I thought it was a bird, but it was just a paper bag

I spend a lot of time on my bathroom floor. I hide there, usually with music playing on my phone, trying to be by myself to think while simultaneously trying to avoid thinking too much. I do it because when I am outside of the bathroom I am a mom and I can’t fall apart and it takes so much energy right now. I take baths, sometimes multiple a day, because I think the idea is relaxing and I am hoping somehow the warmth will stay with me, but it never lasts for long. Sometimes I cry big fat tear drops onto my knees, but only for a brief moment until I remember what’s outside the door, and then I gather up all the tears and eat them. A lot of times I strip naked and stand on the scale to make sure it isn’t lying to me.

I feel like I don’t belong here. I shouldn’t have had kids. Not because I don’t love them, I love them more than I ever knew was possible, but because I don’t deserve them. They are too good, too pure, too innocent and I feel like I’m going to wreck it somehow. I shouldn’t have gotten married, or had a family. I should be alone somewhere where I can think and crumble and not have to worry about the people I’m potentially hurting when it happens.

I like to think I am an ok mom. I am incredibly sensitive to my children’s feelings, I validate their experiences, I am affectionate and open and frequently remind them how loved they are. I also fall short constantly. I lose my patience and raise my voice, I am inconsistent with consequences and rules, and when I am not doing well myself, I feel like I don’t have the capacity to be there. Like really be there. I smile at the cute things they do and laugh at their jokes and tell them that picture looks beautiful, but I am somewhere else. They deserve better than I have to give. It’s breaking my heart.

I should have been alone.

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I try to draw the line, but it ends up running down the middle of me most of the time

My head says I can’t do this. I am vibrating. It feels like every nerve is completely frayed beyond repair. My body hates me, but I think the feeling might be mutual, and it’s alright.

I made a lot of phone calls and got shit done, so I am still functioning, right?

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I care little for my body, she said, I couldn’t care less about my soul

I am failing at life. My head is pounding, my hands are shaking, my heart is breaking. I have gone down the rabbit hole and I am lost.

When I was in high school, my mom still packed me a lunch every day. It was juvenile, but I know she did it hoping I would eat it. Every day I would pull out that brown paper bag, and toss it in the trash without looking to see what was inside. At some point she must have realized they weren’t getting eaten, it was likely obvious by looking at me, and she started giving me money so I could buy something from the cafeteria. Every day I would take her 5 bucks or whatever and buy a joint or a hit to smoke at lunch just so I could get through the day. I don’t know why this is the memory in my mind right now. I think maybe I’ve always been fucked up. It is especially difficult when I think of my mom, because I think all she ever wanted was for me to not be fucked up, and I am so ashamed.

I can fake it for a while. Sometimes even years. I can do all the things and not act out on any kind of dysfunction and we all breath a sigh of relief thinking this is it, I’m finally normal (adjusted? healed?). But the pendulum always swings the other way. My mom is a difficult stone for me to upturn because for all intents and purposes she is an amazing woman and was(is) an extremely devoted mother. The thing is, for all the mothering she tried to do, she really failed to protect us. In order to preserve herself and her marriage to my father, she turned to stone. She was nothing, no one, her feelings didn’t exist and everything was fine at all times. And she stayed and believed she could make up for it all by mothering us even harder. What she failed to do was recognize that her parenting couldn’t make up for violence, manipulation and abuse. She also never dared speak to/about any of it. So she was the head of the PTA, the helpful neighbor, the the responsible parent…and it was all a bunch of bullshit, only I couldn’t name that as a child. All I knew was that she was perfect, and together, and according to her everything was fine…which meant that something must be very wrong with me to feel otherwise. That dynamic has continued. I am the fucked up one. I feel really badly because I know she has a lot of guilt for our childhood, and I wish I could tell her that it didn’t cause me too much damage…but maybe it did.

I have been telling myself for days to just grow up and get over it. Put the fucking food in your mouth and stop being so dramatic, so needy, so much of everything you despise. I feel like I can claim normalcy because I eat some version of dinner every night. I need to show my kids how to eat. I am filled with fear that they will end up screwed up too, and it will be my fault. So every night I eat dinner and I smile while I’m doing it. I don’t deviate. Whatever my husband makes, I eat. I know my portion size could be more generous, but I feel like at least I am showing up for that and doing the thing and not refusing food in front of my children. I had hoped that commitment would keep me from going too far down the rabbit hole, but as it turns out, the dinner commitment has become more like a punishment that prevents me from eating at all other times.

I had intended to do better today, but I didn’t. There is a huge sigh of relief and a collective groan in the same breath. 686 is not enough to live on. I promise I’ll stop when it doesn’t hurt so much to be with myself and I don’t feel so needy.

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For all that we struggle, for all we pretend, it don’t come down to nothing but love in the end

I don’t really have any words tonight. I feel scared. Like I dug myself a hole I don’t know how to climb out of. It’s lonely down here.

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Who will save your soul, if you won’t save your own

My husband does not see me falling. I told him the other night that I felt like I was having a mental breakdown (mind you, I said it sarcastically as is typical of me), so he told me it’s nothing a good orgasm wouldn’t fix. I am never one to turn down an orgasm opportunity from my husband, and truth be told, it helped a little, but it didn’t save me. He told me he doesn’t blame me for being down right now, given everything that has happened recently in merciless succession, but he also does not recognize that “feeling down” is very much an understatement right now. He does not see much, my husband. Through all the years we’ve been together I still can’t decide if he purposefully turns away from seeing the bad shit, or if he honestly lives in a blissful little oblivion. We are terribly mismatched, he and I, but somehow it works for us.

I ask if he wants to walk the dog tonight, to which he replies “no, you go ahead”. Ok. I had somehow been hoping he would say yes, as I have had pathetically little food today, and the exhaustion is catching up to me, but off I go. Yellow rainslicker and pajama pants, and an excited dog. I walk a few blocks and realize this was a bad idea. My legs feel like lead, my head is swimming. I am now very aware that I must stare only at the sidewalk in front of me in order to remain focused. I start thinking about being a woman walking alone at night in the dark, how in my current state I would be a very easy victim for whoever might want me. I am not capable of my usual alertness, I can only stare at my feet. I marvel that my husband must never have to consider the dangers of being a woman walking alone in the night and start to wonder why he would be okay with this. I think about him, and our dynamic, and realize that part of what I love dearly about my husband is that he never really treats me like a damsel of a girl. He never has, and likely never will. Is it because he’s just not capable of that kind of sensitivity and concern, or is it his strong feminist values that keep him from acts of semi-chauvinistic chivalry? I realize now that not only is my head swimming, but I’m starting to sweat and blur. I’m pulling off my raincoat, thinking that will make all the difference, and everything is swaying so I decide to sit down too. Now I am sitting in the middle of the sidewalk in my t-shirt in the rain. I sit like this until the swaying subsides and the sweating calms down and my dog starts licking my face wondering what the fuck I’m doing. I now realize that I likely look like a crazy person, and am grateful that I’m only allowed out under the cover of the night. I walk my wobbly self back home and when I get inside my husband says “how was your walk?” to which I reply, “fine.” A sane person would probably have taken this opportunity to eat, but I am not claiming to be sane.

I’m starting to feel pretty defeated honestly. I found a box in my closet that I had no idea its contents, so I opened it only to find it full of my journals dating back 20 years ago. I started journaling regularly in rehab, and lo and behold the journal on the very bottom of the pile was straight from my first days drug free. 20 years later and I am still fighting myself. Oh yes, the anorexic diaries were there as well, but they are just too much to share….

20 year old me was perhaps a little less eloquent, but she still had shit to say, I remember the terror of that time like it was yesterday, The good news is that I haven’t used drugs in 20 years, The bad news is that I continue to struggle with other demons, 20 years on. It feels a bit pitiful.

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Love is like falling, and falling is like this

Generally my experience of mental health is more like a slow wade into the ocean. I enter from the beach and walk into the waves. They lap around my ankles and they are not too fierce. I think I can work with this and keep moving. At some point I will realize that I’ve gone out to far, that the tides have become rough, and it is a struggle to return to shore. I will flail around for a while as I clumsily try to maneuver in the right direction. Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m coming or going, but somehow I always seem to manage to make it back to shore, albeit a little beaten and worse for wear.

This experience is different. I have fallen from a cliff into deep water. I am swimming in a sea whose waves are rolling and relentless. I don’t know how to find my way to shore. I don’t know where shore is. Truthfully, I’m not even a very good swimmer. I think I might drown here.

At night I walk. It has to be at night, because that’s the only time I am allowed out due to the isolation. Dog walks permitted after hours when seeing others is unlikely. It is ok for me. It fits me somehow. I walk, first at a casual pace, just a normal person taking her dog for a walk. With each step I feel my body start to release it’s feelings, so I speed up. I realize something is stuck in my throat, and it’s all the tears I’ve been eating. So I walk faster, as if I can outrun it. Now I am speed walking with my dog trotting along side, wondering how she got so lucky to have such a vigorous walk. Street after street, loop after loop (I cannot go far, I am isolating after all) until I realize my legs feel shaky. What did I even eat today? Not enough. So I drag myself home, swallowing the tears back into my chest. I take a mental tally…837 minus 326 equals 511. All is well, I have the control.

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You can’t see past my blindness

I will eat more tomorrow has become my new mantra.

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I don’t know where it’s leading to, but I know I can make it if I lean on you…

I don’t think I know how to be a person any more. Not a real person, or a genuine one. I am hyper aware of every part of my being. I can hear my heart beating in my chest while I try to fall asleep at night. I can feel the ringing in my ears while I am trying to listen to what you are telling me. I feel my bones under my skin and every twitch of muscle when I move. I feel my breath move in and out, catch in my throat and swallow so I can eat my tears rather than cry them. I press my tongue to the roof of my mouth, raw and scratchy. My throat aches. I look at myself in the mirror and I think my eyes are dead. I would do just about anything to get away from myself right now, because I can’t stand it. I can’t stand myself. I feel disgusting and so needy, with nowhere to put the need. I don’t understand why it always comes back to this. Why does it always come back to me staring in a mirror wishing I were someone else?

I remember once I had a boyfriend who treated me like shit. It was a variety of things really, but the kicker was when he showed up late to my father’s funeral. Afterwards he took me to his brother’s house where he was house sitting, and fell asleep on the couch. I wandered around an unknown house and then cried myself to sleep alone. I knew that day he was going to break my heart, and he did, because I allowed it. And when he ended our relationship, not 2 weeks after my father had left this world, I was indeed heartbroken. Not because he was my soul mate…he wasn’t. He wasn’t even nice to me. My heart was broken because I needed him, and I had let myself have that need due to the circumstances. Vulnerability totally failed me, and now I feel that need again. I will not place it into the hands of my husband, because I know he will let me down. Not because he will walk away…I know he won’t do that, but because he doesn’t have the capacity to be there for me in the way I need him to be. Maybe I don’t have the capacity to let him, either.

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Out of order

I am out of my body. I’m not even here. Leave a message and I’ll call you back.

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You picked a bad time to listen to me

Anxiety has wrapped her arms around me again…she’s always touching, always playing with my hair or brushing her hand against mine…and then sometimes she comes in with a death grip. I am in the death grip. My instinct is to scream, or run, but I am paralyzed. The virus is fucking with me. The utter lack of control. My throat is sore today. I noticed a small red area on the roof of my mouth. It could be from the too hot tea I drank yesterday. It could be cancer. It could be covid. I know the latter 2 likely aren’t true, but anxiety likes to tell me that they are. She needs me to panic.

I find this difficult to understand for the most part. That my anxiety can create such panic, often about death or my own demise, when I am barely eating enough to count as human. I haven’t eaten even close to enough in a while now but I feel minimal concern about that. I feel myself starting to shrink away and it is full of familiar comfort. The grinding feeling in my gut feels like appropriate punishment for my neediness. I know this space, and I know the smaller I get the more relief I feel, because taking up space is overrated and I don’t have the courage for it right now. I also know how wrong that is. I suppose the difference is that something like cancer or covid feels very much out of my control, a force pushed upon me without regard or permission, and I am so fucking afraid of that. It reminds me too much of my childhood. Maybe that’s why my anxiety often preys on my body, because lacking control over my own body represents a kind of powerlessness I can’t bear. Maybe that’s why I don’t eat, too. Who fucking knows.

I actually think I might prefer feeling sad to feeling anxious.

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