Seven Bridges Road-W.I.S.E Project 2016

“The sun shows up every morning, no matter how bad you’ve been the night before. It shines without judgment. It never withholds. It warms the sinners, the saints, the druggies, the cheerleaders- the saved and the heathens alike. You can hide from the sun, but it wont take you personally. It´ll never, ever punish you for hiding. You can stay in the dark for years or decades, and when you finally step outside, it´ll be there.”
Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed

 

The splendid sunshine is abundant today in the Edmonton sky; and though it is slightly crisp the radiant heat of the sun and the feel of it on your face gives the illusion that it is much warmer. It is like a warrior booster for my day and I appreciate it immensely!

It has been a difficult week and I would be a fool to not mention that the last several months have been troublesome. When your spouse suffers the devastating effects of manic depression and struggles to get through each day you will struggle right along with them. You will pull yourself up, you will dig your way through the wreckage and you will fight harder than you have ever fought for anything in your life. You will feel raw and cheated and sad and angry and all sorts of emotions that you never even knew you had or experienced before. When the person you love is dancing with their ghosts it is very likely that they will not feel your arms around them, they won’t feel your love and tireless support and that can be heart wrenching. If your sadness turns to anger that is your heart putting on armor, bracing for battle. They say there are six degrees of separation and five stages of grief. I have felt all of them and a combination of them all within a five minute period. I have held on to the threads of hope until my hands were bloody.

My husband described it in the most descriptively terrifying way “You feel like someone has pulled your heart out of your chest, filled it with hornets, set it on fire and pulled the rug out from under your feet but you have no choice but to keep swinging”

I guess in reality there is a choice, you can stop swinging, stop fighting and stop holding on. You can give up on yourself or on the person you love and walk away from everything that was ever important to you. Maybe in time one of you will feel better, possibly both with some very hard work but in my case I know with certainty that I am going to put in the hard work either way and at the time when the bumpy road smooths out I want us to be travelling on it together.

Whether you are the person that feels like their mind is being held together with a weak adhesive and you fear that it could break apart any moment, you feel dead inside and unable to make a decision, you are so broken and you feel like you will never be worth fixing or you are the person who feels everything, you try so hard to be that adhesive that keeps your love together just enough to keep from breaking beyond repair and you pray to god everyday and you hope beyond any hope that you ever had, that your love can fix this, it is all consuming and sometimes your days will be in color and some days they will be enveloped in blackness. Either way it can be scary but I think for me, one huge difference is that I see a light at the end of the tunnel at all times. I know it exists and I know that I need to stay in that light at all times. How terrifying it must be to live a great deal of your life in darkness, unable to see or feel any sort of light, to not know with certainty that things will get better one day, instead of continuing to spiral into a wretched abyss of murky dead space.

The decision to start this little project called the W.I.S.E. project stemmed from a couple of things. Last Christmas I saw a baby picture of my son that I had given up for adoption when I was sixteen. Being reunited with him has been a miracle, he has been such a blessing in my life but seeing that picture sent me into a tailspin. I was once again a scared and uncertain 16 year old girl, in love with a little baby that I knew in my heart deserved a life that I couldn’t give him. I felt devastated all over again and I knew that if I didn’t deal with that, if I didn’t feel every bit of that heartbreak that it would revisit me time and time again for my entire life. So I laid in my bed and I cried for days, I wrote down my feelings, I talked to my husband and I talked to God. I sought and found forgiveness and redemption and I embraced all the love that I finally believed I deserved. I knew how lucky I was and how much I had to be grateful for but for some reason I still felt miserable. It was the end of 2015 and my mind was still very stuck on period of gloom in July when my husband had suffered the worst depression that I had ever seen. I had known for years that he had an issue, I knew that he suffered childhood trauma and that his demons followed him into adulthood and often took up residence in his tired mind. It seemed that his demons had grown with him, they were bigger and stronger now and more aggressive. The harder he tried to make the right decisions for himself and his family the more they pushed back. The person I laid down with every hot July night was not the person I married and had spent almost half of my life with, he was a stranger, a terrified little boy crying on the inside and outside he looked like a ghost. His beautiful soul was tortured and his fierce and loving heart was in the cruel hands of ruthless apparitions that neither of us understood. Even though he tried to get help he was somehow dismissed as if he was just a number, a space to fill on the appointment book and a check to collect at the end of the hour. Somehow, some way we seemed to overcome that horrible time, or least things seemed to go back to resemble some version of normalcy. I never stopped waiting for things to go wrong again and in doing that I wasn’t living. At best I was existing, going through the motions. I wasn’t happy and finally the time came that I realized that I had all the pieces of the puzzle to construct a happy life but something was not fitting together properly. Unlike people who suffer the debilitating affects of depression, happiness for me was a choice and I became committed to seeking it, learning the science of it and choosing it at all costs every single day. It doesn’t mean that I spend every day farting rainbows (only some days) but it really does give me a lot of perspective. Had I not embarked on this project I would be a crying mess on the floor and that is not an option for me. I cry and feel everything, make no mistake about that. There have been weekends recently that I didn’t even leave the house or get out of my pajamas but I have to say that there has been a power in knowing that know matter what that I can lift myself up and be OK. I practice gratitude daily and I try incredibly hard to stay in the moment.

Depression robs you of your ability to communicate effectively and as a wife who is sad and my heart is raw, I often take well meaning things the wrong way. It can be frustrating for both of us. My need to decide everything in a moment adds a pressure to my husbands already stressed mind that is not helpful in the least. I have to consciously try to slow down, to live in the present and to be grateful for the good things I have in my life and to seek joy in everything I do.

I know that I have to matter in the equation too and often I have questions that my husband simply cannot answer. This adds another element of discord that we struggle through. I try really hard to be my authentic self and stay true to me and my needs. That is why I ask the tough questions because they are important to me and in order for me to stay connected, healthy and well I occasionally need a little bit of reassurance. I take time to breath, meditate, laugh, rest and cry! Those are the things that I need. No matter what you face and how hard you decide to fight it is essential that you take care of yourself.

I am majorly kicking my ass today because my old co-workers in Ontario are hosting a reunion this weekend and I am not going. Working with them was such a fantastic time in my life and though I had an opportunity to go I didn’t book it because I wasn’t feeling up to being around people. Many of these women helped me through all sorts of things during my young adult years and I should have taken solace in the fact that today would have been no exception. We all struggle and though our problems may vary, the scars that they leave on our hearts are similar and when we share our stories we are able to own them, instead of allowing them to own us. Sharing with the people that we care about strengthens our connections and we let those that we love know that they are not alone in their struggles. This has been a lesson learned for me indeed.

The last several months have been a succession of waiting to exhale. Today I am going to enjoy the sunshine and try my best to stay in the light.

Whatever you are going through, please find some comfort in knowing that you are not alone. If you allow your pain to be a teacher you will get stronger than you ever imagined. When your heart is broken that means that you have had the courage to love, to feel. That is so much better than being numb. You are one of the good ones so just breathe deeply and follow the path with the light at end. It may seem far away and it may seem unattainable but as long as you keep it in your sights you will be OK. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but you will be better and stronger in the end.

Every battle I face I tell myself that I just need to build another bridge and get over it. I am currently on what the Eagle’s refer to as the seven bridges road. If I have to I will knock down the bridge, kick off my shoes and wade through the muck; heart, soul and hamstrings to get through and do what needs to be done. I will cross that bridge when I come to it. (pun intended)

 

You may be unsteady but W.I.S.E. friends never forget that you are unbreakable.

xo

Michelle

 

 

Not Going To Be Afraid-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

 

I have been spinning this month. Some days I feel like that little silver ball in the pinball machine, up, down, spinning, spinning, rarely finding a moment of true solace. Thrown this way and that, manipulated into spaces that are scary.

Yesterday a wise friend I only know as The Hook told me he had a feeling that no matter how I was feeling at that moment he was certain it would be a winning month for me. It felt a lot like encouragement, and it was the proverbial kick in the ass I needed. Things have been shitty, I can’t deny that. If you have been here before you know that I have been in a battle with my husbands demons. The gloom of manic depression has cast our lives in a murky black haze. There is a lot of disquiet, sadness and despondency. It is hard for us to find our balance with a colossal cloud of contingency hanging menacingly over our heads. I miss the certainty of a smile and the warmth of laughter, I miss the feeling of being close even when we are miles a part. My husband working in another province adds another aspect which some of you may know well. Staying connected during those times has always been an undertaking but the darkness wraps that undertaking in cellophane and lathers it up with Vaseline. It is hard. It feels about as comfortable as going swimming with your high school class and realizing that you forgot to shave your legs for the entire winter.

I put a valiant effort into trying to stay positive but when times are tough I struggle along like the best of you and even though I pride myself on trudging through and showing up everyday this morning I was faced with the realization that some days I don’t know the person who is showing up for me.

I have this habit of putting others needs and feelings ahead of my own, and changing my behavior based on what I think they need. Everyday I was sending my ambassador out into the world to speak and act for me. There is absolutely no way to win at life by doing that. I know it and I would be the first to pass that advice along to someone else. Everyday I hear my own words of wisdom, the advice I have shared with friends and loved ones, my experiences rolling through my mind on replay but I always answer them with a “but…”

NOT TODAY!!

TODAY I showed up! Today is all me. The very best thing I can do for myself and therefore everyone who depends on me is to be myself today and always.

I was listening to a song this morning called “Not Going To Be Afraid” It is by the fantastic Canadian rock band Finger 11. I am drawing from a recollection that may possibly have been tainted by too many cocktails but if I am recalling correctly they told me that the song was written in the aftermath of their longtime drummer Rich leaving the band and their struggle to move on from that, to go forward with uncertainty, to work through the discomfort and unfamiliarity to get to a place that was all new and to find a way to be themselves in that space and not be afraid. This is a great group of guys that have been together since high school so moving on was bound to stir up some uneasiness. They did it, they showed up, they didn’t try to be something they weren’t. They were just themselves, even knowing that the Finger 11 they had always known was now different they found a place of comfort in their discomfort and they faced every wall of  fear and doubt and knocked it down. In doing so they created their newest album Five Crooked Lines. I have been listening to these guys for many years, since they were playing the bar circuit in Ontario as Rainbow Butt Monkeys. I can say this of the new album; it still has elements of their unmistakable sound but it is different somehow, as are they. There is a wisdom and maturity that happens as we naturally evolve, as long as we can find the courage to be ourselves. That is the only way to win. They have succeeded. That conversation I had in a bar with these exceptionally talented and honest guys really resonated with me. I think everyone can learn from their experience. It doesn’t matter who you are, uncertainty is scary. We all struggle to move forward through fear and be brave when the voices of hesitation and distrust are the voices screaming the loudest in our ear. It is easy to get lost trying to be someone else. The best we can do in any situation is be ourselves, shine with our own light in the unpredictable darkness.

 

I have many wise friends, but a handful of really  genuine ones that are so full of grace and goodness they inspire me to be better. I admitted to one last week that everything felt odd and I didn’t know how to act. She said “Why would you act? Be who you are, don’t change a thing. God gave you this man for you to love and you just keep loving him and being yourself.” My husband himself has told me that the best thing I can do for him during times of struggle is to be myself and to love myself a little bit more than I love him.

We are more than the sum of our fears. We are the valiant and lion-hearted! The only way we can tap into our true strength is to be our true selves. Be W.I.S.E. friends and keep showing up!

Not Going to Be Afraid
I watched the bridges burn,
I see the pages turn my story’s ready to unfold
Even though it’s so dark,
I see one last spark maybe holds not far away
Heaven can help me, but courage could sell me on one last chance I should take
For those who don’t know my name, play me just like a king
Today won’t be the same, I’m not gonna be afraid
Crushing the overwhelming doubt, scream over the loudest shout
Then whatever happens now, I’m not gonna be afraid
Gone to a different place so far from yesterday
Changes is all that remains
Whoever I am now
I am without you, I’ll do my best to be brave
For those who don’t know my name, play me just like a king
Today won’t be the same I’m not gonna be afraid
Crushing the overwhelming doubt, scream over the loudest shout
Then whatever happens now, I’m not gonna be afraid
For those who don’t know my name, play me just like a king
Today won’t be the same I’m not gonna be afraid
Crushing the overwhelming doubt, scream over the loudest shout
Then whatever happens now, I’m not gonna be afraid
For those who don’t know my name, play me just like a king
Today won’t be the same I’m not gonna be afraid
Crushing the overwhelming doubt, scream over the loudest shout
Then whatever happens now, I’m not gonna be afraid
Whatever this life will bring, I’m not gonna be afraid
This moment means everything, I’m not gonna be afraid

Walkin After midnight -W.I.S.E. Project 2016

wp-1476639172573.jpg

It’s just another midnight walking through the shadows of my mind, sifting through memories and collecting my strength. There is something about the midnight hour, the moonlight, that makes me feel comforted and safe. Sometimes life seems cold and unfair but these are opportunities to be our true selves and hold unto the things that are legitimately necessary.

A week ago my boss handed me a pink journal and she said “You haven’t been writing. You always write. I notice. Write something, anything, a note, a poem, swear words. You will feel better!”

It’s nice the little ways that people show you they care. It is nice to know that when the clouds get dark there are people with umbrellas who don’t want you to get wet.

It rained that day. All the best and the and the worst days do. I walked outside and the rain was so cold against my skin that the last thing I felt like doing was dancing. It wasn’t that type of rain, the dancing kind. It was the tortuous, mocking kind that comes when your life is falling apart and mine indeed felt like it was. I stood there collecting myself by my truck and I struck the warrior pose in that cold fucking rain. Only seconds passed but in those seconds I knew that I was going to be OK. I am a warrior and I may scream, cry and fall down but dammit I always give everything I have and I always get back up.

Fast forward a week later. I woke to snow and optimism. The day didn’t end as I planned. My life is not going anywhere near according to plan. Plans don’t always go according to plan. So now what?

A couple days later the sun is shining and though my life seems to be a huge unanswered question I feel encouraged in knowing that often when we think things are falling a part they are really falling into place.

I looked back on my W.I.S.E. Principles for October which were whole, involved, spirit and engaged. Without a doubt in my mind I can say that I put my whole heart into my life, I injected my spirit into everything I did. I was involved and fully engaged. I showed up every damn day even when it was incredibly hard.

Sometimes things will still fall apart despite your best efforts. In my case I have been fighting the demons of depression for several years now and though I never once gave up this is one of those battles I cannot fight alone. They are not my demons, I hate them like they are but they do not belong to me.

The days to come already feel overwhelming. That is what happens when we get ahead of ourselves, when we don’t live in the moment. There are feelings I would love to fast forward through but  unfortunately we can’t skip over pain. My pain is my proof that it all matters, that it is real. In the hurt and loss and torment I will one day find a lesson that will make me stronger and I already know that the most important things in life can’t be taken from me. Life moves and changes so fast that you have to keep moving with it or get horribly lost in the shuffle.

I don’t do well in times of uncertainty so I am trying to focus on the certainties of the near future so I made a list of things I can be sure of:

1. A lot of people will see me with red rimmed eyes and smudged mascara and wonder if I am on drugs.

2. I will say things I don’t mean and immediately regret it and a short while later say things I don’t mean.

3. I will cycle frequently between laughing and crying

4. I will either eat a lot or nothing at all.

5. I will equally love and hate 80s love ballads.

6. I will struggle between being my authentic self and being the person who I think is needed right now.

7. I will try to focus on the things I can control like brushing my teeth, combing my hair, making sure that my pants are not inside out and backwards.

8. An episode of Bob Ross painting will always calm me down.

9. No matter what life serves me it will be better if I melt cheese on it.

10. Though it is possible to laugh or dance yourself to death nobody has died from crying.

Novembers W.I.S.E. principles are Winning, Intention, Smart and Efficient. I have been working on these essentially for the last eleven months of this project.  To have a “Winning” life I have to live with intention, my intention is to seek happiness and joy and to do that I have to choose it every second of every day, even when it is hard. When dark clouds are sitting over my head I need to stay in the gratitude line and find reasons to be thankful. That is the smart and efficient way to live. More gratitude, less worry. I got this and so do you.

If you are anything like me there will be times that it is difficult to find your comfort in the discomfort. These times can make or break you. These are the times to focus on the things that are certain in your life. Besides death and taxes what are the things you know to be a certainty in your life?

When everyone is lined up in the complaint line for hours waiting to growl and whine about how unfair life is, never deviate from the gratitude line. Be gracious and thankful for your many blessings. When you are faced with difficult times, be yourself, don’t let the world change you, don’t let how people treat you change you. Be your authentic self and that will always be your salvation. When crisis hits and you are left to sift through the wreckage of your life you will find that when everything falls away the important things will remain. We spend our lives gathering what we need, our true friends, our family, our wisdom, our strength. That is why when you push the rubble aside you will find that you still have everything you need to survive.

Be W.I.S.E. friends. This is the 11th month  of the W.I.S.E. project. Lets make it a WINNING month!

“I realized, through it all, that…in the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer and that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me there’s something stronger, something better, pushing right back.”

~Albert Camus

 

 

Learning to fly-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

A soul in tension that’s learning to fly
Condition grounded but determined to try

~ Pink Floyd, Learning to Fly

My husband always tells me I have a beautiful soul. He said if he could describe me in one word he would use sunny because I always try to bring the light and see the bright side. I do try to be careful about that when the darkness comes, when the demons of depression have their arms around him, because I know that sometimes looking on the brighter side of things is just not a choice for him the way it is for me. Also, nobody likes a Pollyanna. Pain matters, sadness is for a reason.  If we constantly brush off our pain and don’t allow ourselves to feel sadness we will dismiss the lessons that those feelings bring.

I asked him this morning if he thought that the intensity of our love for each other has to do with living through the dark days of depression and learning to solidly grasp unto the good times. He thinks our tendency to love each other so profoundly has more to do with us living a great deal of our lives separately due to work.  I think there are elements of both in the way we relate and he is certainly right that we spend too much time apart; this conversation took place over text from separate provinces.  It really is a challenge and a choice, at the best of times to live our lives “together” while living separate.

Over the years, a lot of our friends have seen us in a certain way, they see this deep and passionate love that they envy, they see a couple that laughs together at ridiculous things, dances cheek to cheek to classic ballads, makes each other handmade cards, and goes on romantic getaways at a moments notice. They don’t see the other side of that. There is loneliness and a sadness that is not portrayed in our social media feeds. If what you see is a couple that is unbreakable; that loves each other but disagrees on almost everything social, political, economic, parenting, morality…I could go on. A couple that carries the scars of our histories together and separately, and even though most wounds have healed the pain sometimes bubbles to the surface, a lingering pain that reminds us that we are alive, and that we feel.  A couple with longing and regret and struggle than just maybe you are seeing us. That is how we see us, as beautiful survivors.

I often wonder if other couples feel the same way. I have talked about the space and the distance that depression puts in between us.  It’s excruciating and strange and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I have woken up and had my husband looks right through me like I am a stranger and nothing hurts more. It never gets easier, but there are other times that even living and working provinces apart you couldn’t put a handkerchief in the space between us. We are fully engaged in each others lives, we fill each others spaces with light and hearts with love. We are lovers, friends, cheerleaders, champions.

My husband sent me a picture the other night and I wanted to touch his face so badly. When things are ‘normal” and I use that term loosely, there is a comfort and warmth between us that feels impenetrable. Do the rest of you feel that belonging?  Certain  you are where you are meant to be and you are safe and happy there?

Life is so goddamn weird, it really is.

In 2016 we talk a great deal about being authentic, being true to ourselves, being real. We talk a good talk as we post flawless selfies of ourselves sipping Starbucks lattes, on our beach vacations with the perfect Margarita, our bedhead and make-up free selfies that we primed and prepped the greater part of half an hour for. This realism, this credibility that we speak of has become a bit of a joke quite frankly and it incites comparison. I think there is a lot of unnecessary comparison among friends, family and co-workers. The way we portray our lives or better still perceive the lives of others can separate and segregate us.

I want to be genuine and to do that that I have to be honest.  I do my very best to stay in the light. I choose happiness at every opportunity and sometimes it is really friggin hard. Some days I would rather stay in my pajamas and eat chocolate bars and cry because adulting sucks. Some days I don’t feel that confident and I want to hide from the world’s judgmental eyes. We should start an honest movement that when challenged you have to post a selfie of what you are doing that very moment. “Dear World, this is me, I am sad today and too emotionally drained to make supper, I have managed to feed the dogs and cat, the kids are having Kraft Dinner and  I just polished off a 250 gram bag of sour cream and onion chips and a glass of cheap Merlot. I am now sad and bloated and I have a pimple.” hashtag #truth

We follow the unspoken rules of the world to be polite and go along with the crowd as to not rock the boat.  We proceed, like good little soldiers, one foot after the other, and left over right, heal, and toe. Smile, look pretty and never let them see you sweat. What a load of authentically revolting bullshit. When did we become so afraid to shine, to fly, to reach for the stars? Probably the same time we became afraid of being different, afraid of failing?   This is the reason why the world is  sadly lacking in original content. We are remaking movies and songs because everyone is afraid to step out of the box and present new ideas but people are buying memoirs as fast as fiction because we are craving something real and we desperately want to know that there are people out there that are just as fucked up as we are! It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss book “Good people don’t” It’s about farting. We all fart. We all love, we all struggle, and according to REM everybody hurts…sometimes.

Let the world know you fall, show them you have learned to get back up again, show the world that it can knock you down ten times and you will get up 11. Sometimes you will fight a losing battle, but if you keep fighting you will never fail. You are enough, you are more than a perfect selfie on a white sand beach, you are a warrior and sometimes warriors have pimples and messy hair. Some days are hard and some days the sun is on your face and the wind at your back. These are the days of your life, full of hope, full of wonder, full of struggle. Be grateful for your life, it is not a retouched photograph, it is real and honest. It is beautiful even when it is callous. The days full of sunshine make incredible memories; the darker days are full of lessons. Breathe it in, every bit of it, live your life, moment to moment. Today is a gift, tomorrow is gone, the future is uncertain. You have today, this very minute. Embrace it, and don’t be afraid to step out of line, fight your way out of the box,  and  be you!

xo Michelle

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”

~ Peter Pan

DISCLAIMER “A couple that carries the scars of our histories together and separately, and even though most wounds have healed the pain sometimes bubbles to the surface, a lingering pain that reminds us that we are alive, and that we feel.”

When I speak of wounds and scars I am speaking metaphorically, there has never been any physical aggression, wounds, scars or the like in my marriage.

Goodbye Stranger-W.I.S.E. project 2016

And I will go on shining
Shining like brand new
I’ll never look behind me
My troubles will be few

~ Supertramp

Since I wrote a post about my struggle with depression I feel like I have come out of the ‘proverbial’ closet. I feel like I have shed a skin, taken off a mask, exposed a deep dark secret and the heaviness that has gripped my heart for years has loosened significantly.

I felt like a bit of a fraud to be honest, always taking about happiness and how it is a choice that we make everyday  when some days I was shackled by fear and uncertainty, holding back tears, just like the rest of you.

I have always disliked it when people air their dirty laundry all over the internet but I do love good stories. The problem with a good story is to tell it authentically can be tricky because often our stories are so tightly woven around the stories of others  that it is hard to separate the two and sometimes people don’t want their stories told. Some people are fiercely private and others worry about being scrutinized if they allow their feelings to show. I am not among those people. I am more concerned about presenting a story that is not true, a story void of struggles and tears, a story where I breathe sunsets and piss rainbows. That is far removed from my story.

I know that for many people all they know of depression is what they have learned from movies and metaphors. It can almost look beautiful in the right light. It’s like seeing a stunning portrait in black and white. The entire feeling of the portrait would change if it was concluded in color. The great photographer Robert Frank once said, “Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.”

Imagining a torturous life, wrought with days void of color is not as beautiful.

I think all of our stories of struggle and fear are eerily similar but the problem is that we compare our truth to each others highlight reel. My Facebook story, my Instagram feed represents some very wonderful times in my life with some very wonderful people but it is very far removed from the whole story. These perfect images which scatter our feeds are a very tiny glimpse into the very best of peoples lives, they do not look into their hearts and souls. They should not give anyone the feeling that they are not enough, that everyone knows something that they don’t know and that they are living a better life.

Even though the depression I struggle with is not my own, even if the racing thoughts, the dread, the gloom, the fear, the anxiety, the love, the hate, the emptiness, the fear, the horror, the tragedy, the deceit, the betrayal  and chaos is not happening in my mind  it robs me just the same.

I have always been fiercely protective of my marriage, we have tackled some very hard times, often pulling ourselves up by the straps of our boots and starting over again, but there are days that my mind is plagued by doubt and sometimes the certainty I feel about the strength of our union betrays me. I have always affectionately described my marriage as enduring but this illness plants and waters seeds of uncertainty, delighting in their steadfast growth.

My marriage is like that black and white portrait, full of wondrous hope and agonizing despair. The human condition that plagues all of us. We live this life full of incredibly beautiful moments, moments of enduring love and friendship, moments of feeling safe and adored. There are moments that we are captivated with each other and excited for our future, but just as quickly as these moments envelope us in warmth and cheerfulness they can turn and smother us with panic and uncertainty.

Depression is a thief. It is a prowler that lurks around in the dark shadows of your mind and snuffs out the sunshine. It has a tenacious and heavy hand. It strengthens all of our fears and uneasiness and nourishes your insecurities. Occasionally it loosens its grip on us just enough to make us think that we are going to be ok. Randomly these times can be so intense that you feel like you are on top of the world looking down at all the sad stick figures walking around. Life is a precious gift and yours is the best. You are invincible. You radiate sunshine and rainbows. You are higher than Johnny Cash on a Sunday morning. You are sitting on top of the roller coaster. You have a great view and you are never coming down. Inevitably you do though…and it is a long way down. I want to be the parachute that breaks the fall for the one I love but how do I do that without getting knocked down?

Depression is a bumpy ride. I cannot make sense of it and though it dwells in my space I cannot imagine what it would feel like if it was living in me, if it invaded my mind and my thoughts from the inside.

We have made our way back to each other many times, through rain, snow, sleet, fog , we have traveled washed out roads slowly but surely to get back to that place where we feel safe and right together. I have always thought of safe as an everlasting feeling but in my experience it is a transient excitation at best. The seeds of uncertainty have rooted and grown making the thoroughfare a merciless trek, but we make it time and time again. For the in betweens are a precious gift.

We work tirelessly to tear down walls, to be vulnerable and convicted in our love for one another only to have our sentiments be obliterated, our affections conveyed as weaknesses by the monster that comes knocking periodically.

Sometimes I am scared and not scared to say that I am scared. I am scared to allow the person that I have loved for almost half my lifetime slip away and just as scared that my earnestness will push him away.

I am a lover, afraid that my love is no longer the answer or the question. It is a maze, a riddle, a puzzle with a missing piece.

There is this person I love more than anything in the world but over the years there are times it feels like there is a whole world growing in the space between us. It is hard in those times to remember that it won’t last, to keep fighting. From experience we know that our love can slay dragons, even the fire breathing monstrosity that is depression and that knowing keeps us rooted. We bounce back stronger and we learn. We try to stay in the light!

A belief in ourselves is at the very heart of this hope. For me, it is rooted in knowing that I am enough, that I am loved, that this beast can strip me of everything but my worthiness.

Sometimes fighting the beast makes me feel like a stranger in my own skin. Small and afraid, clinging to to the threads of a life I built to last. Recently I was on an online support group based out of the U.K. and this woman wrote in asking for help because she was struggling in her marriage and her husband suffers depression and he was pushing her away. She was scared and distraught. I felt compelled to write to her and it made me feel good. I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination but I can speak from a place of experience. It helped me and I hope it helped her. It made me want to be honest in the hopes that if even one person was suffering they would realize that they were not alone. It made me realize that my vitality, my unwillingness to give up, my willingness to choose and cultivate happiness every damn day, even on the days when the world feels dark and cold makes me pretty damn close to a super hero. We are all heroes in this big , heavy world and if you can’t be someone else’s you better be your own.

xo

Michelle