Stairs and Handrails

It’s late. My foster baby JUST gave into sleep for good… I think. Third time is a charm?

I was just brushing my teeth and popping some pimples when I started writing this in my head.

It’s 11:28. I should be heading to bed, but a face keeps popping up in my instagram feed.

A face of a mother.

I’m a mother.

Tonight I write because I want to bridge the gap of understanding. To the hundreds of thousands of people who see the headlines and think, “How could she? She had it all. She had success. She had a marriage. She had accomplished her dream. She had a child.”

A child. 13. So many formative years left. “How could she? Was her child not enough?”

In the throws of normal day to day and the charming moments I sneak with my babies where there is joy, laughter, sunshine, cuddles, giggles, tickling, watching them learn and grow and develop into the mystic creatures whom I am SO blessed to call my own… When my brain is functioning correctly…I agree. How could she? Abandon her child?!

I even ask myself this question as I attack the blackheads on my chin. So casually I say it… Especially because in a different way I know the pain, the loss, the tragedy of abandonment so harshly.

And while this child may one day, even today, understand that parents are people too. Broken people… abandoned and orphaned she will feel.

Now. The other side of me. The one who isn’t funny. Silly. Extroverted. Charming. Entertaining. Creative. Good. Giving. Loving. Quirky and functioning.

The other side of me breaks into pieces internally as my heart reaches out in solidarity… to a broken woman who is now gone by her own choice.

I get it.

Two days ago I got it. Two days ago my heart was pulled down into my stomach and I hid my face behind my hair. I crouched over as I forced my body to participate in my family’s daily schedule and needs. My hands performed their taught song in the rhythm of my family’s daily routine.

Moving and hitting the important notes of need as my mind sunk deeper and deeper into the throws of darkness.

I caught the gaze of my husband several times during the day as he looked at me with what I can only kin to the sorrowful, sorry and pity ridden faces you see at a funeral… yet I wasn’t dead… yet. Several times I caught him side glancing at me… knowing what was happening. He knows the cues. The body posture. The forced loving interactions with my kids who haven’t learned the signs yet.

Some. But not all.

Halfway through the day I sent out a message to my two fellow mental health warriors.

“Ladies. Today is a day I don’t want to be here.”

They knew. They knew I wasn’t talking about our sarcastic sneaky plan to leave our husbands at the same time and weave our way to the meet up spot in Italy. (It’s La’ Pieta by the way…. If you ever see a messy bunned blonde, a curly brunette and a thick banged redhead laughing hysterically as they stand in front of a statue of Mary holding a dead Jesus … reverent I know… that’s us. Just happy to have a moment where no one is touching us or asking us to wipe their butts or hands. But it’s our plan and we like it.)

They knew and within just a few seconds messy bun blonde had replied. “Ok. Lay it all out for us.”

Because Messy Bun knows. She knows more than anyone I have ever met. It’s like our brains were switched at birth… no that doesn’t make sense. It’s more like they were Siamese twins separated with a 72 hours long surgery, then adopted by separate families and no one told us we were one brain to begin with…. Probably attached by the frontal lobe because that’s where we both seem to struggle.

So. I’m here.

Here. Alive. Today. If anything to pass along this message.

The line between alive and suicide is thin and wobbly. Not a tightrope, but more like a slack line. Tightropes are fancy and people who walk those end up in the circus.

Slack liners are day to day people. Just normal average joes who wake up in the morning, throw up their slack line made of any sort of material and hope for the best.

We look like Moms. We look like Dads. We look like sisters and brothers. We look like sons and daughters. We look straight or gay. We look like veterans and soldiers. We look like cashiers and CEOs. We look like the lady next to us in the grocery line or that guy at work. We look like we are 12 or 97. We look like Kate Spade or Robin Williams. We look like a messy bunned blonde. A curly haired brunette. Or a thick banged redhead.

There were several points in the day where the urge to , “just not be here” made my children fade away. It made my marriage fade away. It made my family fade away. The brain can do tricky things and one of the things it can do is overpower what love feels like. It’s called disassociation. And all that is left to feel is the pain that resounds and echos in the empty room of our minds that just… wants… to rest.

It’s not a need for drama or attention, or an overwhelming anger, or a deep saddness we feel.

All we want to do is rest.

Rest.

There was no big miracle two days ago. I didn’t call some magic 1800 suicide prevention line. While those can help a few, those of us on this side of things are keenly aware that those hotlines are more about the people running them then actually us. The need to help and fix and heal. The gratification that if I sit and listen to a phone call or reply to a text using my “script” that was given to me… that’s just appeasing one’s need to feel like they’ve helped out in a big way. It’s easy and we don’t have to touch anything tainted because there is a phone line or satellite between us. Trust me. Some of us have called.

“Going for a walk in nature” isn’t going to suddenly want me to turn my frown upside down and make me feel like wanting to join a gym or make chocolate chip cookies for the old lady across the street just because… (DEEEEP, THIIICCCKKK sarcasm here people).

There is no big way. You know why I am sitting here typing this at midnight?

Because my tribe responded. They listened. A friend across the country and one across town just listened. They told me the understood. And they do. They REALLY do. They made themselves available. They expressed their love and addressed my core thoughts.

I’m here because my husband saw the signs and stepped up. He gently and lovingly made himself more available. He acknowledged my trigger. He took over more childcare. He kept me busy.

ALL THEY DID WAS BE AVAILABLE.

With their ears. Their typing fingers. Their hugging arms. Their actions. Their words.

They were available in the normal day to day.

This is where you come in. Because there was no magic fix. It’s just so simple it’s stupid.

There was simply a gentle, strong, solid consistent support from my tribe. In spite of ALL my failings. And they know my worst. And it really is bad. Like Breaking Bad bad….

In spite of knowing my worst, they know my good. And they stand by me to bring out more of that good.

Because supporting someone looks a whole lot less like a flashy circus with billboards and 1800 numbers and more like becoming the stairs and handrail that let people like me walk all over them and lean on them at the most inconvenient times during regular life.

I’m alive today and the thing I have to live with is knowing that one day my brain might win.

But maybe it won’t.

I’m going to keep fighting.

I’m going to keep writing and talking about my broken brain.

Until the day I go by choice or by nature, I’m going to keep preaching on behalf of my tribe of people with broken brains and hurts SO deep. You’re my people.

Because you never know if your simple interaction with the lady in the grocery line…or the compliment you gave that mother… or the donation to the Veteran’s fund… or the simple answering of a text message from a friend could be the thing that lights up their dark day just enough to make it that day.

And I will end with this. Even those who have chosen to end their lives by suicide probably have good tribes too. To those tribes. I beg of you to know how loved and appreciated you were. It’s wasn’t and is not your fault. Sometimes the brain can separate us so far from your love and make it so muddled your voices can’t be heard. They sound like words spoken underwater.

Sometimes we choose in an instant more like a compulsion and sometimes it’s planned; but either way… you were still loved. You were still loved. It never was about if your love is or was enough.

Just like my tribe tells me every day… I will tell you.

You are enough.

Signed-

Your Mental Health Mommy.

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