Monday, November 26, 2007

Crazy For You

There's this great little bookstore that I like to visit from time to time. Its shelves are filled with all the unproduced screenplays and TV pilots and spec scripts and short stories I 've written, along with the partially completed novels, abandoned plots, outlines upon outlines and scribbled crap that should never ever see the light of day along with the wish list of works that I know I'll never get around to. Like this one called Crazy: A History of Bitches, Saints and Your Ex-Girlfriend. It's all about how women get slapped with the crazy label as casually as you'd call them blonde or a Gemini (also known to be crazy).
"Why did you break up with her?"
"She's crazy."
"Did you see Ellen break down on TV the other day?"
"Yeah, she's crazy."
"What did you think of Hilary in last night's debate?"
"Uh, crazy."
"That woman is breastfeeding her toddler."
"She's CRA-zeee!"
"Britney?"
"Crazy."
Ok, this one might actually be true.

I always bristle at this label because it's usually patently unfair, usually a projection on the observer's part, and just cruel. But then sometimes they are right.

This past week was spent doing my favorite things- traveling, eating and hanging out with family - and I am hardpressed to recall moments where I was actually enjoying myself. I was so tense, so sleep deprived, so miserable that it was hard just to get through the day. Of course, I didn't want anyone to know so I put on my happy face and tried to be normal. Even staring at the ocean was no longer peaceful. The waves seemed to be a pretty good indicator of my mental state - choppy, chaotic, and unceasing. In addition to no longer sleeping well at night, Harlow started screaming right about the time our meals would arrive at restaurants, so going out to eat felt more like a task to be endured than a pleasurable experience. I was already in a black mood when we left for our last dinner Saturday and finally I just couldn't handle it anymore. Harlow started shrieking, I started crying and there I was. The lingering stress of her broken leg, the attack and robbery at the store, the perpetual feelings of failure, illness, the traffic jam of unwritten stories in my head, the lack of sleep, the dark circles, the heinous diet and complete lack of exercise all added up to one big crazy lady sobbing at an Italian restaurant and stabbing at arugula with her fork. I've struggled with depression and low self-esteem before, but never have I felt so completely rock bottom, so completely pointless. It's difficult writing these words because I'm so painfully conscious of who will be reading them - my family who I have scared to death with all I've shared over the past few days, old friends who I've been shutting out by not returning calls for fear of revealing how messed up I feel, and new friends who I'd like to introduce to the old me, the confident, smart, pretty, interesting girl who I hope still exists under all this emotional bullshit.

And then there is my daughter. This is her baby book, my attempt at chronicling her first days, her milestones and triumphs, her defeats and her challenges. My hope is that one day she will be able to read these words and peer through a window at her new self, her new world, her new parents. And that's why I'm choosing to include this. I want to get back to the task at hand, which is being a mother and trying to be the best one that I can be for her. I'm tired of junking up this blog with sad, poor-me tales of woe when I really should be telling you about how when Harlow eats, she gleeks so impressively it's like the dancing water fountain in front of the Bellagio. How she is working on crawling and has blonde hair that dusts the tops of her ears and still has no teeth. There are many moments of the day when her light shines through the fog and suddenly I am me and better. But most often I am numb and sad and utterly joyless. I don't want to look back on her first year of life as sheer misery. So I'm making some changes, I'm taking some meds, I'm announcing to the world that currently I'm a little crazy but I'm working my way toward normal. As normal as being a mother can allow.

8 comments:

Kristy said...

There's no shame in being honest with the people who care about you! I'm glad that you feel ready to try some things to help yourself feel better.

Secret Agent Mom said...

Baby books that only contain the happy moments are crap. This is all real and all worth noting. Some other mama is going to read this and feel much less alone.

Stephanie said...

I felt joyless for many months after Connor was born. It's such a hard transition, from being "yourself" to being a mother. It can take some time to realize that those can be the same person, but they can and they will. Hang in there.

Chip said...

I know you've had a rough few months, but you're still plenty confident, smart and interesting-- and I don't even know the "old" you! (Sorry, I can't include the "pretty" or all the lady commenters above would be on my jock all fishing for compliments all the time and stuff.)

Stacey Greenberg said...

i wish i had blogged my first year of motherhood so i could look back and see how far i've come, but i'm kind of glad that the memories are a little fuzzy.

i think we can all relate to what you are going through. no need to put on a happy face for us!

i can only tell you that it does get better. i promise.

now, what on earth is chip's jock?

Anonymous said...

melissa,
i stumbled upon your blog somehow through mothersville or SAM or something (you know...late night, "why am i STILL on the @$#%#@& computer??!!" kind of thing). anyway, i could have written most of this post...and it's taken me FOREVA to finally start TALKING about it. we should hang out. seriously. you are REAL and NORMAL in addition to being all of the things you fear you've lost. anyhoo, i'll try to swing by the store on one of my days off soon so we can perhaps catch up...and who gives a SHAT if i've showered or not. ha! you are in my thoughts...and your baby is BEEUUTIFUL! oh, and our website is:

www.thematthews.typepad.com

and, for the record, i've succumbed to posting "happy" things for fear that, otherwise, i'd be dubbed crazy. screw em!

laura (odom) matthews : )

Melissa said...

Can I just tell you how much I adore all of you for being so commenty?

Ok, I'm telling you.

Darcy said...

I begged Grady today to just let me put him down long enough to blow dry my hair. I told him I needed to be Darcy for a minute, not just Mom. This is hard stuff even without the other trials you've gone through!

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