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

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This mom wants her kids to keep fighting

balletLike most 5-year-old girls, I wanted to be a ballerina. I was in love with the idea of twirling in a beautiful costume and I wanted those silky ballet shoes that lace up your legs.

My mom signed me up for lessons and I was overjoyed.

It only took a few classes for me to be totally hooked. I would stand in my bedroom and practice my feet positions. I would try to get up on my tippy-tippy toes and pirouette. In my mind, I was as graceful and beautiful as anyone in my class.

Maybe even more so.

I have no idea how long I took classes. Days? Weeks? Months?

The reason I stopped, however, is engraved in my memory.

One day after class, the ballet teacher took my mother aside and told her:

“Ballet really isn’t her thing. She is clumsy, uncoordinated and ungraceful.”

Just like that, the lessons stopped and my dream was gone.

There is nothing wrong with finding out you aren’t good at something. That is part of life and I accept that.

But for some reason, the labels “clumsy,” “uncoordinated” and “ungraceful” became as much a part of me as my brown hair and hazel eyes.

I WAS those labels.

I became convinced that I could not do anything requiring physical coordination.

Not even the monkey bars.

I didn’t even try.

I can remember P.E. being absolutely torturous for me. I would dread the team selections and always try to find someway to get out of playing volleyball or softball. I was terrified of looking like an idiot and I was convinced that it couldn’t go any other way.

I let those stupid labels rob me of more than just playing sports. I let them dictate the kind of person I would be and the type of risks I would be willing to take.

Fear of failing kept me from so many things.

It’s really rather stupid.

Now that I’m a mother, I’m super conscious of labels. I do not want my children limiting themselves.

I want them to fight.

The phrase “I’m not good at that” or “I can’t do that” is banned from our home.

You can learn to be good at anything. All you need is the desire and practice. That’s what I tell them.

I want them to fight.

I encourage my kids to try new things and to never back out of a challenge. Facing your fear is the only road forward.

I want them to fight.

Yet, here I am still frightened of doing things that require coordination.

I have very little fight.

Yesterday we met some friends for ice-skating. My kids have never been and they were excited to try something new.

“Are you sure?” I said on the drive. “We only have one hour. We could go get ice cream instead?”

“No!!!” they both cried.

All week, I had been telling myself that I was going to ice-skate with my kids. That I was going to allow myself to look stupid and fall. It is OK to fail. I can do this.

Yet, the fight left me the second I walked in the door.

“I’m not going to skate after all,” I told them. “We can’t afford for all of us to do it.”

“Awww,” my daughter said. “Sorry mom. That’s not fair to you.”

No it’s not and it has nothing to do with money. That was the logical argument I made with myself to get out of trying.

It’s not fair that I won’t fight.

Clumsy. Uncoordinated. Ungraceful. For. The. Win.

How I wish I could just play catch, volleyball, jump on a trampoline or kick a soccer ball around without it filling me with a sense of dread and anxiety.

As I sat on the cold bench at the skate rink and watched my children my heart was bursting with joy. There they were. All by themselves trying to figure it out. Pushing buckets around the ice with big helmets on their heads. They would fall, get back up and try again. No tears. No frustration.

Determination.

Belief.

Fight.

Maybe I will never have enough fight for myself, but seeing my kids fight for a life without fear is more than enough.

ice