Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hey, Jealousy...

So last month, it was the struggle with depression and my anger that really shitty things happen to not only good people, but those who should be up for sainthood! I was able to blame various environmental factors, even fancy myself a victim for a little while. What I struggle with this month,  (and continuously) is something I have invented and spent far too much time nurturing: jealousy. No, I'm not talking about the worry that my husband's attention was momentarily diverted by the Victoria's Secret commercial, or the "sour grapes" verbal attack on the people with the lakefront house, the boat, and perfect hair. It pains me to say this, but I'm talking about my friends.

 I have had the great misfortune of making some of the most talented, beautiful, thin, educated, insightful, stylish, selfless, enlightened friends. Most days, I am honored to be in their presence, but for a tiny (still too large for me) portion of the time I am with them, I feel like I am just tolerated to come along for the ride with people in whose league I could never really find myself. I want so desperately to move through the world the way they do. There are moments when I am consumed by these thoughts.

My friend writes (beautifully and eloquently) in her blog about Pinterest and HGTV making her feel inadequate. Oh, gorgeous, funny, amazing, stylish friend...HOW?!  Another dear friend of mine who blogs and causes me to ponder things that had never before crossed my mind is like a Mother Theresa in a statuesque supermodel package (except with massive "street cred" and intellect). She has also shares feelings of inadequacy from time to time. It's shocking to hear this from her.

I am no slouch, I know. This isn't a "down on myself" pity party. It's more a prayer that I will decide that I am enough. If I never loose the thirty pounds, I am enough. If I am never published, I am enough. If I never run the marathon, I am enough. If I never sing another aria in public. I am enough.  Most importantly, if the people around me do accomplish these things, I can celebrate with them, be genuinely happy for them,  and still decide I am enough.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's back again

I thought I had shored things up, armored myself. I didn't think it would happen this year. I mean, we had a great Christmas. We're finally buying a house. My nephew will be born any minute. I should be over the moon! But depression didn't get the memo, and has chosen to winter at my home for the time being.  I mean, it wasn't completely without warning. He sent his friends anxiety and insomnia weeks in advance. I tried to ignore them, wanting so much more to see heavenly harbingers announcing Christmas, not those which would announce a dark odyssey into my own head.

I was coming back from taking a friend to the airport the week before Christmas. As I got on the ramp from 85 to 77, I felt the all-too-familiar wash of vertigo. "Oh, God not now, here we go." My heart began to pound in my ears, heat rushed to my scalp where prickles became sweat. I cranked the AC to full blast, moved into the slow lane, and began the mantra: "You are not dying, you are not going to faint, you will not crash this car. Try to breathe. A familiar exit is coming, soon. You can't stop this. Lean in to it. You have to let the whole thing wash over."

I had another panic attack a week later as I went back to get said friend from the airport. (Yes, I know, locations are triggers). I had even had a .5 of Ativan this time. Right about this time the insomnia started to kick in, as well. No doubt the darkness was just around the corner.

That hit on New Year's Day. I know, how cliche to be depressed after the holidays, right? Hey, I may be rather original, but my mental illness just has no imagination.

I sit home today after a night of insomnia and upset stomach, and a morning I just could not face. My meds have been adjusted, which should help. I am about to take a short walk. I also need to go on a "news diet" for a while. Too many unspeakable things happening to children. I can't handle it. I will fight this, like I do almost every January (although who knows why I was off the hook last year). Meds, fresh air, exercise, paint samples and seed catalogues. They are my arsenal. Those,  and knowing we are gaining about one minute of sunlight each day!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Simple Gifts

I threw out some traditions this year, along with ornaments and signs of the season I had felt obligated to keep for far too long. Well, I didn't throw them out, exactly. I took them to Goodwill. They will adorn someone else's trees and mantles.

My children were not keen on the idea, at first. In fact there was "wailing and gnashing of teeth" as we packed some familiar (albeit tacky) things to send on. It was slightly torturous. Why go through this at all?

Our Christmas decorations had gotten out of hand. They also did not represent,  in the least, who we are. Too fussy, too "frou frou." I was begging for simplicity.

A mantle. A nativity. A tree. That's what six Rubbermaid containers became. The tree got an overhaul. If ornaments were not handmade, or had nothing to do with art or nature, they went. The mantle is stockings, stocking holders that spell "peace," and very simple candles. Even the overdone Victorian wreath for the door was replaced by a grapevine and glitter star.

This is us. We love art, nature, and simplicity. We recognize that the holiday has gotten, like our decorations, completely out of hand.

Making our decor more humble seemed to fit the idea of a simple stable, a messy manger. God appearing in lowly human form. It also took away some of the pressure to make it all look "postcard perfect."

Maybe it was selfish. I do get the greatest pleasure out of seeing my tree adorned with glitter pine cones and popsicle stick Stars of David.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Luxury of Letting Grief in through the Crack in the Door

I swore I wouldn't start a blog and then abandon it, but this is, at the very least, a neglected blog. Today,  I write because I need something. Today, I expect it to be cathartic. Today, I am hopeful that if I blog, I may be able to keep it together a little more. I am hopeful, but not unrealistic.

A dear family friend, Christi, lost her three-year-old to cancer last night. There is no universe in which this simple fact is not completely fu&%ed up. I am angry. I am afraid. I am heartbroken for her, yet I worry that if I fully acknowledge that this happens to children, it will happen to one of mine. I am too selfish and scared to let it all in. How fortunate I am to have that option. Christi doesn't.

I start to let the grief gain entry little by little,  as I imagine what her days will be like from now on. Details like: what to do with his belongings, how to pay the medical bills. More difficult issues, such as: seeing the obvious space in the back seat where she used to look back and see him, responding appropriately to a mom at the park who says, "I see you have two children" because she can't see the gaping hole left by absence of the third.

I don't know how she will do all of this. I don't know how she will eat, sleep, breathe. She is a better person than I am. She continues to say God is good. This isn't even happening to me, and I'm practically screaming at him like a defiant teenager.

I don't have any resolution for this post. Fitting, I suppose.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Day No Laundry Would Be Folded

My sweet niece has come to visit for a couple of days. I had forgotten how precious the sound of a babbling toddler is, the intoxicating smell of silky baby hair after a bath, the sweet snuggle when she first wakes up, bleary-eyed, bewildered, and looking to you for guidance on how to start the day. It is two days I will savor, as I worry that I let this time slip by with my own three children.

When Melanie arrived at our house, we had waited, prayed, hoped, had our hopes dashed, cried, resolved to move on, then dared to open our hearts to the possibility that she really could be ours. She had just turned nine months old the day she came home. We watched her play, we watched her sleep. For two solid weeks we had very little contact with the outside world. The TV and radio were, for the most part, silent. The "guilty pleasure" novel on my nightstand went unread. Once we resumed normal day-to-day activities, a large portion of time was still devoted to being in the all-too-fleeting moments of Melanie's babyhood.

Alex came to us in an altogether different way from his older sister. He arrived with the the drama (and trauma) of labor. An emergency c-setion and horrendous bout of post-partum depression made his first few months a blur. My family stood in for me until I was able to rejoin life and motherhood, but I still feel pangs of guilt when I think of the time lost with both Alex and Melanie during those days.

Sara-Alyce came two weeks before Melanie started kindergarten, and Alex started preschool. No depression this time, but I still feel like her first few months are a blur because I was exhausted from the demands of three children, working from home, volunteering, and trying my hardest to keep my marriage and friendships going.

I blinked, and we are here. We are on the eve of middle school, fourth grade, and first grade. Sure, there were great "fully engaged" vacations, outings, special occasions. I'm not saying I missed out on it all. I'm saying that many times, I just wasn't fully present for each moment that I wouldn't realize the value of until it was gone.

This morning, when I should have been cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry, I watched my three children play with my niece. I listened to all of them laughing. I saw my almost six-year-old "baby" play mentor. I was enraptured.

Warning: It could be awhile before the dishwasher is unloaded.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chasing the Wild Goose

Where do I begin? It is so difficult to talk about without using such seemingly trite words as "awesome" and "amazing." But it was. We arrive Thursday afternoon, just as the deadline for bringing cars into the campsite has passed, so we haul all of our gear in from the car. It's steamy. The trek equips us with the appropriate amount of humility and fatigue to gratefully receive the rest of the festival, I suppose.

From the car to the campsite we pass the social justice and sustainability booths and displays being set up.  Among these: Blood Water, Amnesty International, People of Faith against the Death Penalty, The Gay Christian Network, Triangle Interfaith Alliance. It is clear we are going to be a part of a place that dares to tackle the real issues, not just the protestant "fluff" to which we are so accustomed when discussing missions work.

After setting up camp among others tents at the tree-shaded edge of a large pasture, we head to the opening ceremony.  It is a blur now as I try to recall it. We sing, dance, laugh, and spread mud, ashes and water on one another. "The trigger has been pulled on Wild Goose, " says Founder Gareth.

The next three days are full of music, talking, praying, crying, and a great local beer from the Fullsteam Brewery in Durham. I learn that Jay Bakker (yes, the offspring of Jim and Tammy Faye) is passionate about acceptance of the LGBT community in church. (On that note: I heard way too many pastors say "I believe in including these groups, but I'm afraid of what my congregation/diaconate/convention/fellowsip, etc. will think of/do to me when they find out I feel this way.  We realize it is the same argument used over and over again in the South during the Civil rights movement. Baker essentially tells all of them to grow a pair and stand up for the marginalized! Yes, my friends "on the fence" I agree. I say this out of tough love: GROW A PAIR!)  I listen to Tickle. Campolo, Mclaren. What they say fills me with both righteous indignation and renewed commitment. I learn, under the lights of a humble barn stage, that Michelle Shocked is one hell of a storyteller, and that the Psalters (kind of a Matisyahu/Mumford and Sons mashup) are incredible live. I learn that DoxoSoma brings body and spirit together in a similar fashion to yoga, and I love it. I learn that the greatest encounters with God can occur during seemingly irreverent moments like "The Bluegrass Liturgy" and "Hymns and Beer." I learn that total strangers are called to love on my children like they've known them for years and to teach them to create, and to experience love and fellowship by zooming down a 300 foot slip and slide covered with baby shampoo and water from a fire truck that has backed up to it.

Yes, I feel like I need debriefing for my re-entry to the "real world." But even though I have washed the festival dirt and grime down the drain, and have pulled two stowaway ticks off my husband, I will continue to have Wild Goose with me.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wildly Out of Balance

As I sit here, composing a post for a blog which has lain dormant for the past few months, there are papers stacked all over the place, laundry on my bed, and far too many pounds registering on the scale each morning that I weigh myself. My first inclination is to eat a whole bag of Dove Promises, dive under the mountain of clothes on the bed and hide out until sometime tomorrow. My second inclination is to be angry with myself for even having my first.

How does this happen to me every few months? Can I really blame being a teacher at the end of the school year? My schedule? Having three children?

I see so many women accomplishing so much. I support my friends who are writers, yet I am insanely jealous. Hey! I was going to do that! They go by with their 13.1 and 26.2 stickers on their cars. Again, I am reminded of my own shortcomings. They lead women's groups, bible studies, audition for shows, and fold all of that pesky laundry so it doesn't end up on the bed. They even have time to send me a quick email from the desk of their full-time job to remind me of what to bring to my children's class  parties. Crap! The class party? I completely forgot!

Tonight, I am going to fold a lot of laundry. Tomorrow, I will wake up and go running. Baby steps. I'll keep you posted. Ok, I'll try to keep you posted.