Monday, November 24, 2008

Whirlwind Weekend

Had lunch at Jean-Georges. Spent two hours there. It was like being in a spa. Perfect meal, perfect seating, and the company of an old friend.

Spent the next hour and three-quarters at St. Thomas's church on 5th avenue listening to an organ concert. I'm not into 20th century stuff, but it was beautiful in there.

Spent another hour drinking whisky at The Bar at the Four Seasons, warming up.

Spent the remainder of the evening at City Center, watching the semi-concert performance of On the Town. Absolute bliss. Produced with honor and respect and true love for the original production, the music, and the choreography. As long as Andrea Martin wasn't onstage, I was reminded of everything I used to love about Musical Theatre. Also, with a sweet pain, how much I still love New York, and always will.

Caught the 10:56 train back to Tarrytown, and as I rode over the bridge in my husband's car, I chatted endlessly about the incredible dancing sailors who seemed to fly with the energy of eternal youth, the heavenly butternut squash soup whose bowl I wished I'd never reach the bottom of, the architecture of the Four Seasons that puts you in mind of a cathedral, the beautiful dancing girls with their tasteful, kneelength 40's style dresses and t-stap character shoes, the 95-year old pipe organ in a real cathedral, the carvings and statues over the altar, how incredibly cold it was outside, how strangely healthy it feels when a single malt creeps down through your belly, warming your knees and toes...

Fell asleep at midnight. Didn't wake up until 9. A full night's sleep. Thank you Macallan.

Spent Sunday doing domestic chores, drinking tea and shopping for a new car online.

This morning, Monday, I feel ok. Only three days this week and then I'll be in Boston with the in-laws for a scrumptious Thanksgiving. And of course our Annual movie the day after. We're going to see Quantum of Solace. Wouldn't it be great if there was a new Bond Film every Thanksgiving?

When I get back, I'm having oral surgery December 1. Should be simple. Still scary.

Still playing phone tag with the shrink. Maybe in December I'll get to actually meet him.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Maybe This Time?

I was always a moody kid. I was easily hurt and cried a lot.

For a couple of years in high school, I threw up anything I ate before school. I discussed it with some people and concluded it was a "nervous stomach." In reality, I wouldn't have eaten anything at all, ever, if I hadn't been so afraid of my parents throwing me in some treatment facility. I stayed healthy for fear of what would happen to me if I didn't. How's that for backward logic? Whatever works, I suppose.

In college, if I didn't have a class, I could stay in my dorm room for days on end, sometimes without eating. Nobody around to stop me anymore. I could be as self-destructive as I liked.

Funny how I never got into punk music. Those kids were into suicide though, and I never went that far. At least, they sang about suicide and death all the time. Maybe it was pretense. I was into Broadway and pop music, all about empowerment and fun and true love. That was my pretense.

At the end of Streetcar Named Desire, when Blanche is taken away by the people in white coats, Stella cries in Stanley's arms. I always imagined her knees buckling as she did this, and Stanley holding her up by hugging her against his chest. As she cries, Stanley says "Now now love, now love..." As though there hadn't been before. As though they had been waiting for it, all this time. Tennessee Williams describes her sobbing as "luxurious." As though she finally is allowed the luxury of collapse.

Everyone always said I should have played Blanche, but I would have made a great Stella.

I don't like being around people who cry all the time, who insist on being the center of attention all the time, who need to be felt sorry for, who wallow in their victimhood. I can't stand it. Go home, I want to tell them, go home to your apartment and cry there. Go to your therapist, your Mom or your ex-boyfriend or whoever your issue is with, but NOT HERE.

I mean, that's what I did.

Ever since Dwight Whats-his-name in college told me that I didn't seem to be trying very hard to get over my breakup with that fat kid... can't remember his name either. It was a stupid, reckless relationship that ended badly. And I cried a lot, not over the loss of it, but mostly just for feeling stupid and foolish and lost. And I was out with Sue and Dwight, and I was mopey all day, and probably talking about it a lot. And at some point Dwight made some comment about me not wanting to get past it. "Are you crazy?" I said, "Of course I want to feel better!" "Well, you don't seem to be trying very hard," he said.

So ever since that day in 1992, I've been hiding my grief, hiding my tears, at least, trying to hide the worst of it. Oh, don't get me wrong, I do talk freely about my problems, and when something happens, I do cry on the shoulders of friends. But not for very long. I make sure I don't pollute the atmosphere any longer than I think is socially acceptable. It's only fair to others. And, for my part, it keeps me from becoming emotionally self-destructive.

All that changes when you get married.

Now, all of a sudden, there's someone CONSTANTLY there. My living space will ALWAYS have another person in it, the SAME person, for the rest of my life. Where am I going to go now? I don't have that Depression Room anymore, where I can just hole up for days on end in that state of pseudo-death. In he comes, and he sees me, and he's concerned. And sometimes he's worried, almost scared. And other times, especially after a certain amount of time has passed, he's irritated, frustrated, downright pissed off. Not again... I see it in his face. The same look my father would get after dealing with my mother, a sort of sad resignation, and a profound tiredness.

It's hard to make a life with a depressive.

It's never easy to be depressed, but some circumstances make it easier to deal with. Living alone, I don't have to worry about polluting anyone's home but my own. Maintaining short-term relationships means nobody has to deal with too much of my fallout. Living in New York City, there are endless distractions and cover-ups, even in daylight. I had a nice bag of tricks, and life didn't suck.

But move to the suburbs, to a town that rolls up its streets at 9pm, and share a one-bedroom apartment with the same person for three years? With the knowledge that this person will be there for the rest of your life?

When my mother was 37 years old, I was 11. It was a terrible, terrible year for me. I was awkward and gangly, and full of yearnings. I was a total dork at school. I had crushes on boys. I liked school but hated the kids who picked on me mercilessly in the cruel way that children do. I kept amazing journals full of adolescent fantasies and passions. And my mother screamed and yelled at me all the time.

Things only got worse between my Mom and I. by the time I was 14, I was so sick of being afraid of her that I finally told her I didn't love her anymore. And I meant it too. Of course I realized after awhile that I did love her, and that I always did, but that it was hard to define my feelings for her. She made my life hell, but she was my mother, and there were times when she was wonderful. It was complicated, and I was just too young.

I'm not sure when she started the Prozac, but she has been a different person ever since, and our relationship has improved. It's incredible how we've talked about everything we did to each other, and worked it all through. I've released most of my resentment (hey, there was a lot). But it took a very, very long time. And for me, the damage is done. I still react strangely to things, as a result of how I grew up. I still have an inordinate inability to trust. I have become incredibly private in certain ways.

Sayeth the blogger, haha. I'm so far from Emily Gould, I have like 5, 6 readers, and the New York Times is NOT calling. Blah blah blah. The internet is a crowd of thousands - easy to be invisible.

So this post is about how my Mom was violently depressive when I was growing up, and for all of my adult life, I've been self-destructively depressive. And now, I want to have children. And I want my husband to be HAPPY married to me.

So maybe this time, it's time to do something differently.

I had a good, long talk with my OB/GYN last Thursday morning. I don't know how it happened. Well, maybe I do - she commented on my very short hair. "I'm having an identity crisis," I joked. "Really?" she asked. "Why is that?" And I sort of froze. No snappy comeback. I mumbled something about my job. And we were off.

I couldn't help but shed a tear or two. Not enough to run my mascara. But I was talking so much about how unfulfilled I am. It was ridiculous, it was embarrassing, hearing myself say those things. "I never expected being married to make me happy," I said. "A husband, no matter how great, will never bring about inner fulfillment for me. That's going to have to come from something else."

We talked so long, I began to feel guilty for keeping her from her other patients. "I'm sorry," I said, "This is not why I came here today!" "You need to talk," she said simply. "You're clearly depressed."

A brilliant psychologist once told me that my depression wasn't from a chemical imbalance, it was from having shitty situations in my life. My grandmothers were dying. I was divorcing. I had a shitty roommate. My best friend moved back to Korea. My job sucked ass. I had PLENTY of reasons to be depressed! SSRI's would do nothing for that. I felt so empowered by this realization. It led me to do a lot of things differently. For awhile, I led a very rich life.

Then I moved to Nyack.

I hate it here.

No. I'm off track. Get back.

My doctor said, "I hear you saying things like 'there's no point in trying,' and 'I don't believe anything's ever going to get any better...'"

I buried my face in my hands. "Oh god," I said, "Listen to myself. You're so right. I'm saying all the classic depressive lines." I stared at my feet.

I told my OB that story, about how the cure for my depression lay in changing my life so that I had good friends, good activities, a job I felt great about doing, etc. I did those things. I let go of some toxic friendships, I took part in a women's spirituality group, I went to massage school.

I'm still miserable. I'm not singing, and everything else is just whiskey.

I have to accept that this dream of mine is dead. It's over, and I have to let it go. I'm married now, and my body is SCREAMING to have a child. I'm not going to be a nightclub singer. I'm going to be a Mom.

I don't want to be a Mom like my Mom was. Like my aunt Delores was. I don't want my family to be poisoned by the resentment that seeps through my pores. I don't want my children to take second place in my life, behind my obsession with my failed dream. I don't want my husband to become my punching bag, like my dad did for my Mom. I don't want to drive everyone away. I don't want my kids' friends to feel sorry for them, like my friends felt sorry for me, for having a crazy mom.

What would my adolescence have been like if my Mom had started SSRI's when I was eleven?

My doctor and I discussed Zoloft. "I could write you a prescription, but I don't know how appropriate that would be," she said. "I don't think I'm ready for that yet," I said. I want to keep trying external things first.

Singing isn't the first love I've had to let go. It's not the first obsession that threatened to wreck my future. It's not the first time a vision of who I wanted to be has driven me to drink. I've been in this hole before. I got out of it last time.

I asked my husband if our health insurance came with an EAP. He asked what I was looking for. "A psychiatrist," I said. So he goes on the computer and gets me all this information. It's a good plan. We're covered for a lot of visits.

He made a funny face. "I think you said you wanted a psychiatrist, as opposed to a psychologist?" He asked me. "Yeah," I said. "I'm not totally sure of the difference," he said. "Zoloft," I said.

It's scary, because I don't remember exactly how I got out of the hole before. I do remember it hurt like hell. Something in me died. But I did it, I got out. And then other parts of me sprang to life. And the dead part sloughed away. Life renews.

I tried an SSRI once before. It was a fascinating experience, and I learned alot about myself in those three months. I tried it for a very specific adjustment that I had to make. Once I made the adjustment, I stepped myself down off the meds. The side effects were AWFUL. I decided right then and there that I never wanted to be on any kind of med that was that difficult to get off of.

I know my Mom will have to be on Prozac for the rest of her life. But she's in her 60's!! I'm not even 40 yet!! I don't want to be on anything for the rest of my life - not starting NOW!

But... maybe my Mom should have been? And maybe, just maybe, I should open myself to the idea that this is the help I've been needing?

I want to do this for them. For my husband and children.

My doctor and I talked about how, with your serotonin levels balanced, you can better deal with life as it is. It puts you on a more even keel, so you can then assess your situation, make decisions, and take action. And that, THAT is what I want to do for me.

So maybe this time... nothing inside me needs to die. Maybe this time, I try the meds.

I'm calling a psychiatrist Monday morning, and we'll see what he has to say.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting in Line

Ever since the remake of Casino Royale, I have been completely under the spell of Daniel Craig. Like everyone else with a sex drive. Reading the New York Times article about him, I got goosebumps. I've always had a thing for blondes.


Baaa... baaa...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Practical to a Fault

I realized a little while ago that I was reluctant to call my Mom and talk to her because there may come a time when she'll be dead, and I won't be able to. I don't want to depend too much on having her there. Talk about backward logic.

I realized that this is also part of why I cultivate friendships. I'm hoping to have a support structure for when I lose my parents. Because my husband (and hopefully children) will not be enough. I will burn them out. I will need friends. I have around 200 cousins, but they have never been there for me when I was in need, at least not since I was too old for my parents to drop me off at someone's house for a week.

I'm not sure how long I have been emotionally preparing for my parent's death, but that's what I'm doing. Doing it now, while they are healthy. Sort of like starting an emergency savings account. I have one of those too, for my cat, in case she contracts some catastrophic illness, or the inevitable happens, something that I am choking up about simply writing it here.

Last summer I went through a three-month bout of depression. It was during this time that I realized I was preparing to lose my loved ones. However I don't think it's because I was depressed that I began to do this. I think I've been doing it for longer than I can quite put my finger on right now.

Being married has never been the answer to all my problems, especially this one. Granted it will help. G is great. But I know myself well enough to know how my grief can exhaust everyone around me. It's going to take a team.

So far I have several good, true friends who I believe I can count on. And believe, me, I know how lucky I am in this. Hopefully I won't need them for this particular circumstance for many years.

But it is comforting to know that today, they are there.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

November 5th, 2008

As I floated toward consciousness, the cat was meowing. "Shh," whispered G, petting the cat, letting me sleep just a little later. A morning like every other morning.

When I opened my eyes, G was flipping the blinds open. As the first dawn light glowed into the room, he looked at me and smiled.

"You're not saying anything," I grumbled. "That's bad."

"What?" G asked, leaning down for my good-morning hug and kiss.

"You're not telling me who won and that means it's bad..." I mumbled into his neck, grappling my arms around him, trying to suck his wide-awake perkiness through skin-to-skin contact, like a leech.

G chuckled. "I haven't looked yet. I don't know who won. But I have a feeling you will be pleased."

I grumbled something and slipped back into bed. G turned on the radio as he left, and some asinine comedy bit blared into the room. I cursed my uncooperative muscles, forcing me to lie there.

And then the news came on.

I was relieved... sort of. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be bounding out of bed, running into the halls and out into the street, like those people in Times Square last night. Instead, I just feel nervous. A sense of foreboding. Worry.

Is this how a mother feels when she sends her kid off to their first job?

Sitting at my desk this morning, I opened the New York Times Homepage. They are clearly thrilled. What sort of headline had they planned if McCain won?

Is the fighting really going to end?

More than anything, I feel trepidatious. I feel like I'm the one in the White House, like this is all my responsibility. Because it is. It's the responsibility of every American citizen to vote from the heart, to choose the person we believe will best care for our home. So Barack, my fellow Illinoisian, we're in this together. I may not have money to donate, but whatever I can do in my limited capacity to make this country a better place, I pledge to do my best. Just like I believe you will. May I give you a piece of advice that has always served me well?

Listen to others. Surround yourself with really, really smart people, and listen to them. You don't have to do EVERYTHING they say, but listen. Learn.

And into the breach we go.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Welcome Autumn!

It was actually a pretty crappy weekend. I made an incredible, mind-blowing SNAFU, which resulted in my going completely AWOL to something I had promised to attend. For most of the day Sunday, I felt absolutely horrible, that I had let down a bunch of people who I really wanted to help. It was an honest mistake, but a whopper. I was depressed and self-flagellating for hours.

And then I let it go.

Today, I am filled with goodwill, and this sort of low-level contentment. This deep, underlying calm, and a feeling that everything's going to be alright.

Ever since last August I have been ITCHING - literally - for autumn to come. My allergies (and anxieties) were worse this year than I can remember them being in a very long time. While everyone around me was cavorting about in shorts and sandals, desperately trying to make the most of the oppressive yet rapidly dissipating heat, lamenting the end of summer and the beginning of sweater season, I was counting the days and gritting my teeth with impatience. All I could think about was crisp, cool, breathable air, utterly devoid of pollen and stinging insects. I couldn't WAIT for the first freeze!

Ahhhh. I have now breathed freely through two gorgeous fall weekends, last weekend here in the Hudson Valley, and the weekend before in Massachusetts. The amazing vibrant colors in the trees, the sweet clear air... two weeks ago at our friend's house in Weymouth, I did cartwheels in the backyard. I almost sprained my wrist, but I did one whole revolution, feet over head. And a backbend. The grass was soft and slightly damp under my hands. The sun was warm and the air was cool and the breeze was chilly, making me feel alive. I felt safe.

Last weekend I made Tuscan Pumpkin White Bean Soup, a recipe from the Weight Watchers website. I found it to be a bit bland so I added several spices, and it came out savory and velvety. I froze several serving to bring to work. I've bought apples and pears and downloaded recipes for pies. Tonight I saw eggnogg at the store! Last Sunday, I went to Michael's and bought enough yarn to knit some holiday presents. I'm already planning to make cookies for the guys who run the auto body shop in our neighborhood. They take such great care of our cars, and are such nice guys, they deserve some cookies. G and I have already blocked out our calendars for the annual drive west to spend the holidays with my parents with a visit to his sister on the way. All these signs of fall, and preparation for the winter.

Mmmm, warm wool sweaters and socks and hot chocolate. After driving in all kinds of snow last year, even that doesn't phase me now.

Bring it on.