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21 Feb

Coloring Between The Lines

There are things that one knows about one’s self, and things that one doesn’t. I know, for example, that words make me happy and that I love my children and that I can, when I try, be very funny, and that I am introverted (yes, really) and that I am good at philosophy and at making soup and that I love the smell of lilacs. I know, too, that I am prone to anxiety and depression, but that I am able to cope with these with the help of the love and support of my family and by writing and with a certain quantity of pharmaceuticals. What I don’t know is how big a role my proneness to anxiety and depression plays on the stage of my psyche – whether it is a starring role or a bit part, whether its strutting and fretting defines the production in some critical way or is just a nuance, just theatrical flair – and whether, or the extent to which, it shapes who I am. What I also don’t know: how much it effects how my children regard me, and how they will remember me.

18 Aug

The Monster In The Closet

sleep_of_reasonIt was just one night, and one night, measured against the course of a lifetime, doesn’t seem all that significant. But it was a dark night, and I have never been able to shed the weight of the memory of it. I have never been able to put it, as they say, in perspective. I never will.

Jasper was not quite six months old. I had not slept in weeks. I lay awake as he stirred and fussed, bracing myself for the moment when I would have to rouse myself fully to nurse him or change him or soothe him. The darkness that night seemed particularly black, the kind of black that has a density, a weight. To say that it felt like it was closing in would be to use a trope that gets overused when writers are trying to describe dark nights and oppressive fear, but in this case it was true. The darkness was closing in on me like a heavy fog, like an army of ghosts, like a slick of oil, like night made solid and sinister. I couldn’t breathe. Jasper continued to fuss. I fought the dark.

I fought the dark. I think that I won. Even at the time, I wasn’t sure. I’m still not sure.

19 Apr

Rock, Meet Hard Place. Hard Place, Meet Naked Astronaut.

I was scared to come back to the Internet this week. I was scared, because I thought that I couldn’t come back unless I explained why I’d had to take a break, and explaining why I’d had to take a break was something that I did not want to do, because it was just too complicated and messy and because it seemed that explaining the complicatedness and messiness would have to involve talking about all the things that I didn’t want to talk about, and the desire to not talk about those things was why I had to take a break in the first place, so.

8 Apr


I am struggling to remind myself that it is spring. I can smell it in the warm rain and hear it in the call of the robins plucking earthworms from my garden and see it in the green shoots pushing their way up out of the earth, but I am having trouble feeling it.

My husband tells me that he worries about me, and I tell him that there is a difference between the oppressive dark that settles upon one in a depression, and unhappiness, generally. I can be depressed, I tell him, and not be, strictly speaking, sad, or unhappy. I tell him that there is a difference between the dark clouds of depression, which settle upon the horizon of my psyche and linger there, casting shadows, and the rain that comes with sadness, that comes in short or long bursts, that falls lightly or heavily, that pelts my heart and dampens my spirit. And unhappiness, I say, is another thing entirely. I might be depressed, I said. I also might be sad, because the sadness – the sadness related to grief, the sadness related to dread and worry – it comes and it goes and it doesn’t announce itself. But I am not unhappy, in any meaningful sense. I don’t think. I can still smile. I still laugh. It’s just that, sometimes, I am overcome by the dark.

8 Jan

We, Who Need Such Great Mysteries

I think that I’m stuck in the denial stage of grief. It’s not that I deny the fact that my father is dead – his ashes sit in a box on my mantle, surrounded, at the moment, by a few Christmas ornaments and my kids’ picture with Santa and Emilia’s bardo-drawing – it’s that I can’t wrap my head around the fact – is it a fact? – that his death is the end, that his life is over, that I’ll never see or speak with him again. The absoluteness of it all, the finality: I’m having trouble accepting this. I can’t accept this. My heart aches from its stubborn refusal to accept this.

4 Jan

What A Difference A Snow Witch Makes

I wanted this year to start with laughter and smiles and cookies and fizzy soda. I didn’t want confetti and champagne and fireworks and streamers – I just wanted smiling. I just wanted this year to start happy.

I’m still trying to find the happy. Yes, my heart lifts when I hug my children and my lips curve when they giggle but the last week of last year and the first week of this year have been covered in a thick blanket of fever and snot and heartache and it’s been hard to find the laughter. And although Nyquil takes the edge off the fever and snot, there aren’t sufficient meds for heartache, Ativan and Xanax notwithstanding. Last week was much, much harder than I thought it would be – doing the final clean-up of my dad’s place in the week between Christmas and New Year’s was, in hindsight, less than ideal timing. Coping with the heart-punches of the holidays was difficult enough without throwing myself into the line of fire of the gut-kicks and soul-wedgies that came with seeing the last of his things carted away, his home wiped clean of his presence.