The problem, as always, is perspective.
I fall, embarrassingly easily, into deep ruts. I go to sleep one night after a perfectly lovely day and wake up the next morning wrapped in pitch-black heaviness. Then comes the vast expanse of hopelessness, days thunking on like a parade of concrete tumbleweeds. I lose track of time almost immediately, and the hole in my mind chants its own dismal credo:
This is your life,
No one understands what you’re going through.
No one can help.
You are alone,
You will be washing dishes and mopping kitchen floors
and changing dirty diapers and crying in the shower
and forgetting how to create
and everything else about yourself—
you guessed it,
Even during the darkest bits, I know none of that is true. Yet I still think in those terms, doing anything I can to rationalize my senseless change in mood, grasping for something to blame. It’s just this house, I think. It’s too much, I can’t keep it clean, if only I had a housekeeper… Or, Two kids are too many, I can’t give them the attention they need, and if I hear one more whine, my head is going to roll out the door and find a new family to live with, if only we could afford full-time daycare… I think, If only I weren’t stuck in this daily routine, and If only I were in shape, and If only everyone else could be as miserable as I feel today… Perspective coated thoroughly in crap.
Of course, I never can articulate these thoughts when I’m in the midst of the muddle. I just operate under the whole weight of my feelings like a toddler, unable to form complete sentences, all fury and petulance. (Confession: I even threw a pillow at my poor husband, just because he was peacefully sleeping and I wasn’t. And I was still mad at him the next day for continuing to sleep peacefully with the pillow on his face. Because how could he sleep through my internal drama? HOW COULD HE?)
I’m familiar enough with this cycle after twenty-something years of falling to know I’m on the upswing again. Not bursting out of bed in the morning, mind you, but catching glimpses of sanity in my future. Very soon now, the rain will dry up, the pollen will settle, the stars will align slot-machine style—cherries all across—and my perspective will bob back into the light. I’ll remember how much I appreciate this little Italian apartment and the opportunity to imprint myself on it, always bettering. I’ll think of the time not too far from now when both girls will be in school, and I’ll remember how spectacularly fortunate I am to be home with them right now, always in the middle of their experiencing. I’ll realize how very gentle this daily routine is with me—how I can float on the soft structure when I lose my way—and how I need the challenges in my life, fitness, language, creative ventures. I’ll swell with gratefulness for the people who anchor me to reality, those who remind me to smile, and especially those who wake up with pillow-missiles on their faces and still hug me tight. And maybe simply writing this now will help me hold onto a glimmer of valid perspective next time I wake up alone in the dark.