Drowning in the Red of It

 

I am alone in the house for the first time since Ana was born, almost two years ago. I thought I’d sleep. Sleep! Ha! These are my thoughts.

~

I know

that if for some reason they were not here

I would give anything to have them return.

Yet in the mess of our days,

I admit

I want to go away, desperately.

Perhaps I just need sleep,

for this deprivation is no joke.

but I think it is deeper than that, deep into my bones.

It is like swimming in a color, the color blue, my favorite one.

It is like being trapped inside my favorite color, longing to get out.

We need time away from the things we love,

or else we may drown in the red of it.

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The Shadow of Fear- A Look Inside a Post-Partum Mind

This post has sat in the draft box for a long, long time. Two months after it was written I was pregnant again and had our son in October 2014. I read it again this morning, because I am having a hard time. A harder time, I think. Things are different but it still rings true. This morning the sheer thought of getting up and starting my day was more then I could take. I took Rescue Remedy thinking “I need to be rescued.” I don’t know how, but we are all dressed, eating breakfast and listening to music in the kitchen. It is a fragile day for me, and for someone who shares a whole lot, this post pretty tough for me to share!

~

On October 29, 2013 my Ana baby was just over two months old. This is how and where I was.

 

I let fear in. I don’t know how it wheedles its way, but all of a sudden it is THERE, a threat in a big way. A storm in my mind. I let fear in and then I don’t know why the storm is there, because there is no instant to pinpoint- “Ah, that’s where I took a turn, that’s where it slipped between my cracks.” When the fear is there, it is a shadow on love. The great, great love that I have, extended in limitless form to these two people who make up my existence today- a baby girl and a strong man. My love goes everywhere, but here with them it is most intimate, it is most threatening. It is where I am most easily wounded, where I could be broken into a thousand pieces that might not ever go back together. I allow my heart to break in the best way, to little things everyday- Ana’s smiles and the baby smell of her warm head, John’s hands and the scent of his neck below his ears- the love between us all that is felt so strongly in the proximity of our skin, bear hugs and holding hands in the car. Their blue eyes when they look at me.

There exists a scared little kid inside of me that wants to run far, far away from all of this, lest it should cease to be while I am still here. She is always, always afraid, and that is why she grips so tightly and why she shuts off when things get hard. Her body and her mind scream to guard her little self from a heartache she was hidden inside for a long time. I ran and ran from everything, to find something that was never outside and always was within. Now she is here with me, needing reassurance like water and seeing a tragedy in a single misspoken word. It is learning to let my heart break for that little girl, letting it break for her pain- that is the most urgent thing.

It is also the hardest thing, because my selves are slated against it. When I feel the knot, when my heart squeezes into itself and my whole chest feels about to cave in, I am never ready to give into it. I am never ready to see behind the curtain and let the strong emotion move through. So it comes like it came on Sunday, in a body wracked by sobs so loud I thought I’d choke or my lungs would collapse or my throat would close from the sheer inability to let it all out at once. It was so full of force, this expression of sadness and pain and anger, too.

I read once about Brooke Shields, about how after she had her baby she experienced such a debilitating depression that she couldn’t even bond with her baby. The thing I could never get out of my head was her description of sitting on her bed and crying, and how this deep sound came out of her that she had never heard before, a sound of intense despair.

Melancholy is defined as “a feeling of pensive sadness, often with no obvious cause.” This feeling is intrinsic to me. A Spanish professor once said, upon showing him poetry of loneliness and longing and frustration of being caught between two worlds and two languages and still not being able to express what I felt, “no pierdes esta sentimiento de melancolico- esta profundo.” It was such a great relief to hear someone give merit to the state I spend so much time in, to call it beautiful, to name it as useful, as something that I would not want to lose.

But how to spend time in the beauty of melancholy without letting in fear? How to notice when the fear slips through, before I get to such a point that I cannot recognize myself or anything around me? It is a disturbing thing to wake up and not recognize your life, or how you got here. It is disturbing and hard to talk about. It’s easy to blame it on things happening around me, because I look to those things for explanations. I look to people for explanations, to circumstances for explanations. Usually by this point, the storm is so loud that I lose the ability to look within.

Thank God I always come back.

Nourishing Happiness

Dear Readers,

Today I am finding small ways to nourish my happiness. While the babies nap, I take water and a sandwich outside and sit with the sun on my face. I stand and stretch, make a few phone calls to people I love. I chat and make plans to plant seeds with the neighbor- we haven’t seen each other’s faces since before the winter.

I don’t know where the point was in my life that to do some yoga became a necessity and not just a thing I did. Now it’s like…maintenence. On the days I let go by without it I become constricted, sore, and negative. I get headaches more often and have less to give to my family. It is knowing all this that is slowly coaxing me to make sure I get what I need.

 

I’ve said it before, but I must care for myself so that I can care for my family. I must take what I need so that I can give. Doing this, I can turn outwards to the world with what I have to offer. When I neglect myself, I am much more apt to turn in and only see disaster. At those times I have very little to give to the world.

This is my experience, but I have a feeling that it is not that different for other people. We all take care of ourselves in varying ways, but we must take care nonetheless. Otherwise, we are just shadows. Within those shadows is an unmistakable light, but it is our job bring out the brightness, to find the things that make it shine.

I used to think that there was one thing that would turn me on like a light switch. Now I find that it is many small things, and that everything in my life can brighten or dim the light. It becomes an exercise in deliberate choices.

For example: I choose to take the time to make myself lunch, because I will be able to think more clearly and I will have more energy for the rest of the day. I could choose to skip it because the effort to make it seems like a lot, but then I will be condemning myself to a much more difficult afternoon. In the moment, the choice to do the nourishing thing usually seems like the more difficult choice, but once I have done it, I am always glad I did and life is easier in the long run. When I take the “easier,” less nourishing route, I am regretful of it because things are harder in the long run.

This may seem very simplistic, but I find it extremely helpful to notice small things like this.

What do you do to care for yourself? I would truly like to know.

Love,

Katie