Sometimes I can’t sleep at night. I wake up and look at my sweet baby sleeping. I look at my husband, also sleeping (and snoring), and I wonder how I got here.
The house is always so quiet when I wake up. The cats are always waiting outside the door when I open it. Usually it is cold during the night. Gabe would scoff at this, as I consider anything below 75 F to be cold, and to him anything above 60 F is hot. We have reached a truce and keep the house at 70 F.
Gabe is my second husband. Isabel is my youngest daughter. I have another daughter, Paula. She is 8 years old and the product of my first marriage.
What? I have kids? I got married, divorced and then married again? What? When did all this happen? How did I get here? In my mind I am closer to twenty than forty. Reality begs to differ.
I lost a decade of my life to depression. I lived from 1990 to 2000 in an existential fog. There were good times, things that are salvageable, but most of my time was spent adrift at sea, so to speak.
During these ten years I lost my father, graduated from college, started law school, got my first boyfriend, had an abortion, dropped out of law school, started graduate school, dropped out of graduate school, got a series of jobs at bookstores, got a job at a newspaper, quit my job, got married, moved far from home to a very cold non-tropical place, came back after a year, lived at my mother-in-law’s, collected unemployment, got a job, moved into a house, got pregnant, had a baby, got divorced, started law school again, dropped out of law school again. And through it all I floated like in a daze. Or at least it feels that way now as I look at my past from a comfortable distance. The truth is I was desperately unhappy, and did not understand why. Or rather, I felt like it was my lot in life to be miserable. It was my price to pay for disappointing everybody. It took a few years of anti-depressants and psychotherapy for me to come to terms with some personality traits, with the effects of growing up with an alcoholic parent, and to finally put the past where it belongs. I am sorry for my younger self, I wish I could have gained this self-awareness sooner and saved myself a lot of grief.
Even now I still wonder if I am not half sleep-walking through my present life. Motherhood is a wonderfully rewarding experience, but we can very easily lose touch with our non-parental selves in the bargain. Marriage should be our most intimate partnership, but when you and your husband work all day and are exhausted by the time you get home, and have zero time alone together, it can be hard to maintain a connection. Our modern way of life is not necessarily conducive to journeys of self-discovery. Not when you have to work to live.
What then? I, for one, have chosen to write. People may or may not read it. I hope they do, by the way.