I started a blog post yesterday and walked away from it after the third paragraph. It was a post about the fact that I will probably never bear children of my own.
Of course this is upsetting. Few women run up against this reality – whether it’s not to bear children at all, or simply not to bear any more – without having to deal with the fact that they’ve crossed a threshold and the one-way door has closed. I may be crossing it a few years early, but it’s probable, if not likely, that whenever I’d crossed it I’d be in the same condition I’m in now, which is to say, childless.
But for some reason, I just didn’t feel like finishing the post. Because while I’m upset about my fertile years coming to an end, it’s just one more thing in a long list of things for me to be upset about. I’ve been down lately, more down than usual, and sinking. I went to send an e-mail to a friend yesterday about how I could use a field trip because I’ve had a rough week, and realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t feel that way by the weekend. I wound up not sending the e-mail.
I do need a field trip, and have arranged to take one – alone – at the end of this week, when I have a few days off between exams, but I don’t expect it to do much good. The drive will be difficult – so much so that I’m headed down to Momma Ape’s tomorrow to exchange my car for her truck – and I have to pack a ridiculous amount of stuff for a three day trip. Meds, neck pillows, back pillows, snacks so I can take my meds without upsetting my stomach. I’m not planning on going out, though, so I’m debating leaving my make-up at home, something I haven’t done while traveling, ever. But lately, I leave the house without make-up all the time. Because nobody cares, except me. And since now I don’t care either, what’s the point?
So I suppose I’m depressed, and I suppose I have every right to be. When fate deals you a hand like this, that’s the appropriate reaction, no doubt. There’s a deep, deep sadness that threatens to overwhelm me whenever I drop my shield and allow a bit of it to trickle in. It feels bottomless. I’m reluctant to keep the shield down for long because I don’t want to wallow and become morose. But it must be seeping in anyway, because everything upsets me now, even things that I was planning to do before I got hurt, like trading in my stick shift car for an automatic.
I live on the outskirts of a major city. Traffic is awful from 7 AM to 7 PM every weekday and many weekends. I have lost countless hours of my life sitting in carbon monoxide soup, my quad muscles throbbing from the constant friction-point square-dance that manual transmission drivers endure when sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. No-one chooses to drive a stick shift around here. Not to mention that on the cusp of the hybrid and electric car era, it won’t be long before they’re gone from cars entirely, so it’s not like there’s a case to be made for retaining the skill, anyway.
But the problem isn’t the event itself, but the fact that it feels permanent. This car that I’m trading in, now nine years old with well over 100,000 miles on it, is probably the last stick shift car I will ever own. It’s a cute little hatchback, bright red. I am not a red car person, but when someone gives you a car (thanks, Dad), you take it and don’t nitpick about the color. Nonetheless, it’s got this adorable ladybug vibe. It looks like it belongs to a young, vivacious woman. But if I was not a red car person before, I certainly am not one now.
I’m not anything I was before, unless you count exhausted, sad, lonely, and angry, all of which I’ve struggled with for years. The problem with life changes isn’t that they change you in so many ways, it’s that, in so many ways, they don’t. Whatever issues you had before are still there, often all the more visible for the fact that the clouds you used to hide them in have been swept away. It feels grossly unfair. If nothing else, you’d think that when something like this happens, you’d at least get a clean slate to work on.
But I didn’t; pain and sadness seem permanently etched, at a time when I’m ill-equipped to handle either of them. I’ve never thought I was this great person, but at least I used to be useful to people. Now I don’t even have that. I don’t have anything. I sat alone in my apartment on Mother’s Day because I didn’t want to stress my injury by taking an elective trip to my parents’ house three days before a necessary one. I tried calling some friends, but they were all either with their families or en route to or from, and it seemed the height of selfishness to call my Mom on Mother’s Day to talk about how sad I felt about the fact that no-one was ever going to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day.
I’ve given up on waking up in the morning and hoping that I won’t be in pain. I’ve given up on expecting people to be around to talk to and help me whenever I need it; I know I have to work around their schedules. I’ve given up on expecting to be well at some point in the future, planning an activity around that, and then having to un-plan it. But for some reason, when I confront giving up the expectation that this will end, the fear that it won’t overtakes me.
Imagining that a year, or two years from now, I will still be here, typing away at my laptop standing up, planning errands and appointments around a limited functional capacity, and, worst of all, spending most of my waking hours alone, terrifies me. And anything else that is attached to that in some way, be it spending Mother’s Day alone or acquiring an automatic transmission car, is enough to tip me over into that welling fear that churns my stomach and closes my throat. Who knew I was harboring such dread about retracing my mother’s steps? But my mother was (and still is) married. I am alone. And if there’s anything scarier than going through what she went through, it’s the idea of doing it by myself. Staring down the barrel of another lonely week, followed by a seemingly endless string of them, even my impressive store of anger fails to overcome the sadness. I know life isn’t fair, but… really?
Disabled, alone, stranded, unable to work, unable to play… how do people live like this? Why the hell am I still in school, for that matter? What is the point, if I’m not going to be able to make use of my education? What is the point of any of this at all? What was so wrong with what I was doing before that God decided to yank it away, root and branch? If there even is a God. I thought I’d reconciled the idea of a loving God in a cruel world, but my recent experience at the business end of cruelty has shown that reconciliation to be more fragile than it seemed.
How am I supposed to be reconcile this? Because I know I can’t change it; if I’ve learned nothing else, that one’s been hammered home. I don’t care if I’m supposedly strong enough to handle it, because I don’t f***ing want to. I want to go back to what I thought God wanted for me, to having a purposeful life, and I can’t find a path through this that leads there, and I’m sad and scared and I don’t want to do this any more, not any of it. This isn’t right and I demand a recount, because I just can’t wrap my brain around this as being my destiny. I hate it so much, and it’s too painful, psychologically as well as physically, and I don’t know how to deal with this kind of pain day in and day out.
What sort of higher purpose could possibly come out of this experience? Because what I suspect is that there actually isn’t a purpose to this, or to anything else; that fate is unfeeling and bad things just happen to people. Children die, pets get run over by cars, and some people have to live in constant pain for their entire lives. And when life feels so callously random and pointless, it’s hard to have faith in God, or a process, or anything at all.
I prayed last night, lying in bed. I pray every night before I go to bed, but for weeks now, it’s been rather cursory, my brain running through the words without assigning relevance or meaning. But in bed last night, unable to sleep, I clasped my hands together and whispered my sincere desire to have my burdens lifted. And for some reason, I felt a little bit better. My faith in the presence of some power outside of us has been shaky, of late, but for the first time in months, I did feel as though someone was listening. It isn’t much, but I took it gratefully. Physically, I’m still alone, but spiritually, perhaps I’m not so alone as I thought I was.
It’s more than I had yesterday. Hopefully, it’s enough for today. I have pain, I have anger, and I have doubt. If the little candle of faith that was lit last night can withstand a day of those strong winds, then perhaps I can find a little space for hope in there with them.