Friday, July 24, 2009


Has it been almost a month already? Oops.

OK, I promised an update on myself. Why it's so much easier for me to update on my family members instead mystifies me a little, but there you have it. Maybe it's because I don't want to assume you care about what's going on with me. But if you didn't, you wouldn't be here, right? So here goes.

I think I may end up doing this update in pieces. Otherwise, it won't get done. Let me start with some confessions.

(ed. insert--I didn't start this blog intending to be depressing, but it got that way. You may decide to disengage at this point. I promise lighter, and more newsworthy fare next time.)

1) I was diagnosed with depression after Cooper was born. Actually, it was 6 months of dramatic, guilt-ridden, heart-wrenching, body-slamming panic after Cooper was born. I thought it was post-partum at first, but as it turns out I've been depressed for as long as I remember. As I described to my psychologist my symptoms, including the constant fatigue and endless heaviness in my chest I've had most of my life, he diagnosed me with clinical depression.

2) I know I shouldn't be, but I'm still a bit ashamed by this. I know it's physical, and that the onset was not my fault, but there's still shame attached to it somehow, as if people are thinking, "Well, snap out of it." Anyone who knows any better knows that one cannot simply snap out of it, but I try my best to pretend I have. My deeply set desire to be an actress that snuck its way into my psyche at birth has proven useful.

3) I love and adore my kids, but there are many days I feel like I can't handle them. I've made so many mistakes raising them so far, and they're coming back to haunt me now. It's payback time in a big way. And feeling like I need a break makes me feel like a bad mother, and worse, a bad person--like I should be able to withstand anything they throw at me, because I got myself into this beautiful mess to begin with.

4) I never understand it when people say, "Wow, they grow so fast," like they are bamboo trees or something. What I wouldn't give for a little Miracle Gro most days. As I've verbalized far too often, and to much shock and disbelief, it feels more common than not for me to turn around and see them standing there and think, "Are you still here?" Believe it.

5) Even though I feel anvil-like guilt admitting the above, I'm still admitting it because I think it might help. Even though I picture your faceless images rolling your eyes at me, I'm putting it out there because I think it might ease my guilt somehow, like I can somehow say, "You don't like it? Tough." with less fear of judgment.

6) Some days are wonderful, uplifting, fulfilling, even indulgent. But they are the exception, and the amount of effort it takes to achieve them is overwhelming by day's end. Tom is home about 65% of the time. Many of those days he lets me sleep in, makes most of our meals, does most of our shopping, helps daily with the cooking and cleaning, and still I feel physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted and in need of a break. And that's when he's home. When he's not, most days I feel like I'm staring into an endless abyss of dirty dishes that will only get dirty again, smelly laundry that will only smell again, dusty floors that will only have to be swept again, and I feel hopeless and meaningless.

And yes, I feel guilty for feeling this way, like I've neglected the gene that makes me the good housewife I'm supposed to be. It's the same gene that leaves: shoe boxes of baby photos--95% of them of Jensen--unscrapbooked; stacks of papers in various forms of disarray in every corner of every room; Stillwater swimming in murky, oxygen-deprived water for days at a time; would-be scientific experiments shoved to the far recesses of the refigerator until I have no choice but to throw it out, container and all; and various undergarments in my drawer than have long since met their match.

7) I am obsessed with my weight. I mean obsessed. I could write an entire series of blogs on this subject, but I understand that's been done. I also confess that this one is harder for me to confess than anything depression-related (unless this is somehow depression-related). Maybe I attach more of a stigma to weight than any of you do, thereby causing my overblown and irrational fear of being thought of as overweight. And, of course, in admitting this pubicly, I'm risking that the next time you see me, all either of us will be thinking about is how I need to lose 30 pounds. But, in the interest of full disclosure, there it is. Maybe I'll delete this one.

8) On a related note, my metabolism is messed up for several reasons. My age and number of children are no excuse, because there are older mothers of greater numbers who are thinner and healthier. But I also have hypothyroidism; I'm on weight-gaining antidepressants, and as of late weight-gaining steroids; I can't seem to sleep regularly; and--I'm getting to the confession part--I've messed up my metabolism through years of pill-popping, starving, bingeing and purging. And I submit that the amount of shame that accompanies all of this is another contributing factor to my slow metabolism... but that's probably wishful thinking.

9) Up until very recently, I was nearly convinced I was incapable of feeling happiness. Since I was as young as I can remember--I'm talking a regular Sesame Street watcher--I have felt unworthy. Of anything. Anything good, anyway. I don't know where this feeling came from. I'm POSITIVE it had nothing to do with my parents. I believe in the atonement of Jesus Christ, and in the umbrella it provides, but it's as if I believe in it for everyone else. I know in my mind it applies to me, but I can't picture it. I'm not sulking, I'm not whining, I'm not complaining. It's all I've ever known; so I don't think I know what I'm missing.

But I do long for a sense of long-term happiness in my life. I certainly feel moments of joy and happiness--like when inspiration and timing come together and I'm able to create a song out of it; like when members of my high school cast defy my expectations to create inspired, moving performances; like when Jensen reveals some artistic creation designed just for me; or when Cooper reads to me or sings me lullabies at night (tonight it was "Grandfather Clock"). But I'm hoping for some long-range, steadying happiness in my soul that I hope others have, which existence I've doubted for too long. I know it exists. Now I just have to learn to trust that I can find it.

10) I confess, finally (for now, at least), to thinking that now that I'm in my early 40s, it might be time for me to start thinking about growing up. It is in this light that I make these confessions. I'm here today to admit to the things that make me me, even if that's a me you may not be impressed with. (And believe me, I'm barely scratching a very tarnished surface here.) And in admitting these things, as well as coming to terms with the person God made me, I actually think I'm on the way to finding that happiness I mentioned in my last confession. It's a long way off, but it doesn't seem impossible like it used to. Ironic that I might find said happiness by admitting everything that has, in the past, made me miserable. But I am who I am. I hate what I hate. I want what I want. And I love what--and whom--I love. And if I can accept that while all along trying to live my life making choices I believe are righteous, then maybe said happiness isn't as far off as I've thought.


Anonymous said...

I am always impressed with you Maria. Most especially probably today.

Love you!


Jocelyn Bell said...

I just need to echo Jill's comment.

I love you for everything that makes you .... YOU!! There are more of us in your boat than you think, so the guilt is something that we can all connect with. Your message brought me tears, but it also made me smile.
I love you and miss you!

Sarah M said...

I don't think this blog will make anyone roll their eyes in judgement, but will make anyone who reads this grateful that they know you that much better. At least that's what it did for me!

I think anyone who appears to be the perfect cookie cutter housewife who is never annoyed with their children simply hasn't written their blog yet.

P.S. I'm half tempted to fly to Ohio just so I can watch the finale of the Bachelorette with you!

Maria said...

haha Sarah! Wish we had Skype!

hayleyghoover said...

I too have spent my life--for as long as I can remember-- depressed, and feeling like I'm emotionally wired wrong.

Maria, keep in mind that you are an overwhelmingly positive influence in my life.

Sheila said...

I feel for you. I don't stand in judgment but somehow wish there was something I could say or do that would make it all better. I'm sure there isn't. That being said, you are not the only one I know that struggles with this (talk to Megan) and it always amazes how you and others I know in similar situations are able to reach out and make a difference in other people's lives. You may feel like you are faking a sunny disposition but by doing so you manage to genuinely make others feel good. That is not a bad thing.
There's a puzzle piece missing somewhere and I truly hope we can find it.
Many of the things you describe that make you feel guilty are things that I have experienced at one time or another but not on the long term like you. And when I look back I don't remember the misery, just how much fun I had raising kids and how happy they made me.
Keep on trying. Thorns in our sides are there for a reason. love, sheila