I'm not really sure what I am supposed to do with myself. For so long, I prepared for this time off, but the plans I made no longer apply. What once was time set aside to take care of my baby, to bond, to snuggle, to go for walks and outings - now stretches in front of me like a vast and desolate field. An empty wasteland full of shattered expectations and broken dreams. How do I spend the countless minutes of my future? How do I fill the silence that shouldn't be there?
I write. I clean my house. I spend time with friends. I talk to Mike. I've started a few art projects. But it is not enough. It is never enough. I can't occupy myself completely. I can't fill all of my moments. In the end, the emptiness prevails. There is a hollowness to everything I do - like part of me is just on automatic pilot. It brings back memories of another dark time in my life - a time when my entire self was hollow, when nothing at all seemed to matter, when I was ready to give up on life completely - and it scares me. It's like looking into an abyss I've already fallen into and narrowly escaped.
In my early teens, a gray cloud developed over me. In the constant comparison of myself to others, I felt I could never measure up. I felt worthless, meaningless, and ugly. I was alive, but I didn't live. I went through the motions of living, like I am doing now. There was no joy inside me - and if any from the outside world managed to seep in, it was immediately squashed into oblivion. Joy had no business inside my darkness. I didn't deserve it. What made me fall into this chasm, I still don't really know. But, I know how I got out. My writing.
I'd always played around with journals. Buying one, writing a few pages, getting tired of it, and getting a new one. I had countless journals that were barely 1/3 of the way filled. Starting around the time the darkness fell, I began to write more seriously. And the pages of my journals filled with ink.
At first, I wrote about how horrible I felt about myself, how worthless I was, how I was undeserving of happiness. I wrote about feeling like I was covered in muck and mud, which weighed me down, pushed me down, kept me from reaching toward the light. Day after day after day for years, my journals were full of nothing but despair. It hurts reading them now because I crawled out of that hole, but I remember the feeling of being at the bottom. Through my writing, I came to understand those feelings for what they were - complete and absolute lies. Through my writing, the sadness and despair I felt became anger and determination. I realized I didn't deserve to be at the bottom of this canyon, and I was angry I was down there. I was steaming mad at myself for what I'd allowed myself to believe for so long. Through my writing, I discovered who I really was and what I needed to do to pull myself up and out. My words washed off the muck that covered me. My words threw down a ladder and extended a helping hand. I heaved myself out of that hole, and basked in the sunlight of self acceptance. Finally, I was free.
This was not an easy task. It took me a good eight to ten years. I was well into my twenties before positive thoughts about myself were automatic and not just something I one day hoped to actually believe.
Why am I telling you this? Why am I opening this wound when I clearly have another one that needs more immediate attention? To give you an idea of why I am writing - of what this blog really means for me. Yes, this is a great outlet to sort my emotions. Yes, this is a wonderful way to remember my daughter and to share her memory with others. But the real reason I write - the meat and potatoes of this tragic stew - is to keep myself from falling over the edge again. I can see into the darkness. I know what's down there. And now, my balance is shaken. I could so easily fall. But my writing steadies me. It helps me hold fast. I write because, if I don't, I will be lost.
Now, you may be thinking, "No...your friends and family won't let you get lost. Everyone is here for you. Everyone loves you and supports you" While that is true, anyone who has ever struggled with this type of darkness knows that nothing anyone says to you matters at all if you don't believe it. I have to keep myself upright. I have to keep myself sharp. This is a battle I have to fight on my own. Don't worry, friends. I've already clawed my way out of hell - I have no intention of going back. I will not be beaten. I will never again let the darkness win. So, I write. To sort. To save. To never surrender.