(I’m okay. I wrote this post back on my bad weekend, but didn’t publish it. But, since this is my place, and I’m trying to stay honest, and since there’s been a whole lot of crickets on this site lately, I decided I’d publish today).
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I’m tumbling down again. I feel it happening but I can’t stop it…I don’t know if I even want to stop it. I do know that I hate it when my children see me like this; I guess that’s something.
I’m overwhelmed. I’m suffocating. There is no quiet place in my mind, no sanctuary in my home. My home is my problem. Usually (I think I am learning) these breakdowns begin there (here). Quite simply, I am being strangled by my surroundings.
My father was a finder. We would be driving down the highway at 80 kilometres an hour and something would catch his eye. He’d screech to a halt, throw the car into reverse, and backtrack until he could get out and take a look at whatever treasure had found its way roadside. The LP that introduced me to my first rock and roll music? The Salmo-Creston highway. The watch he wore to my wedding? The Hope-Princeton. My dad salvages everything, from loose screws on the street (which pose a risk for passing tires) to lost logs from a boom, drifting by the on the ocean in front of his house.
My husband is a keeper. He has sheets of loose-leaf paper with the names and statistics of every player in the 1992 NHL draft; he has his dad’s old 45 records, even though we’ve never owned a turntable. He has trophies he won in pee-wee hockey, and medals from every fun-run he’s ever finished. Yellowing newspapers with his own articles, and newspapers with once-important or interesting arts or sports or home and garden sections. He keeps socks and underwear that are full of holes; he keeps an ever growing pile of clothes, neither clean nor dirty, on a chair beside the bed. A pile of receipts and tags and scraps of once-important papers clutters the surface of his dresser.
My oldest daughter is a free spirit, whose artistic license looms large. While I want to decorate her room with perfectly placed matching frames, she wants to hang up her own works of “art”: hastily drawn scribbles or variations of her name scrawled across a recycled page. While I want her to classify her treasures into matching, labelled boxes, stacked neatly on shelves, she opts to use old cereal boxes, each one containing a amalgamation of everything. She plays gorgeously and independently, spreading herself out from room to room, a trail of makeshift toys and games in her wake.
I can’t live in this environment, and yet the alternative exhausts me. Sometimes I just collapse and look around, and then collapse again, more profoundly. I don’t know where to begin, and once begun, I’m not permitted to stop, because the moment I stop it all starts again, the muddle reproducing like germs in a Petri dish, breeding, growing, expanding…
I become a bad mother when this happens. Not a bad mother in the Catherine-calls-herself-a-bad-mother-but-is-really-parental-awesomeness-personified but a really bad mother, who throws tantrums and cries and runs and hides. Completely ineffective, utterly destructive. At these times I feel thoroughly alone: my children don’t understand; my husband doesn’t care. I am blind with rage and frustration and total desolation, and I take myself somewhere to be alone for a moment so that I can muster up the will to come back into this realm. But when I get to that alone place there is still more stuff and more work to do and no solace and nowhere further to run away.
This isn’t beige; this is black. I know I’ll come out of it eventually, but just as surely, I know it will happen again.