“What is wrong with you? You are so grumpy!” Mr C’s words sting me. Mostly because they are true. I am grumpy.
This is what I hate about depression. The emotional roller coaster. It sucks.
For a couple of days I have been travelling really well. I have had hope. I have dared to hope – of a life of meaning, of waking up and feeling light, of having direction, of living instead of just existing.
Then it creeps up on you and hits you squarely from behind. BAM!
And suddenly you feel sad again.
Someone tagged me in a photo. It was a photo of me. Taken probably when I was 14 or 15.
It was among a whole series of photos taken at school. At first I felt all warm and fuzzy. Looking at those pictures was like having markers to a bygone era. A time when life was more carefree, less complicated.
But a horrible feeling started to gnaw at me. I tried to ignore it.
I am trying so hard not to see the negative in everything. Trying so hard to see more of the light, less of the dark.
I posted the photo of me onto a private group to which I belong. There were comments along the lines of “Wow, so carefree, so gorgeous.”
I looked at the photo.
It belies so much.
This time in my life was when it was the most chaotic I have ever known it to be. It was taken probably a year before my dad became sober. A year before some calm managed to find its way into our family. A year that was hell on earth.
If my dad reads this, he will hate that I have written it. Us alcoholics do not like to be reminded of the chaos we cause during our inebriated states.
But this is what alcohol does and it is my reality. Just as what my drinking may have done to my children will be theirs. Perhaps one day they will be writing to make sense of their lives too.
And now, I am in my forties. A life time from when that photo was taken.
That photo that has me looking so young, so carefree, so gorgeous.
I hated myself then.
I thought I was fat, not pretty and I felt like I never fitted in.
I looked at those other school photos and thought “I just never belonged.” I was so desperate to belong. But alcoholism, and a mother who relies so heavily on you to make sense of her own world robs you of your own sense of self. I could never find my tribe. How could I possibly let anyone in to become my tribe?
I don’t remember having dreams either. Do kids that age have dreams? I think I toyed with wanting to become an actress. Being someone else who wasn’t me. Don’t we all?
Look at my hair. How the fuck did I lose all that hair? I miss my hair so much. Knowing I will never be going to the hair dresser again really yanks at my soul.
I used to tease my first husband about going bald. About how he would have to wear a wig on our wedding day. I never meant it maliciously, just a gentle tease, something to lighten the load in a relationship that was fraught with tension. Someone in the karma department clearly didn’t get that part of the memo. So now I am bald.
The road to self-love is so damn hard. You travel along so well and then a photograph lands in your inbox.
A photo so loaded with emotion. A photo that does not represent one shred of the truth. A photo that is just a snap shot in time, a snap shot that is a lie. A photo that represents a life that could have been, that might have been, that perhaps should have been.
And so you mourn. You mourn the choices that you made. You mourn the losses you have had to endure. You wonder how on earth you are going to put it all back together. And you wonder what on earth it is you have to do to keep moving forward. But keep moving you must.
It’s just a picture. A picture of me hanging on the wall for the world to see.
Until next time,