I Am Alive

You know when it’s 12:40 in the morning and you’ve just finished working on a project you started nearly two hours ago because it’s normal to start working at 10:46 PM. And you’re listening to an audiobook of some sub-genre of a self-help book because God knows you can’t help yourself these days but you get bored or really triggered by the book—but you can’t decide which—so you turn it off and try to listen to whatever music is trending on Spotify.

And you realize you don’t get today’s music. So you switch to 90s alt-rock or something called “Dreamy Vibes.”

Well, you might be turning 36 this month. Or, at least, I am.

If you know me, you know how deeply I love my birthday.

Here’s a truth: Those who deal, daily, with depression and anxiety feel really fucking lucky to make it to their next birthday. It’s just a fact. My new diagnosis of Treatment Resistant Depression and the subsequent med change has me feeling like April 25th is a day to shout from the rooftops that, “I AM ALIVE!”

I feel fine. Most days. I’m still very, very tired. I am fighting very hard to beat this particular side effect of my treatment. It might help if I went to bed at a normal time as my husband suggests. Repeatedly. But my body is still in some weird transition period. It will work itself out in time. It always does. The fact that I’m just exhausted and not actively thinking of ways to harm myself is a huge step forward.

But some days are hard. Some days are hard even when you’re not fighting the demons inside your own head. Life can be hard. Period. Raising two sons under my roof? Hard. Being a present and supportive birth mom even when it would be easier to hide away from the truth of what your choice meant to a large number of people? Really hard. Getting out of bed when you feel worthless? Well, that’s so hard I don’t have a word for it. But I’m doing it.

I’m doing it.

Or I’m trying to do it. Something in between the two.

Someone called me Super Woman today. I laughed because, boy, do I have the whole world fooled. Today I put on a base layer of makeup, some mascara, some clothes that hid the parts of me that I literally, viscerally hate, and I did the things that needed to be done. I carried on conversations with people who aren’t part of my inner circle. I worked really hard to get my business jobs done and my home-life jobs done. I made a healthy meal for my sons despite being on a crazy, wonky baseball season schedule. I took dogs on walks. I didn’t drive across a wide ass state and give a teenager a talking to about what is and is not appropriate to text my daughter; this was the hardest of things to do today, if you’re wondering. I learned new software. I wrote a poem because it’s both National Journaling Month and National Poetry Month and, goodness, sometimes my words make more sense when they’re written in five lines of jagged Jenna-cursive-slash-whatever-it-is-I-write in a notebook, black ink on white paper. I don’t show you those. I don’t show anyone those. Maybe someday.

I do so much.
Yet I feel like I’m worth so little.

And this is the truth of my everyday.

In three weeks, or, looking at the time again, two weeks and six days, I’ll celebrate another birthday. Despite being miles ahead of where I was two years ago at this time, I’m still struggling to just be okay. Maybe not struggling. Fighting. Fighting each step of the way because I know there’s hope on the other side of this; I know I’m going to make it through this dark night.

There’s a new tattoo in my future. And a mole removal. And some meme I saw said that if you wore those black, slip on, platform Steve Madden sandals in the 90s, it’s time for Botox. I’ve seen my wrinkles appear this year. And I literally don’t give a fuck.

Aging means I’m alive. I’m still going to dye my hair for the time being; my grandmother was completely gray at an age younger than I am now. I’m not ready, but I’m aware. I’m still getting zits, so I can’t be that old. But I refuse to subscribe to a belief that my late 30’s mean anything more than the world.

I. Am. Alive.
I am thankful.

Thank you, Amy, for all you did. May your legacy live on through those of us whose lives you touched. Our stories aren’t over yet;

There Is Light

Surprises

I don’t tell the boys when we approach a visit with their sister.

Part of this stems from the true joy I have in surprising my sons with just about everything under the sun. I absolutely love watching their faces when they either realize where we’re going or what is about to happen… or the sheer joy when I pull off a 100% shocking surprise. Oh, that’s my favorite.

I should note that I loathe surprises and if my parents had done this to me I’d probably require more therapy than I already do. I thought maybe working surprises into the boys’ lives might help in that regard. Parenting is a crapshoot at best, and they seem to like it. So we stick with it.

And part of it stems from a few smaller known issues.

Plans can change. When plans change, feelings can get hurt and emotions can run high. While our home is a safe space for big emotions, I really try to avoid letting them down. I hold enough guilt for how my actions well before they were born continue to let them down in a number of ways. I acknowledge that the whole “letting down” thing is going to happen in their lives, but I try to minimize it where and when I can. I mean, I also regularly let them down because I’m a boring curmudgeon of a mother. You know, there’s that.

There’s their excitement and, hand in hand with that, anxiety. “Is she here yet,” quickly escalates to an argument over who gets to sit next to her in the car. (Meanwhile, the both do, because she sits in the middle.) While some might see that as sibling rivalry extending into our unique family unit, I recognize my sons’ personalities and anxieties for what they are: They worry they won’t get enough one-on-one time with their sister. Gut punch.

Lastly, a totally selfish reason: I’m anxious enough about visits for approximately eleven billion reasons. Do I have enough food and snacks and drinks for everyone? Is the house clean enough? How many times will Callie excitedly pee on the floor? How much is too much? How much is not enough? How do we fit in all I want to do? Is there enough down time for a bunch of introverts and Nicholas? How do I properly process my emotions on the fly during a visit? How hard will the boys crash emotionally on Sunday when they leave? How hard will I crash on Sunday night when the boys go to sleep?

And so on.

I no longer fret about what to wear. I did realize last visit that we only take them to the same restaurants every time, so we’re gonna change it up a little bit this time around. But my brain can spin out of control if I let it. When the boys aren’t asking me eleventy billion questions about the visit, I have time and space to breathe, to make room for the emotions that are not only allowed to exist but continue to help push me toward some semblance of healing and peace.

Every single time I mindfully enter into a visit with an attitude of humble acceptance instead of anxious expectancy, I feel a growth and a change inside my soul. Oh, it’s still hard as fuck when she leaves. There’s no sugar-coating that truth. But I’ve noticed when I take that purposeful approach to a visit and practice some good self-care before hand, good things happen somewhere deep inside where things lay buried.

Remind me of this on Friday afternoon. I’m also hoping to snap reactionary photos of the boys seeing their sister, which should be at two totally separate times thanks to baseball (which has us at the field Monday through Saturday this year, folks!). For the past year and a half, I have witnessed that all on my own. I’m hoping to capture it this time. It’s truly a thing of beauty—something we worked hard to make a safe space for all.

Progress. She happens, especially after a period of hard, dark personal growth. Spring is here, and there is light.

Surprises