The buzz, like the sound of a street light on a dark night, starts out as kind of the base beat of life around here. The buzz was annoying at first. It’s there sometimes, and not, at others. I got used to the buzz, like a vibration on the ride I call my life. With the vibration is a depth of love that defies description. And because of the love, pretty soon, you don’t even notice the little buzz that used to annoy you.
To minimize the tension from the buzz, there is routine. Routine is sacred. It ensures things get done. Lunches are packed. Teeth are brushed. Medications are taken. It’s done in the same order almost every day. Predictability. Stability. Necessity.
Of course, some days are different. Little changes are okay. I can improvise, as long as it’s not too much. Throw me a nerf ball and I’ll catch it. I will adjust. The little boy may balk slightly but things settle, relatively quickly, back to the norm. I cannot even see the disruption in the water… Throw me a medicine ball and, even with a large wave, the water will settle. I can handle going under for a bit longer. It’s all good.
But when you shoot several, basketball-sized disruptions at me? I will dodge, catch, dive and hold my breath, as best as I can, but eventually, I’m going to tire. I will become weak. A number of the fibers that hold me upright will break. I may bend. The routine that ensures stability disintegrates.
I’ll hold it in. I want to yell, to lash out, to explain what I’m feeling or why I forgot. But no one wants to hear excuses. They want stability. Dependability. I can’t give them that with “reasons”. And so, I don’t. I have come to the conclusion that we all have disruptions, changes, disappointments and disasters we have to live with, and no one needs to hear my rants to add to their own.
Holding it in makes me feel full. But it’s not the kind of full as in fulfilling, content, satisfied. It’s the kind of “holding in” that hurts, in an achy way. Usually, I find one or two people to listen. They can sympathize. I can pull the plug on this pent up emotion, and let it go.
Sometimes though, there’s a clog. Or I won’t talk about it. And that’s where it all goes bad. Those pains and pent up disappointments start chipping away at that glass half full. At the love. At the beauty of life. Shades are drawn around the pain. And it grows.
It grows til the day that the little boy has no school. And not just his stability, but my routine, is broken. He decides it’s a good day to refuse to eat in favor of play. It’s a day without predictability. And the little boy and his mommy need predictability. The little boy does not pen things up. He starts to yell. And cry. And kick things. He spits food and water on his own clothes. He wrestles for control. And the mom with the pent up feelings and pain has been holding it in too long. She yells. She puts him in time out. And the waterworks flow. He cries. So much snot comes out that it’s like a river. His eyes are red and his cheeks swollen. Mom feels like the worst human being alive.
And in that moment, mom realizes she left the boy’s swim gear in the bag on the bed at home 30 miles away and swim class is in two hours. The boy is a mess. The mom is debating whether to forget swim. But the boy has made so much progress. Swim is expensive. Missing a lesson is not an option. Mom puts him in the car and drives him for an hour to retrieve the swim gear and bring him back to town for lessons.
The boy does not deserve to be yelled at. He needs predictability. He got no warning of the day off. He got no schedule for what was to happen. The mom feels awful. She sinks even further. She determines she is unworthy of the special child she parents. She wonders, momentarily, if he’d be better off without her…
This was the map of my trip to depression. It happened so slowly that I saw it coming but it happened anyway. I needed support. Someone to turn to, to talk to, to comfort me. But the little boy’s dad is busy. He has work and grandma is seriously ill. The mom’s parents are struggling and not an option. The mom has no siblings – no relatives, close by, to turn to – she is isolated and alone. And so, the mom knew she needed to study the map to find the way out.
This stuff is not for “friends”. Because, in my mind, I need to be there, in the flesh, to support friends in their time of need – but there is no time for mutuality in my routine. There’s no extra time at all. There is no time to do any more than the baseline of required activity to make it to the next day.
So my only option is to figure it out myself. To let it out, even if it is just on paper. The tiniest flaw, that I hold in, can grow. When I am weak, that mistake can grow out of proportion. When I am tired, with no outlet, seeing my little boy cry, I want to stop the pain. Because I blame myself, I ponder whether cutting myself out is the cure.
But that is not the cure.
The cure, I figured out, after a while, is within. It’s self acceptance. It’s believing it’s okay not to be perfect. The cure is knowing I’m not alone and the world is full of little mistakes.
The cure is to learn to forgive myself. And so that is where I will begin.