For a long time, I was better. Maybe it was the counseling. Or the meds. Or the cocoon of safety my family provided me. Maybe it was the daily run in the middle of summer in Texas, when the heat lanced all feelings straight from the wound. Maybe it was the job I couldn’t wait to start. Whatever it was, it didn’t matter because I was better.
But the loneliness and the need for companionship began to overwhelm me. My bed was too big. My heart was too broken. My parenting was subpar. I needed Casey, but he was gone, and I’ve never been very good at being alone.
I started dating someone and he was wonderful and kind and for the first time in a long time, I felt alive and happy and better.
Even when the guilt would wash over me and people would watch me with their wide eyes full of questions and their pursed lips barely restraining their judgments because isn’t it too soon? And shouldn’t you wait another year?
So then I started shopping. And shopping. And shopping. I bought all of the most beautiful bags and shoes and clothes – all of the things that I wouldn’t allow myself to buy before, back when things were worse. I denied myself nothing and each package filled me up. And I felt better.
And then my own guilt, my own grief, the feelings I tried to squash, to ignore because DAMMIT I WAS BETTER threatened to pull me under and I tried, I tried to keep going, to keep smiling, to pretend. I would drink a beer or two at night, not enough to get drunk, just enough to relax, just enough to take the edge off this strange, sharp pain in my chest that would come and go. Just enough to dull the panicky buzz I felt rising to the surface, the itch that reddened my skin. And I felt better.
But the pain in my chest won’t go away and sometimes I can’t stop crying. I push everyone away and then yank them back, only to promise it will absolutely happen again. And the guilt washes over me and am I cheating on Casey? and it hasn’t even been a year and I don’t know what I’m doing with my life and how am I supposed to parent these beautiful, wild, precocious, terrible little girls? And I want to be loved again but not right now and also RIGHT NOW, but exactly how I want it. And the clothes are so pretty, but they’ve stopped making things better. And I know that the beer won’t assuage my pain, not really.
And so I’ll try writing it all down, like I used to when things were worse, but also sometimes better. I’ll wade through my thoughts and pluck out the ripest to throw into the world before they rot me from the inside out.
And who knows? Maybe when they’re out of me, I’ll feel better.