The bark on the tree outside the window is a kaleidoscope of browns, one side still wet from the overnight showers; the other dry, facing the rising sun. There is fog, not that fog of my childhood, thick and relentless, but a morning fog, lifting slowly. I feel the itch to grab my camera and run outside, capture what my eyes see right there. Is the ice breaking, finally? That tingling feeling of excitement bubbling up in my stomach: is it hope?
Big brown eyes look at me, querying my every move. I know I made mistakes this week, I know, I know. I was grasping at straws, drowning, my voice lost amongst the weeds. The louder I shout the worse it gets, for everyone. Trial and error, every step of the way. We are all tired, we all need a change.
It’s been a year, a whole year, and still excuses are made, comments are downplayed, whitewashed canvas of shit. I just want to throw all of the outside world into a vat, burn it then freeze it then smash it into pieces. It’s clouding my vision, creating clutter, mess. Dark, murky pits of mess.
I hate mess. It makes me anxious to see piles of stuff taking up the little space we have, thick clouds stuffing up my mind, pushing out clarity. I like clean, handwritten lists, where I can strike off each item one after another with barely constrained glee. Current lists have scribbles all over them, phone numbers, reminders, dates from last year. I was swimming through a to-do from December 15th on January 4th, distracted by illness and so much tiredness. In those moments self-doubt creeps in, I let the laundry pile up so I can spend hours folding it, procrastinating, not good enough for anything else. Not good enough, not good enough, I sweep you away with the heavy brush. Strong sweeps: begone.
I recognize the fog only when it is lifting, and it amazes me every single time. I’ve been through it before, too many episodes to really pinpoint now, but it still surprises me. How can you be depressed but also overwhelmed with happiness? How can you be depressed and still smiling? How can you admit to being depressed when around you the world is crumbling?
Ah the signs have been there for months, but excuses and cover ups are always easy to find. I’m tired, I just had a baby or three. Baby is cranky I don’t want to leave the house, the toddlers have meltdowns I just don’t want to risk it. I’m tired, I was up every hour last night. It’s just sleep deprivation, it will pass. But the walls don’t close in on sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation doesn’t grind your teeth in the little sleep you get. It’s the fog that does it. The invisible until it lifts fog. Dissipating fog, every day a little more. I danced again last night, freedom inching its way back to me, a smile, spreading from face to face, lyrics sung at the top of our voices. I accomplished something spontaneous, the weight lifted for a while.
It will always be one step at a time, because we have taken a giant leap forward, then several steps backwards again this week. Your hands continue to pull me up when my feet slip, my fingers curl around yours every time you stumble. We are stumbling a lot at the moment, but we do it together, unbreakable bond in an untenable climate. It’s just a moment in time, a mountain to climb, and freedom lies on the other side. Freedom from this grey fog, from the isolation, and the hunger. We are both hungry for more, the type of hunger that pushes you past the boundaries, we are better than that. We need better than that for our family. We will have better than that.
This morning I inhaled the air through the lingering tendrils of mist, gentle on my skin, and then I rested my lips on my son’s head, his patient nature guiding me towards the next steps. No more grabbing at straws, no more drowning in the weeds. We have faith, we have plans, and most of all we have love. And this love unleashes the patience that we need, I need, to let the fog roll away by itself.