I don’t pay attention. I am hard headed, heavy headed, neck bent, eyes on the ground right in front of me. The mess being made, the battle being fought.
I keep a record of of my wrongs, this swirling, non-chronological mass of mistakes, things done and left undone, and call it my True Story. I go over it every day, all the times I should have died, all the wounds that I’ve been given, all the wounds I gave: the monster of depression and mania that never stays dead, the decades of medication gnawing at my brain and liver and thyroid, the father who crushed my heart, the weapon of my words against my mother, my silence, my absence, my refusal to love others, the shame of obesity, the absolute impossibility of motherhood, the deadliness of my temper, my razor sharp tongue, the pounding disappointment of pain in my body, the unending tangle of marriage, and the persistent drip of my daily failure.
But what of the victory all around me? What of the vast landscape of victory behind me, the impassable mountains climbed, hideous dragons slain, opposing armies crushed and swept out to sea? What of the children, sitting at the breakfast table, sewing doll clothes as the sun comes up?
to my studio today. It was exactly as I left it last summer when my brain went dead and the sitter money dried up. I tried to keep my head down, shove the boxes in the corner, but I was pulled into the ghost town, the ghost herself.
Three times this week my rhythm has been ruined by sleep. Harriet, my 14 month old, is doing that awful thing that children do where they grow suddenly, violently in the night. This involves a great deal of thrashing and sideways nursing and sitting on my head at 4:10am. It does not involve my eyes opening magically at 5:21, the way they always do, eager to inch their way over to my desk and adjust to the blue-white glare of the book light on my notebook while she happily sleeps for another hour.
Instead, I have stumbled, red eyed and kind of angry, with her, bright eyed and bigger than yesterday, into the already bright morning around 6:30 with my 4 and 7 year olds, in full princess regalia, primping loudly (why is primping so loud?) in the full length mirror in my bedroom.As someone with bipolar disorder, particularly seasonally affected, rapid cycling bipolar disorder, I find that I am especially sensitive to routine, rhythm, order, and prone to rigid habit formation, system building, and addiction. I grab hold of the things that I perceive to be good and I do not let go without significant force. Most of the time, I use this power for good — a steady schedule, taking into account the needs of my whole family, keeps me healthy and blesses us all. When I get momentum going, I have iron clad will power, conviction, and determination. But when I cannot get the ball rolling, when it meets one too many turns, all those good things turn sharp. I become intractable, controlling, and harsh.
Why God saw fit to allow me a personality like this and three daughters, I will ever understand this side of Glory. The volume and depth of their drama will only grow louder and more complicated in time. What I do understand is that I have to spend 90% of my therapy hours figuring out how to soften the sharpest edges of my mind and tongue before that redhead meets puberty.
Between all of my wildly inappropriate responses to completely appropriate behaviors, questions, lighting, flavors, sensations, looks, tones, and temperatures, I am trying to be nice. More than nice. I am trying to love.
Loving while disembodied by all the pills I’ve swallowed, while shaking and forgetting every third word, is hard. But I am trying. I am thanking my husband for ordinary tasks. I am hugging my children any moment the thought doesn’t undo me. I am using excessive emojis when texting my mother. I am accepting forgiveness as it is offered. I am accepting gluten free carrot cupcakes as they are served.
And while I do not think the pills are working, the cupcakes seem to be doing the trick.
My husband is cleaning the guest room and loading the dishwasher. He also brought home dinner and put the kids to bed. Tomorrow my mother arrives and has promised to mop my floors and do my laundry while I make one final appearance at the Y for the girls’ sports and ballet classes. Then she’s keeping the kiddos while Bryan takes me out for the last childless date we’ll have for a long, long time.
The carseat is in, the diapers are washed, the new La-Z-Boy is primed and ready. All I have to do is throw my Filofaxes in the bag and we are ready to have a baby!
But if this kid turns out to be a boy, we might need to go shopping.