There are the days I retreat. Those days I am particularly sad and feel raw to the world. A high didn’t last; I let myself down; someone did something so much better than I did, or would, or thought of doing. There are many days of that color. And few places to hide. My usual time-pass of social media can be a tough stay: this ain’t no place to fall behind (from The Weary Kind, Ryan Bingham). Even with the pretty pictures. Those days, I do not go on Facebook.
I am aware that now, in my forties, I no longer try to seem perfect. If I did, I would not write about my raging against my children, or my struggles with depression, anxiety, and body image issues. I wouldn’t write about my drinking too much, and drinking alone.
Once, and for many agains, I chased perfect across the field that expands just as I am reaching its end. Like in a dream, I could not stop running at it.
And when I realized I would not reach it, I tried to act it, to convince people I am someone other than who I am. And who I am, or was–or am sometimes–is ashamed, and scared, and teetering between normal and panicked.
There was a time I was only afraid. And then a time I was strangely, falsely brave. Because I was still pretending and leaning on groups and people I had met in recovery places. Perhaps that was okay for then. It got me through, after all.
When I started to write again, many years after graduate school, a few years after the kids, I found a way back through the fear and shame and delusions which held me up. I wasn’t looking to go back. So perhaps it found me.
I shake when I write about my anger with my children. I shake when I try to write more, the story, the yesterdays, the today, the tonight, and what I hope for tomorrow. What I fear for tomorrow slams me. There would be no purpose I can imagine or hope for, though, other than to believe intently and with humility, not that writing the truth will restore me, or heal me, or heal my children, or my past–but that documenting this will also reveal something beautiful. Or just someone better.
When I wrote about the rage I have felt, the continuum of motherly love, adoration, irritation and anger, there were responses that floored me with their own honesty, kindness, and brutal self-shaming. There are mothers behind those comments who are also hurt and hurting, and who didn’t think they could speak aloud about becoming so angry, so quickly.
I do not try to seem perfect. Not anymore. But down in the deep I may be, still, trying to be perfect. And when I sit facing the words of devastating imperfection, dotting the screen by own fingertips, I am driven to push harder to be nothing but truthful–and I hope a little funny–for the mothers hammered by their own secrets; for the delight in what’s possible; and to scrawl directly onto the brittle shadow of perfection: “nowhere be afraid.”
(This post’s title and last line are taken from Emily Dickinson’s poem When we stand on the tops of Things.)