Squish

I had my first mammogram this morning.   And while they are routine and inconsequential, it had a sobering effect on me.

First the paperwork:  “Age of first full term pregnancy:  18”.  “Last date of breastfeeding:  6/2002.”   I’m not going for a mammogram because I’m sick, or anyone is worried.  I’m going because that’s what you do when you reach a Certain Age.   I sat there, looking incredulously at those dates, amazed.  There were a series of years there where I had spent five New Year’s Eves either pregnant or breastfeeding.   But now, it’s been ten years since I held a baby to my breast.  It hardly seems possible.

I mean, I know I’m getting older.  Even though I am fighting it kicking and screaming with all the running and the face creams and the dental floss and the green and purple foods five times a day, it’s still happening.   Whenever anyone asks, I always proudly say I’m 41, that I’ve fought hard for each and every year I have.  And that’s true.  I never lie about my age (with a 22 year old kid, it’s kind of hard to go much younger).  I think I’m doing pretty well for early 40s.

Still, the boob squishing is just a gentle reminder that time is marching on.  And in the immortal words of Truvy from Steel Magnolias, “Honey, time marches on, and eventually you realize it is marching right across your face.”

No More Waiting

I spent this morning looking for therapists.  Well, doing work on a freelance web design job that came up quickly and needs to be done quickly, and looking for therapists.

It kind of feels good to be honest about it, frankly.  I think I spend a lot of time projecting to the world what I want them to see.  People tell me all of the time that they find it hard to believe how insecure I am; they only really find out if they become a close friend.  Most people see me as someone who is organized, intelligent, confident enough to stand up in front of the whole town and speak their mind or boldly walk up to their favorite rock star and ask for a job.

They don’t know what goes on in my head.  I don’t go around talking about it.  A very few people know the stories that I have shared here on this blog.  That I grew up in an exceedingly dysfunctional family.  That I had a brother who spent a great deal of time under psychiatric care.  That I too spent years in therapy trying to figure out to break that cycle.

I never really thought I had, of course.  I knew that when my husband and I got down and dirty in our fights the despair felt black and all encompassing.  It’s true that I have actually attempted suicide several times since I’ve been married.  I know who I am.  I know where my mind goes.  My strength isn’t that I have grown beyond those impulses; I think I have finally accepted that they will always be there.  My strength has to lie in the desire to push back against those impulses when they come, and to try and lessen the amount of times they come.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt this badly.   I remember feeling this way after my third child was born.  I was overwhelmed and frustrated by my husband’s work schedule and my inability to be able to manage the house, the three kids, the burgeoning duties I had working for a rock star.  I went to my doctor then, asking for help.  He suggested exercise rather than drugs.  Not that I wanted to be taking the drugs anyway, since I was nursing and all, but I thought it was a pretty cavalier attitude for an OBGYN who should have known how serious post partum depression can be in a person with depression and anxiety in their background.

The other time I remember feeling this blackness, although not to this level, was a few years back after I ran for elected office and lost.  It feels silly now to type that sentence, actually.  But there was something about this small town I live in, feeling as if the entire world was against me, didn’t want me, didn’t find value in me.  My husband was out of town at the time, and I think that was when I truly started drinking alone at night when he wasn’t home.

And frankly, I have been self medicating with those drinks ever since.  Drinking away the sadness, the pain, the frustration, the paralyzing feeling I have when it comes to what is wrong in my life.  When it all becomes too much, when I am sad or hurt, I pour myself a glass.  There have been nights when I have drunk a whole bottle by myself here at home, which is horrible to admit.  It’s easy enough to do when it seems so culturally accepted; it’s sort of a joke that moms drink their wine at playdates, at night, whenever.  It’s easier to pour a glass than to work on what’s really going on in my head.

But it’s time.  I can’t keep going on like this.  I can’t be this unhappy.  I can’t keep showing my children that it’s OK to live an unhappy life.  In everything else in my life, I see a problem and I lay out the steps to fix it.  And one by one, I complete the steps until a goal is accomplished or a problem is solved.  This has to be the same.

The alternative is simply not an option.

Struggling

It’s not been an easy time in my head the last week.

After I wrote the previous post here, I stayed up most of the night feeling very alone.  Very despondent.  Wanting things to be different, but not knowing at all how to make them so.

As the hours wore on, the darkness kept encroaching in on me.  My dark thoughts went to places they shouldn’t go.

I just want it to stop hurting, I thought.  Maybe things would be easier if I could just disappear.  My husband could find someone who makes him happy.  A better wife, a better mother.  I thought all the things that I know I shouldn’t think:  which way would be easiest?  Least painful?  Least scary?  Least messy to clean up?

I spent years in therapy trying to combat those thoughts.  But I guess when you’re prone to depression, those thoughts really never go away.  You just learn how to make sure that the thoughts do not become action.

What stopped me from sitting in my car in closed garage with the engine running?  The thought of my kids finding me.  The thought of my kids losing their mother at an even younger age than I was when I lost mine.  Thinking of how profoundly awful it would be to inflict that kind of pain on them, and my husband, and my family.

It has been a dark week for me, full of fighting and tears and strange thoughts.  I thought I was past all of this, frankly.  I thought that I grew past all of those selfish, tunnel vision thoughts and was able to use the skills I’ve learned along the way to pull my head and chin up out of the water.  But mostly I’ve realized that I am the kind of person who’s had goes there.  And if I want to get through this rough patch without taking my whole family down with me, I’m going to have to get some help.  And not the kind that I have been using lately, the kind that comes in a bottle and burns your throat going down.

No, I think it’s time for me to find a therapist (again).  I think I need some help figuring all of this out.  Where I am.  Where I’m headed.  Why I can’t be grateful and gracious and happy with all of the blessings in my life.  How to know when I’m fully right and how to accept when I’m not.  And if nothing else, to know that it is OK to not completely know any of that.

I’m struggling, but I’ve still got some fight left me.

Sticks and Stones

“You like to be angry.  You do it with me, you do it with other people too.”

I don’t write a lot about my husband in this space.  I’ve definitely gone light on the troubles in our marriage.   I have never thought it really was appropriate for me to talk about truly publicly, and only a very few of my good friends and family know how truly fractious our relationship can be.  On the outside looking in, we are a model:  a husband with a high powered job who provides well for his family, a former teacher who stays at home and dabbles in part time work so she can still be completely available to her children.

Lately, I am struggling with the state of our marriage.  Like I’ve hinted before in previous posts, I often wonder if I am going through the classic mid life crisis:   looking at everything in my life and wondering if this is the way it will be for the rest of my life.   And when I find the answer to be yes, this is likely the way it will be forever unless something changes, I am starting to wonder:  can I really do this?  Forever?  For the next ten, twenty or hopefully fifty more years that I have left?

My mother died when she was fifty three.  I’m forty one.  If I died in twelve years, would I want them to be like they are right now?

And increasingly, the answer I keep coming up with is, “No.”

In the current iteration of our arguments, my husband and I are fighting our usual classic themes.  The same arguments we have been having since before we were married.  Over and over again.   It has been tense in our house since last week when I hinted that I might not be willing to keep going down this path forever and ever.  And the tea of anger has been simmering at a low boil for the last five days ever since, until tonight, when my husband agreed to come home from work by 6:15 to help with our daughter, who was feeling sick, so that I could take our son to karate without leaving her alone.

I was disproportionately angry at his phone call home announcing that he wouldn’t be home on time.  Why was I so angry?  Well, my answer would be because this same situation has happened a million times before, and it just adds one more time to the avalanche of other times when he’s let work interfere with a promise he’s made to the family.  But my husband?  He didn’t agree.  He had worked hard to get out of work to be home at that time.  He had turned down dinner with colleagues in from out of town to come straight home.  He told me I had no right to be angry.  He thought I was angry because I just “want to be angry.”  That I like holding onto my anger, that there’s some charge I get out of holding a grudge.

I told him that of course I didn’t want to be angry.  I want the things I am angry about to either be resolved, or not to happen again.  I don’t like holding onto my anger.  But it does happen because I feel as if it doesn’t get resolved, apologized for, rectified.  But as was the case this evening, and is often the case between us, neither one of us is very good at seeing each other’s side.  Arguments only seem to end in our marriage when one of us blinks.  Decides to not be silent or indignant any longer.  There aren’t really apologies.  There aren’t words of compromise or change.  There might be a few days of detente with nicer words or thoughtful gestures, until things go back to the status quo again, all ready to blow.

But what really happens is that anger never really goes away.  It still sits there below the surface, unresolved.  We just move on and away until the same argument comes up again.  And the next time, it’s a little worse, a little more intense, a little more caustic because we never really got over the first (or thirtieth) time.

I suppose I should learn how to let these things go.  I truly want to.  I just don’t really know how when it feels like the other person never takes responsibility for what might be their part in it.  Like tonight.  It wasn’t that he could admit the five minutes late was a problem.  It was that I shouldn’t have been angry in the first place, and the only reason I was was because I apparently “like being angry”.  I don’t know what to do with that.  So our battles are really all about me and my unresolved ability to process anger?  Where do I go with that?

I don’t have the answer.  And more and more, that is really starting to bother me.

 

 

It’s Still There

I heard from him the other day.

Not unsolicited, of course.  No, I’ve hardly ever heard from him out of the blue like that.  Even when I was working for him, emails from Rick Springfield only appeared in my box with the inevitable re: in front of whatever subject title I had been writing about.  The emails were never long.  I learned, after we started hosting online chats with him, that he was a hunt and peck typist, which I suppose accounts for some of the brevity.

Still, it was a thrill to see his email address in my inbox just the same.  Even though it’s been years since I’ve worked for him.  Years since I’ve even been in the same room with him.  Why is that?  Most of the people I knew who were avid fans at the time of my work for Rick are still in the mix, posting like crazy on message boards or Facebook or the relic Yahoo email groups that were our lifeblood way back when.  They still are going to his shows because he still tours all of the time, nearly every weekend.   They fly, or they drive insane distances.

I get it.  I used to as well.  As I was looking back on some of my old photos after my trip to Michigan a few weeks back I marveled at how much I’d traveled.  At the time it felt like I was constrained, never as able to go to shows as often as my girlfriends who were fans.  They didn’t have young children, or their husbands were more able to care for the kids in their absences.  Still, as I ticked through the places I’d been, I chuckled.  Dubuque, IA.  Las Vegas, NV.  Rockford, IL.  Columbus, OH.  Chicago, IL.  Tucson, AZ.

But I don’t anymore.  Things are different now.  I don’t work for him anymore, and while I’ve come to peace with how that all shook out, it’s something I carry with me, still.  It definitely put out some of the fire I had towards seeing him, being a part of the madness and mayhem that is the fan experience.

Still, when I looked through those old photos, one leapt out at me.  The moment it captured, one of the first moments I’d ever shared with Rick.  It was after a charity event, where he’d sung about his dead father.  I’d used my mother’s inheritance to attend.   It all came together, his loss and my loss and I thought:  my mother made this happen for me.  She led me to this man who had been my unknowing savior during my teen years.  And I told him so.

At some point during that conversation, this photo was snapped.

(of course I blurred my face….couldn’t actually put a real photo of myself here)

Looking at it again, after all of these years, I couldn’t help but be amazed.  At the intensity, the beauty, the essence of what passed between us captured in it.  And so, even though I haven’t emailed Rick in probably a year or more, I uploaded the photo into an email and sent it along to him.  I told him that I had found this photo and was moved to share it.  How wonderful that moment was.  And that despite everything, I would never forget how wonderful he was to me, that day and many of the days that followed.

I won’t say what words he used in his response, but I will say that they brought a very big smile to my face.   For whatever it’s worth, even after everything, there is still something special about him.  And I am grateful, every day, that i was fortunate enough to live out that one, crazy, teenage dream.

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