Like a black hole, but with emotions

In a perfect world, I would have posted more in the last year, because so many wonderful things have happened. I fell in love and started a new career. It felt like my real life started. But it’s not a perfect world. Instead of posting, I was learning about business analysis & writing requirements by day, kissing & laughing with Mike by night.

I’m posting now because it’s the only thing I can think to do. When my heart feels fractured and my contacts salty, my mind gets restless. For the last few months, I’ve sought easier outlets than writing: HBO, new crochet projects, wistful novels, adult coloring books, and binge-drinking. Writing about pain is difficult. Writing about personal pain is exhausting. Writing about family pain is dangerous.

Yet here I am, about to dig in.

The specifics aren’t important, but the basics are probably necessary. The last time I saw my mother was on my birthday, February 29. She left without notice in early March. The last time we spoke was mid-April. She filed for divorce sometime late April. She’s been with a man in Oregon since early June. The last time we exchanged texts was Saturday, while I was recovering from a hangover. The night before I either instigated an argument or cornered her into confessing her sins, depending on your perspective. Either way, I blame alcohol.

Part of me is terrified to write about this – privately or publicly; the other half doesn’t give a damn – it is what it is. These thoughts and feelings have been churning for a long time, and I haven’t been able to do much with them. I talk to Mike. I see a counselor. I try to spend time with my dad and brothers. I take vitamin D and sleep in on the weekends. But when I slow down, I realize I’m buckling under the weight. I just want to be past all of the frustration.

I thought my depression phase of the grieving process was very short. There were only a few days in June where I couldn’t concentrate and slept so hard I woke a zombie. Other than that, I’ve been angry. My counselor assured me that I would likely be going through cycles of grief for the next few years. The idea is daunting. It hadn’t occurred to me that I’ve never had to deal with something so emotionally massive.

This isn’t just something I’m going to have to deal with over the course of the next few months. I’m going to have new questions, frustrations, and concerns as I hit my own milestones.

800px-Black_Hole_in_the_universe

My emotions, circa spring/summer 2016. Everything is at the event horizon, basically.

I want my rhetorical questions to have answers.

How? When? Why?

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Happy Pills

I’ve spent the last year or so reflecting on life. In the spring, my two-year relationship came to an end. I spent the summer crying, drinking, and eating too much alone in my apartment. In the fall, I went off the antidepressant I had been on for almost six years. In the winter, I dated casually. In the spring, I started training and ran my first 5k Race. This summer I’m moving into my own apartment. 

The statement you probably want to know the most about is the one regarding my antidepressant. That’s not really what I want to focus on with this post, so I’ll just give you a brief overview: It was easier than I thought. I had withdrawals. Here and there I would have headaches, lethargy, a deep reluctance to get out of bed on grey mornings, and unexplained crying spells cured only by a long hug. Some days could only be explained by calling them Numb Days – days when it was like I forgot how to be alive and all I wanted to do was lie in bed – not cry or sleep, but just lie there. I usually ended up calling Andrea and after twenty minutes of trying to explain myself and crying, she helped me feel like a human again. I don’t know what I would have done without her.

Eventually things got better. My body re-acclimated to its normal bupropion-free state. I started to feel like myself again. It was like the drug had been muting my life. It’s so cliche, but it was like my life had color again. Like I started seeing through the Hefe filter after using only Willow for six years.

All is grey.

Willow: All is grey.

I don’t think I did much self-examination while I was on antidepressants. I was afraid of negative feelings. If I never felt sad, I never had to acknowledge the bad parts of my life. I existed in a bubble of false contentedness. By never truly going through lows, I saved myself from feeling guilt, sorrow, and anger. But I also didn’t experience the bliss of good days. Everything was dulled. 

WUT. Calla Lilies are the color of humid summer sunsets?

Hefe: You mean calla lilies are the color of humid summer sunsets?!

After getting through my first winter without an antidepressant, I’m confident I can get through whatever life throws at me. I’m not advocating that anyone who is on antidepressants (or any other medication) should just stop taking them. I did it with my doctor’s help. I told my family and close friends so I had a support system in place. Though it was sometimes hard, I became more self-aware. I saw how my actions affected my mood, my health, and my relationships.

I guess you could say I commemorated by rediscovery of a vibrant life by tattooing “Everything is blooming” on my wrist. It’s not, as one friend teases, shameless advertising for my blog. It’s a mantra. Sometimes I forget about it. Some days I’m crabby without good reason. Other days I think the world is terrible and humans are jerks. But most days I’m pleased with my life – the shadows as much as the highlights.

…now that I’ve completely focused on what I didn’t want to focus on, I’ll just leave this post. Expect my original idea on Five Ways to Effectively Disappoint People tomorrow.

Finding Inspiration in Nabokov

So there’s not really any secret in me saying that I’ve been floundering for words lately. I’ve been uninspired, depressed, and basically just loafing around my apartment doing a lot of nothing. I’ve spent a decent amount of time and money crocheting so I can feel like I’ve accomplished something after spending the finding what Jon Stewart has to say about the Pope’s twitter.  Because apparently a scarf added to my pile will make me feel good about not reading or writing anything worthwhile in weeks. I was wrong. Completely wrong.

I don’t know that I blamed my lack of inspiration on anything. I didn’t think about it. My writer’s block was just there, weighing down on me, every time I climbed into bed after yet another day of doing nothing. I thought I needed something to jumpstart it. I hadn’t gone out since Halloween, and I figured a good night of drinking, meeting new people, and feeling fun, charming, and fabulous would make me feel better. So last weekend I told Andrea that I needed to go out once she was done with finals.

Well, we went out last night. I hosted a small Christmas party with a few of my friends. We drank sangria and ate some pretty decent food, some of which I was able to have for breakfast this morning. The menu was surprisingly satisfying, so good that I have to share: ever-classy mini wieners in crescent rolls, gala apple slices with prosciutto, and an apricot-almond cheese, blackberries, nutella and sea salt fudge, jordan almonds, chips with pineapple and peach salsa, mini pastries, honey-drizzled cheese with apples and crackers, and holiday sangria (white wine, sparkling apple wine, orange slices, cranberries, and crushed mint). By the time Andrea and I got out, it was around midnight, so we just went to Jekyll’s – a bar that has a reputation for being a hipster bar.

I realized I was surrounded by people far cooler than me – guys in studded jackets who could name 50 Descendents songs at the drop of a hat, svelte girls with pixie haircuts and dangly earrings, and about 40 pairs of ironic glasses. As impressed as they would be, I decided not to disclose the fact that I know the words to most of Taylor Swift’s songs. I made myself feel better by reminding myself that there’s a slim chance any of them have a 401k.

I had imagined the night to be similar to my last nights out – all-out benders that force me to spend the next day in recovery. Because I figure that’s a good relationship to have with alcohol – binge-drinking once every few months.  I just thought I needed a night that allowed me to feel outside of myself since I’ve spent so much time stuck in my head, not allowing it to get out via socializing or writing – the two things that help me most when I go through a depressive period.

Andrea and I ended up leaving around 1:30 and talking and eating cheese and apples till 3am. That ended up being what helped most – it was a reminder that I can, in fact, be honest and open with another person, and that I don’t need to have four drinks and witty quips with unfamiliar faces to feel like my night was a success

When I walked Andrea to to the door, I saw my stack of Nabokov on my shelf and decided I needed to spend the next day with a good book. I needed a paper book too – not my Kindle with its distractions of Pinterest and Facebook. At that moment, I was glad that I finished the night chewing the cherry of a whiskey old fashioned and not chugging five glasses of water in hopes of re-hydration to thwart a hangover.

Gods With my depression gone, I needed to do something about my lack of inspiration, so I pulled out my volume of Nabokov stories and decided to reread my blog’s namesake story – Gods. I honestly think it was the best thing I could do for myself. This post would probably be more apropos for my 100th post (this will be my 95th), but I’m not one to prolong satisfaction. I hadn’t read the story for a few years, but I remember it being a core-shaking story. I remember the language being exquisite in an expressly Nabokovian way.  I remember being moved by the passage I share in my “About” section. But what I didn’t recall was how the story just explodes with color and emotion.

You can read the story in its entirety here, but I recommend reading it in a floppy bible-thick paperback. The story is essentially about a couple – the male trying desperately to comfort his wife over the death of their son while they make their way to the cemetery to visit the grave. He tells her a fable of a hen that was placed in an air balloon contraption, soaring in a gondola by the sunset, and landing in a field, later found by a peasant beneath a heap of silk, having produced golden eggs from the colors of the sunset. Nabokov describes this more beautifully than I ever could: “And no wonder. At the wind’s mercy, the hen had traversed the entire flush of the sunset, and the sun, a fiery cock with a crimson crest, had done some fluttering over her.

The story is absolutely exquisite. I don’t know how else to describe it. I literally found myself in tears reading the last page. I can’t remember the last time a story affected me so strongly. It should be required reading,

My heart, too, has soared through the dawn. You and I shall have a new, golden son, a creation of your tears and my fables. Today I understood the beauty of intersecting wires in the sky, and the hazy mosaic  of factory chimneys, and this rusty tin with its inside-out, semi-detached, serrated lid. The wan grasses hurries, hurries somewhere along the dusty billows of the vacant lot. I raise my arms. The sunlight glides across my skin. My skin is covered with  multicolored sparkles. 

And I want to rise up, throw my arms open for a vast embrace, address an ample, luminous discourse to the invisible crowds. I would start like this: 

“O rainbow-colored gods…”

While I was reading this, I was texting my friend Logan, telling him he needed to read more Nabokov. He texted “I am sitting at a coffee shop trying to be productive but instead I am fucking off and remembering the awesomeness of living.”

And that’s exactly what this story does to me. It describes life in such an intensely sensual way that it’s impossible not to feel compelled to live. And not just live – but to live beautifully. I can’t handle another second of feeling sorry for myself for no reason, because seriously – I’m alive and the world is incredible. The day beyond my patio door looks dim and dreary, but I know that life is flourishing. I know that everything is blooming.  Everything is flying. Everything is screaming, choking on its screams. Laughter. Running. Let-down hair. That is all there is to life.