Stop me if you've heard this before, but when I'm avoiding my blog, it's usually for one reason and one reason only: I AM NOT OKAY. These past few weeks are no exception. I don't think I've ever been this not okay before and I'm long over due to talk about it.
Shortly after I clicked publish on that Super! Happy! Post! about the house and the kids and the Christmas tree and my lovely lover's ridiculous grin, I started to go rather swiftly downhill. I noticed, but tried to ignore the fact that I was suddenly feeling less happy and lots more annoyed.
I think ANGRY is the word I'm looking for here.
It took me a few days to really work up to it, but by that weekend I was basically a walking case of road rage. I have a vivid memory of scrubbing the bathroom floor that Saturday in a fit of murderous, blood-thirsty violence. Of course, since I wasn't exactly in my right mind, I directed all this anger at the easiest target in my life: Joel. How dare he be outside decorating for Christmas with Liza while I'm on my hands and knees cleaning the previous tenant's piss off the floor! (Not that I actually WANTED to be out there helping, mind you, but still.) How dare he insist that Alex clean the mess he made in the yard! How dare he sleep when I can't! How dare he BREATHE!
This was unpleasant, indeed, but it got a lot worse. I had somehow lost the ability to see anything good in my life. Forget the fact that Joel is the best person I have ever known or that I love the crap out of him, the only feeling I had inside me was anger. I finally understand the meaning of the term: BLIND RAGE. (Although only through the benefit of hindsight because at the time I thought it was all perfectly justified.)
By Monday night we were childless and I tried to convince myself that I was feeling better, but mostly I felt restless, like there are spiders crawling in my belly. We planned a nice dinner and drove out together to get the needed ingredients. Joel held my hand and we kissed while picking wine at Trader Joe's. I still didn't feel like myself.
Dinner was magnificent. The wine was perfect, but I drank it too fast and was instantly tipsy. Actually, if I'm being honest, I got drunk. And since I was feeling miserable and my inhibitions disappeared along with the last of the wine, the anger surged back with a vengeance and I unleashed it on Joel, who'd done nothing wrong except make me a damn fine dinner.
I sat there over my empty pasta bowl and berated the love of my life for I don't know how long. Until I ran out of steam. His only response was silence. Deafening, dreadful silence. Later, when he got up and went to bed without saying goodnight to me (which was perfectly reasonable given how badly I'd just hurt him), I totally lost my mind. I went crazy and slammed doors and told him "fuck you" and...
I slept in Genoa's bed that night. Although "sleep" isn't really the right word. It was more like eight hours of silent screaming in my own head. It took more than 24 hours for the fog of that rage to lift. Even then, it took Joel sitting me down the following night and telling me in great detail what I'd done and how it made him feel.
I didn't even remember most of it, which I'd love to attribute to the wine, but I'm a rather professional drinker and rarely ever lose my memory.
It was the rage. I had lost my rational mind to it.
Then, while Joel and I were talking about it, this thing happened to me, which at the time felt like the worst thing that had ever happened to me, but which will probably end up being one of the five greatest moments of my entire life:
I saw myself.
And what I saw was a woman who had completely lost control.
Which was a disturbingly vivid image given all the work I've been doing lately to reconcile my childhood crap. I grew up with a mother who was perfectly happy and congenial right up until the moment she wasn't. And when she WASN'T happy and congenial, she was emptying the dishwasher by throwing dishes at my older brother while I hid downstairs protecting my younger siblings from the shrapnel. She was throwing my Nintendo off the back balcony because I didn't come to the dinner table fast enough. She was screaming through the phone that if I went through with my gastric bypass surgery (against her wishes), "all of [my] children were going to be deformed!"
Or she was calling to tell me in explicit detail - on the same day when my blog readers had saved my life and kept my electricity on and paid my rent for a month - everything that was wrong with me and my little family.
So when I finally stepped back and saw myself, I saw my mother too and my mind blurred through a hundred memories of how I had acted exactly like her.
Because if I really think about it, I've done this all my life - gotten so angry that I was not even remotely in my right mind. I did it to Dave on a monthly basis throughout most of our marriage. (Although in his case the rage was justified. He'd earned every red drop of it.)
He does NOT deserve my rage. Not at all.
Neither do my CHILDREN.
Joel would never let anyone talk to me the way I talked to him that night. Because he loves me. And it was his love that allowed me to see myself for the first time. It was his love that made me believe him when he told me that I'm not okay. That I have a lot of work to do.
So I'm doing that work.
But oh my god, you guys, it is so much work.