The dichotomy of awesome and awful this fall and the awareness with which I've been navigating it is brand new. It doesn't make the crazy easier to bear in the moment, but it's empowering to realize I'm struggling when I'm actually struggling rather than weeks or even months later. Of course, I don't know how to ease the anxiety, but maybe that is the next step.
The opportunity cost for engaging in life is steep for me. But it's even higher when I don't engage in life. I can choose to hide at home and avoid a lot of the acute anxiety, but I know I'm missing out and that causes a constant low grade anxiety along with self loathing for being such a great big fucking failure at life. On the other hand, I can choose to live. I can take a class, or go to a Halloween party for grown ups, or meet up with a high school friend for the first time in 18 years, or take the boys trick or treating with a group, or get myself together to get to the grocery store before the forecasted hurricane rolls into town. Sometimes I can do all that stuff in the span of less than a week. And if I make the choice to live I experience a great amount of joy. Accompanied by enough anxiety that I feel like it is going to pull me underwater and drown me. Enough that I convince myself that I'm pregnant.
The joy is worth it. There is so much good in my life right now. I adore my sons, my husband, my house. We feel like Syracuse is home, we are starting to make longer term plans and can see ourselves raising our boys here. We are part of a community, we have a circle of wonderful friends, the only thing really missing is extended family. But the cost. Man. It scares the shit out of me. What if I do get dragged under? What if I have another breakdown? I can't lose half a decade to mental illness anymore, the stakes are too high because I'm a Mom. I've had a super full week and I'm in bad enough shape that it is freaking Z out. Is taking part the wrong choice? Is it better to just sort of function as a human and still have a lot left over for the boys?
When I start to be unwell I pull away from everyone. I've been fighting it all fall, but it's been really bad recently. I feel like a monster for disengaging when I'm a stay at home Mom. I hate being so selfish. I sit on the sofa and succumb to the anxiety, it envelopes me while the boys play at my feet. It takes all my effort to make sure they don't kill each other, they get nothing more than that from me some days. And I resent them for interrupting the stillness. I need quiet when the crazy comes. I tell myself if I can hide maybe the crazy won't be able to find me.
The startling part is this really bad stuff is happening alongside the really good stuff. The party this weekend was a hell of a lot of fun. Was I an awkward freak? Yes. Did I find myself drunkenly telling our host that Z and I almost split up 7 years ago when I was in the middle of a breakdown and Z didn't want to be married anymore? Perhaps. And no, I don't know him well at all. He smartly turned and started talking to other folks that walked up while I wondered for the millionth time what the fuck is wrong with me. But besides that cringe-worthy moment I did ok. And it was completely amazing to spend time with my friend from high school. She's the production manager of a tour and invited us to go see Dr. John and The Blind Boys of Alabama on Tuesday night. It was an amazing show, we even got to go backstage and meet the bands. She had Wednesday off and was able to come over for dinner and trick or treating. The best part was the couple of hours we spent catching up in my living room. Thank you yet again, Facebook, for not just connecting me with amazing people from my past online, but for all the real life meet ups you have facilitated over the last 4 years. And we even had some wonderful bonus family time when classes were cancelled on Tuesday. I wish the hurricane didn't happen at all and am so sorry for the devastation, but if we were gifted time I'm glad the boys and I were able to take advantage and be together.
I want to fight for the good stuff. I want to stop pretending to be ok when I'm around people and actually fucking be ok. I've realized the anxiety will make things hard no matter what, but most things that are worth it are pretty hard. Living life is worth it. Z and the boys are worth it. And damn it, I'm worth it.
My awesome sister-in-law was in town a couple of weekends ago and took some pictures. Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith.
Me and my guy. Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith.
We weren't able to get a good trick or treat shot.
This one cracks me up. C was not injured by the light saber. Or life saver as T says.
I made cookies for the party last weekend.