It was so very hard to wait to write about this on my blog but I wanted to hold off so I could share some photos with all of you who reached out to us this year. I’m going to speak from the heart here and if my blogging history tells us anything… it’s gonna be a looooong one.
As all of you know, this has been just about the worst year of my life. I grew up always being dealt things to conquer and cope with and I was always getting by based on the idea that some day it would all be for a reason. It was an idea I held close to me for 27 years, I’d say, and as each obstacle arose I would face it head on because I truly had faith that things would be worth it someday.
Something happened this past year that completely crumpled me. Not just any one particular thing, but a combination of events that proved to be lethal to my spirit and I suddenly found myself to be evaporating with no way to save myself. I didn’t mean for it to happen, and in the beginning, I tried to hold on until one day it just seemed out of my control altogether. The straw had finally broke the camel’s back, so to speak.
It seems as though I woke up one day and said, “okay… I’m tired of being strong. I’m tired of overcoming things. I’m tired of looking forward to the days when I can just exhale because those days are not coming.” For the very first time in my life, I gave up.
I lost my desire to live and it happened in stages that I tried to fight off as they came. The first wave of these horrid thoughts were squashed by focusing on my babies and how I would never wish to hurt them by not being around. This kept me going for a while and I was terrified one day when this logic faded and a new one was left in it’s place. Suddenly, I was saying to myself, “Okay… so maybe they’d be hurt but they’ll eventually find peace and be okay with it…”. The day this happened, I hid in my room because I just knew that I was disgusting and I didn’t want anyone to see me. I hid in my room a lot after that and I completely ceased being any kind of functioning person. The minute Dean would walk in the door, I’d go to bed and I’d stay there until forced out to care for the children, until I was free again to just go back to bed.
Things continued to fill up my head and the next thoughts that crept up on me were ones that made me feel like a ghost. The notion that my kids would eventually find peace with my death suddenly turned uglier and the thought that replaced it was menacing:
“I don’t give a shit if they’re mad at me. I don’t care if they hate me for it. I just want out.”
I was thinking it but it was as if I were hearing the words race through my head and they were bitter and painful and, oddly, calming at the same time. I saw it as me finally being honest with myself and it was liberating. I was so full of nasty, horrible feelings and was spending so much mental energy on trying to convert those feelings to good, happy, healthy ones that when my mind finally took over and hit me with those words, I actually felt relieved. Let them be mad… what do I care… so what if they grow up without a mother… I won’t be around to see it so why should I let it stop me?….
As comforted as I was by this I had one tiny inch left in my brain that was ME. And what I told myself was a lot different…. I called Dean at work. I burst into tears and told him what was going on in my head and in my heart. How I felt like I was slipping away and didn’t feel like myself anymore. I told him how I was scared to wake up every day because I didn’t want to be hit with anything else. I told him what had been running through my head lately and I told him that I didn’t know if I would be able to fight myself to stay alive. I knew that one day I would do something very spontaneous and I wanted someone to stop me because there was no way I was going to be able to stop myself.
Dean made it home in record time. When he walked in the door, I was a mess. I begged him to save me from myself. I told him, for the first time, everything that I had been thinking and feeling. We discussed me going to the hospital but in the end, we sought out a Psychiatrist to help me and I see him every week.
Now, things are better… not perfect, but different. I don’t focus so much on wanting to die, but on particularly bad days I find the thoughts pummeling away at my brain. I’ve noticed that I have taken a very poor way of handling those thoughts, though. I try to fight them but in doing so, I pick fights and get really aggressive with Dean. It’s like I want to know that I am standing up against myself but I’m doing it to the wrong person. I have become impatient and tactless and…. mean. I became so exhausted from years of biting back every thought or word trying to escape and so tired of holding it together that I started doing the exact opposite and just started flying off the handle. Instead of using my mental energy to try to see things differently or to try to calm down a bit, I just explode and then I feel bad for it. I’m alive, but I’m still not myself. It is something I will be working very hard on in 2008.
It seems that if you push or lean on someone long enough, their strength gives out and they tumble to the ground. If they still have any energy left, they will get back up. I got back up thousands of times in my life and at 29, I couldn’t anymore. I know how crazy and emotional and manic I’ve been in my blog and I want to explain…
I don’t leave my house. I don’t have any friends. I avoid answering the door and the phone because I don’t want to be faced with speaking to people because my mind is working slower than it ever has as it is filled up with negative energy. My only friends these days are my readers and my only outlet is my blog. It is like my window to the world. As I was writing, I would sometimes get some extremely kind and moving comments that held me upright when I needed it. I got cyber hugs and smooches and gropes and silly words that made me smile when I didn’t think I had a smile left in me.
But, I also pushed people away. The words I was writing were extremely uncomfortable for a lot of people to read or hear, especially coming from me, someone who is outrageous and lewd and says just about anything. Dean got a few emails from some of my readers stating that they had stopped reading my blog because it was too depressing and…. I freaked out. At first, I was angry. In my mind, these were my friends and I was angry that they were willing to come around when I was being silly or crude but the minute I needed them to just talk to or hear me out, they ran for the hills because I was a buzzkill. I never did such a thing and never cared what anyone wrote… I would still be there regardless. As angry and hurt by this as I was, I was also sad and, in a way, panicked because I was running my friends away from me. I would try to counter my sad blogs with funny, crazy ones so that people would still come by and not leave me. It sounds pathetic, but I couldn’t stand to lose anything else. My blog started to come off as being really manic. My stats went haywire. As of today, I get between 300 and 500 hits a day on this thing and I haven’t a clue who the hell is reading. There are people out there who come to read my words when they are good and also when they are sad and frightening and I don’t know who they are a lot of the times.
I spend the vast majority of my life feeling really guilty. I feel disgusted with myself that I have left myself vulnerable or that I have fallen so far. This year, I have had so much to say that was unhappy because it has been such a truly frightening and unhappy time. But, this is not who I have been and that itself is a source of extraordinary frustration for me. I have severe depression and it is out of my control. I have tried to fight it in every way a person can by manipulating myself and by changing my focus and I have failed for the first time in my life. I’ve never failed at anything before! I let myself down big time with this one and I have felt powerless. Believe me… if I could be just what everyone wanted and also be….myself again… I would in a second. I don’t want to be this way but it is happening none the less. The only decent thing I have done this year is to try to get outside help before it was too late. That took the last ounce of energy I had left…. but it has been worth it because I truly don’t think I would be alive had I not acted fast against the thoughts that were taking over.
Ask any person on the planet who has ever met me what I’m about and what I’m like and you won’t recognize me at all. The words used to describe me have always been the same: fun, intelligent, always making someone laugh, friendly, patient, compassionate, forgiving, extreme, intimidating, popular, outgoing…. This person inside me is so foreign, so unwelcome and I am working very, very hard to get rid of her. I am not this person. I am STRONG. Aren’t I??? I don’t give up… I’m a fighter, right??? I used to be, but that person isn’t here right now.
The difference in me today versus the person of just a couple of months ago is that I am now at a point where I think I might see her again someday where as before, she was dead and there was no hope of ever seeing her again. I have to get my strength back and where I stopped caring before if that ever happened, now I do care and so I believe that this is a big step.
Now, consider how guilty I have felt letting down my friends and Dean and then you will only be able to imagine how I’ve felt about letting down my babies.
My children are my biggest guilty feeling. In the past, I didn’t have to tolerate pain or ugliness and my feet hit the pavement when needed to save me. For months, I have been bitter and resentful of my children because… I love them too much to walk away. I used to lie in bed at night with visions of their smiling faces on my brain and I wanted to scream, “why do I have to love you so much????” because if I didn’t give a shit then I could run away and not face the pain anymore. I have felt trapped in adoration for my babies and the longer I allowed myself to feel this way, the guiltier I felt for letting them down.
My kids are many things. They are frustrating and aggravating, annoying at times, loud, confrontational, mouthy, stubborn, horrid, little terrors…LOL. BUT…. they are also amazing, smart, hysterical, sweet, loving, creative, imaginative, lovable, brilliant pieces of art who swoop in and make me laugh at all the right times. They are my source of pride. They are my medicine when I’m feeling sick in the heart. They are my reason for staying strong for so long. They were…. the reward I was holding on for.
Any parent knows that children bring out the Bi-polor in all of us and mine certainly do this to me. It’s strange to love people so much and also want to get the hell away from them as fast as you can at times. It’s weird to appreciate so much the things they do and say and you find yourself amazed at every word they utter… but you also want to hold your hands over your ears sometimes and find silence.
It is outrageous to know that for all the times I have wanted to smack their heads together, for all of those moments where I had to count to a hundred to calm down, for the many, many times I have thought, “God, I just want to knock that kids teeth down his throat for talking to me this way!”… for every one of those moments there are also the innumerable times when you DARE someone to hurt your baby. You would die for them, take a bullet for them, suffer at the hands of intolerable pain for them, kill for them….
Kill yourself for them.
That was where I was. I was at “that point” where I believed that these children were better off without me. I saw myself as the one who was hurting them, who was causing them pain and distress and I was the threat that had to be eliminated. I had begun to seriously believe that I had no business caring for them. I was a mess. I was ruining them. And this was something I couldn’t stand to do any longer. This depression was weird to me because it was real. I didn’t feel like some melodramatic teenager who threatened suicide to her friends to get attention. In fact, it was just the opposite. I hid it. I hid myself because I knew that my falling apart was way too obvious to those who know me. I kept it to myself for as long as I could until telling someone would be the only thing that stopped me. It was…. painful.
I want to give my kids every single reason they have to wear the grins that stretch across their faces. I want to be their security blankets and the food they eat and the air they breathe, their “sure thing”. I don’t want them to know it but I want it to be true. I had lost the ability to make my babies smile.
I panicked about Christmas because, to me, not being able to surprise them and fill them with joy just ONE DAY out of a really shitty year was unforgivable. So many people say, “But Christmas isn’t about gifts… it’s about family and togetherness….”
Tell that to an eight year old boy. Try explaining to your kids that Christmas isn’t coming because Daddy lost all of his rank and we can’t afford to eat much less buy presents. Tell that to any normal child this age and he will smile at you and place his head on your shoulder and whisper in your ear, “Don’t worry, Mommy…. Santa will bring us presents… you don’t have to worry about that at all….”
Oh, Santa. How could you do this to me? How could you be the hero savior of Christmas to my babies and then not pull through for them? What will we tell them when you don’t show up? Santa, it has been such a hard year for them… you have no idea. They hid in the hallway and listened in when Dean’s work came to sit me down and tell me that he had been found half-dead in our car. They were there when I spent all of my time in the hospital because of the tumor that might have killed me and their baby sister. They heard every, single word about court and evictions and they lived without power on more than one occasion and not. a. single. bit. of. it. was. their. fault.
Not one time were they responsible.
How do you deny them the one day of the year they look forward to the most? How do you send them off to school afterwards knowing that the other children will gloat about their gifts and wave new toys in their faces? How do you, just now…suddenly THIS year… ask them to see Christmas as anything more than the excitement of giving and receiving gifts? We’re NOT Christians. To us, it isn’t about Jesus or any of that stuff. To us, and I suppose this is the mistake you make when you have money and no clue that you won’t someday, it was about how we felt knowing we could light up their faces on Christmas morning. It was about ending another year with a bang, a celebration.
My kids have slaved away making us gifts because money to them doesn’t mean anything. They are just as pleased with themselves and proud of what they are able to present to us as we are. But this year didn’t turn out so well and there wasn’t any money to fullfill their normal holiday fantasies.
I blogged about it because it was on my mind. Then, someone asked me to have them make Wish lists and I was so embarrassed. I don’t ask for help. This is MY problem and we will figure it out.
This thought lasted about thirty seconds and then a bigger thought crept up on me: These are your babies and you are going to let your pride get in the way of those huge grins you’ll see on Christmas morning?? You really think that you can pull this off without help??? Quit being embarrassed and think of the things you have done to help others and think of the many, many times you have tried to convince people to accept help as well. Stop letting your pride get in the way and LET THEM HELP.
I posted wishlists. I suddenly had no idea what to do. The wishlists were getting shorter and shorter and with the exception of a few who emailed me, I had no CLUE who was buying for my children.
“Vinny… who do I THANK???”
Some of you bought gifts off the wishlists… some of you sent us giftcards…. and, I don’t even know what to say. Here’s what I’ve got:
The military never produced the back pay they promised us for Christmas and so had it not been for the kindness of my Santa’s…. there would be NOTHING. I did not get to buy ONE SINGLE THING FOR MY BABIES. I couldn’t. I had no money. Every single thing under the Christmas tree this morning is from one of you. And… there is a lot. In fact, I’d wager to say that this is the best Christmas yet. No, scratch that… this HAS been the best Christmas yet. I am completely stunned…. moved and beyond speechless by the compassion and the giving of all of you. Because of you, my kids ended a horrible year with excited smiles on their faces. Today, I will allow them to believe in the magic of Santa but some day, I am going to tell them the truth. I’m going to tell them that Santa’s come from all over the world, that they reach out from a place in their hearts to give and bring joy to others.
My children believe in Santa Claus. They, knowing that we haven’t got any money, held close to them the faith that Santa would deliver, that all of their strength and patience during this tumultuous year would be rewarded. The never swayed in their belief that Santa would come…. and they were right.
Santa came to our house this year. He came disguised as kind friends from various parts of the globe. He came cloaked in mystery and anonymity. He came disguised as soldiers who helped add toys under the tree. And, he came to me in the form of hope and long awaited peace.
Oh, and also wedged in the ridiculously sexy, brown shorts of a UPS man who, I think, has the hots for me. A UPS man who I saw almost every day for two weeks.
To me he says, “Jeesh… someone must looooove you!” as he piles boxes into my living room. I look around wide eyed at what is taking place and I don’t even know how to respond to him. “Who is all of this from?” he asks.
“Santa,” I say. “Lots and lots of Santa’s.”
How do I ever repay you? How do I tell you what this means to me? How do I let you know that you saved us from a potential disaster? How do I tell you that I don’t think I could have handled letting them down again?
2008. This will be a year of renewed strength. This will be a year of hope. There will be lots of inner demons trying to win me over but I will pick them off one at a time and I will get past this dark point. I’ll find the fighter in me and bring her back full force. I will continue to be honest in my blog and I will continue to write the things I need to to help myself feel better. I will revel in my newly founded faith in people and the decency of others.
And I will love my babies so much and be stronger for them.
I wish you could have all piled into my living room this morning to see just what you have done but since you couldn’t…. I took the liberty of annoying the shit out of them by snapping a million shots of all the joy.
Thank you for bringing these smiles to their faces…. and thank you for being here helping me through this difficult year with kind words of support. I am more grateful than any of you will ever know…
and now!…. Look at what you did!!!!