Up for Air

When I think of the past winter and spring, I think of a deluge.

I don’t mean to be vague, but there have been a whole host of important and unimportant happenings in my life since January, all of which have served to touch on every raw, exposed, twitchy and unformed nerve in my being. Some of this I’ve mentioned here – my Dad’s stroke, my gallbladder attack – but others I haven’t for the same reason I’ve never disclosed every detail of my life here. All that said, I can’t deny that all of these things, these stressors, have made me miserable in a way I haven’t been in my life in what seems like eons.

I consider myself to be an optimistic person, so it’s been easy to put on a smile and keep moving forward. But underneath it all existed a current of sadness and insecurity that I was never able to wrangle. And I tried so hard, too – extra sleeping, more reading, journaling, self-help books, deep breaths, hot showers, prayer, retail therapy, food therapy, seriously, anything I could think of. Until the gallbladder attack, and subsequent forced rest, I had a reached a point where I was really just hanging on until summer, when invariably the sunshine and street fairs and humidity usher in reprieve whether we ask for it or not.

But then. Then I had to sit still for nearly three weeks. No, scratch that. I was seriously sick and ill and the choice to “sit still” was made for me. Up until the end of my recovery, I wasn’t thinking about sitting still, but was just resting because the alternative was pain. It is amazing what happens in such instances.

My insecurities were of no consequence when in the middle of the night my body was completely betraying me in the most grotesque fashion. There was no time for drowning in the “what if’s” and maudlin thinking when all I wanted was enough time to pass that I could be administered (or administer for myself) another dose of pain relief. I’d been removed from the races of rats and, because this was simply a faulty gallbladder, and not anything more serious, I quickly returned to it all only to learn I’d inadvertently shut my brain off long enough to rest it, and as a result, my body.

I currently have a healthier perspective on life. It’s a relief. That rest did me such a world of good. I am a new woman.

As I understand it, plenty of people get pummeled by depression and blues during this late-winter, early spring time frame. One of the things my GP did after I was diagnosed with PPD was run a series of blood tests, one of which revealed a ridiculously low amount of Vitamin D in my system. It’s true it was gray and rainy. It was true I was sleep-deprived. It was true I never saw the light of day. Or the air. So if you combine this seasonal malaise, as it was this time last year and all, it all makes extra sense.

That said.

I feel lighter. I don’t know how else to say it. I feel as though I can lift cars, or at least clean them. I can be thankful. I can be healthier. I can read and enjoy a book. I can concentrate on a hobby that has nothing to do with what has been my favorite after-school activity, seeing how much time I can fritter away being anxious and unsure of myself.

Knitting has nothing on casting doubt on yourself and questioning every blessed move you make.

I often think about the lessons I hope to teach my daughter, the things I hope to instill in her. There are things about her, already, that so obviously innate to her being that it blows my mind. There are those things, though, that it’s clear that we’re teaching her that it’s equally mind-blowing. Just how important is this parenting task I ask you? I mean, it’s not the *only* thing in life, but already we’ve worked to challenge Abigail to figure things out for herself, to sit with unhappiness and to do the hard work of, well, hard work and you can see, really and truly, how this is the difference between introducing an asshole into society or a productive member.


My greatest hope is that it doesn’t take a life-threatening, painful illness to bring my daughter to a settled spot where she can find peace, where she can find confidence. I want her to be proud of who she is, even when she’s wrong, and not question herself incessantly, not apologize for being in the room. Recently I received some empowering, game-changing professional advice from someone who I respect a great deal. He instructed me to “wear my crown,” because I’d “earned it,” he said. Oh, if I can only work to make it so my daughter doesn’t need anyone to tell her such things.

I can’t protect her from everything. I don’t know that I want to. But I can teach her to weather the storms. I can help her to have faith in herself, and remind her every day that her parents have faith in her too. That doubting herself is a waste of her precious time and energy. I don’t know if she can avoid these pits I occasionally fall into, but perhaps she can be more adept at climbing out. Or at least being confident that she’ll figure out a way.

All this said, I’m great. I’m healthy – I visit my GP next month for some more extensive work – my cholesterol, my thyroid – but I can walk and sleep and do everything but work out and lift things. Even that, though, will end this week. I’ve got brand new orthotics from the running doctor, I’m finally getting over a nasty cold Abigail and I have shared for more than a week, and I just celebrated my 36th birthday by wearing out of the house a pair of 7 For All Mankind jeans that haven’t seen the light of day since 2008.

(Do people even wear these anymore? Seriously. It’s been so long since I bought designer jeans (2007) that I wouldn’t know.)

I don’t want to be accused of fat shaming (sigh), but the very real side effect of this illness has been losing 15 pounds and getting back into a whole mess of clothes I loved wearing. Because I’ve altered my diet and am monitoring things closely still – I still have to eat small meals, not much on the rich or processed side, no dairy – the weight seems to be stabilizing and I feel great. My surgeon mentioned “the American diet” as a cause for gallbladder problems – Surprise! They don’t see this in many other countries – and I’ve taken it to heart. While he is attributing my case to other additional variables, there is no escaping that eating less-than-ideal foods in my lifetime contributes to this. I don’t want to see myself back into the hospital with another problem – diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol – that I could have managed by honoring myself and my health.

So yes, while I’ve lost a whole mess of weight, and that’s great as it means more wardrobe options, it doesn’t at all make me healthy. So I’m trying really hard to walk the walk in a way I’ve only done 85 percent of the time before.

Hopefully this means better care at this blog, and the Tumblr and Twitter and everything else about documenting my life that I haven’t done since my health and brain space took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

I miss it. I hope you have, too.