Monday, December 29, 2008

Depression Part 1

I woke up two hours ago.  At 4 am on the nose.  I couldn't fall asleep last night even though I was completely and utterly exhausted.   

I'm battling severe Depression.  Not a word I like to use.  Not something I like to admit.

In pubic, I think I hold it together pretty well.  Most people would describe me as friendly and well-put together.  Recently, I was mistaken for a High School student.  Granted, the woman was old enough to be my great-grandmother... it is also possible that she was blind in one eye and couldn't see out the other... but still... at almost 37 years old, I'll take it.   

I used to be a cheerleader (Did I just admit that?) and in many ways I still am.  Usually, I love to encourage others... I'm quick to compliment and try to overlook faults in others.  I do my best to smoothly navigate through rough conversations with "sandpaper people" as I call them.  I hug.

Lately?  I'm likely to call people names.  I'm tempted to foster grudges.  Is it just me or does everyone have some sort of personality disorder? I don't have a lot of patience and virtue feels like a vapor I can't seem to latch on to.

I'm weary.  I want to sleep and cry and I lie in bed wondering if swallowing a handful of pills would mean that I wouldn't have to do the hardest thing in the world:  swing my legs over the side of the bed and begin again.

Last week,  I looked at the knife sitting on the counter, and I thought about using it to slice my wrists.  Which is not something I'd ever do.  Too messy and painful.  The mere fact that I even had the thought, startled me.

When Brittany shaved her head?  I understood her.  She was oppressed.  She was in a rage.  Some people pull their hair out... some people cut... some people hit, berate, and accuse others.  Pain has to go somewhere.  When the photos and videos of Brit were circulating through the media, I was going through my own personal hell.  I was being torn apart by sexual abuse.  Absolutely shredded.  It's a wonder I didn't shave my own head.

I had a six month old baby and three other children.  Two of whom were victims and needed me to be their pillar.

So I tried to be everything to everyone.  I nursed my baby through sleepless nights.  I did my best to listen to my talkative, active son who cried alligator tears when I told him daddy couldn't live with us for a while.  I raced around trying to make everything all-better for my daughters.  I ran our fishing business, oversaw a construction project that was built from the ground up while my husband was away.... I ran kids to school, grocery shopped, shoveled the snow that delayed the construction project.  Spoke to attorneys, counselors and advocated for myself, my husband and my kids.  I moved from Alaska to Washington and back again. 

Until my husband was out of prison, I kept it together, day by day.  I counted the hours until he came home.  Naively,  I thought everything would be better after May 17th.  And some things are better.  Much, much better.  And some things are not.

I didn't realize that after being in survival mode, I would crash.   I see myself  like a wine glass slipping out of a wet hand... suspended... breath-held... praying to God everything would turn out OK... that the glass would merely bounce, not shatter.

If fantasizing about violence with kitchen knives, craving a bottle of pills and justifying BrittanySpears' hairdo is any indicator... I've hit the floor. With force. 

I sat in my closet, wrapped my arms around myself,  and admitted it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

This Christmas, I Channeled Grandma

My Mom's Mother was German.  As a child, I spent a lot of time wondering why she cleaned so much and laughed so little.  She's not remembered as being a very loving woman but every time she gently pin-curled my thick head of hair, I knew she loved me.

Grandma did a lot of funny things by accident.  When we laughed at her, we made sure to do it in private.  After all, this is a woman who was known to start whipping kids with the wooden rosary she'd just been praying on.  And it wasn't just Mary and Jesus she threw around, her broom was used as a powerful weapon. With it, she chased small children and animals into hiding all the while shaming them with German curses.  

Unless she was angry, Grandma spoke English.  Her mother, my Great-Grandmother Folk, tried not to speak German in public, either.  Since this was post-war America, speaking the language of Hitler was something done in private.  Or in extreme anger.  Take your pick.

Once, Great-Grandma Folk came over to watch my mom and her two sisters while my Grandma went to the dentist.  She was getting fitted for dentures and of course, had to have her teeth pulled out.  When she came home with a painful, puckered and unsightly mouth, she reverted to speaking German with her mom.  My aunt was hiding under the bed bawling because she thought that without teeth, Grandma couldn't speak in English.

She pronounced Tylenol, "Ty-nol", called the couch a "Davenport", and had friends that were "Eye-talian".  Her medicine cabinet was filled with so many over-the-counter drugs that I'm sure would be of great value to the neighborhood meth user.  My Grandma often confused the drugs in her cabinet. 

It wasn't uncommon for us to be laughing at the kitchen table because we heard, "Jesus, Mary & Joseph! I just dropped Pa's nasal spray in my EYE!" coming from the bathroom.  Or, "Oh, for Pete's sake! That was BEN-GAY?! I thought it was Polygrip."  It is the running joke in our family.  

Which is why my mom called me a few years back to tell me (between tears of laughter) that instead of cleansing gently with a cotton-ball full of astringent, she had rubbed her face raw with nail-polish remover.  Jesus, Mary & Joseph.

Yesterday, I used my own astringent.  I noticed that it seemed a bit bubblier than usual and thought that it might be my imagination.  I inspected my cotton ball to see if maybe there was some soap on it or something.  And then today.  It happened again.  Instead of the nice, tingly lavender rubdown, there was a strange, foamy residue.  I marched downstairs-in my towel, even- and confronted my 8-year old.

"Lambchop.  Tell me the truth.  Have you been doing science experiments with this?" I asked as I held up the bottle in question.  He denied it.  I didn't believe him.  I pressed again.  "Are you SURE you didn't add something to this??  Hydrogen Peroxide?  Soap??  Come on.  Just tell me."  I could not get him to admit he'd been tweaking my skin-care even though I practically interrogated him.

Which is why I felt just a little bit guilty when I discovered it was eye-make-up remover I'd been smearing all over my face.

Under my breath, I muttered "Jesus, Mary & Joseph...."  I fugured my Grandma and I were just wishing each other a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sabbath Dinner

After I made a delicious, vegetarian version of Pad Thai for dinner, I asked my husband and 8-year-old son, "Lambchop" if they liked the meal.  It was one of those conversations I assumed was happening above my two-year-old's head.

Lambchop:  "I'm not a spice man.  I'm more of a sour man."  


SciFi:  "I batman!"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!

I'm sitting in the local coffee shop feeling like a princess because there is only one outlet in this joint, and guess who's computer is feeling the love?

Beneath a child's cut-out snowflakes, taped to the nearby window are flyers announcing upcoming community events. If I really wanted to attend, I would have to decipher the time and place by reading from right to left. Ordinarily? Not a big deal. But considering I've been on the opposite side of of the social status-quo for almost two years now, I find it poetic.

I guess that's where I've been since my last post. Learning how to live with my modern-day scarlet letter. I was first introduced to this term as a kid. I don't remember in what context, but if I had to guess, it would've had something to do with my German Grandmother giving some sort of warning to my aunts. In my mind (heavily influenced by 70's sitcoms, mind you) I imagined Penny Marshall flying into her apartment with a giant, loopy, cut-from-felt "L" on her shirt. I mean, Laverne was doing the kinds of things that called for the wearing a scarlett letter, right? Quite honestly, I still imagine it that way.... that cursive thing stuck to my chest.

In reality,the scarlet letter is elusive. I'm not sure who put it there or who else sees it. I see the reflection of it in some people's eyes but not others'. Sometimes I remember to remove it with prayer, and some times I stick it on myself and hide behind the tremendous weight of it.

I battle with this. I stay home from social events. I decline dinner invitations. I lower my eyes in public. I allow shame and embarrassment to overwhelm and depress me. I hide at home unshowered and in the sweats I slept in. For two nights straight.

I recently made something called a vision board... it is suppose to way to keep me focused on things I would like to accomplish in this life. In the middle I drew an ornate mirror to remind me to see myself the way God does. But lately, I've forgotten to listen to him and all I see in the mirror is a woman who hopes her God is holding on to her because somewhere between the last post and the present, I think she let go.