Thursday, May 04, 2006

Poetry Thursday: You see, I want a lot

I’m holding a grudge against myself. I’m not exactly sure why, but I am deliberately depriving myself of things that bring me pleasure. Part of it is that I am tired of perpetually teetering on the edge of this depression. It’s tiresome and I am over it. If I am going to get good and depressed, I want it to HAPPEN, damn it. Enough with this emotional back and forth. I suppose it’s also because I don’t want to face the fact that none of the things that bring me pleasure work very well lately. Not reading (because the words seem stale and inert on the page). Not writing (because it reminds me that while everyone else is working on meaningful projects, this blog is all I have). Not going out (because there is no place I want to be). Not speaking with friends (because then I have to face the jealousy and anger that are eating me alive). I am so very angry with myself...I am not exactly sure why. That sense that Out There, people are living and laughing and enjoying their bouncing babies, while I sit here, furiously tallying every sour fact of my life.

It’s irrational. It’s going to ruin Madam’s life.

That’s why I write so much about my past, I’ve realized. Because I don’t want to think about the present--it’s so yawning and empty. And it shouldn’t be. Madam is a wonderful baby--crawling and laughing and babbling her nonsense wisely. So I turn the ornaments of my past over and over in my hands, searching for that one moment when it All Went to Hell. Trying to prevent the future I see so clearly, Cassandra-like.

The future in which Madam is just like her mother.

I’m not succeeding.

I want to figure myself out, grow the hell up before Madam is old enough to wonder why Mommy never really seems quite happy. Or worse, when she learns to assume that the low grade misery is the way that life is.

I claw and pull and strain to get out--I post pep talks and poems on this site. Participate in group activities, try to get out of my head by entering into all of yours. I try to get along.

Why isn’t any of it working?

So I stay away, punish myself for the crime of being me. Just wishing that I could unpeel from myself for a while--be released from this gray wet weight. I stay away because I want to be missed.

But I don’t think I will be.

I’m not even sure why I am posting this...why I am writing this. I’m not sure why I am bothering to post a poem for Poetry Thursday. There are so many poems out there already, attached to people who are deeper in their joy and their lives. This poem is the way I want to feel. Because right now, all I feel is bad. And I can't find a deeper message or lesson in that today.

I guess I’m afraid I’ll disappear.

You See I Want a Lot
by Rainer Marie Rilke
(translated by Robert Bly)

You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing,
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgements

But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.



Blogger Shari said...

Hang in there girl. Your post is very poignant. I read so much in there of what I was feeling about 2 or 2-1/2 years ago..when my girl was in her first year. I mourned and cried for the loss of the old me. Felt guilt for that. Looked back and wished I had more of that time. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my girl, but there was a transition time of becoming a mom, being a parent, having that responsibility that never stops, the sleeping with one ear always cocked. The constant vigil with the constant fatigue. I wasn't prepared for that. I don't know if this is what you feel, but that is what sent me into a loose spiral of underlying depression at that time.

This part won't last forever, and
I know you think the future looks bleak, but then miraculously things change. As they do. Keep doing the things that you know are a part of what you love to do. One day, it will sneak up on you, and you will realize that you do feel the joy again in the simple things you used to love. My heart is sending you some good vibrations so that you soon will see some rays of sunshine. You have not grown old yet!

4:12 PM, May 04, 2006  
Blogger Shari said...

I've just read some of your archives. Keep in mind, as Madam grows, you will evolve too. You might not like being a mother to a little one (sacrilege, right?) but you might just find that you adore being a mother to a 5-year-old or even a 13-year-old. Maybe when she is old enough to appreciate who you were before her, you will indeed bloom again. Until then, know that you are not alone, and I may be a new bloggie, but I know I would miss you!

5:12 PM, May 04, 2006  
Anonymous F said...

Hey babe,
I am so sorry you are having such a rough time lately. You have every right to feel the way you do, and I hope that you recognize that you're not alone.

Lately, I haven't felt like doing anything for myself either- I havent cleaned, I dont bother to get dressed up, I just simply don't care to. It makes me sad that I think that at this point in my life, anything I do to attmept myself feel better will all be shot to hell when something else goes wrong, so why bother?

Im not comparing your situation to mine, I know yours is infinitley worse. And I can only say that as I've followed your journey into motherhood, I've watched with awe at the selfless, infinitley giving, wonderful person that you are. And I've honestly found myself wishing at times that I could be more like you.

Things will change, but please don't lose that zeal for life, that passion that is so much a part of you. Allow yourself to work through it, to feel it, and then to overcome it. Please give yourself that time, that love. You take care of everyone else, please take some time to heal. And I'm always here to lend an ear. It really is a privilege to listen to you, to speak with you. It's one of the only things lately that heals me.

9:25 PM, May 04, 2006  
Anonymous beansprout said...

I read these words and i feeel like i could have written them (except not as eloquently!) I feel so much anger at myself. Feel the "low-grade misery" and can't grasp the meaning of it either. But, I come here, and I read your words, and I feel a certain tenderness, a need to protect you from the ripping and tearing that you do to yourself. Know this...I WOULD MISS YOU. please don't disappear...

9:56 PM, May 04, 2006  
Blogger Bohemian Girl said...

i am not quite sure what to say to sooth you but i wanted you to know that i am here.

that you are heard.

and that i think you are an amazing woman and mother for being so aware of your feelings and always striving to evolve.

1:31 AM, May 05, 2006  
Blogger Living Part Deux said...

Please take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. You are not alone today, and you are not alone in the continuum of life. I hear you and hear myself speaking many, many years ago, many years ago, and then last year. Grey comes in waves for me - and I think for others - but it is interspersed with sharp color and exuberance, or soft pastels and peace or at least comforting sepia. My greatest guilt, and it sounds like you drift there too, was that my baby, whom I had longed for forever, was not enough to make my life whole and complete. I still needed more for and from me. You are not ruining her life. If you relate honestly to her through the years, she will understand and accept the ebb and flow of a woman's heart and emotions.

Blessings on you and your sweet baby.

9:57 AM, May 05, 2006  
Blogger M said...

Hang in gorgeous! I like how Shari put it, that you will evolve as she grows older too. That sounds good. This too shall pass...big hugs!

10:59 AM, May 05, 2006  
Anonymous Jennifer (she said) said...

i have felt, at one point or another, so much of what you're feeling today and recently. when i was not a mother, dealing with my emotions and doubt was hard. as a mother, i have put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to "get it done" before my son notices anything. by "get it done" i mean heal, find a way to be happy, stop dealing with mood fluctuations and so on. guilt lives in this space too, whic doesn't help.

so what can i offer? support. an ear. as others have said, i can tell you that you aren't alone. i can tell you that at some point the need to protect my son from myself and my moods subsided. it was much more present during the first year, when i was trying to figure out who i was after becoming a mama.

as i write this i am fighting the urge to throw up my hands, curl into a ball, and just feel like crap. my feeling like crap is made up of so much - my mother and father, my partner, others who have come and gone in my life. i KNOW that i am in the middle of "all or nothing" thinking. if i feel bad now, everything must suck. i am also having a really hard time seeing the things that are working, or believing that one horrible fight is not an indication of what is to come. this goes for horrible moods too.

funny how i was feeling all in control of everything by the end of my therapy session and then wham! an event that triggered all of this hard stuff.

today my therapist said: you know that you get anxious. you get panicky. you react to situations from this place. you worry about what ifs. this is you. this is what you do. it's okay. visit. go there for a little bit, and then try something different.

so i say to you - visit. be with this. feel what you feel, and then do something that is really difficult, at least for me. stop visiting for a second and ask yourself what you have done or are doing well. as a writer, as a partner, as a mama. just pick one, or several. because i would bet anything that you are doing or have done more than you give yourself credit for. and just taking a minute to acknowledge this might make a world of diference.

in my case, what i know how to do well (self doubt, fear, etc.) isn't working, and i am trying to take baby steps, radical little baby steps, to change the way i think about myself and others. it's HARD here - it's hard where you are right now. i get that.


11:45 AM, May 05, 2006  
Blogger la vie en rose said...

i could have written this post....

and that's what i want to.

i'm not sure what else to say except i know, i know, i know...

11:48 AM, May 05, 2006  
Blogger Cate said...


Oh, I don't know what to say--anything I come up with seems trite. I feel your pain--feel like I've been there. It will get better, I believe, sort of like bad seasons that pass. I think it's hard, in the middle of them, however, to realize that.

Try, try to keep writing, to keep reading. Try to do new things (Sarah, at Ramblings of an Ever Hungry Mind is doing a really interesting new group thing where you learn new things each week--I would like to try that, feeling like I'm in a bit of a slump, myself). Try to rest and take care of yourself, too. Don't deny yourself the good stuff--you are a fine person and you deserve to feel happy!

The first couple of years with a baby are very rough, and I'm so admiring of your honesty in writing about your feelings--your words are making such a huge difference to so many people--I wish I'd had them (and YOU!) during the first years of each of my boys' lives! I felt angry and resentful much of the time, as though what I was getting wasn't what I signed up for! But there is no escape--is there?--and that, my friend, can feel overwhelming! You are not alone!

Know that I'm thinking of you! Many xo's!

1:20 PM, May 05, 2006  
Blogger andrea said...

Did you know you could experience post partum depression up to 2 years after having a baby?

I understand your stuggles with motherhood, I have even talked to you about these a few posts back but I can't help but wonder if you are suffering needlessly.

A dear friend suffered from ppd and talked to me about many of the same feelings you just shared. Once she got help (which was very hard for her to admit to and do) it was like night and day.

I really want you to enjoy these first few years with your baby. I don't want any regrets for you and I don't want you hating yourself.

Now, I will never mention this again. I just needed to, "throw it out there".

Hugs to you,

6:55 PM, May 05, 2006  
Blogger Susannah said...

I'm not a mother, but so much of what you've written i feel/felt/will feel again. The Black Dog is so debillitating, so crippling - that low-grade misery, then depression for good reason, or no reason at all, it's just a part of me... i just wanted to chime in with the other comments and say i *see* you, i *hear* you - you will not disappear. and Out There? we're all feeling the same as you - and doing the best we can. yes you're a mama now, but make sure you are a mama to YOU too - blogging is writing at its best as it connects us together and we hold out our hands with love and support.... here's my hand....

3:33 AM, May 06, 2006  
Blogger Laini said...

I have nothing wise to say and no experience to compare to what you're expressing, but I send you a hug and hope that you find your way to building a NEW life that you love that incorporates the new pieces like Madame, and some you haven't discovered yet. And I hope that you will continue to use writing as a tool, because you are such a gifted writer!

1:59 PM, May 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you ALL so much. I can't even begin to tell you how much your words have helped...just the reminder that this time won't last forever is a comfort. And that it's OK if I need more from my life than my daughter...and I need to stop feeling guilty about that (thank you Rebekah).And Jennifer, I tried that exercise about what I do well...and I realized that I'd rather do other things well, and I need to move away from this place of anger and resentment and anger (so angry I had to say it twice).

And Andrea...I have thought off and on that it might be a form of postpartum depression, but I've been resisting that idea with all of my being. I might need to just sit with that possibility for a while.

I just want to be a good mother, and find a way to be true to my own self in the process. And you have ALL helped me see that it is possible, even if I am depressed, even if it doesn't seem like it right now.

I'm getting all choked up. Just...thank you.

11:31 PM, May 06, 2006  

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