This warrior is going to cut out her bit of sky

Tears flowed easily all morning as I felt pain radiate from my burned hand and crawl all over my body. It coursed like blood through me, stabbing me with the overwhelming sadness that has become my default emotion.

I made myself get out of my car and sit under a tree in front of my children’s school. No more tears, Bridgette. Just write your sadness.

My injured hand jerked across the paper as I wrote sappy poems about the meaning of life, letters to my younger self and declarations of finding happiness.

Then I looked up and one of my friends was standing there. The sunlight shining through the trees framed her face and she looked like an angel.

“You looked sad, so I thought I’d come over.”

We chatted for a few minutes about the book she just completed, our children and the power of music.

This is life, I thought.

Connection.

Love.

Compassion.

She picked up her boy from kindergarten and then brought over a CD of the band we had been talking about. As she pulled away in her truck, she and her joyous boy called and waved to me.

Thank you for that act of love friend.

You pulled me back.

Sometimes I feel like a caricature of sadness, like I have one of those little storm clouds drawn over my head with rain falling on me.

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It’s ridiculous and I want to slap myself awake.

But it is what it is.

I have been using that expression for weeks now. During that time, I’ve barely written anything. I’m not running. I’m impatient and being a crap wife, mother, daughter and friend.

It is what it is, though, right?

I’ve been telling myself that I’m using that phrase because I’ve reached a place of acceptance.

Nope.

It’s just another excuse. Another way to say “poor me” and not make myself accountable for my actions.

It is what it is.

Blah.

Enough already.

Time to fight.

That CD my friend gave me is a band called “Nahko and Medicine for the People.”

This is the stuff.

Seriously good medicine.

One song in particular, “Warrior People,” has become my rallying cry. I’ve been listening to it about a dozen times a day and singing it loudly until my voice cracks. Some of my favorite lyrics:

“I’m just a human being on another fucking journey.”

“I teach my children who to trust and how to listen.”

“I will learn to be peaceful but I keep my knife at my side.”

“Used to be restless, now I am relentless.”

“Everything you do in life is definitely relevant.”

I’m really getting bored and tired of feeling like an injured puppy lying around licking my wounds.

Time to be the warrior that I know I am.

As I write these words, I can’t help but feel like a broken record on repeat. I’ve said them before. I’ve been in this place before. I keep feeling stronger, but then…

It’s always something.

There is always another stumble down the stairs of sadness.

Always.

And it’s OK.

I have lots of fight left in me.

As I struggle along, I keep my eyes upward these days. The sky has become a beacon of hope for me. I stare up and remind myself how small I am and how truly out of my hands some things are.

“He built himself a house,
his foundations,
his stones,
his walls,
his roof overhead,
his chimney and smoke.

He made himself a garden,
his fence,
his thyme,
his earthworm,
his evening dew.

He cut out his bit of sky above. And he wrapped the garden in the sky and the house in the garden and packed the lot in a handkerchief and went off lone as an arctic fox through the cold unending rain into the world.”

–“Fairy Tale”, Miroslav Holub

sky

Fear, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing

She is screaming in terror again. Afraid to walk into her own bedroom, she cowers and shakes her legs. As I push her to go through the door, face her fear, her anger turns on me.

“You just don’t understand me,” she screams.

I know she believes that with every ounce of her little body.

Yet, I do get it, my darling daughter.

Fear is something I understand intimately.

This week I had a car accident. I escaped with a few injuries, but my car did not. The events are on a loop in my brain, robbing me of sleep and keeping me quite tightly wound in fear.

Driving down a country road at 40 mph, a white van tried to cross right in front of me. I had no time to stop. I screamed and slammed on my brakes, but it wasn’t good enough. I hit the side of the van, the airbag opened and I just sat there in a cloud of smoke. I had been talking on my hands-free to a friend. I was on my way to deliver chocolate milk to his sick child. He heard it all.

Fear.

I stumbled out of the car and sat on the curb. Police officers were everywhere and I was very confused. Someone put a blanket on my shoulders and my hand hurt bad enough for me to scream and cry. I looked down and it was burned. Some chemical from the airbag was burning my skin.

Fear.

My friend arrives and so does an ambulance. The driver of the van was a parole officer and that’s why there are police everywhere. I sign forms, answer questions and do what I am told. It’s all a blur. My hand throbs whenever ice is removed and all I keep thinking about is my children, my friends and my family.

Fear.

It could have been so much worse. That morning could have been the last time my children saw me. My friend could have heard my death while on the phone with me. My husband, mother and brother would be left with nothing but memories of me. Someday my children would read the journals I’d left behind and wonder at this mother that was so consumed with pain, anger and depression.

I would be leaving a legacy of fear.

That is not what I want.

I sit on my daughter’s floor and we are looking at each other. She is shaking again as she retells the story she heard at school that has been the cause of her anxiety and fear for about three weeks now.

A mother and daughter are playing a game in their house. The daughter’s eyes are blindfolded and she reaches her arms out in front of her. The mother claps and the girl follows it. At some point the mother goes into the kitchen to cook, but the girl is still playing. Clapping comes from the closet. The girl walks toward it, thinking it is her mother. Red eyes and hands appear and grab her. She disappears.

Tears stream down her face again at the retelling. I hold her and let her cry. I’m out of tricks and I’m so tried.

Stupid fear.

I have tried everything in my mommy arsenal to combat this for her. I have rubbed her back, let her follow me around like a shadow, slept with her, used natural calming oils, woken up all hours of the night to comfort her and talked endlessly about fear.

Nothing is working. She is jumpy, quick to tears and still as scared as ever.

“You just don’t understand me,” she says again in an exasperated tone. “You have never been this afraid.”

As I hold her, all the stupid fears that I live with daily swirl around me. They are all so limiting, debilitating and so ridiculously boring.

Suddenly I am angry.

Stop acting like your mother.

Be stronger.

Be tougher.

Be more.

She is looking at me and I see so much of myself reflected back. All my imperfections and insecurity just mirrored back at me in this little concentrated form.

I do understand you, my love, and I am sorry.

“I can’t fight your fears for you,” I say while I stroke her cheek with my injured hand. “You have to do it. You have the power.”

“I can’t mommy,” she says. “I just can’t.”

“You can, my love. You will. There is no other option. You are tougher than you think.”

We lock eyes and she smiles a teeny bit.

Brother walks over. He has been fighting his fear too, but he has found a way to conquer it. No longer is he shadowing me or refusing to sleep in his room.

“Pretend you are a puppy,” he tells his sister. “You are learning and you might not always get it the first time, but you keep trying.”

He barks and licks her hand.

They both laugh.

Yes, my boy, we are puppies.

Sometimes we bark and chase our tail in the pure joy of the moment. Sometimes we chew up the couch and sit back and wonder at the destruction we caused.

We deserve instant forgiveness, endless chances and boundless love.

We all do.

There are moments when the monster wins

Walking up the stairs with my arms full of laundry and my coffee cup balanced on the top, I tripped.

I didn’t fall, but my knee hit the stairs and I dropped everything. The hot coffee burned the front of me and also managed to get on most of the newly cleaned white clothes I’d been carrying.

On another day, I’d probably laugh or curse. Or maybe I’d do both.

Not today.

Today the tears I’d been holding back came rushing forward violently. Before I knew it, I had to sit as my body convulsed with sobs, the deep kind that take over every inch of your body. I felt like my insides were ripping apart and that nothing could ever be right again.

After a few minutes, I stopped.

Grabbing a white sock to dab my eyes, I started to clean up the mess. I’d have to wash all the clothes again, spray clean the carpet, wipe down the walls and put burn cream on my chest.

I moved through the motions trying to squash down the pain inside and just go forward, but I could feel it clawing at me. Its talons scratching my gut, begging me to just succumb to it.

So, I made my way to my bed. Pulling the covers over my head, I let it come. The pain didn’t disappoint. It was faithful in its ability to crush me and tear at me. I buried my head in my pillow and screamed.

This happens sometimes.

The weight of life just crushes me and everything just becomes too much.

My mind becomes a prison in which I am stuck reliving decisions and fighting against my own reality. Over and over the same records play until I want to smash them against the wall.

Then the fantasy takes over and my mind becomes a blur of alternative realities where I’m not here in this bed screaming in pain, but I’m happy and living a completely different life constructed from dreams of what might have been.

Sadness, disappointment, grief, regrets, guilt and fear all swirl around until it almost becomes a game to see how deeply I can feel.

Then it just stops.

The tears cease, my gut unclenches and I roll onto my back and look at the ceiling. I will myself to slow my breath and to be calm.

I roll onto my side and look at the green walls of my bedroom.

Flashes of the day my husband and I painted it run through my head, along with images of cool forests and tall trees.

I stare at the walls and concentrate on being here.

I’m right here.

Scanning the room, I take in all the little mementos of the life I have.

Moon lanterns made at camp, my collection of old perfume bottles that were my grandmothers, a painting of a creek running through a forest that hung in my childhood home and two large pictures of my children as babies.

My boy. In this picture he has this little drop of drool right on his chin and he is staring straight at the camera. I love looking at those sweet wispy curls and I still get lost in those amazingly bright blue eyes.

My girl. She is wearing this adorable pink knitted bonnet and dress that her grandma made her and is lying on her tummy. Those soft and chubby cheeks fill the picture and I remember how I couldn’t stop kissing them.

Nothing is so bad that I can’t endure.

Sacrifice.

It’s what being grownup is all about.

Sarah: That’s not fair!

Jareth (Goblin king): You say that so often, I wonder what your basis for comparison is?

–Labyrinth

Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

–The Princess Bride

I’m up and writing, but that monster is still calling me back to bed. I can feel its pull, almost hear its talons clicking together in anticipation of ripping at my gut some more. It doesn’t always give me a choice, but today I have some fight in me.

I’m going to fight.

Time to shower and leave my home.

Reinforcements, a good book and coffee, are greatly needed.

Sadly, I am acutely aware that I am not even close to alone in this battle and that so many will relate to this piece. Know that although I am often lost in my war, I am here to support yours. If you need an ally, you’ve found one.

I’m still here.

bridgette

The monster strikes at midnight

“Mommy! Mom! Help!”

Jolted awake, I sit up in bed. I look at the clock and think it must have been a dream. Just as I settle back onto my pillow, I hear the most frightening scream.

“Mom! Help me! I’m so scared. Where are you?”

The sound of his voice sends me bolting out my bedroom door. His panic and intensity scares me so much that I almost fall.

I look in his room and he isn’t there.

His voice sounds far away and I start to panic.

“Where are you?” I yell.

“Downstairs bathroom! Hurry mom! Help me!”

Heart pounding I leap down the stairs and run toward the bathroom. As I do, horrible images enter my head and it feels like an eternity until I reach him.

There he is. Sitting on the toilet. He is completely naked. Tears are streaming down his face and he is shaking.

“Why are you downstairs? What is wrong?” I yell.

My husband enters the bathroom right behind me. I hear my daughter calling out now from her bed.

“What is wrong?” I yell again.

“I was going to the bathroom and then this terrible, scary bug came at me,” he sobs. “I was screaming for you forever. I think it’s by the door now. I am so scared.”

We look near the door and see it.

Another fucking centipede.

You have to be kidding me.

I cradle him in my arms and calm him down.

“It’s OK,” I say. “Daddy will kill it. It’s just a bug. Your safe.”

My husband jumps into super protector mode and kills it with a broom. I gather it up with toilet paper and we flush it down the toilet.

I follow my boy into his bedroom. He grabs his panda, snuggles under the covers and slowly starts to settle down.

“Don’t you EVER do that to me again,” I tell him.

“Sorry mommy,” he says. “I was so scared.”

“I know love, I know.”

After his breath returns to normal and he is settled in, I quickly check on my daughter and head to bed.

The second I enter the safety of my room I start to laugh hysterically.

It’s just all so ridiculous.

In a matter of seconds the laughs turn into sobs.

Big, giant sobs that take me down.

My husband looks on in confusion, and I can’t explain it.

Sometimes it’s all just too much.

I spent my afternoon holding a dear friend who had fallen hard into the darkness and weight of depression and pain. It was a dark day and it scared me.

I know that feeling.

I fear it.

I pray it never returns.

I go to therapy every week to keep from letting it take hold of me again.

When I get home I see the news of the death of Robin Williams.

Bam.

Pow.

Ouch.

Here it is again.

Depression isn’t something to be taken lightly or that can be “willed away” by people who love you.

Sometimes all the good, wonderful things in the world aren’t enough.

The pain can be deeper and more pervasive than love.

I sit and weep for my friend, for others who have lost the battle and for myself.

After a few minutes I stop.

I go back to my son, grab him up and hug him hard. He returns it with full force.

“I love you so much,” I tell him. “You know that right?”

He smiles and makes his sweet little cooing sound.

“Yep. I love you momma.”

Today is another day.

cooper

NOTE: I have been humbled by all the love and support that has poured my way regarding “Exposed by my children for what I really look like.” I can’t answer all your emails, but know that I’m grateful to each and every one of you that have written me. May you all see your beauty and embrace it.

Something is happening here

All the windows were rolled down and the sunroof open. My hair whipped about my face and I was smiling.

Really smiling.

The kids and I had a fantastic morning highlighted by a delicious breakfast, lots of book talk and my daughter squeezing “I Love You” into my hand in the secret way my grandma taught me when I was her age.

As I sang and danced alone on the drive back home, I could sense something different about me. Something is happening.

My fears about my depression deepening again seem to be subsiding and I’m feeling hopeful.

Summer is coming.

I painted a picture of the sun and decided to turn it into a Summer Countdown.

Each ray of sun gets us closer to the freedom of lazy mornings, swimming with friends and staying up late.

Each ray of sun stands for another day that I’m working on myself and learning how to undo years of twisted and negative thinking.

Each ray of sun is a possibility and a chance to make things better.

Summer is coming and I’m no longer afraid.

I’m excited.

Bring it on!

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Fish Tank and the Fear

The first thing I noticed was this very tiny little crab inside his shell. He was moving slowly across the bottom. I could not see very much of him, just a feeler here or there.

I tracked his movement and tried to focus on matching my breath to the rhythm of the water.

“Sheila.”

The only other woman in the room left and I was alone.

My breath quickened and I stood up. My legs and arms were restless and I felt ready to bolt. Walking all around the tank I took in the variety of life contained within the glass walls.

I tracked three blue fish with yellow tails as they chased each other the distance of the tank.

A tiny clownfish skidded out from behind a rock and then disappeared into a green sea anemone.

Two red critters with a handful of long white feelers and two beady black eyes scrambled up and down the rocks. They stayed in constant motion and appeared to be eating the algae.

spikeThen I see him, a big ball of sharp spikes. Very slowly he moves out from behind a rock. He is huge compared to the other life in the tank. His spikes look hard and sharp. Nothing is messing with this guy.

I peer in closer and I’m taken aback by his one orange eye right in the middle of all the spikes. This bulging eye is surrounded by microscopic hairs with a bluish tint. As I watch, he slowly blinks.

“Bridgette.”

My turn.

“Its been a really long time since we’ve seen you.”

“I know. Four years.”

“Well, we are glad your here.”

I sit down in the chair and grip both armrests. As I’m lowered back and I open my mouth for the x-rays, I try not to think all the horrible thoughts that have been swirling in my mind.

This is going to be painful.

I’m sure I have thousands of dollars of work that needs to be done.

We can’t afford this.

What if they have to pull all my teeth out?

They are going to see how badly I have neglected myself.

Embarrassment and fear threaten to overtake me and I try to remember to breathe.

“Are you okay?”

I nod and try to stop shaking.

After the x-rays she starts cleaning my teeth.

My mouth fills with the taste of blood.

The taste of neglect.

The taste of fear.

My mind keeps returning to the Spike Ball in the tank. Is that even an eye? Are his spikes for protection or purely camouflage? Does he have a consciousness?

Scrape. Rinse. Suction. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

At some point it is over and the dentist comes in. I close my eyes as he looks in my mouth and then at my x-rays.

“You OK?”

I nod.

“I know it’s bad,” I say.

I start to say more.

Maybe I should tell him about my depression and the days that I just couldn’t do anything. Should I make excuses about being busy…or being a mother…or…

He chuckles and stands up.

“We are done here. You have no cavities. Your gums are inflamed from lack of flossing, but that’s easily fixed. Floss and they will heal. See you in 6 months.”

He smiles, pats my arm and walks out.

All that fear that I’ve carried.

Four fucking years of it.

Gone.

I’m stuck feeling lucky and unworthy of such good news.

How many hours have I spent in self-loathing and disgust about my mouth?

My body?

My everything.

I know I’m not alone in this crazy, fear-induced way of thinking. This twisted ability to take the worst case scenario and let it keep me from getting the information I need.

I can’t exercise because I’m too fat and out of shape.

I don’t want to see the doctor about that pain, because what if it’s cancer.

I’m not going to see a therapist because what if they want to medicate me.

I’m not going to finish writing my book because nobody will want to read it.

My spikes of fear grow and flourish as I feed them misinformation and lies. They grow and cover me in a grotesque shield that doesn’t protect or hide me, it just traps me.

I make a cleaning appointment for November and silently promise myself to keep it.

Walking out I stop by the tank to check out my spiky friend. I find him near a current of water. He winks his eye at me very slowly. I see that his spikes are moving gently in the water. Maybe they aren’t as hard as I thought.

“See you later friend.”

The soup needs to be cooked

Earlier this week I made some chicken broth with the intention of making soup.

This is something I do weekly. Coming back from two vacations, it seemed extra important to jump back into routine and do something normal.

It has been seven days now and still the broth sits.

Seems that normal was not to be this week.

***

It wasn’t until after a few hours that I started to lose hope and a little bit of my sanity. It was around this time that I decided to write a song that included an awesome drum solo (by which I mean me hitting the steering wheel with two pens I found under the seat).

The cars scream past and nobody sees you
Their music is loud and they cannot hear you
The screams in your head do nothing to calm you
The danger you feel is real only to you
You are all alone
You are all alone
Nobody sees you, sees you
Nobody cares
You are all alone
You are all alone
Nobody is going to save you, save you
Nobody cares

You might say that I lost some perspective.

No. This was not a zombie apocalypse, my friends.

Not even close.

My car broke down.

Everything started blinking, all power shut-off and I just barely made it to the side of the road.

At first I was all business. I called my husband.

“Call the tow truck,” he said.

OK. So I called the towing number on my insurance card.

“Stay with your vehicle and someone will be there shortly,” the woman said.

Then my cell phone screen went black and it refused to turn back on.

It was as dead as my car.

No biggie. Help is on the way. I will just get a loaner car and be at school in time to pick up the kids.

I rummage the car looking for something to read.

I find nothing.

Two geese fly by honking loudly.

A drug deal takes place.

Maybe nobody is coming? What if they are trying to call me? How long should I wait?

Several lizards sunning themselves next to my car are startled when I stage an impromptu rock concert.

Another drug deal takes place.

Hope lost, I climb into the back of the car and cry like a 5-year-old. Who am I kidding? It was way more like that end-of-the-world cry that darling 2-year-olds make.

A homeless man opens the car door and asks if I need help.

I start considering walking for it, but the woman said to stay with my car. What if they come the second I start walking?

I count 30 trucks carrying dead trees before that makes me sad and I stop.

Finally a CHP officer drives by and I flag him down.

It was noon.

I’d been sitting in my car for almost 4 hours.

He calls me a new tow truck and tells me it will be $210.

“Sorry,” he says. “You can’t stay on the road.”

He lets me call my husband and I find out he is on route to pick up our boy. Apparently he got something in his eye while gardening and they had been trying to call me all morning to pick him up.

“Pick up the girl too,” I say.

The CHP officer leaves and I fear that the new tow truck will never show either.

Luckily, this one comes in 15 minutes. $210 is a strong motivator.

Family reunites at the car dealership.

The day ends with double karate lessons, a fixed car and a massive bill.

***

It was to be a perfect day. The sun was warm, there was a light breeze and I felt optimistic and happy.

May Day Festival.

I had a new white dress that my mom bought me. The children looked angelic in their white clothes. We cut clippings from our yard and made beautiful crowns to wear.

My phone is still broke, so I took the big camera to document the day.

I took tons of pictures of this most photogenic of days – the colorful ribbons, the blur of dancers, sibling hugs, grandma and the kids with big smiles, our annual sitting in the May Queen’s chair photo and a darling shot of my son with his beautiful teacher.

The pictures were gorgeous.

I could not wait to download them and see them in all their splendid detail.

These are pictures that will be used for our annual calendar and the kids’ birthday books. These are always some of my favorite pictures of the year.

But something happened.

I messed up the download.

The program crashed.

All the pictures are gone.

Forever.

I tried to brush it off.

They are just pictures.

It’s not the end of the world.

Then I collapsed on the bed and sobbed. The kind of cry that leaves your pillow wet, your eyes red and puffy and snot smeared across your face.

I was mad, angry and regretful.

It brought up all the disappointment I feel about everything in my life right now: my home, my parenting, my writing and my weight.

***

This week it hit me that summer is almost here. Only a month left.

That terrifies me.

I love the freedom, flexibility and opportunity that summer offers. Swimming, play dates, camping, late dinners with friends, cherries, sleeping in, cuddles, movies, peaches and day trips.

There is so much to look forward to.

Yet, last summer that freedom provided me too much time to get lost in the chaos of my thoughts.

I don’t want that again.

I’m also very sad that I’m not better. I thought I’d enter this summer healthy, both in mind and body. Not heavier and with less ability to cope with daily stress.

I’m scared of the madness of my depression swallowing me again.

***

The chicken broth is still in that bowl in the fridge.

The family is waiting for me to stop letting little things like a broke car, changed plans or deleted photos end in my inability to move forward.

Tonight I will boil the broth on the stove and fill the pot with squash, onion, sweet potato, carrots, celery and quinoa.

I will let that task anchor me and bring me back from this sense of oblivion and “nothing matters.”

Soup does matter.

My family matters.

Health matters.

Time to stop thinking so much and just move forward.

Some days suck. That will always be true.

But the soup needs to get cooked.

I am OK and stuff like that

treeYesterday I sat in my car for 30 minutes and stared out the window.

I had stuff to do, but really not much time. So instead of being productive, taking a walk, making phone calls, running errands…I just froze. I literally watched some birds in a tree fighting for branch positions.

People keep asking me if I’m OK. They say it with a little head tilt sometimes, and I know it’s out of concern.

I don’t really know how to answer.

“I am doing better,” I say. “Things are good.”

And that is true.

Every morning I get up, do laundry and cook breakfast. I pack lunches and get my kids off to school.

I have set a budget, cut out Starbucks again (a major feat for me) and have focused on really listening to my children when they talk to me.

My house is clean, mostly, and I have started crocheting again.

All good things.

But there are lots of unhealthy choices I am making. I have lists of things to do and really no desire to actually do them.

What I do, instead, is just pour myself into being a great homemaker and mom. I do everything I can to make their lives easier and keep them happy.

The entire time I am doing things, however, this very ugly voice likes to whisper truths to me.

“You are so lazy and fat. Why can’t you take a walk every day? You have time. You are just lazy.”

“You know people who work 3 jobs AND do all the things you do. Maybe you are too stupid to do anything else.”

“Do you realize how freaking lucky you are? You are privileged and you sit around and whine about your life. You are a spoiled brat who doesn’t deserve friends.”

“Don’t meet with people. If you talk to them, they will find out how boring and ignorant you are. You’re a fraud and it is just a matter of time before you are found out.”

“Your kids are going to turn out to be entitled assholes if you keep making their lives so ‘easy.’ You need to stop it. You are not helping.”

These things do not motivate me to do better.

Nope.

But the loop plays anyway and I just freeze and watch birds out my car window like a moron.

Yep.

The other fun thing I have been doing is allowing myself to be drawn into other people’s chaos and disorder. I get wrapped up in it and spend more hours than I care to admit thinking about them and wishing for them to be happy.

I can’t do it anymore. I have said this before, but now I have to make it stick.

I have to.

This is not healthy for me and I don’t end up helping them anyway.

The craziest part, is that I have really amazing people in my life that always take a backseat to the drama. I never have time for them because I wrap myself up in all this other stuff.

I think I’m starting to understand.

It’s ugly people.

You might want to look away.

First, I am drawn to the chaos because I NEED to feel special. I want people to rely on me and trust me. I’ll be the one person you can turn to. I’ll be there when everyone else turns away from you.

Notice how it’s all about ME in this situation? It is not about them at all. I need to “save them” so I can feel better.

I can feel superior even.

Ugh. That realization hurts.

Bad.

Secondly, I am scared. Fearful that I am so damaged that I am not worthy of true friendship.

So. Not. Cool.

I don’t think I am a terrible person. In fact, I like me. I try to find the good in everyone and I REALLY do want to help others.

Trouble is, I don’t know how to do that and I am really bad about boundaries and saying no.

Really bad.

As a result of all this, I have pulled back in the last few years from everyone that I was close to. I have shrunk down inside this depression and kept others at bay. I make excuses and hide behind my kids.

But I am trying.

Really. I am.

My kids had a break from school and I invited over someone I admire and who inspires me. I was nervous. She had never seen my house or met my kids. She is a loving, caring, kind and amazing person. She is the kind of woman I want to be and who I should be around.

The fears were gone the second she came through the door. We had such a lovely, comfortable tea party.

It was so nice.

Last week I invited myself and my kids to another woman’s house that I adore and who I see as an incredible role model. I was very nervous, again. But I fought past those fears and did it anyway. I am so glad I did. I ended up being able to help her re-home her dog to some friends whose dog had died.

None of that would have happened if I had stayed tucked inside and safe.

But I have so much work to do still.

I was supposed to attend an Oscars party. I was excited and looking forward to it all week. I love the Oscars and have never watched them at a party before.

As the days got closer, I started wrapping myself up in self-doubt. I worked myself up into a frenzy of nerves.

“I don’t know what to wear. I have no idea what appetizer to bring. What if I say something stupid? What if…?”

Some friends stopped by a few hours before the party, and I used that as an excuse to just not go. No time to get stuff together, I have to cancel.

My husband knew I really wanted to go and tried to convince me. But I froze. He watched the Oscars with me, but I kicked myself all night. I should have showed up in my sweatpants with some bananas and just not stressed about it. Ugh.

This is stuff you are supposed to have learned in your teens or early 20s…yet here I am.

I see people try with me. They invite me places, they offer to help me and they are kind beyond anything I am worthy of…and I often blow them off.

I don’t mean to.

It just happens.

When I think about myself in the past, I don’t see myself as this introverted person who fears everything. But as I get older, that is exactly who I am becoming. All social occasions now are hard for me to face. I am so scared of what will happen that I’d rather have regret then face my fear.

It’s ridiculous nonsense. All of it.

To all my friends that keep trying with me, please don’t give up. I love you. I do. You have no idea how much. Your phone calls, hugs, texts, FB messages, even (since I’m being stupidly honest) your FB “likes” of my pictures, all help.

I don’t know what happened that made me become this fearful and stuck. Not sure it was a “thing.” It just is.

Yesterday, my daughter and I were waiting for her brother to get out of school. I didn’t want to walk on the campus and talk to people. I was just not feeling like I could do that. I wanted to sit in the car and space out. She was not having that.

She convinced me to take a walk with her. It was a short walk. We walked about five minutes to a spot where we could glimpse the river. She found her favorite hill. She kept going to the top and running down full speed.

“Come on mom,” she said. “It’s so fun! You might crash into a tree, but it’s soooooo fun!”

I climbed to the top of this tiny hill. I saw all the ways this could end bad for me. I could trip in the mud. I could sprain my ankle. I could fall on my butt.

I took a deep breath and ran down as fast as I could.

It was worth it.

hill

Hello? Anybody out there?

You are not alone.

At this very moment someone else is going through something just like you.

They may be sitting in their car blaring Johnny Cash and bawling their eyes out.

Just like you.

They may be fighting the urge to have a drink at 9 a.m.

Just like you.

They may wish to just keep driving until the world seems right.

Just like you.

Then why do we feel so alone?

Depression. Abuse. Marriage problems. Parenting. Addiction. Death. Health struggles. It’s all hard and so many are struggling with similar things.

Yet…

We feel so alone.

Our society is sick. Just keep marching forward with that smile. Don’t you dare show weak eyes. Distraction, distraction, distraction. I am not sure, but maybe its always been this way. Maybe that’s just the nature of life. Keep your pain inside. Suck it up. If you give into the pain then it will only serve to make you feel it more. That cannot be good for anyone.

I know that religion is the answer for many. They turn to God and church. They find a community to support them, friends who lift them up and God to pray to for answers and guidance.

I have not had luck on that front in my life. I have found churches to be filled with judgement, fake smiles and hate. They speak the right words and dress the part, but it’s empty. Sunday morning faith. You put someone broken in front of them and you get judgement and pity.

They will “pray for you,” but at a distance. Please do not muddy up their “perfect” lives with your imperfections and questioning. Your lack of faith is ugly.

There are the exceptions. I have met a few people lately that have shown me what real faith and love look like. They show kindness and understanding. Positivity and light pours from them and you can feel hope just being around them. They do not minimize struggle or try to fix you. They recognize that faith and love are personal struggles and that all you want is someone to say, “I’m here. You are not alone.”

I’m here.

You are not alone.

This weekend I went to a nightclub to dance. I wanted to be surrounded by people. Strangers. We did not talk. We just danced. I could feel a connection to those around me. Something about the music, darkness and allowing myself to let go felt real. I felt alive.

Don’t freak dear friends and readers, I don’t plan on becoming a clubber who leaves her family for that feeling. It just struck me hard that what I crave is contact and real connection. Yet, something about dancing with strangers met my needs in ways other things have not.

There was something about being vulnerable, looking like a fool and then just accepting that. Not caring what these people thought about me. Seeing how free others were to just be.

I want some of that.

I spent a fair amount of time over the long weekend staring at the sky. The clouds have been just amazing, filled with shapes and movement. Then the sky opened up and poured yesterday. I filled my house with candles and tried to focus on the light.

I have no idea where I’m going with all this. There are no answers or wisdom to be found here. I’m just fumbling through another day and spilling myself out here.

But I’m spilling all this out in public because I want you to know I’m here. I’m here and YOU are not alone. WE are not alone.

So struggle on friends. We will make it.

I love you.

Stupid, bad mommy

Holding her hands back as she attempts to punch me, I forget about her feet and one connects with my side. Hard. All of her limbs are in motion with the intent on doing damage. She is still small and I can handle her blows.

It’s what is coming out of her mouth that feels like I’m being repeatedly stabbed with a rusty knife blade soaked in poison.

“I hate you!”

“Your a bad mommy!”

“I wish I’d never been born because your so bad!”

“Your a stupid, ugly mommy!”

Each hurtful phrase is followed by a scream that comes from deep inside. It shakes her whole body and seems painful. I hold back my tears and try to remember…she is only 6. She is in pain.

But it hurts.

It feels like I’ve failed at the most important job in the world, being her mother. I’ve failed to give her the tools to handle things.

My poor sweet, sensitive girl.

From the time she started talking it was clear she has strong feelings and emotions. She thinks about things little ones should not and comes up with phrases that often leave me speechless. She is always concerned with how people feel and is often brought to tears when hearing a story about someone sad.

For those reasons, and many others, I have to be careful of what she is exposed to. We limit media and she attends a Waldorf school. But I can’t shield her from every hurt and, truthfully, I don’t want to.

This “I hate you” stuff is new. This is the first full week of school and 3 out of the 4 evenings have ended with an outburst (each getting progressively longer and meaner). After the rage comes the real tears and we get to the hurt and pain. Then, most horribly, it ends with guilt.

“I’m a bad kid.”

“Your a good mommy and I’m just awful to you.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

Those words twist the knife and I want to run out of the room sobbing.

The truth behind all this pain is that my girl wants a best friend. She is obsessed with the idea of having someone she can count on. Someone she can trust. I’ve explained that it takes time to build friendships and that she just needs to play with everyone right now.

“Time is all you need.”

“Just keep being yourself and people will line up to be your friend.”

“You are awesome. You are amazing. Give people time to see that.”

I even brought out the old Girl Scout song:

“Make new friends

But keep the old

One is silver

And the others gold”

She wants it so bad that every interaction becomes “is she my best friend or not?” Then she decides the answer is no and is as heartbroken as she will be when her first boyfriend dumps her.

I’m not stupid and can see the correlation between her pain and my own. I know that even at age 6 she can feel her mothers depression. I am not whole right now. I’m broken and I can’t help but feel that she senses it.

How can I expect her to be strong, resilient and confident when I am not?

I hate this.

I want to give her skills that help her find meaning and love.

I want her to feel whole and confident.

I want her to stop freaking out and saying mean things, because this mom can’t take much more. Words freaking hurt.

How can I do all that? I have no clue.

I know some of the answers can be found by seeking Gods help. It keeps coming back to that. We read her book about guardian angels last night and she found some comfort in that. I’m talking to her more about prayer and we are going to start praying together.

My daughter is amazing. I am certain she is destined to do something great with her life.

I only wish I could fast forward through this hard stuff. But, of course, this is the stuff parenting is made of. The hard stuff.

I just hope I survive.