Once

Once there lived a girl afraid to call herself a woman. She grew older, not quite old yet but not as young as she once was. She struggled to find herself, to find a career, to find a purpose.

She found herself working at a shop and felt ashamed. To be a cashier, to take money for goods and answer asinine questions and to have no greater purpose than this, at the place where she spent a lot of her time. To be a background figure in the days of others. To spend time not helping, not healing, not hearing, not seeing.

She feared that this would be her life. That she would grow into being a woman, to grow older in truth, and remain working in a shop with no greater purpose. To lose what little creativity she had left, to have the lacking within her grow to untold proportions, to sleep and work and exist and do nothing more.

The story goes one of two ways: she does. She works as a cashier, and then maybe as something else, and drifts from job to job without finding her purpose. She spends the majority of her time existing rather than living. She forgets how to write except rarely, the creativity and dreams and lies and loves fade, and it is what it is: a life, not lived.

Or she doesn’t. She struggles to find her way out of this hole that she’s in, finds a purpose, finds her stride, and breaks out of the monotony and mundane nature of her life at present, and learns how to rejoice. It may take time. Time is hard. But time is all we have until we don’t.

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Drowning

I’m drowning in guilt and fear. I don’t know what I’m going to do about my student loans. Take that back: I do know what I’m going to do. I’m going to pray that income-based repayment works. I’m going to work full-time in retail to pay for them. I’m going to pray my husband is understanding and not condemning of the fact that I will be under these loans for the rest of my life. And I’m going to pray that our future president(s) do something about this, because now, like the rest of this country, I’m buried under debt I didn’t, couldn’t understand. I went to college because I was supposed to. Because that was the path. That was what was supposed to happen to be successful and happy and to make money. I chose wrongly. I chose, and it wasn’t lucrative. I chose, and I was naive and idealistic. I chose and I’ll never make enough for it to be worth it, and I feel so guilty that I’ve exposed my husband to this. I feel so guilty that I’ve stuck us with this. And I don’t know how I’ll ever make up for it.

Dead friends.

I never liked it when you smoked. It wasn’t your worst vice by far; not even close. Somehow, though, it was worse than when you cut yourself and needed me to stitch you up–when you came back from war and woke from nightmares, silent because you knew you couldn’t scream–when your doctor threatened to lock you up if you didn’t talk to someone besides me about what was happening. I’m not sure why, after it all, that your smoking still bothered me.

It bothers me more that you’re dead.

You know, it would’ve been easier if you had killed yourself. You had drilled me for it, trained me to expect it, told our friends how to tell me when it happened, or if you’d died in war. You had notes written, emails to be sent, notifications that would let me know it had finally happened. But this? You died because of brain surgery?

I didn’t expect that one.

I wasn’t there. I couldn’t say goodbye. I couldn’t even fly out for the damned funeral. Instead I fell on my knees on the floor next to a puddle of dog vomit and cried so hard that I couldn’t breathe. You’d seen me cry like that so many times, but it had never been because of you before.

I dream that you aren’t dead, that I have to rescue you. That you faked your own death to stay safe, that I have to find you. And I can’t. I can’t rescue you, and if I find you, I wake up to the reality that you’re fucking dead, and I loved you, and I can’t do anything about either one of those facts.

I’m married now, you know. I’m married, and I’m in therapy, and I haven’t cut myself in almost five years. You’d be so proud of me. But there are so many problems, so many things that only you would understand. Only you would know how to deal with me at my lowest. There’s no one, NO ONE else in my life that has seen me cut. No one that understands why I did it, or what it meant to me, and why I still long for it now. There’s no one left that wouldn’t be disappointed if I did it again. No one left to talk to about how I feel, because everyone else in my life can’t understand.

You were my best friend, and you died, and you died on terms that weren’t your own. You were so content to have this surgery. Thought it would help. Knew it would help stop the headaches, the cerebrospinal fluid that leaked out of your eyes. Surgery after surgery until you didn’t wake up.

I don’t remember what the last thing I said to you was.

The last time you hugged me was in a graveyard.

I don’t know how to be, when you’re dead.

Exercises in humility.

Well, it had to happen some time. I got called for my first substitute job today…and went home about 15 minutes later. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I looked at the lesson plan and…that was it. It’s learning objectives, not really a lesson plan the way that tells you what order to do things in or when to do them or what, exactly, the exercise is. The teachers getting me settled basically helped me decide that I need to observe a hell of a lot before I actually sub.

So many people kept telling me that you need no experience to sub, that you don’t need to know anything, yet I couldn’t do it. What does that mean for me? Were they wrong or was I? Am I going to be a good teacher or was this the universe telling me that I suck? What should I do now?

I’m observing an English class tomorrow at the same school. I feel awful for letting them down. For letting myself down. For letting down the people who were excited for me to do this today. And now I don’t know what to do or why.

Yeah, it’s a mental health blog.

Well, this is what I’m focusing on in my life right now, so I’m giving in: right now I’m working on my mental health, and blogging to process might help with the Brand New Therapist I acquired last week.  School for kiddies is starting next week and I’m on the list to be a substitute at one (soon two) schools, which scares the hell out of me.  I have no idea what I’m doing.  I hope I’ll do well.  We all know how much I like change and new situations.

I’m tired.  I’m tired of worrying that I’ll never be ready to have a child.  Or that if I get pregnant my eating disorder will rear its head in a way that I won’t be able to handle.  Or that post-partum depression and my post-partum body will destroy me.  Or that I’ll be one of that small percentage of women who thinks it was a mistake, and that no matter how much I love my child, I’ll wonder if I made a mistake.

I sound so selfish when I say that. That’s what I’m afraid of–that I’m too selfish.  I feel like I’m just reiterating everything that I’ve said before.  Maybe that’s why I stopped blogging for awhile; I just keep saying the same damn thing over and over again and nothing changes.  I’m really hoping that this new therapist will be useful.  The fact that therapy scares me and I hate it seems to indicate that it’s what I should be doing.  Maybe now things will change.

Back.

It was hard.  It was so incredibly hard to fly back, to see the town I spent my first 25 years in.  To go out to dinner with my family and know that I have no idea when it’ll happen again. I spent some time with my cousin, the closest thing I have to a sister, and I don’t know when I’ll see her again.  And I stayed at my mom’s house.

I saw my cat that I had to leave behind, because he doesn’t travel well (understatement).  I saw our house, our first house, the one my mom bought after we spent so long in the apartment, the house she still lives in.  And it didn’t feel like home, but it did, because she was there.

Moving away from my mom was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  And maybe that makes me co-dependent; maybe it makes me weak or childish.  I don’t know what it makes me, but it hurts, and it hurts all the time.  I don’t know if it will ever stop hurting, if I’ll ever stop praying that we can live in the same town together.  I don’t know if that secret, selfish wish will ever change, or if I’ll ever be less devastated when I have to leave, or when she does.

All I know is that I’m back and all I want to do is cry.

A long hiatus.

For a long time, I had nothing to say.  Nothing that wasn’t the same; struggles with housing, struggles with depression, struggles with work.  And things have changed–and they haven’t.  We finally got our house, with a beautiful backyard for The Wonderpup.  I’m not a horrifying stepmother that hates her stepchild, though there are times that I want to smack some common sense into her little head.  (Especially because at ten, she didn’t know the definition of common sense…literally.)  I miss NY, but it doesn’t quite feel like home anymore, after going back for the wedding (going back for one day in two weeks, will let you know if that feeling changes.)

I have friends here, people that would miss me if I wasn’t around.  I have clients that tell me I’m a special person because of the care that I take with their dogs while we’re working.  I have school that will hopefully find me in a career that I’ll enjoy.

And now, I’m trying to find the courage to pick up my cellphone and call the therapist whose number has been sitting on my desk for a week.

I read a lot of blogs.  A lot of mental health blogs, mommy blogs, family blogs–and I wonder if some day this will be a mommy blog.  Or if it will be a mental health blog detailing the fact that I have a child and am not sure if it was the right decision.  Or a mental health blog lamenting the fact that I couldn’t make up my mind and it’s too late.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready, as ready as someone can be for something that you can’t get ready for.  I know that it’s the unknowable future, that you can’t ever predict what it will be like or if it will be what you wanted or expected until you’re in the middle of it and you can’t exactly take it back once it’s done.  I need a therapist, and I’m afraid of finding out what’s going on in my head and what it will mean for me–for us.

Stay tuned.