A reason

Today I must begin to live the breadth of my new life. The one where I struggle with depression while raising two boys, commuting and working full-time. I’m afraid. I’m not ready. But I’m also worried I’ll never be ready.

These past two weeks have been hard, but in some ways they haven’t. I spent the entire time focusing only on me and my family. And I’ve realized how lovely that can be. And I’m worried that the little piece of serenity that I so briefly wrapped around my life will quickly trickle through my fingers in the same sea of tears from which it came.

My husband texted me one morning last week and said “Next week it will be easier to navigate to work. Less low lying cloud.”

Immediately I thought how wise he is and how deeply I hope that he is right. Because the tailspin I was living only a short time ago still weighs heavy on my heart. Not forgotten at all.  And while it has started to lift  to my great wonder and surprise, I now see clearly how strong a hold it had on my life, how it permeated in ways I didn’t even realize. So I fear it even more. I don’t want to go back there. Ever.  

I just finished reading Lit by Mary Karr, an exquisite and soulful memoir. Though I’m not a recovering alcoholic, I was struck by how intensely I could identify with her thoughts and words because. For her alcoholism was just a way of anesthetizing herself from her own depression. It took me quite a while to read it. I was quite overwhelmed by the emotion and the rawness of her honesty. On Thursday, as I  neared the end I read this:

When you’ve been hurt enough as a kid (maybe at any age), it’s like you have a trick knee. Most of your life, you can function like an adult, but add in the right portions of sleeplessness and stress and grief, and the hurt, defeated self can bloom into place.

I felt an awareness dawn and settle comfortably over me. It spread quickly and can only be described by a deep sense of relief. It was like Karr, through her own journey, had presented me with a reason, an explanation for myself. A reason which described the very heart of my struggle in a way that had until now been so elusive to me. 

In my dawning awareness I realize I have been given a gift. A gift that, despite feeling paralyzed by my inability to cope and terrified that the path forward would lead only to more sadness, that maybe there was a way to reach self-awareness and forgiveness.

I couldn’t help but feel the first spark of optimism that maybe there are answers, now that I understand, now that it all makes sense, now that there is a reason

And so I take another step forward today.

Image: ‘Having got up so early…‘ via a Creative Commons license.

31 thoughts on “A reason

  1. Nicki says:

    My parish’s annual mission starts tomorrow. I so wish, having heard some of the topics, that you were closer and could go with me. I will continue to pray for you and your family, Christine, because it is all I can do to help.

  2. Aging Mommy says:

    Tomorrow is going to be tough. This week is going to be tough. But you have already come a long way in two weeks and are better prepared for what lies ahead.

  3. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. It will take some time, but you’ll get the hang of it. Hugs. xo

  4. ck says:

    I felt that same spark of optimism as I got to the end of this piece. You are a wonderful woman, Christine. Be sure to give yourself the same patience and support and love that you would give a friend struggling through the same thing.

  5. One step at a time, Christine. That’s the way to do it. And we’re cheering you on in our own way.

  6. You never know how it will be until you try it. So you’ll see what work is like again. The good news? If it is utterly awful for weeks and isn’t working, another way will present itself. The new way or this way will be uncomfortable. But uncomfortable doesn’t mean wrong.

    I feel all cryptic.

    What I mean is if it really sucks, something will come along that will suck a lot less but may take a big leap of faith to trust in this new way because it just might be THAT NEW.

    Ah, that’s better.

    So be open-minded and honest and you will be make it through.

  7. Kelly says:

    That quote is powerful, as are your husband’s words, and as are you. Be gentle with yourself and remember that getting through these first new days is success itself.

  8. Rebecca says:

    the trick knee resonates strongly with me. holding on to hopefulness is difficult … thanks for sharing your own journey here.

  9. Amber says:

    Having suffered through pregnancy and post-partum depression, I can relate to your overwhelmed feelings. It’s strange–and exhilarating–how things can take such a turn when you recognize the symptoms and find the help you needed.

    Good luck on your journey, Christine. I will still be here, reading, as you figure out this new part of yourself.

  10. Tomorrow will be a tough day, but you are such a strong woman you can do it!! I will be thinking strong and happy thought for you tomorrow as you take the next big step!!

    Much love!!

  11. Cathy says:

    One step at a time…two steps forward, one step back….put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking cross the floor…put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be headed out the door.

    Might sound silly, but I think these phrases exist for a reason. Deep breaths.

  12. Amber says:

    I’m glad to hear that you’re taking steps forward. I’m still thinking of you, and wishing you well. I know that good things are coming to you.

  13. Sara says:

    I am neither an alcoholic nor do I practice any form of organized religion but this poem always speaks to me “Grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.”

    Hold onto the serenity you’ve found. Sometimes it will feel lost but its still there, tucked away, waiting for the moment you really need it.

  14. ShannonL says:

    Thinking of you this morning, my friend. I’m glad you’re feeling a bit of optimism and I hope it stays with you and keeps growing. Take care! xo

  15. I read both of Karr’s memoirs and was so stunned by her clarity and honesty. I think that passage you quote is brilliant…we can’t ever delude ourselves that we’re not walking around with that trick knee, because it’s our weakness. We need to make adjustments for it.

    I love your husband–what a wise and compassionate man he is.

    Thinking of you. xo

  16. Justine says:

    I found Virginia Woolf’s quote through Shapiro’s “Devotion” and it says, “Arrange the pieces as they come” and it has had a profound influence on my life recently. Shapiro was right when she said that she didn’t think there was any other way to live our life. And I agree. There will be joy, pain, sorrow, love and surprises along the way, and the only way to live fully is to deal with them as they come. Anticipating something that could happen in the future and reacting to it now would only rob you of your present life. I guess what I’m trying to say is baby steps, one day at a time, you will get to where you need to be. And we are rooting for you all the way.

  17. You have already come so far and I know it is taking so much but you are moving forward one day at a time. What a great hubby. You have the support of so many who will help as much as we can!


  18. I love your husband’s low lying cloud analogy. So poetic and yet so vivid as well. Good luck with your week; your deliberate effort to live your life the way you intend is inspiring.

  19. I read Mary Karr’s other memoir and look forward to reading Lit. Thank you for sharing with us how resonant you found it at this moment in your journey. Keep on walking, my friend, one foot and then the other, and please know that I am thinking of you and sending you all my love and supportive wishes. xoxo

  20. Just one spark of optimism, of hope, can create a fire. Keep that spark alive! Thinking of you today – and this week – and sending a boost of optimism.

  21. BumbyScott says:

    I am glad to see that you are on the mend.

  22. Jessica says:

    I love this quote from the book & am going buy her book now. I was raised in an alcoholic home & this describes me to a tee. Thank you for opening up and being honest!! I pray your weeks will get easier & easier as they go along.

  23. Chantal says:

    Hugs Christine, you have reminded me of a time not that long ago when I was a mess. Maybe some day we can chat about it. I would be writing all day if I typed it here 🙂 Hugs!

  24. Rudri says:

    Thinking of you Christine and sending you positive energy.

  25. Just catching up on your struggles. I’m sorry 😦 I’ve been there…and I know I’ll be there again. It’s like an annoying telemarketer…popping up when you least expect it, at the worst possible time, and so difficult to get rid of. **hugs**

  26. becca says:

    I’ve been thinking of you and hoping you’re doing ok. I hope your day back to work today was easier than you anticipated. And that you’re taking small steps, not expecting too much from yourself too quickly. You have so many people by your side. There for you always. You are so lucky to have your sweet husband with you… sending hugs. xo

  27. AmyB says:

    Christine, thanks for stopping by my blog. I’ve find your site and am enjoying wading it through it a little at a time – you’ve got a lot here to take in!

  28. I’m a little late in responding, but I hope that you week is going well, and is easier, happier and more full of joy than you had anticipated.

  29. Leslie says:

    I’ve been thinking of you, Christine, hoping your Monday turned out to be less dreadful than you expected and that the world is getting brighter and lighter, little by little. So often we wish for the sudden brightness of the metaphoric lightbulb that flashes inspiration over one’s head or into an empty room. Lately, I’ve appreciated the gentler illumination of our compact fluorescent bulbs, which take a little time to warm up (and give me a chance to do the same). It’s what your “awareness dawning” reminded me of. It sounds as though you’re taking the opportunity to move gently down a new path, and I’m glad for you. Hugs.

  30. Leslie says:

    Oh – and I can’t wait to read Lit. Have you read The Liars’ Club? It’s one of my all-time favorites.

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