Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sad

Sometimes, I feel there is this expectation for me to be the chipper comic relief, and I don't know how to reconcile that image with the reality that I'm not always happy.  When I had postpartum depression, it was slightly easier to be more open about how I felt.  First, I was too apathetic and exhausted to keep up the cheery facade, and second, because I had something to blame for my mood. I never said, "I'm depressed."  I would say, "I'm struggling with postpartum depression," like it was a separate being responsible for all of my woes, and I was the hormonal martyr.  For the past couple of months, I've had some familiar recurring negative thoughts and emotions I've have tried not to own up to, but here I am, typing away on my laptop, searching for something uplifting write about but unable to shake these unmistakable feelings.

I am sad.

There.  I said it.  I am sad, and I think it all began when I graduated.

Have you ever dreamed about something for so long that when you actually got to live that dream, you found it disappointing?  You know what I mean.  It’s like that weird fish fast-food restaurant in your home town you craved for years until you revisited the establishment as an adult and realized there is better food in the frozen section of Walmart.  Or that movie that all of your friends saw and wouldn’t shut up about it, but when you finally Redboxed it a year later, you find the picture rather lackluster.  Or, heaven forbid, it’s like that dress you’ve been drooling over on Pinterest, and when you finally venture out to a far-away outlet mall to try it on, it makes your shoulders look like a linebacker and your head appear shrunken. (#thestruggleisreal) Well, that was the level of disappointment I experienced after finishing my bachelor’s degree. Times ten.

Every spring, flowers burst from the ground and birds fill the trees, sounding their trumpets to announce winter is over.  Baby animals huddle beneath their mothers as the remnants of snow melt away.  The grass grows greener as popcorn pops on the apricot trees, and every spring, Facebook erupts with graduation pictures.  My feed looks like a Josten's catalog.  For years, I have concealed envy with copious amounts of "congratulations" as I watched friends and family obtain the one thing I thought I never would: a degree.  Heck, Paul even got two.  Occasionally, I would even watch celebrity graduation speeches circulating across the interwebs, and I just knew that being handed a degree would be a completely transformative experience.  Suddenly, my veins would pulse with wisdom.  People would stop and listen when I spoke.  My children would forever respect me.  It would be magical.

That didn't happen.

I graduated by clicking submit on my final assignment.  There was no pomp.  No circumstance.  No pulsing wisdom.  There was just silence, emptiness and an unreal feeling about the whole thing.  At the time, I did not understand why, but as the weeks dragged on, the reality of my situation became clear.  I missed school.  It's not that I missed the late night writing sessions or the mountains of reading.  I missed the daily human interaction and intellectually stimulating conversations that took place on the discussion boards.  I missed talking about world issues and how we would solve them.  I missed positive feedback from my teachers and peers as well as the constructive feedback which helped me grow.  It almost seems childish to admit, but after graduating, I felt lonely.

I'm not one to just stew in my feelings, so I am trying to stay active.  I have been appointed to the PTA council, buried myself in Girls Camp preparations, and have immersed myself in personal writing projects, but there are still days (like today) when the loneliness seeps up through the cracks in my schedule, and I just feel sad.  Is it okay if I feel that way?  Will you think less of me?


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Waiting

During my first pregnancy, many well-intended folks ventured that my delivery would be similar to my mother’s delivery with me, so when my midwife mentioned Annie’s due date was December 12th, I immediately attempted some mental math.  You see, I was born twenty days late.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I was TWENTY days late.  That’s one day short of three weeks and one week shy of a month!  It’s a wonder my mother loves me at all with what I put her through!  Anyway, as a first-time mom, I wanted my daughter’s birth to be perfect, and to me, perfect meant on time so I could take copious amounts of infant pictures underneath the Christmas tree.  However, if my daughter had the audacity to float around in her prenatal prison for an extra three weeks, she not only would not be born in time for Christmas, but she would be born in an entirely new year.  For tax reasons, Paul was equally concerned about that.  This fear ignited a fiery anxiety in me that only grew the closer I got to December 12th.  When the actual day arrived and my infant seemed content in her watery world, I cried, and I don’t mean shed a couple gentle tears.  I mean I spent the entire day stealing away to quiet spaces so I could wear my pity-party party hat without drawing too much attention to myself. Something deep down in my womb gut was positive that by not entering the world by her due date, my daughter was destined for a January birthday.

I can look back on December 12th with grand amusement now because just one hour after the day concluded, I went into labor and had my daughter in my arms before supper.  However, at the moment, the prospect of waiting for an indeterminate amount of days was more traumatic than the birth itself.  This just goes to show how much I hate waiting.  Man oh man, do I hate waiting.  I’d like to think I possess quite a few virtues.  Humility, integrity, morality, nobility, decency, masculinity, and probably any other virtues ending in ‘y.'  Patience, however, does not end in ‘y,' which is probably why I find this trait so elusive.

Recently, I have been plagued with much waiting. At the end of February, Paul learned that he had been nominated to join the executive team on a retreat in April to Cancun, Mexico.  It was an entirely unexpected but completely welcomed break from the rigors of life.  Unfortunately, because we had no plans on leaving the country anytime soon, we needed to quickly procure passports as to not miss the trip.  The kind passport lady said it could take up to six weeks for our passports to arrive by mail. She also had to take our birth certificates and told us to keep an eye out for those too.  Likewise, since I had just graduated, I was waiting for my diploma, and during this time, Paul renewed his driver’s license.  With so many sensitive documents floating around the postal sphere and a recent mail theft plaguing our sense of security, the wait seemed painfully long.  Each day I checked the mail only to find grocery store fliers and credit card come-ons escalated my anxiety to the point that had to hold back tears as I dumped my junk mail into the recycling bin.  It seems so silly now that everything has arrived safe and sound, but my impatient self doesn't care.  It’s like waiting transforms me into a caged animal.  You would think after twenty-seven years on this great green earth, I would have finally earned my patience badge for my virtue sash, but alas.  I think the older I’ve gotten, the harder waiting has become.  After all, every day is a day closer to death and yet another day that I’m not in Cancun.