My husband is out of the country for 8 days, and I’ve been missing him a lot. I always know he’s an incredible support to me, but it’s all the more apparent when that daily support isn’t there. When I’m at work, at least I’m busy and distracted, but it’s harder and lonelier at home.
Saturday morning, I am hit full force by his absence, growing demands at work, and my struggle with toxic shame. I often have my lowest moods in the morning anyway. I suppose it is especially bad because my sleep was so disrupted Friday night (thank you very much restless dogs and unknown person who called three different times without saying anything).
My head is foggy, and my thoughts are dark and unorganized. I don’t want to get out of bed. Ugh, all these intense FEELINGS I don’t know what to do with. I can’t put a name on them; I don’t know what they are. But I do know they are taking over my body, weighing down my chest, creeping up and down my arms, pushing against my pelvis. And they make chaos in my head.
I just want them to stop! I take time to breathe. I pull out the short meditation practice I’ve been developing. Is it not working? Is my concentration too disturbed? I need some relief. I think about burning myself and how well that quiets the internal noise. I decide I’ll put that off until absolutely need it.
These are just feelings, I tell myself. They don’t have real power. I can just feel them and let them go. But I can’t do it. They are strangling me.
I want someone to help me, but I don’t want to reach out to my husband. He’ll just worry but he’s too far away to help, and anyway, I want him to enjoy his time with friends and family. In the old days, I might have called my best friend. But ever since she got married, she has little time for me. There really isn’t anyone to talk to. It is just me and my restless dogs.
I think about calling E. But I’ve never called her for help before. Then I think I might just write her a short email from my phone. I start one, just a few sentences about how I am sorry to bother her, but I feel so alone with these overwhelming, poorly defined feelings.
Then I wait a while. I play a game on my phone. I add to the message that I am thinking of harming myself but am trying not to. I read a chapter of my novel. I add a little more to the email, saying I don’t know what I am asking her for. I don’t need her to tell me that these feelings will pass; I know that. I think maybe I am just seeking her attention, and that thought makes me cringe. Maybe I am asking her to rescue me. That’s pointless too; I already know I’m the only one who can rescue me. Except I don’t know how, not today at least.
I think about my father and decide he never actually sexually assaulted me. He did create a weirdly and inappropriately sexualized environment around me. I know that is true. But I feel like I have to tell E. that the rest isn’t true. I must have made it up as a way to represent bad feelings I had. I don’t want her to have the wrong idea.
I need some food in my system but don’t feel like making any effort. I grab a banana and a bag of tortilla chips and carry them back to my bed. I know I’m not making choices that will make me feel better, but I feel unable to do better. I try to sleep, but my mostly adorable, occasionally annoying pit bull barks so I will let her out to chase squirrels. I go back to bed and nearly fall asleep, when the phone rings. Do I want to donate $100 to my alma mater? Not today, thanks.
The physicality of my distress grows, as if I were bitten by a poisonous snake and all my organs are taken over by the venom.
My email to E. grows longer. I tell her terrible things, things that make me feel like sewage, things I haven’t talked to her about. I decide I might as well get it all out, all at one time. At the end of the email, I write, “I want to send this to let it go. I know I will feel regret when I hit send because it’s not appropriate content for an email and because I’m intruding on your weekend.”
But I don’t hit send. I get dressed and sit in the kitchen and drink tea. In the evening I go to dinner at a colleague’s house. It’s pleasant but not truly engaging. The food is good. The men talk over each other and the women. The conversation is not very interesting, but I think it’s probably good for me to leave the house for a little while.
I come home and read and finally fall asleep.
And now it’s Sunday, warmer and sunnier than usual. I take the dogs for a long walk by the river. I’m okay again, for now, but I wonder just what that snake was that bit me yesterday.