Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Eaten By the Black Dog, and Spit Out Again - It Was a Very Merry Christmas

I should have known when I started drinking coffee at 5 pm just so I could stay up through dinners. I should have known when my low back started aching and all I wanted to do was lay down. I should've known when, as soon as the beasts' dad picked them up, I rose from my bed where I lay exhausted, got in the car, bought a pack of cigarettes, and then continued on to a fast food joint. I should have know when, on Christmas Eve, I could not motivate myself to shower, even though it had definitely been 2 days, and possibly 3. It should have become apparent while I was laying in bed as my mom took my kids to go to see the Christmas Pageant because I just could not get it together to leave the house.

It was when I forced myself in the shower, for the sake of my sweet beasts' Christmas joy, that I realized that I was being eaten by the black dog. Standing in the shower on Christmas Eve trying to decide how I could get by with wearing leggings, a huge sweatshirt, and my Uggs to dinner without anyone noticing it wasn't festive attire, I finally admitted to myself that I was in the the throws of the holiday blues.

I fucking hate the blues. Especially on a day where people really want you to be happy, and you know in your bones you have so much to be grateful for. The blues truly bite when you have a blog post in progress about how great you're doing and all the progress you've made, and how everything is peace, peace, joy, joy, good mothering and self-care. Winston-Churchill called it the Black Dog. When I was in my 20's I knew it was here when I found myself on the couch endlessly watching Howard Stern. My dad would say to me then, "Black Dog breathing down your neck?" and I would say, "Yes," and burrow deeper into my little pea pod of blankets on the couch. I haven't been depressed like that in years.

I really only had The Black Puppy on Christmas Eve, but it had been nipping at my heels for days and I refused to listen to it. I did not want to feel like shit on Christmas. My kids were so excited. My mom and her boyfriend were coming for dinner. I did not have time for that black canine's bullshit. I did not have the energy to disappoint my beasts. Disappointing children takes a lot of energy. Though I'm sure the beasts knew something was up when earlier that day I had said, "I wish Christmas was just two days in your pajamas."

On Christmas Eve I got out of the shower. I put on my makeup and picked out decent clothes, hoping with each movement that something would shake that puppy who had a grip on my joy. I tried some tricks, changing my perception, picking out fancy jewelry, conjuring thoughts of gratitude. Nope. That puppy's jaws were strong. He was locked on tight. Then I just admitted it. It's Christmas Eve and I'm lonely. I'm sad. I'm lonely right now at this moment. I feel like shit. I crawled back in my bed, and I cried a little bit. Then I did something different. I texted a friend (Exceptional Human Mama) and I admitted it: I'm lonely, and I miss you, please make time for me sometime soon. I reached out for help, then I got off my ass.

And I can tell you this was one of the best Christmases I've ever had.

It was real and it was sad, and it was joyful, and I was present. Soon after I got out of the shower my mom, her man, my beasts and I crawled into the car and took a tour of good Christmas lights. When I got in the car, I thought I would rather have all my pubes tweezed out, one-by-one by a Christmas Elf than sit in the back with my beasts and pretend to give a shit. On the ride my sweet as pie boy kept getting in my face and making weird noises, as 9 year old boys are wont to do, and I wanted to push him away and growl, "Get the hell out of my face." But I didn't. I pretended, and in that pretending The Black Puppy began to recede. Slowly my boy became all cute and funny to me. The lights we had headed out to see became ooo and ahhh worthy.

I had been dreading the after hours Santa preparation once the beasts were in bed, knowing that The Black Puppy would be back with a vengeance, but to my surprise that puppy rolled on his back and I stroked his belly as I set out my kids' gifts. I let myself be sad, and then I wasn't. I thought about how I wish things were different, and then again how perfect things are as they stand. I laughed to myself remembering Savior Single Mama calling me one Christmas Eve sobbing, "Can you please come over and help me put this fucking American Doll changing table together?" We bonded over the ridiculousness of that 2 a.m. project.

Being with my kids today, (even though they woke me up at 2:55 a.m., 4:30 a.m., and finally at 6:20 a.m. in their excitement), was perfect. It was full of my heart bursting with mad, mad, momma love for them.

As I was pulling into my mom's driveway for a Christmas Day lunch, all dolled up, and looking very presentable (though un-showered, that was just too much), the Dave Matthew's song Stay came on and I was awash in gratitude. I love that song. And when I started singing, I realized The Puppy was nowhere to be seen. His breath was no longer hot on my heels. I had survived. It really wasn't pretty. I ate my way through most of it, smoked my way through a lot of it, but I also just let this Christmas be what it was, and in that acceptance I found peace. Over the last 24-hours I kept reminding myself that The Black Puppy was only nipping in that moment, but he would tire soon, or become distracted by a squirrel, and that the sadness that he brought would not be my permanent state. I did not clog my tender heart with fear about my sadness. I did not add more bricks to my wall, and that gave my heart room to hold both sadness and joy. Like a lava lamp, my heart circulated this oil and water mix of love and loneliness for 2 days. It was a beautiful dance.

Now I'm happily curled up on my couch in my leggings and big sweatshirt. Neither lonely, nor bursting with love. I'm just writing. Being. Letting life continue on, as it always does, until it doesn't. Merry Christmas. This year, I tamed a puppy.

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