My brother and darling wife, and their two little angel-babies recently came to California for a visit from out of state.
They went back home, and we, their California family and close friends, were left with warmth, and love, and gratitude for the precious memories we were able to drink in and store.
Seeing their little family took me back. I kept having flashbacks, as I observed them, from a time in my own life that seems like just yesterday, but was actually 17 years ago. Tessa was 3, and Adam was a baby.
This is when my fight with depression began.
I was completely overwhelmed. Mothering Tessa was just as easy and rewarding as I read it could be, when you learn and apply all of the "right" ways to parent a child. I was a little arrogant, when I look back at myself. And I was knocked off my high horse when Adam came along, because it seemed like all of my playing pieces had been swept off my my game board.
My schedule was thrown off. My ability to tend to Tessa's need before she even knew she had one was nipped at the bud completely, and I was frustrated by being busy with Adam, when Tessa had a need that I couldn't meet. Or, vice versa.
I hated what happened to my house. With Tessa as an only child, every toy was put away when she'd nap. I had the energy to get housework done, meals planned and cooked, laundry folded and put away. But, when I had two to juggle, I started seeing things slack off.
Frustration. Feelings of being intensely overwhelmed. Self-loathing, for not measuring up to my own standards. These things became house guests. A very real part of my daily ordeal. Yet thankfully though, as unpleasant as they were, I'd find ways to get around my house in spite of them.
I'd read inspirational works. I'd take in the joy of my children, in spite of the overall flatness I otherwise felt within. I'd count my blessings. I'd enjoy the humor in life--I'd laugh a lot. Which, for many makes no sense, because we all too often picture the depressed person in bed, crying. Not always the case. Many times, we're up, laughing, talking, doing all that we can to shake ourselves out of the darkness that has seemed to have engulfed us.
We had moved to Omaha, Nebraska from our home state of California when I was pregnant with Adam. Coming from a close, connected family, and from a strong network of friends, I knew I would be lonely. So, I immediately put myself out there to the women of Nebraska, seeking out the female relationships I knew I needed.
Kelly, and Shelley (not related) were first, with their babies Ricky, Bailey, Jeremiah, and Cody. Jane, Ann, and Teresa were to follow, with all of their kids. I had my Ladies. My support. My sounding board. Back in the day when, if I wanted to call back home to my mom, sisters, grandma, aunt, or best California girlfriends, I'd have to pay $0.18 per minute. I created my support system, and without them, I know I would have never made it in a new state, so far away.
Through the years, I would find that I would be able to evict my depression, and function well, without medication. Then, something hormonally, or situationally* would set me back, and I'd see that the old inhabitants had returned.
For 17 years, I have battled depression. On again, off again, but always in the neighborhood, it seems. I'm really struggling this calendar year of 2012, and this time I'm completely thrown. I had somehow brought myself to understand that my struggles before were directly linked to things that weren't right under the surface of my family before. I lived under an umbrella of mental and Spiritual abuse, and control. It would make sense that depression would be a direct effect of such a way of life. But, my life is so different now. We are experiencing some real challenges, but they're normal life-challenges. Not as the result of a troubled marriage, like before.
Thankfully, I am recognizing the signs, and I am calling them out. I haven't felt the need to seek out medical assistance, but I won't hesitate, if either I or my family, see the need arise. If I had a bad cough, I'd take cough medicine.
The thing that is the most interesting to me, as I somewhat objectively observe myself going through this, is how I see myself doing the self-loathe thing all the time. I never feel like I measure up, I always assume that everyone is judging me for not being good enough, and I find that I actually get mad at the standards everyone sets for me. I wish that they'd just let me be, and accept me for who I am, and even see how hard I work at doing everything right. But the snag in all of this is this: I am the one who is doing all of the judging of me not being good enough. I am the one who sets the standards that can't be met. I'm the one who can't just accept myself for who I am.
For 17 years, now.
It all started when Adam was a baby, and I first proved to myself, and the world, that I wasn't nearly as perfect as I believed I was.
So, what am I saying?! That I really believe that I SUCK because I'm not Church Lady?!
What benefit could I possibly have from being perfect? How could my perfection ever be a benefit to my family? Or to the world, I so desperately want to impact?
HASN'T THE WORLD HAD ITS FILL OF PERFECT CHRISTIANS?
The paradox here is that I am loathing not being able to pull off being the very person I would never want to be in the first place.
Sometimes, it's the challenges of life, and even the bad things, that bring us to true greatness.
And when I say greatness, what I really mean is blissful imperfection. Walking alongside others, helping them to see the things that I am learning in this life: That life is a journey. And that it's rough at times. And that it's unpredictable. And that it's in those times when we get out of the way of ourselves, and we let God do whatever He will with us in all of our messiness, that we get to see real meaning in life. Because, it's only in those times that most people could stand being with us Christians in the first place. Imperfect. Not pointing fingers at anyone. Not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Because, when it's all said and done,...ha! I can't think of a catchy ending. Because as imperfect as I am as a mother, I'm just as imperfect as a writer. There.
* situationally. I don't think it's a word, but I sure say it a lot.