You may not know it if you’ve met me, you may not have picked it at all. Because if nothing else ,I am an expert at wearing a mask. With the exception of one phenomenal breakdown at DPCon’12, I attend blogging events as the digital version of myself. I’m professional (if not punctual), smiling and friendly. I am almost at the point where I can have a conversation, a real one, with no awkward half beat pauses.
I’m getting better. I can attend functions, wrangle my children, mostly cover up my continual annoyance and agitation which is not really my babies fault but manifests itself in their direction anyway. I use my hands full of preschoolers as an excuse to leave early and when I arrive home I relish the silence and solidarity of my TinyTrainHouse.
As I’ve said, I’m just fine. It takes me by surprise when I see sympathy in people’s eyes, when I see my own tragedy reflected in their comprehension. Because I am fine.
I am drowning. I am nothing.
I am a facilitator for my children, for the running of our life. For paying the bills, cleaning the house, organizing daycare, play dates, bath times and stories. I do all that, and beneath it all runs a vein of “This is not good enough, that is not as good as they had in the Before, you are fucking this up.”
And I sigh and say to the voice in my mind “I know”, then I try not think about it too much and I go on with my day. Because I am doing the best I can and really, what else is there for it?
Occasional compliments from others inspire genuine surprise in me. Where once upon a time, on being told I was a good mother, the voice in my head would say “I think so, too…”, where now it just says “If only you knew…”
In fact, any compliment leaves me confused. Look at myself and I see someone dirty and stained, her only redeeming quality shrieking her truth for all to see because it serves to numb the bone drenching grief that rules her.
I expect people to murmur spoiled pity behind their hands, sorry for my circumstances but recognizing, if not verbalising, that of course that would happen to Lori, who else has such a screaming soul to cause it?
I expect to be left out, slightly apart and alone. I expect any man who comes near me will soon back away, as they see what’s underneath the cloak of ‘normal person’ I wear most days. I expect my children will resent me, the friends I have remaining stay only until their pity is exhausted, for death to touch me over and over, since it left me alone for twenty nine years and has some time to catch up on.
I know, I know– expect those things, and that is exactly what I’ll get. But it’s become so difficult not to. I know how blessed I am, with my children and my house, my mother and the close friends I have… and the blessing feels tremendous because, really, there’s a part of me that believes I don’t deserve any of it at all.
It’s so difficult to explain, and it’s an unfamiliar frustration for me, being unable to find the words I’m looking for to capture some errant emotion on screen… I smile and I cope, live my life with my socks pulled up, big girl panties on and a dedicated air of getting on with things…
But strip me down and you’d find my soul pared away, whittled to a thin strand of almost nothing at all. Hypnotize me, ping my subconscious; you’ll see a woman screaming, naked, alone and cold, with no expectation of being rescued, no hope. None at all. And what’s worse is, she expects nothing more… and she feels she deserves it.