After finishing the cookies I posted this picture of them on Facebook:
They came out well. And my friends were kind and complimentary with their comments. And I deflected. Z was ready to wring my neck (sadly, he is in a near constant state of wanting to wring my neck. I’m hard to live with). He asked why I was going to post what was clearly a cool thing if I was just going to shoot down what people said. He said it seemed like I was fishing for even more compliments.
How to explain that I’m really not fishing? If I felt bad about the cookies, why did I post a picture?
It’s more like I felt bad about myself. Intellectually I know I can make cool cookies. Someone paid me to do it for years. It’s not because I have some amazing artistic talent, anyone who has worked in a bakery will tell you decorating is just a skill like any other. I expected the cookies to look fine, if they didn’t it would be pretty humiliating because I once made my living doing it. The problem is that there is a mean voice in my head when I’m not doing well emotionally that says nothing I do could possibly be worth anything. I’m a fraud, a joke, an object of pity. And this week the voice has been unrelenting.
When I stop doing well after a good long stretch of decent mental health it really feels like a kick to the stomach. I don’t want this. I don’t want to hate myself. I don’t want to NEED my chill pills this frequently. But I’ve stopped coping. This past week was just too hard. The cookies, attending the SU Fashion Show, attending the fundraiser for T’s school. It was too much putting myself out there to handle comfortably. I got the cookies turned in on time on Thursday, but then I spent the boys nap time tearing apart my closet in search for something to wear to the fashion show that night. It was like I was 16. I tried on everything I owned and I felt gross and old in what I settled on. It was the best I could do. I even tried to do my hair and makeup. The whole time I was there I felt like people must be sneaking looks at Z’s wife and feeling terribly sorry for him. I have never felt so 35, I had the thought that the days were over in which someone would mistake me for being in my 20s.
It was the same thing getting dressed for the fundraiser. I felt like I was back in high school and dressed as such, right down to my Lloyd Dobler t-shirt. What? You don’t have a Lloyd Dobler t-shirt? And you call yourself a member of Gen X! Shame on you! At the last minute I realized trying to relive my teen years was a huge mistake and I put on a sensible shirt. And felt old and gross and uncomfortable in my skin. The funny thing is I mentioned to T’s teacher that we were thinking about having a third, but we felt like we needed to do it sooner rather than later being I was 35. She looked surprised and told me she thought I was in my 20s. And here’s the thing folks. It should have made me feel better. Especially because of the thought I’d had the previous evening. She was being complimentary and kind. Earlier in the conversation she told me she thought I was a good mother. But the evil little voice in my head is so loud that I was sure she thought I was in my 20s because I was so immature and such a bad mom. It’s so twisted and fucked up. SHE TOLD ME SHE THOUGHT I WAS A GOOD MOM! And I couldn’t hear it. I convinced myself she was saying the opposite.
The good news is I recognize all this nonsense. That was not the case during the great breakdown of the early aughts. I just believed everything the evil voice said and didn’t think there was anything crazy about it. So progress. But. But, that stupid fucking evil bitch of a voice has thrown off my equilibrium. It has me running scared. This morning I had to go to the grocery store and my throat closed up, I was gasping for air, trying to breathe past the huge lump in my throat. I was scared to pull out of my driveway. I was scared to put myself out into the world where I knew something terrible was going to happen. This week I witnessed two car accidents (fender benders, both) and it’s made me convinced that I’m next. But maybe it won’t be a fender bender. And my boys could be in the car. How can I risk leaving the house? How can I expose them to that danger? I did swallow the fear and make it to the store. But I am in bad shape. I’m scared. Because it’s going to continue to be a challenging few weeks. T’s last day of school is Tuesday. Z is in NYC from Wednesday morning to Saturday. The boys and I are getting on a plane the following Wednesday.
I am pissed this is all so hard for me. I’m embarrassed that there are a kabillion moms out there who can handle all this stuff without relying on pills and therapy, moms who can leave their homes with no problem. I’m ashamed of myself. For so many reasons. For remembering that I care what I look like. Having to dress up does that to me. Most days I put no effort in my appearance, it’s a great excuse. I look like shit? Well, fuck you, it’s not like I tried or anything. But when I do try, if that is the best I can do and I still look like shit, well, that is humiliating. I’m ashamed that a week of normal events can complete undo me. I’m ashamed that it is so hard when Z travels, that I want a fucking break.
Z went to NYC overnight last weekend. His work event was 2 hours. So he got to go to several museums, he got his hat steamed at the place he’s been buying hats for 15 years, he got to meet up with friends. And I’m ashamed to say I sat here in Syracuse green with envy. I want to have some fun. And he isn’t standing in my way, hell, he encourages me. It’s the god damned voice in my head. It’s the fear of leaving the house. It’s the worry that no one wants to see me anyway, I’m too much of a downer.
Friends. I am struggling right now. I’m in a bad place. Anyone want to come hang out in Syracuse while Z is in NY? I know, I know I’m really selling hanging out with me. But I’m going to keep trying. The best fucking thing that has ever happened to me is those sons of mine. I need to get better for them. I need to be a good example for them. The deserve more than I am, I will never live up to what they need, but god damn it, I will still try.