Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"You cannot find peace by avoiding life."

I wrote on Instagram last night a little tidbit about how I found a love and beauty in gardening 2 years ago. The idea of gardening always seemed so dreamy to me. I grew up surrounded by elaborate pools of flower gardens around my parents house and spacious backyard. And then when I was older my mom grew and tended a dozen different vegetables. The size of her vegetable garden was the size of some people's kitchens. I took it for granted, but I was a kid so I'm given a bit of slack for not seeing that not everyone had that luxury.

When my husband and I bought our first home it had a massive, long backyard that had been a graveled and somewhat detailed meandering garden. The homeowners let it die and moved out. I had high hopes of revitalizing it. I planted and killed 4 vegetables. It was impossible to mow the grass growing through the gravel and expensive to lay down more rocks and even more expensive to remove the rocks and put down a yard. So I gave up and declared I hated yardwork - especially gardening because I killed things.

2 years ago though I decided I really didn't want to be the neighbor with the eyesore of a yard. (That was definitely us with the ownership of that first house. Sorry, neighbors. We see the error of our ways now.) It was hours of work and a wicked sunburn that made me sick but I did it. 2 flowering bushes, 4 types of flowers and 2 types of vegetables. And it all LIVED! Last year and this year I've watched the plants die and come back, bigger and stronger and more beautiful.


This season has been one of deep change and uprooting for me. I've been surviving through terribly dark throes of depression and anger and sadness. And though a lot of it, maybe most of it, is happening externally in the world around me, I actually feel a great deal of the depth of change is in me.

I mentioned in my last post that I've been clinging onto the edge of a pit, gasping for breath and reassuring everyone around me I'm fine before I lose my hold and fall back in. In the pit I spent a few weeks not doing anything. Not seeing anyone or speaking to anyone, putting the kids to bed and then going to bed myself. Another few weeks was spent not really speaking to my husband. In all of those weeks I'm a ghost trying to find my place in this life that's morphing around me. My friends are moving and changing into different roles of their own, my husband is starting a business which our income will solely rely on, my church, whose close knit community is one I've found so much peace and love in, is closing its doors and the rest of the plans for our lives are completely open ended.

I like the open ended.

For these ends to be open as they are while I feel I'm either fading away or my spirit is pouring out of my seams is something I can't exactly explain to anyone and them not think me insane. 

Years ago I watched The Hours and I took in every second of beauty and heartbreak and breathed it. I had never, and have never, watched something I felt was such a reflection of myself before. I bought it on DVD and didn't watch it again until last week, almost 11 years later. I watched it with my husband and I described a scene that has always stuck with me. A woman lays on a bed, ready to kill herself in a hopeless moment and water rises around her, swallowing her.

I have never related so deeply to a feeling. My depression has always felt like water I'm treading that I can't muster the energy to keep treading. It gets heavier until I can't breathe and the ideas of the depth of those waves sound so peaceful.

My husband finished the movie and was struck by everything that had captured me years and years ago.

It was about two weeks later that we got into an intense argument about my living in this state of nothing. He told me he saw all three of the women in The Hours as one person; me. I would be lying if I said I didn't feel a sense of thankfulness for feeling so understood but also a great deal of self loathing for tying him to a person like myself.

I've been struggling because I feel so ready to leap out into my own adventure instead of solely supporting the adventures and ambitions of those around me. I have felt resentful of my husband (off and on) for about a year now because I have felt I have lived in his shadow for a very long time which is where I wanted to be; supporting and encouraging in the background with our kids. But the more I find I'm frustrated in the background, the more I long to get out of the shadow, the more sure I am that the timing of my feelings is all wrong. Or it's the voice of that darkness telling me so. Regardless, it's convincing and it makes me feel trapped.

I don't want to be where I am right now. I'm ready to see what I really can be because here, gripping to the edge of my pit, I know I was meant for something great. Raising my beautiful children to be flourishing and compassionate adults isn't my only purpose and being the constant cheerleader to my artistic and amazingly intelligent husband isn't my only purpose. Knowing how to crack the right jokes at the best times to make everyone around me laugh isn't the only thing I know I can do.

But what is?!

Trying to hone in on passions and not blow our precious income trying to find it and meeting my 3 children's needs while also trying to even recognize my own and juggling the ideas of full time work and childcare and the unschooling homeschooling dreams I've had is really...too much. And then I'm back to being the ghost, frustrated with myself and resentful of those around me finding and succeeding in their goals and dreams and also feeling like a piece of shit for not just freaking enjoying my time at home with my kids. What a terrible mom I am. 

I brought up my wanting to find work outside of the home to a few people. The first person (a therapist I don't see anymore) suggested I find some mom groups to plug into. The next person suggested I really weigh the cost of childcare. The next person kept adding, "well, when Atticus is older," either not listening to me or truly not realizing I mean, "I WANT TO FIND WORK OUTSIDE OF THE HOME." The last person listened to me and supported my feelings. I didn't need anyone to say how wonderful my ambition was, but it certainly was welcomed. And my sweet, wonderful husband has encouraged me from the beginning.

My husband had to spend 2 full days at home with them while I worked helping a friend run a wedding event. At the end of the second day he said, "We have got to get you out of here. I don't know how you do this."

Thanks, babe. I mean it. Being their mother is the number one thing I want to be. But there are other things I can be as well. I want to be them. I just need to find them. 
And as I raise my kids, I want to raise them to know what they can be. That they were always and will always be my priority

 It feels almost grandiose to say, but this change, as painful and dark and suffocating and out of control as it feels, I might dare to say is more of a metamorphosis than just a turn of the page.


As I was working in my garden, digging into earth that had been unkept and forgotten, I stood back and felt joy. Gratitude that I could do something seemingly so insignificant and too close to matter but knowing with my hands I changed and grew something that's getting more mature and beautiful each year.

I hope I see that in myself too.