Sad

I’ve been struggling with something-but-I-don’t-know-what for a while. I’ve brushed it off as just a bit of a funk. Something we all go through when the summer ends and the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter. But it hit me today as I stood in the pouring rain and delighted in the icy pinpricks hitting my face: I am deeply, desperately sad.

Now, before you silverlinings me or tell me how lucky my life is: I know. I know. I am not working three jobs just to make ends meet. I am not raising my babies alone with no support. I am not caring for a sick child. I have an amazing family and a beautiful home and work that pays well and I live in one of the safest countries in the world. I lead a privileged life. And still, I am sad.

My sadness is a privilege. I have the luxury of being sad about something-but-I-don’t-know-what because I am not sad about something concrete or devastating. I have the luxury of sitting in my sadness because I don’t have to pick myself up and snap myself out of it in order to survive. Knowing this makes me sadder somehow. I have so much going for me. And yet: sad.

I feel like I have so much inside of me. Words I haven’t written yet. Recipes I haven’t tried. Books I haven’t read. Foods I haven’t tasted. Pictures I haven’t taken. Doodles I haven’t doodled. Conversations I haven’t started. And it’s all eaten up by the overwhelming everythingness of life with small kids. My days are full of music and laughter and more hugs than I can count, but also laundry and conflicting schedules and a lot of bodily fluids (so. many. bodily. fluids.) By the time I have fifteen minutes to myself to write or read or draw, my brain is so overstimulated and raw that I can barely manage to stare at my phone and scroll through pictures of the gorgeous cakes I don’t have the energy to bake, or the clothes I don’t have the fortitude to buy and then put on my body in a misguided attempt to look like anything but a frenzied, overtired mom.

I’ve lost the part of me that makes me me and I’ve replaced it with a teeth-gritted, shrill-voiced shell of a woman who locks her babies out of the bathroom so she can pee in peace, and then cries on the toilet while they stick their fingers under the door and cry to be let in.

I know I’m not the only person to struggle with parenthood. I know none of this is original or unique. Mid-thirties, middle class white girl feels overwhelmed by motherhood. Yawn. I know. The realization is not comforting, it just makes me more sad to know how normal it is to feel like this. I also know it won’t always feel like this. This is a season of life, this too shall pass, etc. I know. But knowing I won’t always feel sad does not make me feel less sad right now. I cannot reason away the sad. Logic has no place here in my rain cloud.

I suspect time and gratitude are the only cure. And solidarity.

September

If you’re reading this, congratulations. You did it. You made it through September.

It was touch and go for a while there. I don’t mean to sound dramatic but it really felt like September was going to break me at times.

I don’t know exactly why, to be honest. Something about the shift in the season, the impending months of rain and gloom, the back-to-school chaos and feelings and schedule enforcement, not to mention the emergency preparedness forms that always seem to send me into a spiral of anxiety and sadness. Note to future Hillary: structure the expiry of Poppy’s EpiPens better next year so you don’t have fill out emergency contacts for Grady’s school the same week you visit Poppy’s allergist for a new prescription. The what-ifs were not kind to me in September.

And now it’s the second week of October. Grady is settled into his new classroom. We’re rocking the morning get-out-the-door scramble. The days are getting shorter and there’s a chill in the air but it’s less terrible than it was a month ago. It’s no longer shocking to head out the door in the morning and realize it’s jacket season. It just is. It’s time for flannel and cinnamon and closed-toe shoes.

If you need me, I’ll be over here soothing myself with pumpkin pie and preparing to hibernate until next summer.

Tired

So here's a fun* game I've been playing recently: Am I doing this because that or because I'm depressed?

Am I sleeping for nine hours straight and waking up bone tired because my meds are off? Or am I depressed? Am I paralyzed at the thought of picking up the phone and calling the dentist to make appointments for the kids because I hate talking on the phone? Or am I depressed? Am I unsettled and frustrated at work because I have very little control over a situation that negatively affects my day-to-day work? Or am I depressed? Am I crying at anything and everything because the world is a terrifying place to raise children, am I overwhelmed by the fact that it's September because it signals the return of busy schedules and less downtime, am I short and irritable with my children because they're children and children are kind of the worst while you're teaching them to be good, kind citizens of the world, am I sad - a lot - because I miss important people who I wish could be a bigger part of my life, am I dwelling on words spoken about my children and my parenting style because my biggest fear is screwing up this parenting gig, am I not coping well because my therapist took the summer off, am I drowning in laundry / dishes / dust because I have young kids and that's just part of this season of life, or am I depressed? 

I truly don't know.

Anxiety is my jam. I can describe the different ways I've experienced anxiety throughout my life. I can read lists, listen to spoken word, and acknowledge the experience of others, while identifying strongly. I recognize anxiety. Anxiety is a familiar beast.

Depression is more foreign to me. I've definitely experienced periods of being blue. I'm a feeler. I feel all the feels - the good, the bad, the ugly. But I've never felt like this. It's entirely possible that this is the end of summer funk. That the thought of rushed school mornings and packed lunches and the return of the rainy season has messed with my equilibrium. Maybe in a few weeks we'll be back in the swing of things and I won't feel so defeated. But right now, I am struggling. I am not coping well. I do not want to give up caffeine / sugar / alcohol or call my doctor or go to the gym to sweat it out. I want to send my words out into the universe and hear that I'm not the only one. And then I want to curl up in bed and sleep for nine hours because soon it will be morning and I'll be waking up tired.  

*it's not fun at all. It's terrible. 

Boundaries

I’m a big fan of boundaries. Learning to say no, not right now, not that much, that’s not for me, that’s not right, that doesn’t work for me, is an ongoing struggle for me, but one that is so important. Hello, my name is Hillary, and I am a recovering people pleaser. 

Figuring out what your personal boundaries are, and then implementing them and sticking with them, is a form of radical self-care. Putting ourself over others isn’t something we’ve been raised to do. We’ve been taught to share and be polite and be kind, and those are extremely important skills to master. But somewhere along the way the lines got blurred and we started putting the comfort and happiness of others ahead of our own. 

So! Boundaries! Big fan. Love them. Nothing bad to say about boundaries.  

But it’s difficult to love boundaries when someone says no to you. When someone decides that you’re too much, not right for them, not right right now, too strong, too weak, too something , it stings. It really hurts when someone’s personal boundaries means limiting contact, unfollowing, unfriending, pulling away, ending communication, breaking up, shutting down, etc. It’s hard and it hurts. 

And there’s nothing to be done except sitting in the pain and acknowledging the hurt. Respecting boundaries the way you expect others to respect yours means you can’t try to change someone’s mind. You can’t convince someone to change how they feel. That’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to you. Because you deserve more than that. You deserve to be surrounded by people who choose to be in your life, not people you have to chase or manipulate.  

Sometimes respecting someone’s boundaries means saying goodbye. It’s painful and sometimes it doesn’t make any sense but in the end, walking away from a situation that no longer works can be the best way to take care of ourselves. It doesn’t feel good when people grow in different directions and we lose people we thought could never be consciously lost to us, but the end right now doesn’t have to mean it’s the end forever. 

I’m doing my best to respect my own boundaries and the boundaries of others, even when they’re confusing and uncomfortable for me. I don’t always succeed but I always try. 

 

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