy to actually do it. I'll pray that my friends don't give up on me. I'll cut myself some slack, dang it.

If you know anything about me, or if you know enough to imagine certain things about me, or if you recognize yourself in me, then you can imagine what it feels like to blow my own cover. Please, I beg of you, do not nicely suggest that I might be depressed or that I should seek the counsel of a professional. Number one: Maybe I am. I don't think so, but it's probably too early to tell. I'll keep you posted. Number two: If I have to seek the counsel of one more professional right now I might show up naked and raging with troll hair and a wild look in my eyes. It could be the very thing that throws me over the edge.

What you can do is send your prayers my way. Or even better, find someone around you who needs help and go help her. Give her the benefit of the doubt or a manicure. Something. Then tell me about it. I like those kinds of stories.

As for you, if you're feeling beaten-down by a very small person, if your brain requires so much daytime vigilance that it revolts entirely at 8pm, if you are sick to death of calls from doctors reminding you that your kid has a serious, costly illness, if you're still not sure where you'll be living in June, if you're so dang tired that you cannot sleep at night, if you believe that you will never finish your stupid book, if you very quietly cuss at your carpeted kitchen sometimes, if plungers make you cry, if you're feeling misunderstood or judged, if you're tired of guessing and failing and grasping, if your husband brought you flowers yesterday because it really is that dire, if you're feeling left behind and maybe just a smidgen crazy (like really, truly crazy), please know that I am right here with you.

I'll bake you a pretend loaf of banana bread if you'll do the same for me.