About three months ago, I was as close to rock bottom as I’ve ever been. It took every ounce of energy to drag myself out of bed in the mornings. My idea of the perfect day was to stay in stretchy pants, veg out in front of the television, and just exist until it was time to crawl back into bed. (I wrote about it in an emotional post titled “Here’s The Truth.”) I was crying in the shower, in the car, in the office. I was crying while cooking supper, while folding laundry, while writing in my journal. I cried into my pillow, into the warm belly fur of reluctant kitties, into my pillow.
I was depressed.
One night, sometime in August, I verbalized my pain to Brian. Of course, he already knew. He’d been witnessing it all first hand. I’d been avoiding my friends and family for a couple of weeks, and he was right beside me during stretchy pants time. But I needed to find my soft place to land in him, confess my darkest fears and private feelings, talk it out with my best friend and confidant. Curled up on the bed beside him in the dark, my head in my hands, I poured out my heart.
He listened, comforting me through the hardest confessions, wiping away my tears, shedding a few of his own. And when I was finished, he looked at me in that way he has–like he can see into the depths of my soul. “When was the last time you did something that truly made you happy?” I pondered, going over the last few weeks in my brain. After several moments of silence, Brian smiled sadly and said, “It shouldn’t be that hard.”
“You’re right,” I whispered. “But what do I do?”
“You need to rejoin your life. We’ll always be sad about not being able to have a baby. Now we have to learn to live with that grief and still have a fulfilling life.”
I tucked his words into my heart like a precious jewel, and over the next few days, I cleaned myself up, dusted myself off, and tried to re-inject myself into life. Lunch with a friend, an afternoon shopping trip with another, a long telephone conversation with yet another. I opened the blinds and let the sunshine spill back in. Even though it hurt, I allowed myself to smile. And eventually, after some time, the laughter followed.
I wasn’t ‘happy’ again, but I was trying to be happy. And that was a mega-huge step in the right direction.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
It’s November 12, nearly halfway through Nanowrimo, and I’ve never felt less inspired. My desk is littered with post-it notes filled with To-Do lists. My phone dings relentlessly with emails that need to be answered, reminders for upcoming events or meetings, private messages that require my attention. I feel like there are a hundred bees buzzing in my brain, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t turn off the noise.
My frustration reached a boiling point, and once again, I found myself turning to my husband for advice. I fussed about problems that aren’t mine to fix, whined about my lackluster word count, bemoaned my missing creativity. “I just don’t feel like a writer anymore,” I said. “I just don’t have the time or the inclination to do it.”
“If you didn’t have the inclination to write, you wouldn’t worry so when you aren’t writing,” he said. “It’s the time you don’t have.”
I sighed. “I know I’ve been really busy lately. I’m sorry.”
He looked at me in that way he has–like he can see into the depths of my soul. “When was the last time you did something that truly made you happy?”
This time I didn’t hesitate. I rattled off five or six things with relative ease.
“Let me rephrase,” he said. “When was the last time you did something JUST FOR YOU? Something that made you giddy inside? Just for Abby. No one else.”
I shut my mouth and, yet again, could offer no answer.
“You’re stretched too thin. Too many irons in the fire,” he said. “What are some things that brought you joy before?”
“My blog. Writing my book. Chasing my dream of being published.” The answers rolled off my tongue without much thought.
“So you need to get back to that, then. Start writing every day again. Pull out that list of agents and dust it off. Get back on the horse. I know you can do it. You just have to make time for it. Make it a priority again, like you did earlier this year.”
I heard his words and knew he was right. But in that moment, I realized what I’d been doing. In an attempt to learn to live with the grief of infertility, I’d been filling my life with things to keep my mind as busy as possible so I wouldn’t think about the things that had led me to my two-week long stretchy pants sabbatical.
I tucked his words into my heart where all his other bits of wisdom live. I let myself cry a little, to feel the sadness that is always lingering but that I hadn’t allowed myself to access in weeks.
The journey of mourning isn’t an easy one. We are learning in the process which avenues work and which ones don’t. We are making detours and getting stuck in emotional traffic and occasionally, taking a totally wrong turn and winding up in the wrong part of town. But the one thing I know for sure about all of this?
Brian is the most reliable GPS on the market.