In a public restroom, before I open a stall door, I press really lightly to make sure that I don’t walk in on somebody who forgot to lock the door.
While I’m driving, I keep both hands on the wheel at all times, and I look in my rearview windows obsessively.
When my husband leaves to go to the store to buy bananas and milk, I imagine the doorbell ringing and a police officer arriving to tell me my husband is dead.
When we have a date night, I check my phone every 2 minutes, convinced I’ll see a text from the babysitter that something awful has happened.
When I daydream about retirement, and traveling, and grandkids, I’m scared I won’t be alive to experience it.
Someone tagged me in this photo recently (I’m the one on the left). It was taken when I was 21. I spent 3 summers of college in the middle-of-nowhere Minnesota as a camp counselor at French Camp. Yep, you read that right. I am (well, was at this point) fluent in French, and I used to be a middle school French teacher.
In the months following my twins dying, I didn’t ever think I would laugh again. When I did find something funny, there would be a little twang of guilt, a reminder that my babies were dead and I shouldn’t be laughing.
Of course, I do laugh now. Life is full of joy and hope for me. But … and this is a BIG but, (see what I did there?) I am actually not sure if I will feel the way I did in this picture ever again.
I think it’s important to note that there was pain in my heart when this photo was taken, too. My parents were divorcing, 3 of my grandparents had all died within months of each other, I had just been dumped.
I don’t remember this exact moment. But there is this carefree joy on my face that I barely recognize. I’ve spent years telling myself that it’s ok to be broken. That broken doesn’t mean ruined, or that I’m unloveable. That a lot of us are broken, and we’re making it through.
But, the truth is, sometimes I truly doubt that. Sometimes I feel like I do such a good job of faking it that people forget that I’m broken. There is this big battle that I am fighting every day. I know some people think I’m a flake. That I say “Yes, let’s do that!” but I don’t really mean it, and that I cancel social engagements because I’m lazy or because I don’t care. It’s so far from the truth. It’s just that a lot of times plans sound great until it gets close and then I kind of panic.
This is the new me. This is the me AFTER.
If you can believe it, my anxiety is 20 times better than it was just a few years ago. I found exercise, I found a small dose of anxiety medication that doesn’t make me fall asleep at 7:00 p.m. or feel like I can’t stop bouncing my knee. I write. I talk. I move.
But, I can’t stop myself from dreaming about a moment like the one above. I don’t drink alcohol. EVER. I mean, seriously, never. And people question me all the time about it (you’d think peer pressure would stop by the time you’re 36, but not so much). I have a variety of different answers that I give, but if I’m completely honest, I can’t handle that feeling of losing control. I am afraid of what that feeling of completely letting go will do to me. Will I continue to drink to search for that feeling?
I worry. Will I lose my friends because of my flaws? Will I be so broken that my husband will stop wanting to put up with me? Will my kids know that their mom isn’t totally normal?
I have a goal, and it is to get back to that feeling of pure, unwavering joy. A moment of laughter where I am not working about ANYTHING. Where I can trust that everyone is safe and cared for and I know that I have taken my life back from loss.
Will that day come? I’m not sure. But in the meantime, I’m meditating, and breathing, and moving, and laughing. My words help soothe my soul and my broken-ness is just one small piece of me. I am so much more!
So are you. ❤ ❤