More Human than Human
I don’t understand it. I can’t explain it. But it happened. Out of the blue, during spring break (God forbid!) I found myself neck deep in depression. I would have drank myself out of my depression but I was too depressed to drink. I was too depressed to indulge in my teenage cure- all of Hostess cupcakes squished into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. I was too depressed to play Morrissey or Joy Division even though every music lover knows that according to laws of misery, two negatives equal a positive. Dousing depression with depressing music quenches the flames of misery leaving you dewy cheeked and swollen eyed but refreshed. I even tried burning out my depression with hot yoga. I vomited.
The brisket and sweet potatoes from lunch were gone. The depression remained. It clung to me like my sopping wet post hot yoga shorts and stank just as bad. So I just sat there…from Sunday to Friday. Like a dog hit by a car, I drug myself to the side of the road and waited to die.
Actually, I’m lying. I know exactly what sent me skidding off the road of sanity into a swamp of existential angst. I just don’t understand why. Spring break started off beautifully…Friday night, a couple of my husband’s potent negronis and I felt the burdens of life drift away in a Fellini-esque blur. Saturday morning I slapped on my bikini and headed to the beach for a day of delicious solitude. Nothing but me, the sand, the sun, a “venti” unsweetened black iced tea, Australian Gold Tanning Accelerator (my next blog will be about skin cancer), and Marjory StonemanDouglas’s The Everglades: River of Grass. Oh, and one other little thing…TEN TEENAGE GIRLS. That’s right…ten hormone infested, high waisted booty short wearin’, oh so freakin’ cute as pie seventeen year old girls. They had every intention of going to the beach alone but once again, to my daughter’s mortification, I had to be a fun sucker. She hasn’t had enough practice driving alone on the highway for me to feel comfortable so I did what any parent would do. I made her follow me. Like a female goose taking off for the great migration, I honked my horn once and we took flight towards Cocoa Beach. In my rear view mirror, I see two car loads of happy teenagers dancing while driving. Eating while driving. Waving to surf board bearing car loads of boys while driving. I can feel my hair turning grey and new wrinkles forming as I try to forget all the times I drove to the beach as a teen, one hand out the car window and the other around my “big gulp” while I steered with my thigh.
Now any parent or person held responsible for teenage girls might think that they were the cause of my own personal “great depression”. That’s not the case. They behaved beautifully and pretty much avoided me as much as possible. It was what happened at the end of our beach day that broke me. I had gathered all the troops by the life guard stand when my cell phone rang. It was my husband. I was expecting a request for an ETA to insure dinner plans but instead I got-
“Baby, I’m having a seizure…”
I’m an hour and a half away. I have mother’s relying on me to get our teens home safely and a husband that needs me. I will not be able to meet either responsibility. I call our nearest friends. No answer. I dialed another. I’m in luck. He is in his car headed to our house before he even hangs up the phone.
I turn to the teens.
“Listen, use the GPS. It’s easy to get home. Blow through the tolls. A ticket for not paying a toll is not the end of the world. And for God’s sake be careful. I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t worry Momma. We got this.”
I leave ten very sober teens standing on the beach looking as helpless as I feel.
I jump in my car and hit the gas, breaking every driving law that I hope my daughter is obeying.
Dan is resting on the couch when I get home. He is tired and the color of an overcast day. His opiate based “break-through” med did its job; the seizure was no fun but at least it didn’t escalate into a grand mal. Within an hour my daughter and the other little goslings came rushing into the house. Safe and triumphant. Our daughter brings Dan a glass of water and tells him to lie back down when he tries to get up to hug her.
Next time, I will let her drive to the beach alone.
As I sat with Dan that night I felt myself slipping. I had every reason to be happy; I was off work for an entire week, my husband was okay and my daughter was proving herself to be a responsible and caring young adult. But I wasn’t. I was miserable.
As I talked to my friends about it, some clarity finally settled over my monkey mind. Time after time they said things like, “Well of course you’re depressed sometimes! Duh, your husband has stage IV brain cancer! You live in a constant state of uncertainty! Your mail box vomits medical bills every time you open it! Quit being so mean to yourself! After all—
YOU ARE ONLY HUMAN.
Only human…only human! And therein lies the problem. I don’t expect myself to be just a human.
|Dan with his model of Rob Zombie
that he painted
I expect myself to be better…to be perfect or as Rob Zombie put it, “more human than human”. I expect myself to find the cure to brain cancer…to find the magic med combo that will stop my husband’s seizures…to prevent my kids from feeling this aching ever present fear and sorrow all while scrubbing the toilet and making chocolate chip cookies from scratch (Relax, I wash my hands).
I expect myself to always be positive. Strong. Fearless. And worst of all, happy.
And that, is straight up crazy talk.
But it took my friends and a good therapist to make me realize it. I still can’t explain why that particular seizure event sent me into such a spiral of misery, but guess what? Who gives a shit! It happened. It will happen again. And if I follow my therapist advice, it will happen every day for at least five minutes. Five minutes to cry. To feel sorry for myself and our kids. To curse the universe. To mourn. And then I’ll get back up, blow my nose, crank some White Zombie and get out a mountain of chocolate chips…I’ve got some baking to do!