Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chemical Sunday

I feel so bereft some mornings when I open my eyes. Today is one of those days. I am thinking of Aunt Winnie across the way, bedridden but smiling like a happy child when I walk in the room. It touches me and breaks my heart at the same time. I am thinking of the way her face exploded into a million lights when my daughter told her about the college letters.

I am thinking of my mother telling me on the phone this week that she doesn't want to die in my brother's house, it would ruin it for her grandchildren. And then telling me that she is going home to St. Lucia for two months, she has business to take care of there.

One day, I left my office in the middle of the morning and took the elevator up two floors to the family counseling center that I saw listed on the elevator directory. For weeks, whenever someone gets into the elevator and presses that floor, I ask them do they have counselors up there; do they do individual therapy? Finally, I went up there and made an appointment. The next day I cancelled it. Too close to the job. I know I need help. I miss Saint Eleta, but she is in another city, retired and approaching eighty now. I need a place I can go and process everything so I don't burn myself up in a conflagration of hollowing out pain. Since these feelings are at mostly odds with the external realities of my life, I can only assume they are chemical.

I wish I were the kind of mother who knew what to do to mark a daughter's eighteenth birthday. I feel useless and lacking in imagination. There are such swathes of emptiness everywhere, or is it inside me? 

Don't worry, children. These tides will pass.


  1. I'm glad you took the trip up there and made an appointment. Nothing chemical about your reaction to your mother's phone talk though. Maybe you should go visit her, help her move, spend some time together?

  2. Kristin, I didn't make the appointment in the end. Or I did, but then cancelled it. It felt too close to where i work.

  3. Oh, Angella. I so understand. I hope you find what you need soon. Hugs.

  4. I don't know, Angella, maybe having a counselor so close to your work would be a good thing. At the very least, it would be convenient. Convenient is easy, and easy is good.

    My mother says things like that too. I understand. Hugs from me, dear friend.

  5. Yes. Find someone who can let you sort if all out in a place where there is no judgement. It is a huge thing to have your children growing up and out. HUGE! And then, add to that your mother's aging and everything in your life is being turned upside down and your roles are being changed and redefined. Oh honey. Yes, it's chemical too- all of this happens just as our bodies decide to change from woman to crone. It's too much! Mother Nature is a cruel bitch and if you didn't need help during this time then I would suspect you of not being human or a thinking individual. I would suspect you of not being who you are.

  6. angella, i had a wonderful, wonderful woman who held me together as i got divorced, and throughout my move as I left the city--and a full year of phone support once i got here. if you want her name & contact, you know my e-mail. (the best therapist i ever had--and i've had quite a few...)


  7. I've been there, looking up therapists online, knowing I needed to talk to someone, but unable to commit - the idea of trying to explain it to a stranger, the certainty that they would prescribe something I've already tried - I just never did it. The cloud passed, the clouds still come and go, but not as dark and ominous and overbearing as they once did. I believe strongly that my depression and ennui and emptiness came from hormone fluctuations and maybe a dearth of seratonin. Who needs a therapist when they are so adept at self diagnosis?
    Anyway, I hope you find what you need, maybe the right person or friend to talk to, maybe the passage of time to normalize the chemicals in out brains that try to make us crazy.
    There is much to feel for you now, children on the cusp of adulthood, beloved elders knowing their time is short - sometimes I think numbness is a self preservation technique to keep the heart from breaking open.
    I wish for this to pass for you. I wish for you to find help through the clouds. I envision mine like Pigpens, from Charlie Brown, it feels like that some days. On others I can feel clean and fresh and new, but it's always a mystery to me in my late-midlife the why and the when.
    You will find the right way to celebrate your daughter's birthday. You will spend it with her and shower her with love, and that's the best way to mark the event. I'm awful at the lovely, crafty events, I never got that gene, but I admire those who did. Here's a link to a woman who got it and recently celebrated her daughter's 18th for some inspiration:
    My son turns 18 in a few months and I'm planning to put together a DVD of photos and videos so he will always be able to see how much he is loved, and how happy and magical his childhood has been, for all of us.
    Wishing you to wake up to sunshine and spring's beauty tomorrow. Hugs.

  8. Angella, I vote with the "close is convenient" school of thought, or the phone therapist. The less difficult it is - and it is difficult enough - the more likely we are to keep going.

    Your daughter will experience so much delight at simply turning 18 - a grown-up, by some definitions - and all the excitement which I'm sure is already being arranged by family and friends. My first thought with everything you are going through is to keep it simple. Seeing to your needs first right now is a long-term gift for all who love you. I wish you well; I know this walk. xo

  9. Hi Angella,

    I agree with you, can't have your therapist in the same building as your work. However, good for you for realizing you need a helping hand right now.

    As for your mother, I experienced that with my grandmother for the last ten years of her life. I think it's almost healthy for them. They're preparing themselves, their close ones. Of course you're afraid, but it doesn't mean that she's ready or leaving yet. She's just thinking and preparing.

    And last but not least. Your daughter, at 18, is probably making her own plans. You're a great mother to her, sharing in her joy, creating memories for her, that's the best gift you could give her.

    Have a good evening.
    Miss A

  10. i am sending you a giant hug right now. sometimes that helps. you know what also helps? a nice, long warm bath with candlelight and calming music. sounds simple but it often works wonders. just to take your mind off things and shut your brain off for a while. also, must have wine :)

  11. Just tell your daughter that you've had the ultimate pleasure of loving her for a full 18 years. No daughter could ask for more than that!

  12. It will pass, and your daughter must know that you love her to the moon and back. How could she not? The way you write about her, the love and pride just seeps through the words. She knows!

    Have you tried a university mental health clinic? That's what I've done in the not only helps you but it helps the doctoral candidates there. I've found the atmosphere warmer, and more welcoming than a traditional therapist's office.

  13. Such thoughtful comments and profoundly good advice. i am humbled and grateful. thank you, each of you. i'm listening.

  14. oh, Angella.
    I wish we could meet for coffee tonight.

  15. Dear Angella,
    The hardest part for me was the first appointment - getting there (in every sense of the word - emotionally, physically). You will go when you think you're ready. Even just a month of sessions helped me immensely.
    I'm sending strength and love.

    As for the birthday! I know Le Pain quotidien has bread baking classes at certain times of the week. ?? your relationship with your daughter reminds me of mine with my mom - I would certainly want a day with you all to myself.

  16. I think you might reconsider making an appointment upstairs. The fact that it's close to work is a GOOD thing, isn't it? In any case, I can understand why you'd seek an ear at this time in your life. Hugs from across the pond!

  17. I, too, have recently started talking to someone about all the stuff that's going on in my head and in my life. I urge you to do so, too -- one thing that this person told me when I first arrived was that her office was a private place, a very private place. That has resonated with me for nearly two months. I hope you get your own private place to talk and sort things out.