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Stress

Stress.

I have been stressed.
Not every day, and not all the time.
If my stress were a rock, I would be small but very dense and very heavy.
Small, rigid, bumpy, sharp, molten lava.
Bouncing around in my pocket all the time.
Some days it feels so heavy that my hips hurt and my gait is off.
Some days I forget it’s there until I bump my leg against something and the rock digs it’s raged corner into my thigh.
And then I feel like falling over.
But I can’t- and so then I become sad- no, angry.
Hot and heavy, scared and tired. My chest gets tight and my breath becomes hot and thick. So that it weighs down my chest, and constricts my lungs.
I feel suddenly as though I am drowning.

And then I lose it.

Maybe for a moment, because someone needs something from me.
But how dare they need me, don’t they know there is molten lava in my pocket?
Of course, they don’t know, it’s too small to see.
Although, maybe they notice it ripping a hole in my pants, and they ask me if I’m ok, with a certain sincerity that rips my heart from my chest and makes my knees heavy. And then I just want to cry.
And then it becomes an ocean.
An ocean with huge waves and I’m stuck in quicksand being pummeled by huge gusts of cold, salty water.
And my eyes are red and burning, and I cannot see.
My lungs are full of salt and water, so I cannot breathe.
My mouth is full of sand and seaweed, so I have no words to say.
And I’m too scared to figure out how to move.
So like a deer in headlights, I let myself get hit by a car.
And I see it coming but cannot move or speak.

I am alone in a crowd.

A crowd of people who feel the same way as me.
But its all a big secret, and so together we all feel alone.
Then one day I find a word- or all the words. And I find someone to tell.
Maybe they are the right person; they give me goggles, so I can see through the waves. And give me a snorkel, so I can breathe. They show me my feet and tell me how to pull myself from the thick, sticky sand.
And they cannot stay with me the whole time, but maybe they can sit with me on the shore while I catch my breath.
And then the sun can begin to rise, and the mist may clear and life begins to feel ok again.

But it always seems to cycle.

And soon again, I’m drowning.
Or maybe not always, but often enough that my knees are bruised and my elbows are scraped from falling again and again.
But I feel ok for just long enough to catch my breath.
And one day, I hope, I will have my goggles and snorkel with me always- and I won’t need someone to bring it to me. My legs will be strong enough to carry my small, heavy rock. My thigh will be calloused enough so that when my molten lava hits it, I do not fall over.
Until then, I feel happy to know there are lifeguards on the shore, and that some days my rock sits quietly in my pocket and I’m able to forget that it’s there.

And there are other things that make me feel strong and steady and very happy.

Like Willow.
And I’m not always perfect, and sometimes she throws my rock in my face and I melt into the ground and grow into a monster. And when the rock shrinks back into my pocket I feel so sad and guilty.
But I can hug her and say sorry.
She always seems to forgive me for being imperfect. And I’m learning how to forgive myself.
She seems to feed me a steady stream of light and love, which gives me strength and makes me feel safe and happy.

And I tell myself again and again,
“I will be ok, I will be ok”.

Willow Moon, my sun my moon  and my stars.

Discomfort doesn’t last

This time of year is hard for me.
Maybe it’s the cold, or the holidays, or the constant reminder of new beginnings which is really just a reminder of failures you have committed.
I don’t remember if it’s always been this hard to muddle through the days as it feels right now. Maybe it’s only felt like this for a few days, or weeks or months. Maybe it’s felt like this for years. I don’t know why I can’t remember. I probably could if I stopped all my thoughts and everything else coming and going through my body and mind, but I think that would take an extraordinary amount of effort, and energy, which I feel as though I have almost none of. Sometimes I crave the feeling of motivation. To be energized and excited by life, and feel the deep, strong push from within to do. Other times I want to curl up in my feelings and recede deeply within my sadness and heavy mind until all I can feel around me is the dull vibration of the world around me.
I think I’m depressed.
I think I need a break, or a vacation, or many, many long naps.
I think I need someone to come with big strong arms and grab hold of everything I carry, without asking, and just walk away from me.
I just want everything to stop for a while. I need either to suddenly become disgustingly happy or be given the grace to fall apart and become a dark oozing puddle.
And then I remember, I can’t. I can’t fall apart, and it’s not likely that I will soon be given a break or a vacation. It’s silly to imagine a giant lumberjack walking up to me and relieving me of everything I carry in my mind and body. Life will continue to relentlessly come towards me, and it won’t stop for a very very long time.
Maybe it would help me to be myself. Not mom, or employee, or friend. Just be me. Sit and listen to music and draw and do all the silly things that made my life important before I was too important to do them. I feel so far away from myself sometimes. Or, really, a lot of times.
It feels like I’m not Eliza anymore, and I never will be again; I’ll just be Mom forever and ever.
The pressure of being mom feels like too much some days. It feels like the pressure of starting a semester really strong. Making friends, doing homework, getting A’s, being liked by your teachers and yourself. And going and going and forgetting about yourself and everything else until suddenly you turn around and there’s a mountain behind you that’s been slowly building for weeks. And you see the mountain shake and falter and you run. But you can’t run fast enough, and you’re not strong enough to stop it from falling. So it does, and it crushes you. And all of a sudden you fail over and over again until that’s who you are; a failure. And you fail at school and life and work and so you decide giving up is much easier then disappointing anyone. It feels like I’m going and going- far past my tipping point, and I’m scared to turn around and see the mountain that’s built up behind me. I’m scared because I know if I look, I’ll see how close it is to tipping over. And I am scared to break; I’m scared to fail and give up. But how on Earth can I find the strength within to keep going?
Maybe it’s best not to wonder how on Earth I will get through. Maybe I should just blindly go forward. Like I did when I gave birth. Like I’ve done throughout my life. Maybe that’s how all the successful people do it; suffer silently while blindly trusting their own tremendous strength.
When I was a teenager, I did a lot of Yoga. It became a panacea to my issues. It helped me love my body, trust my strength, and feel physically and spiritually empowered. I remember one time I went to a Kundalini class- which I had never done before or even heard of. I had no idea the physical strain holding one pose for long periods would have on me. I remember being in a big class, with people I didn’t know, and a teacher I had never met. I was scared of the discomfort I began to feel. I remember saying to myself- give up- put your arms down and rest. At some point in the practice, I closed my eyes and realized that five seconds ago I felt like I could not physically continue, but I had. And I had done that continuously and unconsciously throughout the practice. It was empowering to realize the hidden strength I had. I remember talking myself through the pose- reminding myself that discomfort cannot and will not kill me. That I would not die from this discomfort- that no disaster would happen- the only possibility I was looking at was the one of falling out of a pose. So I kindly told myself that I was strong, that I could and would stay in this pose for as long as I physically could. I would not convince myself to give up, as I had silently been doing throughout my practice. And if I did fall out of a pose, or give in from unbearable discomfort, that I would not be ashamed or embarrassed. I promised myself I would be proud of making it farther than I had ever imagined.
In life, I have gone much further than I have imagined. I have lived. I have stopped cutting, and numbing myself with drugs and alcohol. I have been a mother, and a good one. I have made it another day, every single day, for the last 8,166 days. Through unimaginable pain, sadness, happiness, and anger I have made it. And today, I promise myself I will make it. And if I wake up tomorrow and decide I must give up, then I will allow myself to. But for the next hour, I promise myself I will make it. And tomorrow when I wake up I will promise myself to make it again and again.
And if I can’t love myself enough to do it for me, I will do it for my daughter.
And I will become stronger and happier and better.
And maybe not tomorrow or next week or next year, but someday I will be given a break and a vacation and everything else I want and need.

Me and Willow at the train station
Willow listening to Christmas carolers
Me and Willow on Christmas Eve eve
Willow is unimpressed by the giant Christmas tree
The best Christmas present… a magic box!