That’s a line from a short guided meditation I like that aims to acknowledge an upset and help regain balance. It’s in my head these days though. I am, in fact having a hard time.
I had six pretty good days in a row last week, which was so encouraging. For most of this year, I’ve had at most two, maybe three good days at a time, lots of days in the “fair to poor” range, and rather a large number of desperately depressed days. It hasn’t been my best year.
Although. Although to be fair, I will say I feel I’ve learned a lot about myself and about caring for myself this year. I feel I have grown spiritually through my meditation practice. I’ve recovered from almost all effects of my gynecological surgery (I think). Furthermore, I summoned the courage to quit my super-stressful job. Plus I went on a short trip to China. So it hasn’t been the worst year, either.
Bah, it’s still November, too early for an end-of-year reflection. So back to my point. I was having a good streak and then I started sliding downward Thanksgiving evening. And it was a fast shot down to longing to hurt myself and wondering how long it would take my husband and sons to recover if I died.
I swear I haven’t said anything about that, but it’s like my husband can read my mind, because this morning at breakfast he looks at me and says, “I don’t know what I’d ever do without you. You are everything to me.”
Shit, I really do have to stay here. And not only is my husband a truly wonderful person, but I also have a son with disabilities. He’s a young man now and doesn’t live at home, but we communicate daily, and when things go wrong in his life, he turns to me first. He counts on me.
And yet, absolutely everything hurts. My skin literally aches when my depression is bad. Is that just me? Yesterday I felt my heart was a stone, heavy, cold and hard. Today I feel an invisible weight on my chest, pressing down, making it hard to breathe.
E is convinced that every part of us seeks wholeness. She says the voice in my head that say, “I am a horrible person,” and “I deserve to be hurt,” or “I am so worthless,” is the voice of a wounded part that needs care and attention. What is it trying to tell me, underneath all that mean talk, she wonders. She suggests I tell it that I’m happy to listen, but it needs to communicate in a more constructive way.
So I try. It’s hard because my concentration is disrupted by the negative thoughts. The physical discomfort is a distraction as well. But I write in my journal and try to figure out what is going on.
At first I think it’s sadness, triggered perhaps by Thanksgiving. I loved the big Thanksgiving celebrations at my grandma’s when I was a kid. But it hasn’t been like that for years, really since my mom married my stepmom and moved us all far from the rest of the family. And these days, it’s not just extended family far away, but my own family. My son with disabilities spent Thanksgiving with his girlfriend (again). My other son was planning to come but ended up having to work. My mom is geographically far away and emotionally even more remote. My sisters are the best part of my family or origin, but they live over 800 miles a way. I’m hoping to see them for Christmas. My husband’s not from the U.S. and doesn’t really care about Thanksgiving. We could go get a burger together, and he’d be satisfied.
Maybe some of this is about wishing for a family life that doesn’t exist? Anyway, so I write about this some and put the journal aside, and soon I feel so much worse. There’s an edge of desperation and urgency, but it doesn’t really seem to be about family.
I text E to ask her what she thinks:
If I really try to listen to what’s going on inside of me, and then I feel worse, does that mean I’m not understanding it right? Maybe I’m getting it wrong?
She says she isn’t sure. She wonders if maybe my self-destructive self really wants to prevent me from looking at what is wrong.
I sleep uneasily and wake up with the weight still heavy on my chest. I try to defy it, getting up and cleaning our bedroom, vacuuming. I eat breakfast and start the dishwasher. But it just gets more painful. I end up crawling back in bed and staying there past noon. Ha, more ammunition for the mean voice, who now feels justified in saying, “lazy” along with everything else.
It’s just like being sick with the flu. It derails everything. It dominates my day. I try to be good to myself. I go on a walk with my husband and the dogs (they are so cute and so joyful, and I can see that even when I’m depressed). I use a gift card that has been sitting around for months and order us Indian food for dinner.
This evening I’m thinking that maybe I need to retract what I told E in therapy two weeks ago, the secret I shared with her. Maybe I got something wrong about it. Perhaps it’s actually a voice of integrity that is berating me for twisting things around and now it wants me to backtrack. I mean it. I don’t say this out of fear or panic.
I try to say this in a text this to E, and she doesn’t buy it. She thinks it is another lie from depression designed to keep me away from a painful truth. I tell her I don’t agree, and she doesn’t respond to that last text.
I get that the truth about a child’s traumatic memory (or whether it even happened) might not be best discussed over text. And it’s nighttime, and she’s already been generous about texting me with her support over the past two days. She’s impressed and encouraged because I haven’t harmed myself, even though I’m pretty sure it would help, short term. So I can’t blame her for not texting back. I wish she did, but I can hang on. I have no choice, really.
I’m having a hard time right now. But that’s okay. I’ll make it. It won’t last forever… right?
CREDIT: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash