The change in the change

It has been weeks since I felt untethered. Weeks since I crumbled into emotional dust. Weeks since I hated what I was becoming but couldn’t stop becoming it. I don’t know if the worst is behind me or still to come, but for now, I feel great. I think I may even be better than I was before: calmer, happier, more stable, more focused. I care less what people around me think and more about what I truly want.

So then why does walking through my neighborhood at 5:30, when the mommies are out in full force, pulling their kids toward home, still shake me at my core? Yesterday I went from feeling great to feeling dark in the course of 30 minutes and 15 Brooklyn blocks. It makes me crazy to feel invisible – a woman not admitted into the club everyone else belongs to – but I don’t think that is the real story any more.  There is a deeper reason why I can’t let the crazy feelings go, why I can’t stop the stabs of envy and sadness. It’s because with parenting, like so many other things, I did what I do so well – I walked away.

Why do I have so few friends from childhood, college, my 20s? Walked away instead of hanging in. Why has my career been a pinball machine? Walked away instead of challenging myself to grow. The first marriage? Walked. And why am I not a mother? Because I repeatedly gave up when the process of getting pregnant got too tough. When charting wasn’t working, I stopped — didn’t even try Clomid or acupuncture or anything my infertile ladies who really wanted a baby did — and told myself I couldn’t do it without Jeff’s support. Honestly, I was scared of failing and feeling alone and guilty for the one time I was pregnant and had an abortion. And later, when I wanted to get pregnant with Tom and discovered a (completely benign) brain tumor was reeking havoc with my hormones, I walked away again because I was scared again. This time of truly wanting to make a life with the man I love and not being able to do it. The fear of disappointment stopped me cold.  And the adoption? Another post for another day, but suffice it to say that if I really wanted to be a mom, I would have a child today. No question.

Walking away has been my defense against getting hurt, being left out or left behind. Of being disappointed or realizing I really am the nothing I think I am: unworthy and uninteresting and unlovable. That might be it. I walk away from love (of friends, of a child, of partners, of my potentially best self) because I don’t think I am worth any love. And I want to make sure to be gone once people realize that. So what now?

What normal feels like

Today was a good day:

  • I didn’t cry
  • I didn’t get angry
  • I stayed focused at work
  • I sounded smart when I spoke in meetings
  • I felt smart when I spoke in meetings
  • I didn’t panic when the subway didn’t move for a few minutes
  • I wanted to exercise when I got home and actually did
  • I was nice to Tom
  • I didn’t compulsively shop
  • I didn’t feel paranoid
  • I felt generally calm and happy

I was me again. For the first time since my perimenopause symptoms started in earnest, I felt normal. I remember this person! I like this person and I WANT HER BACK!

My first instinct, as soon as I realized a whole day went by without feeling crazy, was to catalogue everything I did in the past 48 hours to see if some little thing could be the magic cure. Yes, yesterday was an exceptional day spent wandering the property, gathering dandelions and self-heal for medicinal oils, and I did discover a crazy dark blue beetle in the yard called the American Oil Beetle that I researched and then dragged Tom outside to teach about. Maybe the freedom to wander and learn new things was the thing that made today, today. Or maybe it was the angle of light when I took Rabito for a walk this morning. Or maybe it was a convergence of energy. Who knows and who can know? If I put my hopes in something as a cure, I will only be disappointed when it doesn’t work. Perimenopause doesn’t seem to be anything curable, only endurable. And perhaps treatable.

To have a day like today gives me hope that I will not disappear during this hormonal potato sack race. I am still me, I’m still in there. I can get through this!

Note: I wrote this on Tuesday. Today is Thursday and I am so pleased to report that I continue to feel strong and positive and calm. Three days without crying or rage or paranoia! Hurrah, huzzah.