you, who are not me
i see your eyes. i see the way you carry the lunchboxes with overflowing arms. i see both your kids; the way one hides behind your legs and one bursts forward greeting everyone as family.
i knew it about you even before i knew all the details. as if i could smell it on you, passing between us with casual words of morning exchanges. even though i couldn’t put my finger on it, i knew it was there. it floated over our heads in the space between us and our children.
‘it’ is this thing that sometimes happens to people. people like you and me. and many many others. i see in your eyes all that you are doing, wanting to do, wishing to do more of, wondering which things you’re doing wrong. i see your eyes tired the morning after putting them to bed and needing space to zone and not think or go over pounds of paperwork. i see you only for a few moments at a time.
i wish i could tell you it will get easier. i wish you would believe me. many people told me it’d get easier and i heard their words, i read their words. but they went right through me like hot water through a coffee filter. they came out steaming on the other side before i could grab them and rub them into truth. believe me, i wanted to. i knew those words could shine. but one cannot will life into existence. everyone must go through this alone. at a time when what you need the most is to be anything but alone. i’ll never know why that is. but i think of it the same as i think of birth. no one can do this but you. and somehow on the other side, you realize the gift that was hiding in all those layers of pain.
you are in it now. in the thick of it, you see no one else but the two lovelies at your feet. one step infront of another, because laying down is simply not an option. i see it in you and it pains me because i was just there myself. somehow i came out, even though it’s still undone, i came out on the other side. now it’s just bumpy is all, now it’s just working out the kinks. now it’s just getting used to the new rhythm. now i hear my internal critic say “this is my life now and it’s okay.” now i really believe it. because it really is okay even though it’s not all good.
i know a bit about your fears. i know that anxiety is a black demon. quite real. it takes up residence in your mind, becoming your unwanted guest. it lives and thrives like a microscopic parasite: on one part truth, one part fear. no one can feel it there but you. and everyone is wondering why you look so sick and tired. it’s the parasite, it’s very real as it eats up your insides. anxiety becomes reality. i know this. i wish i could put my hand to your shoulder in the way that strangers sometimes do, i wish i could somehow transfer all of my mind into your heart. zap! then you’d know. then you’d believe. then i could somehow make it all better.
you’ll come through. but until then, try to find the light, it keeps the demons at bay. i keep your number in my pocket because i am obligated for safety. but also because i want to. i am momma bear and i hope to somehow share this weight. let me carry your burden while my shoulders are still strong. once i was anxious just like you. i know the thought of letting them out of your sight burns like bile at your throat. it’s the fear of the unknown. the worry of the unpredictable mind. and wishing a child’s love could conquer an adult’s anger. i hope that it will. maybe not now in the thick of this jungle. in the heat and humidity and lack of fresh air. but maybe someday the breeze will blow sweet for you again. but until then i want you to know that your kids are safe with me.