Monthly Archives: January 2013

She is…

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She’s an actress. She’s a princess. She’s a reader. She’s an artist. She’s an animal lover. She’s a soccer player. She’s a singer. She’s a cheerleader. She’s a soft heart. She’s a dancer. She’s an A student. She’s a baker. She’s a talker. She’s a performer. She’s a fashion icon. She’s a loyal friend. She’s a stubborn mule. She’s a rescuer of worms. She’s a ray of sunshine. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

But sometimes, she’s just weird.

weird

Haunted

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Today’s post is part of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. This week’s prompts were:

1.) The ladies at MomSmack listed their top 10 faves of 2012 here. Use their list as a template and fill in your own answers! (inspired by MomSmack)
2.) Have your kids ever embarrassed you? Share something they’ve said or done that caused a *facepalm*.
3.) Tell us about something that is haunting you.
4.) Have you ever gotten detention at school? What did you do?
5.) Find a photo of yourself taken 10 years ago and display it on your blog along with a current photo. How have you changed since the day that photo was taken?

I chose #3 – Tell us about something that is haunting you.

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My dad called me a few days ago and told me that he ran into an old flame of mine – my first love. My heart did its typical flutter like it does any time I hear his name, and then my dad dropped the bomb – he’s suffering from cancer and isn’t doing very well. And then my heart broke.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my husband and I don’t regret a minute of our life together. But there is something about that first love. The first real love. Not the first boyfriend, which is rarely serious – mine was a kid I knew forever all through elementary school & we held hands in class during film strips. Not the first kiss – he was short-lived and slobbery. Not the first date – I’m not even sure I remember who that was. Not the first “puppy love” – he was special, but still a “puppy.” Not the first intimate relationship – it was more about proving I was an adult and “just getting it over with” than any sort of (real) love. No – I’m talking about the first real, true love. The first relationship that felt like an adult relationship – one where we were equals, partners. The first one where forever wasn’t so insane a notion. That is a love that stays with us, no matter how long ago it ended.

And it did end long ago, for sure – about 26 years ago, to be specific. In the interest of full disclosure – I am the one that ended it. I was away at school and he was home – it was hard. I wanted to live and grow and experience and I felt like I couldn’t while in a serious long distance relationship. Maybe I was selfish, but I knew it was the right thing at the time. It wasn’t about other guys or dating – it was just the feeling of spreading my wings for the first time and feeing like I couldn’t fly if I was tethered to someone on the ground.  I realized later that instead of weighing me down, he never did anything but lift me up.

It wasn’t that I regretted my decision – I knew that I was making the right choice for me at the time. But I always felt like the timing was off – that it wasn’t the relationship itself that was the problem, but the period in our lives when the relationship was happening. I always felt like we had the right thing and that if it would have been at the right time, it would have been perfect. He was, and always will be, the biggest “might-have-been” in my life.

I know this sounds like longing, but it’s not (except maybe a longing for my youth – for those days, that life). Like I said – I love my life as it is. But the first real love stays with your forever in one way or another. For some it’s a painful memory – full of heartache. For the lucky ones (and I count myself among them), it’s a beautiful memory – full of happiness. But a beautiful memory can be bittersweet. The important thing to remember (whether it’s you or a spouse/partner) is that bittersweet doesn’t actually mean sad, or imply longing, or disappointment in your current life. It just means that someone touched your heart and their fingerprint will remain there forever, reminding you of a happy time, a happy life. It means you’re lucky enough to have something to look back on and smile, even if it stings just a little.

And so what now? Well, the answer to that can only be “nothing.” Not nothing, exactly, but pretty close. We humans tend to want to fix things. When something bad goes on, we want to do something. Doing something makes us feel better. But sometimes your feeling better isn’t the best for anyone else. I want to call him and tell him I am thinking of him. Or bring meals to their house to help his family. Or tell his children stories about him as a young man. I want to comfort him. But it’s not my place anymore. It’s not my life anymore. All I can do is hope & pray that he gets well. And sit here, haunted by our past, and his future, and my own mortality.

Depression is

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When I was young, I used to throw the word “depression” around with reckless abandon. Broke up with a boyfriend? I was depressed. Fighting with my mother? Depressed. Being grounded the night of a big party? OMG, like totally depressed. I wish I could tell that girl to stop. Just stop it right now and be glad you don’t know what depression really is. Because someday I would know.

I have written about depression before, but that was more about what it does to you, versus, what it is, how it feels.

Until reality slapped me in the face, I thought depression was simply sadness. The blues. But I found out soon enough that depression isn’t simply being sad. I found out that depression is different for everyone. Sure – it can be sadness, but it can be a million other things, too.

Regardless of what depression is to you, one thing you can count on is that depression makes everything more difficult. The next smile, the next step, the next breath – they are all an effort. One you constantly wonder if it is worth making (and don’t worry, I do know it is worth making). It’s a voice telling you that you can’t. It’s a vice grip, holding you down. It’s a false face that few can see beyond.

For me, depression is sometimes something like apathy. Instead of feeling sad (or happy, or content, or tired, or energetic, etc), I feel…nothing. I don’t know that it is truly apathy. Sometimes I think I am truly feeling nothing and other times, I wonder if it is just my subconscious protecting me – shoving the feelings down deep where they can’t hurt me. Either way, it’s hard to deal with. It feels wrong to have a fight with your spouse, or get bad news, or whatever, and not feel it. Sometimes I think that no pain is worse than pain. At least if you feel it, you can be human. Instead, I sometimes feel like a robot – a human failure. And that hurts, so I guess I do feel something. Just not the right things. It’s like being a robot. Or wearing a mask that you can’t take off, no matter how hard you try.

Sometimes it’s irritation. Things that would normally make you laugh now annoy you. People you love make your skin crawl just by sitting next to you. Your kids giggle, or climb in your lap (something that you normally love) and you want to scream. How horrible is that? I’ll tell you – it’s AWFUL. You feel like a terrible person, a horrible parent, a monster not worthy of their love.

Everyday, normal tasks are like climbing Everest. Simple choices are impossible. Going to the grocery store – with all the choices and aisles and products and people – can send you into a panic, forcing you to cry, or throw a bunch of random crap in your cart, or even abandon the cart and run from the store (maybe even all three).

Sometimes it’s a feeling of being constantly out of sorts – feeling like something is wrong, but not knowing what. Like it’s right there – just out of your reach – but  you can’t quite figure it out. This leads to restlessness, which makes you feel like you want to pace the floor. Or run a mile. Or run a marathon. But at the same time, depression takes away your energy – it makes you weak. You can’t burn the restlessness off when you can barely make yourself get up from the couch. This leaves you sighing constantly, feeling exasperated. Feeling entirely disgusted with yourself and what you’ve become.

Depression makes you not care. Not care how you look or where you go or who you talk to. Or even if you talk to anyone. Depression makes a get-together with friends you love seem like an insurmountable task. Getting up, getting ready, driving, parking, making small talk – it’s all just too much sometimes.  Even putting a damned smile on your face – the simplest thing in the world, right? Not for someone with depression. Sometimes it’s hard to smile when you don’t feel anything.

And even if the getting up and the getting ready and the small talk weren’t too much for you to handle, the thought of smiling at people when they can clearly see it’s fake is too much. You don’t want to subject your friends to a smile that never reaches your eyes. You don’t want them to ask what’s wrong. Not because it’s a secret or anything, but because it’s just…too much.

So you pass. You pass on the parties, you pass on the dinners, you pass on New Year’s Eve (I’m sorry, friends), on shopping trips, on jumping in a freezing river, which you – inexplicably – usually love (again – sorry, my friends), on just hanging out. And then you feel ashamed. You worry that your friends will stop inviting you. You hope they don’t. Every time you turn them down, you long to say, to beg, really, “Please don’t stop asking!” because even when you can’t manage to say yes, sometimes the asking is all you have to cling to – the knowledge that when you escape the tentacles, there will be someone there who loves you despite the fact that you’re a robot, a freak, a downer, no damned fun. That someone can see beyond the mask you wear. That someone feels that you’re still worth it.