A Change of Scenery

My head hangs down as I lean forward, white-knuckling the edge of the bathroom sink. I feel my stomach twist and turn, and I grimace, struggling to hold my breakfast down. 

I lift my head and open my eyes. I look rough. My eyes are dark pits in my skull, my mouth a crooked red slash across the bottom of my face. When I blink, my eyelids are like sandpaper, the grit scraping the surface of my eyeballs. 

I close my eyes and drop my head. 

When I open my eyes again I stagger, the sink somehow escaping my grip, and I stand on the rocky shore of an unknown lake in the middle of the night. The stars spill across the sky, and I know why it’s called the Milky Way. 

The air is so still around me, but I see the trees on the other side of the lake wave their branches in a slight breeze. The breeze ripples the surface of the water and makes its way to me, riffling the hair that lies across my forehead. It’s cool and clean and crisp, and I breathe it in greedily. 

I turn to my right, and the moon hangs full in the sky. 

I blink, and I’m standing in front of the mirror again, away from the sink. The urge to sit in the bathtub and slit my wrists is gone, for now, and the smell of that nighttime breeze still fills my nostrils with hope. 

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A Letter to J in Indiana

I used to fret over a mess in my inbox. One of my goals last year was to make it a weekly ritual to empty the darn thing completely. And while that is a lovely sight to see, I haven’t had an empty inbox since February 4, 2014.

Such a specific date, you may notice. Surely there is a story behind this, you may think.

There is.

Sometime last summer, I subscribed to the Listserve. Thanks, Justine! It’s an email lottery with (as of right now), 24,556 subscribers, each of which has a chance to win every day. The prize is a single email sent to everyone else. So every day I get an email from someone, somewhere.

My absolute favorite came on February 5, titled a change in my life. In its entirety:

for a long time, i needed the attention of strangers on the internet to feel good about myself, but i don’t anymore.

have a good day,

j

Indiana

This single sentence is the most profoundly hopeful message I have ever read. Every time I read it, it affects me again as strongly as it did the first time I read it. On the rare occasion I briefly ponder what I might write about if given the chance, I think how could I ever come close to this?

Thank you, j, for your words. Thank you for encouraging me every day with your message of change.

I only wish that you had included an email for me to thank you directly.


Coming Back to the World

This is the first ICLW I’ve participated in in a long time. I had so much to deal with, between court (over!), and counselors (over!), and doctor appointments (last one tomorrow!), and lost hope (regained!).

And anger. So much anger. At myself, at the justice system, at the world. 

I closed up shop and sank in on myself. I focused on the wrong things at the wrong times, if there ever was a right time. For much of it, there wasn’t. So much has changed. 

Trying? That’s done, finito, the end! I cannot say enough how much a change that has made in my outlook on life. Everything is brighter, shiny and new. Everything is fantastic. I knew I was miserable, but I didn’t realize just how miserable I was until after we finally made the decision

It feels good to be back to myself. I didn’t know how much I missed me. It feels good to open up again to others, to reach out and be reached out to. It feels good to not be alone. 

So welcome, say hi, stick around, invite me over. I’m happy to visit because I’m happy to be here.


Winter

It feels like winter; I lie alone in our bed, comforters bunched up at my front and back. I can’t relax in an open bed. I need the reassurance that I won’t fall, that I’m really here, that I am loved and special. And so I turn the surface of the mattress into a nest where I am surrounded by walls of fabric and stuffing. This is enough to protect me from the dangers of the outside world.

My throat is raw and my head heavy with the weight of mucus that refuses to disperse. I have learned to not sip water too soon after an application of the cherry throat spray. The combination turns to acid coating my tonsils, burning their outer layers.

I doze intermittently, and I dream of crimes committed and friendships shared. I wake with lists of facts and situations to research before I can write of them with any believable authority. I wish this were enough distraction. Maybe it could be if I could sit and write, but I feel so muddled and muddied and muted. I feel that my voice is not my own.

I want to read, but the books I choose turn out to be either painful reminders of what will never be, or even more painful reminders of what was.

We talked about my dreams with our counselor two days ago. Dreams? My nightmares, my night terrors, my sleep paralysis. I shake and scream at night, sometimes waking Ian, sometimes lying in fear, unable to move, unable to breathe, unable to think of anything but being chased and caught and hurt. I’m awake while I sleep, or I sleep while I’m awake. An awareness of my ‘real’ surroundings intermingles with my dream landscape.

It could be that I’ll never cope well with the end of summer. The end of summer feels like the end of everything. The blessed cooler promises of September will never make up for the tearing agonies of loss and betrayal that well up anew every year.

Maybe it feels like winter because I want it to be winter so badly. To skip this time of year entirely because it hurts me so much. I want it to be winter because that’s my beginning. A fresh start when the outside world is dead and brown and unable to hurt me.

I cocoon myself a season early, to break free a season early and so have time for every little adjustment, every tiny tweak to help me wear a brave face for everyone else. Depression is a dark, heavy cloak, and I need time to unravel its weave, to bleach its maudlin colors to a shade more suitable.


Judgment Day

Please keep my brother in your thoughts and prayers today as he goes back to court–again.

I know I’m biased, being his (favorite) sister, but I promise you, he’s not a bad kid. He just had to do a lot of growing up on his own, and it’s hard to make every decision in your own best interest before you even know what your own best interests are.

Our mom’s illness has really taken a toll on the entire family, but most of all my youngest brother and stepdad. She’s spent well over a year in the hospital out of the past three due to cryoglobulinemia and other autoimmune complications. Of course my stepdad spent 24 hours a day worried sick about his wife. That’s no one’s fault either.

I know my brother needs to take some responsibility for his actions, but he hasn’t done anything to deserve the five year sentence that is a serious possibility. He never hurt anyone except the older kid he got in a fight with who was talking crap about our mom. He just grew a little pot. Five years? Come on.

And he’s a really good uncle. I’d like him to be around to continue that.


Something You Didn’t Know About Me, and Other Stuff

I feel like a bad blogger. I try to write enough extra posts on the weekends to get me through the week, but sometimes I don’t. I know there’s no rule that says you must post every single day or else, but I like writing, and I hope you like reading. Sometimes it’s hard for me to find the time during the week to write.

Because I have a sixteen-month-old stepdaughter.

Also because she has recently apparently decided that long naps (over 40 minutes) are for squares, but that’s beside the point.

She is my beautiful, bright, shining star. I love her so much. But I don’t know how to bring up the subject here. It’s my stumbling block.

This is what I was talking about Sunday. This is what I’ve been trying to make up for by refusing to take a break at all. I didn’t understand until this week that the reason I couldn’t stop, even for a day, was because I thought I had to prove to my husband that he didn’t have to go elsewhere to have a child. Somehow, I suddenly realized how bad that reasoning behind my actions was making me feel. And I don’t have to feel that way.

Infertility is bad. It really sucks. But it’s not the worst thing in the world. I would say that I’d gladly trade fertility for fidelity, but I might as well be spending the million dollars I don’t have. I never had fertility, and without infidelity, I wouldn’t have the marriage I have now. I’m not recommending it by any means, but I don’t know how we would be where we are now if we hadn’t been through what we have. And we are happy where we are now, and we’ll be happy where we’re going.

But during the week, when we have our baby girl, it can be really hard to write about infertility, or even think about it. And sometimes it’s all I can think about. Stupid catch-22s.

There is, however, something else that I’ve been preoccupied with this week.

I think we made it.

I think I’m pregnant. So does my husband, so does my mother, the doctor. I had a negative test two days ago, but that’s probably because I actually couldn’t wait to start peeing. Me. I never want to pee. I don’t until the day I start taking meds because I know that one lonely line will just make me feel bad.

But we agreed that I would pee. I still don’t know where he hid all my stuff, but he dug out the last test from wherever. And of course I went back to bed crying and demanding comfort snuggles. But I don’t believe it. I think it was just too soon, only 9 DPO (there’s that hated acronym!).

I didn’t even believe my chart when it told me I ovulated last week. I feel so lost and overwhelmed. And scared. Omg, so freaking scared.

I don’t fit in with moms because I have a daughter for four days a week who I didn’t meet until she was nine months old. I’m afraid I won’t fit in here anymore either. And I’m so afraid of losing that. I’m so afraid of losing you.

So don’t mind me, I’ll be completely crazy until next Tuesday. Is this what a real two week wait is all about? How do you do it??