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Project Sunshine

The newborn phase sucks.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love Clover.  I love my whole little family.  But there is no denying this is hard.  As a matter of fact, there’s no denying that there is little happiness or rest these days.  There’s a lot of frustration and tantrums from a toddler and a baby yelling in my ear and vomiting in my hair.  There’s a lot of crying.  I feel like Gwenna doesn’t like me very much, like I’m losing her.  I’m convinced that Clover is dead every time I wake up and she’s not screaming to be fed, and even if she is, I’m terrified to look at her because she could be crying because of some lethal injury or strange newborn illness.  I feel like I’m failing at everything- mothering, being a wife, being a homemaker, being a woman, being a business owner, being a student.

Last night was the first time I slept 4 hours in a row in over 3 weeks.  My days alone with the kids consist of never changing out of a single half-outfit, nursing, getting vomited upon, and pleading with my two year old to do various things, like wear underwear.  I’ve been sicker than I have ever been in my adult life within the past few weeks, I have mystery symptoms that are getting worse, and yeah, let’s just sum it up with “health not so great.”

I feel like I’m in a debt of depression and happiness is thousands of dollars or days away.

Yes, I know some of this is extreme.  You don’t have to tell me to ask for help or to sleep when the baby sleeps (um, that is when? Exactly? Also, just let the toddler run amok?).  I know things are supposed to get better with time. But here is the thing: I have not given up on my dream of happily teaching Gwenna to decorate sugar cookies or doing holiday crafts while nursing Clover in the Moby wrap.

GAME PLAN!

I’m not stranger to the crazies.  Seriously, just ask anyone I’ve ever dated.  So!  I know that there are specific habits one can adopt to help themselves out of a hard place, if they’re not too far gone.  (Notice I’m not saying that if someone is depressed that it is all their fault and they should just DO something about it.  Um, no.)  I’m going to write out a few things I plan on doing, and to keep myself accountable, I’m going to track my progress here.

Want to join me?  Let’s map out a plan for our hearts, minds, and bodies.

Start by setting a small relationship goal.  It can be something to do with your husband, your children, your best friend- something that gets you connected with other people.  That’s for your heart.  Then set a small goal to do with positive thinking- prayers, affirmations, meditation, or whatever suits you.  That’s for your mind.  Then plan an activity you can do every single day to be active for a little bit.  That’s for your body.

Here’s what my game plan looks like:

Heart:  Half an hour of cuddles every day with husband, daughter dates every weekend (one parent with one daughter, the other takes the other daughter, alternate children every other week), call a family member once a week.

Mind:  Affirmations- I am strong, my heart is open, I can feel happiness, my life is beautiful, things are getting better every day.

Body:  Walk every morning with Clover in the Moby wrap.

I will see you tomorrow for check-in!

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For Brandi

On Sunday, I got the news that a friend of mine from high school had died.  No one knows for sure what happened.  If it was a complete accident, she obviously needed to escape some sort of pain, and the fact remains that she’s gone.

Brandi was part of my own extended family, being so close to my cousin/closest friend for freshman year that she practically lived with her.  They played on the softball team together, we all rode to football games and movies together, and they went to church together.  We went to school at Franklinton High, a public school in rural Louisiana.  Most after school activities were school or church sponsored.  The church was so strong in the community that you could almost smell the musky bible pages in the breeze on any given day.

Sometime after high school, Brandi came out as gay.  I certainly wasn’t as involved in her life as I had been before then, but I saw her out every now and then.  She seemed to avoid meeting my eyes now, and I never asked why.  Maybe she’d heard about ways I’d changed and just wasn’t interested in socializing with me.  Maybe she had a falling out with my cousin and assumed I knew (I didn’t, because it probably didn’t happen).  More likely, she was now used to being rejected by people she was once close to, and was trying to avoid giving me the chance to do the same.

We got to be Facebook friends but never talked.  I would have liked to talk to her, but she wasn’t on much.  I certainly couldn’t have known from Facebook if she was suffering in some great way.  I can’t know for sure, but I can only imagine that the recent maelstrom of gay rights issues being thrown around with such hatred in our communities recently did nothing positive for her.  And now she’s gone.

Everyone knows that losing touch or growing apart from a friend doesn’t change the fact that they touched your heart and changed your life.  I want to honor her in some way… a way that reflects the light you could always find in her eyes, that reminds of the smiles and laughs she gave so freely, that says somehow that her pain wasn’t in vain.

Brandi, you touched so many lives and hearts.  I am so truly sorry that you felt so overwhelmed that escape was your only option- that you somehow became convinced, through the senseless and heartless actions of a handful of people, that no one would or could help you in that moment.  So I’m going to promise to the memory of you that I will try my hardest from this point on to make sure that everyone I love knows it; that I am always here to help.  I want to be a walking billboard that says, “I love you, and it gets better!”  I also promise to actively try and make it better- because it probably wasn’t too hard for you to start thinking that this world didn’t want you around.  It’s so painful to think that there is so much hate for the LGBT community that it often completely obscures the love that you would otherwise feel from people like me, who adored you.  I promise to never be silent in response to bigotry or hatred.  I promise to teach my girls that they can love whoever they want- and I always love and support them.  I promise to talk about the things that the LGBT community is facing for my whole life and never forget, never let the world forget; because the human beings with hearts WILL win this battle and the world might want to forget.  So many people have been in so much pain, and to toss it aside like it never happened… you deserve to be recognized.  To be rewarded for your strength, and not criticized for your fall.

I promise I will remember you with a smile.
Rest in peace, Brandi.

Edit:

Brandi really was loved by many, and it doesn’t seem she purposefully took her own life.  Even so, the struggles and pain she was enduring are glaringly obvious, even to me, someone who knew very little about what she was actually dealing with.  Also, it’s important to remember that helping someone who is in a hard place in life is a struggle in itself- often you will feel it’s useless and your efforts can be rejected.  It’s not any of our faults if someone we love gets bested by a struggle that we tried to help them with.  Just always know that it’s not necessarily their fault, either.