Monday, February 25, 2013

Whatever we did is no good

The last two-three weeks have been rough.  Really, really rough.  In bed by 9, still exhausted in the morning, teary-eyed and unable to concentrate at work rough.  Beyond brief random sobs in the car, well into crying in the shower and at "My Little Sunshine" rough.  I've made it in to work though, and my kids are still getting dinner and stories, so...  that's something.  

I've never tried anti-depressants.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly a beacon of sunshine - I've been offered them several times, but every time that soul sucking blackness was an appropriate response to a really crappy situation and I've muddled through.  One time I even made it to the point of seeing my primary care doctor, but he mentioned weight gain and reduced sexual drive so I cut him off.  I didn't think staring at a broken scale while Matt complained about nookie was going to cheer me up.  

I know anti-depressants have saved a lot of lives and if your brain isn't pumping out enough endorphins or serotonin, or whatever it is that makes getting up in the morning possible, then by all means, fill your script.  I don't see the difference between them and insulin and I'm not judging.  This is just about me.  

My occasional bouts of angst and "Holy crap, is it only Wednesday?" feelings are 86% attributable an impossible to do list, self-inflicted financial woes, and my inability to survive on 4 hours of sleep a night.  I've never considered that a chemical imbalance, it's just life - One night I'll work late to satisfy the boss, the kids get extra attention the next night, and sometimes, maybe twice a year, I'll stay up late to vacuum.  I aim for balance, sometimes I trip, but the sun keeps coming up.  The other times... well, the sun has a nasty little habit of rising those mornings too.  

But this month... it has been too much.  Gigi's recovery has been bumpy, with some really disturbing phone calls (though she's home now, with help).  Multiple couples in the extended family are divorcing, including one in the not-so-extended family that has resulted in some really disturbing emails.  And one of my very favorite people lost her granddaughter in almost the exact same way I lost Brennan and that has brought me to my knees.  Just felled me.  It's been eight and a half years.  You'd think some scar tissue would have formed.  It has not.  The bandage was ripped off and the blood and tears are drowning me.

Her granddaughter and my girl share a name.   

Emily Rapp just lost her son too, nine days ago.  Just after posting my sad story a few years ago, I read this line of hers, "[It] felt straight out of a Victorian novel:  I was hysterical, inconsolable, stricken.  I had the urge to run down the stree in pajamas (for lack of a period nightgown) tearing at my hair and wailing."

I remember one person telling me, after I'd lost Brennan, that they would have ended up committed if they'd lost a baby.  There was a suggestion, in that comment, that my grief was somehow lacking, because I didn't end up in a padded room, or running down the street half-clad.  Or medicated.  Lacking because my grief is conveyed in a series of unfinished sentences trailing off in an excess of ellipses and not the actual rending of garments.  I did, while on my mockery of "maternity leave", have a couple very strong martinis, very early in the morning, but I remember deciding several days into that experiment that it wasn't going to do anyone any good if I became a full blown alcoholic.  We also didn't have enough vodka.  

I've thought about getting blitzed again, this month, but a second drink is about all I can handle.  Even my self destructive streaks are lacking.  And just in case I was thinking about trying harder, Matt and I just watched Flight - I clearly hadn't been paying attention because I thought it was going to be a fun plane crash/thriller (we made popcorn!) but it turned out to be a bleak look at what happens when people start on their 4th drink before breakfast.  

The film was loosely inspired by Alaska Airlines Flight 261 which flew, inverted, into the Pacific thirteen years ago.  I remember reading the transcript in Harper's, linked here, when it was first published, back before children when I still had Harper's delivered and had time to read it.  It took those men 81 seconds to fall out of the sky and they kept trying to fix it.  They flew the last full minute of their lives upside down, dropping over 13,000ft/minute and they did not blink.  That, my friends, is composure under duress.

I did not remember the transcript correctly though, as I could have sworn the pilot said goodbye to his mother.  Turns out that was actually PSA Flight 182, which had crashed years earlier just a little further south in San Diego.  Knowing they were going down, knowing the little black box would pick it up, the pilot's last words were for his mother.  

The little bit of ground I have been clutching at this month are my girl's first words.  Technically, 'word approximations' and really just the one word - the only one I've been waiting four and a half years to hear.... Mommy.  Said with more B and P than the spelling might suggest, but said with delight, joy, and emphasis.  There is no question what she's saying or who she's talking to.  Mommy! 

This, of course, makes me cry as well.  Cry with joy, but also because there is another mommy out there who won't hear those same words of grace.  And maybe my girl picked this month to start saying Mommy for all the little girls out there who can't.  I have no words of comfort for my friend's daughter, because here I am crying eight plus years later for both our losses and I can't tell her it will ever hurt any less.  I know the sun will come up tomorrow, because it can be bastard that way, and I can tell her that I survived, even after flying inverted.  But I can't tell her how to move thru the next hours or days or years.  I don't know if what I did was any good, or if it would work for anyone else.  I don't know what the goal is, other than to stay standing.  I don't know what to do. 

So I sent flowers. 


  1. Hugs and sniffles to you Kathryn. You are a woman of my own heart, a functioner in grief and love, carrying on like a soldier. And sometimes love is like a war...
    There is a wonderful website for healthy crying and shared grief/blog called glow in the woods, mama loss is the theme and it comes in all shapes and sizes and as long as someone wants without judging.
    Anything I can do I am here - call, write, visit....

  2. {{{{HUGS}}}} No words of wisdom. Just love and hugs from me.
    Your baby girl knew that you needed to hear her utter "mommy".

  3. Thanks so much for sharing. This was so well written I wanted to be there to tell you it will be alright, but I know those are only words, and can't change anything. Lots and lots of hugs and maybe mommy is your non pharmaceutical medication.

  4. Oh, my, I don't know what to say. I'm glad you shared that here, and send you big virtual ((hugs)). I'm with Anna - your baby girl has the best medicine of all.

  5. I'm sitting here with tears running down my face.

    What pain. My heart aches.

    I have to say - I've finally tried the medication route. The first 2 prescribed to me did nothing, but this one I'm on now is. I can sleep at night with it, and the truly dark thoughts are held at bay. I'm not glassed out though, it's not making me a different person or anything; it's just making me saner.

    xoxoxo big love your way

  6. I am sitting here after reading this post for the second time this morning feeling compelled to say something but not knowing what to say. Usually I over think things and end up saying nothing, but today I'm sending wishes for something to lighten your physical and emotional load.

    I try to tell myself that as long as I'm doing what I can, that it has to be enough. This is especially true when things beyond my control enter into the picture. My kids have way too much screen time, according to whomever makes these rules, and I'm always behind at work, but beating myself up over either of those things isn't useful. My husband and I joke about having dinner with the Flynn-Fletchers (code for watching Phineas and Ferb) when we need quiet time. The kids watch the show, and we read books. We're not Norman Rockwell, we aren't keeping up with the Jones, but we muddle through. I'm not sure why we all strive for perfection when what we really need is balance. Mediocrity is what makes the world go round, right?

    I also refuse to keep up with my family on Facebook. I like everyone much better, and I am far less stressed when I don't know what is happening in their day to day lives. I am really, really good at borrowing problems if I don't set strong limits for myself.

    I'm glad to hear your grandmother is doing better, and I'm sorry to hear about your friend's baby and how that brought your own grief to the surface again. Living is so hard sometimes.

    You didn't ask for advice and I didn't intend to give any when I started typing, so I'm sorry if I overstepped here. Please feel free to disregard my words but hear the intent behind them.

    Oh, and congratulations on hearing "Mommy." Those first few times are priceless!

  7. Sending you some hugs. I'm sorry this has been a rough month for you, emotionally, with everything going on. But on the positive side, oh what a wonderful feeling it is to hear your precious girl calling for mommy!

  8. We can just sit here with you, and we can breathe in your words, and we can breathe out some air and just continue sitting. And so on. You have done so for us, and so we are here for you. Sending love and tears and breath for you.

  9. ah, hell. it's all too much, sometimes, isn't it? I'm sorry.

    I've taken antidepressants even at times of situational depression. because really, help is help, right? Happy to chat more about it if you want - I was also really resistant, but I think they helped me through.

    YAY for first words! best news of my day. big hugs to you both.

  10. I am in your corner. I wish there was more I could do, but I sending you hugs and good thoughts. And I am here listening to whatever you need to talk about.

  11. As I drink my nightly glass or more of wine until I take my little Lexi who after years of taking does not keep my mind quiet at night anymore...I say keep doing what your's all you can do...and you are doing it....and that is all that matters. Day by day.

  12. Hugs, strength, healing vibes. Your intelligence and terrific sense of humor serve you well, and help you function during the rough times -- but it bites big time that you have such rough times to weather. Others have already said a lot of the things I would like to, and much better than I could -- starrlife's description of you as a functioner in grief and love sums it up. Sometimes the only thing we need to do is survive and be compassionate and charitable toward ourselves (like we would toward a friend) until it gets a little better.

  13. What a wonderfully honest, well-written post. Eon has extra letter sounds in his version of mommy, too, but it doesn't make the word any less sweet! Hugs to you!

  14. I'm so glad you've had so many cool comments on this post. I loved reading your post (I'm always so grateful to get to hear your thoughts and feelings, and hear about your life), and I was also really pleased to read all the loving feedback.

    I think I told you this summer, but I'll tell you again--Lexapro is saving my life. I've had a little weight gain, but truly, who the fuck cares, because I'm also sleeping well, not fantasizing about suicide, having clarity in my assessments of my day and my life, feeling truly more at peace in my life. I was resistant, but it got bad enough that I was willing to try, and fortunately for me, the first SSRI I tried has been awesome.


  15. And they were beautiful.

    Just as you and that incredibly unselfish heart are. Simply beautiful.

    2 emails in your inbox from me.

    And cupcakes in hand this weekend if you'll have me. Just say the word.