A friend once told me life gives you what you need. I believe him.

by renegademama

I could have waited and lied to you, faked it, written something interesting or more amusing like I had my act together and haven’t been struggling, but I have been struggling, and that’s why it’s been a week of no writing.

No inspiration. What’s a girl to do?

There’s a temptation to pretend, you know, force myself to do something inauthentic. But I can’t seem to do that to you. Or me.

And the truth is there are times in my life when I’m done. Just done. I don’t know why or how it happens, but it seems like I turn some corner and boom.

Pain.

Not quick and sharp or stabbing pain, but more like a low hum in the back of my mind. A burning deep down.

A quiet simmer of vague discontentment, drifting, rudderless. A sneaking suspicion my life is not being lived, though it may appear so on the outside, and I’m alone. There’s a lot of fear though it can’t be nailed down.

I just feel so LOST.

I’m paralyzed by it all. The house, the mess, the stuff. The kids, the work, the years.

I lose interest in all the things. My temper grows short. Nothing feels enlightening or, to tell you the truth, even vaguely interesting. I feel like I’m faking it. All the time. With my smiles.

Joy passes in moments like a car racing by. I hear it, but by the time I look for it it’s gone. The sound resonates in my ears as my eyes turn back to nothing.

When the pain first descends, I start looking outside for the problem. Outside of me.

It must be that I gained that weight back. I’m fat. That’s what’s wrong.

It’s our money problems. I can’t stand being broke anymore.

I need a job. Obviously!

I need to write. My problem is I haven’t written that book.

It’s my town! I hate this shithole town!

It’s my house. This house is so trashed; nobody could live in this maelstrom of crap.

I used to blame my marriage, but that got too exhausting.

I used to blame everything, anything.

But eventually, I stopped looking, because I’ve already gone down those roads. I know they’ve got nothing for me. I used to read a bunch of existential literature. Sartre gets it. Nietzsche knows. What I need is a little Kierkegaard.

I used to drink, take drugs, get all dressed up and go out partying. Get some attention from some boys. That’ll cheer me up.

But I don’t do any of that anymore.

I know there’s only one way to escape from this, and that’s to move right into it.

Makes no sense, but it’s true.

My greatest fear, I guess, is that existence is meaningless, and that my life will be spent in a shithole town doing absolutely nothing of interest, and the words in my soul will be left unspoken, and my kids will grow as I grow and die, the end. Life will pass me by as I’m running on some plastic wheel made in China manufactured for Walmart, working for something that I can’t even see, for people I don’t even know, and when I’m 80 I’ll wonder what the fuck I was doing all that time.

Why didn’t I live when I could, I’ll ask. Who was I meant to be?

A wasted life. I’ve seen it so many times.

Eventually, with a mix of fury and terror I move headlong into my pain. Because at some point, there’s nowhere else to go. And I want to get to the truth.

If my depression were a room I’d walk into the center of it, where all its energy converges into a glowing face of my own agony, and I’d look it square in the eyes and wait.

“What you got, bitch?”

And I see she’s got nothing. Just the same old shit she’s been feeding me since I was a young girl, lying awake at night contemplating infinity, the crushing weight of it all on a tiny girl’s heart, wishing I could believe the stories I heard in church.

If I look hard enough into that fear, if I’m brave enough to really look, I see she’s full of shit.

I see everything I need is already here.

I see fear exists in the past and the future but never right now, in the center, in this spot, where my feet are, safely.

Where I live, NOW.

Now.

And I feel a little compassion for her, that burning ball of desperation, that sad little whiner deep inside, terrified beyond recall, poor little thing is just sure she’s going down.

I tell her “Honey, you’ve already gone down. And you’re still here.”

What are you afraid of?

And I’m grateful, because that pain comes along sometimes to jolt me alive, reminding me that this is really all I’ve got. And I see the ways I’ve been wasting my hours.

On my phone, screwing around when people are talking to me. Absent.

In anger. Surfing the internet. Escaping.

Worrying. Talking shit. Complaining. Putting off until tomorrow. Always.

Fearing. Fighting what is. Asleep.

Snoring.

Until I get so desperate I pack two of my three kids up (one was at a slumber party), and grab my husband and take a whole day off, of everything, and go to the beach, to surrender to my lack of ideas, hear waves and smell salt air and feel it too, the rocks and white cold water and the burn of the sun on my hungry skin – to feel connected to something again, old friend, the ocean.

And when I’m there I see this…

photo(52) photo(53) photo(54) photo(55)

photo(51) photo(56) photo(57) photo(58) photo(59) photo(60) photo(61) photo(62) photo(63)

I leave laughing.

It’s still humming, the fear, prattling on in the back of my mind, but I don’t care, she’s just running the same old story.

And frankly, I’m no longer interested. You’d think she’d come up with some new shit after all these years. But she doesn’t.

I smile at her antics and drive home, realize I’ve got too much life to live now, you know. The kids want to listen to “Say Yes” by Langhorne Slim. We do.

There’s no time for anything else.

So I just hang out with her for awhile longer, let her do her thing, ride it out as best I can, until one morning I hear the ocean waves in my boy’s breath as he sleeps next to me, alive in perfect rhythm with the universe I’m terrified of.

And I realize I’m doing the same. And always have been.

Later I sit down and write to you all, telling the truth one more day.

  • Marie

    So I read your posts and it’s like I’m reading what I’ve been struggling to put words to. How do you do that? I’ve felt this. All of this. Thank you for expressing it. And for sharing it so I don’t feel like I’m crazy AND alone in it.

  • Mary

    I am right there with ya sister. I can relate to every word and feeling. Thanks you for posting it.

  • Claire

    you’re awesome

  • Sherri

    Your writing sucks me in, babe…your words are both powerful and painful at times.

    And I am SO blessed to have met you.

  • Heather

    This is EXACTLY why you are Better than Chocolate! This is it! This is what is always worth waiting for, even if it is weeks and months, to read what you write. Because it is more than just words that come from you. It is absolute HEART! I feel these words. I know these words. I LIVE these words. This is what makes you AMAZING…because now so many people who know this and live this, also know that they are okay too. And that it will be okay. It’s funny because I have realized with myself that I have no new thoughts. They are always the same old stale thoughts that I had yesterday, and the day before that, and the year before that, and so on. I need some new thoughts because I am sick of these old tired thoughts in my head. Your family is BEAUTIFUL. I also have a beardy guy in all my pictures! 😉 but my guy has nothing on top anymore. Seriously…I love you…<3

  • Wendy

    You have some serious talent. Well said, all around. The beach fills my soul, too. Hang in there.

  • Janine H.

    Pure awesome-ness.

  • Amy

    You have an amazing talent. To speak such a deep truth so eloquently is something few people can achieve. You nailed it.

  • Laurie

    You are not alone! Thanks for telling it like it is.

  • Lauren

    Fucking awesome. Pure understanding. Chills. Love. Truth.

  • Stacie

    Perfection. I love you.

  • laurajane

    Just thank you.

  • Laura

    Wow. I agree with what they all said. Thank you for speaking from your heart.

  • Tina

    I feel you. Not in a pervy way, but I really feel like you’re talking about me there. Crazy shit, I tell you. If I was any good at writing, then it would be this. And you know what? You should so write a book. A book about real life, real parenthood, real relationships, everything that you write on your blog. I would buy it.

  • Kerry

    Spot on! Excellent post which describes me to a tee!
    I should print this out and hand it to my friends so they can read it!
    We’re always too busy pretending to everyone that we have a perfect life that we’re too frightened to reach out and tell someone that you fell like you’re drowning! Thank you for this post, I don’t feel so alone anymore!!!

  • kathy

    I love you. You’re clever and you see things that others do not.

    Here is some more cleverness that is similar but different and not my own work: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com.au

  • amanda

    Love this, as well as all the photos.
    But that second one of Georgia is so beautiful it makes my heart hurt.

  • Tiffiny

    You put words to my heart! I think these feelings that a lot of us relate to are good. It is a sign we aren’t lemmings, aren’t living a wasted life. Thank you!

  • Sarah

    I am going to bookmark this and read it every time this happens to me. Loved this post.

  • Sue Rambo

    You ARE writing your book! One blog entry at a time.
    I love your writing!
    This one especially hits home.

  • Jenn Marshall

    So well written. I’ve been there, too. The beach is my refuge also. Thank you for sharing your truth.

  • Andrea

    Beautiful post. Thank you. You’ve helped me turn my day around. And probably many more days ahead.

  • Sandra

    As everyone else has said, thank you for putting into words what is so difficult for the rest of us to voice. I often enter in to the darkness and do all of the same things trying to claw out. Now I can come back here and read this post and remind myself that it will pass and the only way to get past it is to move through it. Thank you for that gift.

  • Marianne

    You have captured perfectly exactly what I have felt for so many years right down to the crushing weight of laying awake at night contemplating infinity. I should pack my kids and hubby up and go to the beach. Thank you.

  • Kateri Von Steal

    Amazing Writing from an Amazing Woman.

    The pictures made me smile.
    The post made me cry… then smile…

    Great perspective for my day.

    Thank you for the moment of reflection.

  • Mehereen

    Thank you.the hardest thing is the sense that you are alone and what you are feeling or not feeling somehow means you are a bad mother, person, wife … Whatever. The burden of this weight just makes you want to run away . So thank you for voicing the frustrations of our times and our lot.
    Thank you for your honesty. It gives me hope.

  • Savannah

    I adore reading your posts. I’ve been there, I’ve felt her sucking me in and telling me the same old story. Actually, I heard her a little bit last night. Today, because of you and because I believe in this life and grace, I’m telling her to suck it and back the hell off. This is our life. Thank you for sharing your heart and your honesty!

  • GG

    finally, someone has put this feeling into words. and realistically stated how to get out of it (by going in). WOW. thank you so much for sharing, you will never ever know how much this means to me.

  • Catherine

    Thank you. (Tear drops into coffee. Baby drops breakfast on floor).

  • Roxanna Smith

    loved this…and always get excited when I see you’ve written something. thanks for sharing the pictures of your beach day…so sweet. I had a total crisis after I got my degree…who am I? what am I? Love the the attitude of surrender and presence…it’s the only way I can move.

  • amy

    thank you. that is what i needed today. 2 weeks into my maternity leave and feeling like its dragging by, but also not going slowly enough. stuck between being scared shitless about having 2 boys now and how the hell are we going to do this, and scared that before i blink they will be telling me to leave them alone and shutting their bedroom door in my face. so thanks. and i love Langhorn Slim, btw.

  • Renee'

    We have all been there; you just brought us back….. Thank you for doing that – you always do.

  • jackie

    thanks

  • Liz

    I know so many people just said this, but seriously, that shook me to my core because it describes in a way more honest and poetic than I ever could, what I go through every once in awhile. But you writing that is even better than just relating to what I and others feel, because it was like a path out. You painted a path out of that fear and discontent. And that’s what I’m feeling so thankful for right now. Because last week it was: I’m gonna just cut all my hair off. That’s the change I need. Then, I need to go shopping. Some new sunglasses, new earrings, that will help. And we need to move out of this house. Out of this city. And next year, when we have money (what??) we need to go on a vacation. Far away. On and on. So thanks for bitch slapping me out of that. Phew.

  • Cherri Porter

    At my house we call this the post semester blues. Even though I expect it and know it’s coming, it still slams into me and I can’t function for about two weeks after grades are turned in. Every time. In your case, it might last a bit longer b/c you’ve graduated. But, it’s normal. Painful and disappointing and normal.

    Many academics experience this.

  • Michelle

    Where have you been the past few months of my life (I have only just recently found your blog) . Our stories maybe different but I am where you are mentally right now (well at least from what I can grasp from the post) Once again you have showed me I am not alone in my struggles. Thank You

  • Sarah

    I’ve just discovered your blog and it’s incredible- thank you for sharing. Sometimes I feel like you cracked open my skin and spied on my psyche….especially today, with this. Please keep writing!

  • Jennifer Sassaman

    thank you.

  • Brenna

    Thank-you! Funny how things come along just when you need them the most. I actually have tears in my eyes as I type this. It is such a relief to read something that explains, describes and just “feels” this type of chaos. I just need to find my own “Ocean” now!

  • Stella

    “Darwin may have been quite correct in his theory that man descended from the apes of the forest, but surely Woman rose from the frothy sea.”

    A trip to the ocean is so good for the soul, I’m glad you cut yourself loose for the day and headed to the shores…what a gift your little day trip turned out to be for all of us.

  • Kate

    YESYESYES. vacation day. love the family pictures. Thank you!

  • Liz

    Thank you, thank you. Your writing is truthful, beautiful, real, poetic. Fucking wonderful. Thank you for putting this into words. I could relate (so, so much) to everything you said. You are not alone. You are also a extremely talented writer with a beautiful family—and your words touch people and make them feel less alone. THANK YOU.

  • Jen

    Often I read blogs, to see if it strikes a chord for me, to try to feel like I’m not the only one, to see if there are others out there feeling like me. It rarely happens. This, however, didn’t just strike a chord. It’s a freaking symphony!

    For me to comment is so unusual, I’m a little taken aback and I’m not sure what to say or how to say how much it means to me to read something like this. Suffice it to say, I’ve printed excerpts of this post in a miniature size so I can put it in my purse, my pocket, my heart, to carry with me and reread it. Especially the part about wasting my hours. I NEED to reconnect with my life. Thank you for being the catalyst to make that happen.

  • Caryl

    Depression. That Biznitch sure does get around. She likes to bang on the walls, alright.

    The ocean trip sounds perfect…. Happy, sunshiny day…

    Best,
    Caryl

  • Rebekah C

    Why does this fear bitch keep cropping up? she visits me, too. Sometimes she’s so loud and obnoxious it’s all I can see and hear. Sometimes she’s pressed against the wall of my exuberance, struggling to be heard. I don’t know where it comes from, the constant fear of inadequacy, of not doing enough, not being good enough, of failure, of a wasted life. But I hear her cajoling, nagging and needling at me, too. Fuck her, you’re right. Life is now, living is now. That’s it.

  • Megan

    CRYING. Perfection.

  • Shanaray

    I had no idea there were so may of us out there all feeling the same way. Thanks for having the courage and the talent to bring us all together by putting it all into words so well.

  • Jen L

    Just so you know. Across the ocean, on a small wet island called the UK, you have driven a woman nearly to tears while she screwed around on her phone, while watching her kids in a restaurant play area. You rock.

  • Kari

    I love your blog. I can’t wait to read what you write. I come here for laughs, to commiserate, and sometimes, to feel partly normal. Your words help me to relax into this ridiculous life of being a mother, and of the rat race. Your pictures remind me to remember why it’s worth it. I decided a few years ago that my favorite ’emotional low’ is being broken and still somehow being okay. Your day at the beach pics just gave me that reminder. I feel your emptiness. And strangely, kinship.

  • Lisa

    Wonderful!

  • Laurel Hermanson

    Janelle. Look at all the people you’ve touched with this post. Not only are you not alone, ever, but you offer up your struggles to others, including me, and you help us see that none of us are alone. If that isn’t doing something in life, I don’t know what is. Hugs to you, brave woman.

  • Heidi

    I don’t believe this is all there is. I really don’t believe its all in front of me. So I’m always on the endless search to find it. And gee, that makes me freaking miserable. Absolutely terrified of living a meaningless existence. Of never doing anything great. Just being another bill paying zombie. I want to spend more quality time with those around me, but the world has me in its net of meaningless obligations. I’m in that same place so I’m not about to express words of wisdom.

  • Ellisha

    Thank you for telling the truth.

  • aoc

    Fear scares me. Glad you chose love.

  • MK

    Thanks for sharing this and all of your other posts! I don’t know how I came across your blog, but I fucking love it! I hate feeling lost & detached. Damn St John’s Wort don’t do shit! Misery loves company, so yea, it’s nice to hear that others feel the same way too, but so does love & there is a lot of love here from awesome ladies and that’s inspiring. Keep on keeping on girls, you rock!

  • bailingtheboat

    This is amazing. I’m in tears it hits so close to home. My uncle just died, and my old friend depression is back telling me everything you mentioned here. And I just rocked my daughter to sleep, singing CCR to her, and crying because it all goes too fast and I can’t reach the end of my time and wonder what could have been. But I have now, and my beautiful baby who knows nothing yet of death, and depression, and fear. And that’s so beautiful that makes me cry too. I think it’s time for a trip to the ocean. The night I met my husband he told me that I go to the ocean to feel small (he has an uncanny talent for reading people) and he was right. I think it’s time for a weekend trip there. Thank you for inspiring me

  • Kris

    I found your blog yesterday – I don’t normally read blogs but I saw a link to this in a parenting group and I am so glad that I did! A couple of your posts had me in tears and a couple had me laughing my ass off because you are just hilarious. I love your sense of humor and sarcasm. And your writing style. And your family is completely adorable. My husband is a furry faced welder and reminds me a bit of your husband (well mine has less hair on top and is more, um, round all over, lol). Seriously though, awesome work and I am so glad I stumbled across it, I can relate on so many levels.

  • Sara

    Aaaah so you did talk about it! The big D word… depression. Thank you for your touching testimony… I recognized myself in your post. And I’m a little relieved that it’s behind the both of us…!

  • FashPackSocialClub

    I knew there was a reason I opened a newsletter with a link to your blog in it.. Thank you SO much.. Amazing blogpost, thank god we are here now, the life, the kids, the love..

  • Jacqueline

    Thank you. That was both painful and beautiful.

  • Teri

    After reading 2 of your posts, I’m thinking..this girl knows how to put together words! I can’t wait for your first book! Please let us all know when you do! I’ll be your first purchase and forever fan. Thanks for being out here for us!

  • Jordan

    After stumbling on your blog since the birth of my 2nd child I feel like everything you write speaks to my soul. I just celebrated my 1st year of sobriety and this post just put everything I’ve ever felt into perspective. Thanks for existing and saying everything I wish I could.