Revive Me, Release Me

These last few weeks I have been spending a lot of time alone with my almost 4 year-old daughter.  As summer counted down and my son’s first day of kindergarten drew nearer I started to get very nervous about all this upcoming alone time.  You would think I would have been looking forward to it- excited and eager for the opportunity to have all the “Mommy and Me” time I had one on one with my son repeated or matched up with my daughter.  I wish that I could lie and say I have waited for this for years.  I have actually been terrified of it for a long time.

After my son was born we had mommy and baby playgroups, developmental activities, hours giving Good Night Moon and Kerouac equal reading time, coloring outside the lines, giggling at the walls- the list goes on.  When I became pregnant around his first birthday there was no need to stop any of this.  Well, at least not until I was too huge and tired to make complete sentences.  Then I threw all promises of saintliness aside and taught my son how to use the remote.   Okay- not exactly- he could never figure out the right combination of buttons to get to PBS… but I did give in to the TV and settle into the couch.  Until playgroup or Kindermusik or a well-timed trip to the park.

The delivery of my daughter was so traumatic as to bring on a new recurrence of my previously undiagnosed but obviously there PTSD. The severe post-partum depression was just a fun bonus.  I was connected to the baby in all the “right” ways.  We nursed and co-slept, stayed abreast of developmental stages and her relationship with my son.   I made sure she was happy.  We had a new playgroup too.  One for the town, one from when my son had come along.  Mommies had their second babies.  I spoke wisely and joked about all the silly things and was the sarcastic one but pleasant as always.

I was also a super-mom.  Cloth-diapers- some sewn by myself, homemade clothes, no chemical cleaners EVER, organics, the best play date table spread you could imagine.  Theme days, crafts galore, organization of organizing tools, the continued ability to run my handmade goods business and do weekend fairs even with a new baby.  I was also lying to the world.  I was not super anything unless super crazy counted.  I hid my symptoms all day and let the night hold them for me.  It was during that time that I lay in bed and wrote the following piece.

Today seems interminable

Sleep refuses to revive me or release me

or open its arms widely enough to hold me

Daggers and ripping in my belly like cold fire

Heavy lids and skipping heart teasing me

When darkness goes on forever and

daylight is no sweet relief or proof of God

each minute is like a notch on failure’s belt

A bitter reminder of all the ghosts

that hold open your eyes and gorge on your dwindling faith

The tears and the terror that lurk on the

edges of my dreams, my terrible dreams,

make me wish for a few more moments of

wakefulness in spite of my worn down body

During these hours I dabble in forgiveness

I almost allow myself to breathe deeply

as though unburdened by responsibility

I almost let my heart empty itself of its

terrible weights and measures

I almost sleep

Three beautiful bodies rest next to me

chests rising and falling with whispers of peace

A rhythm of hopefulness and prayer

that guides me through nightmares and sadness to

a beautiful dawn and one more chance

at forgiveness and sleep.

-May 03, 2006 (my daughter was just 4 months old, my son 2 years old)

I still have nights like this and I still have bouts with insomnia.  I still have all of those feelings at one point or another, but a miracle of sorts is taking place.  I was so afraid of being alone with my daughter when she was small because I didn’t want to stare my agony in the face and try to love it unconditionally while managing nightmares and laundry.  Now years later- I was afraid of being alone with her as my son started school because I never really had been and I certainly hadn’t done it regularly as a healing person.  Spending mornings and lunches and drives to school with my daughter in her big girl body has forced me to realize that my life kept going when I thought it wouldn’t.  I didn’t die from hidden misery, the push of frantic, imaginary perfection or even the breakdown that eventually came.

My daughter helps me see with clarity so much that once was obscured. I am sure this year will be one of great growth for both of us.  I am still looking for chances to forgive both myself and others and I hope that I find more.  I am still looking for sleep but now I am not always fearful of it or conversely trying to escape within it- most of the time it is just a need for sleep.  After dropping my wonderful son at school I can enjoy looking at my daughter and seeing her beauty, grace, intelligence and humor- not a terrible delivery, medical professionals who failed me or someone to whom I owe a debt for years lost because of mommy’s craziness and failure.  I can look and see a reflection of myself that is not the terrible one I spent so long wrestling with when she was so tiny.  During our time together, Mommy and sweet girl on our own, we are teaching each other.  I get a new way of moving towards forgiveness and restful nights.  She wrote the word “fairy” all on her own just yesterday.  She dreams of fairies and I am happy just to dream.

Posted by Miriam on September 30th, 2009
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