I wasn’t going to post today. Even though I planned on coming back to the blog this week, I decided I needed another week before jumping back into the Red Vine pool. See, I have this little perfectionism issue. I really don’t prefer to write unless I have something triumphant to say.

But, I feel awfully awful, and have for a few days. I’ve been Taking Benadryl since Christmas to sleep, steady myself (I plan on writing an entire blog on the stabilizing value of that little, pink pill). I tried so hard during Advent to take naps, not stress, not overdue. I started shopping in October for gifts, and had all presents wrapped on December 20th. I even put off sending 100+ Christmas cards until I didn’t have to stress to get them done. I really hope that doesn’t mean they wait until April; that would defeat the point of a Christmas card altogether.

Christmas shone. Every moment sparkled: they boys’ eyes as they rounded the corner to behold the Christmas tree . . . I could go on but I really don’t have the energy to be so descriptive today. It’s January.

Then, around grown-up game time when the kids were supposed to be sleeping soundly in Grandma Nanny’s cribs on Christmas night, Sam started coughing. And coughing. And game time for me became hold Sam in bed with the window open to help his cough (I swear it works) freezing my booty off all night time. And I got crabby and started feeling sorry for myself. And, I felt a crack starting to form in my mental concrete. Or maybe it started Christmas Eve?

Christmas Eve night as we threw a very simple party after church for only a handful of close family members, I hit the wall. I started spilling things, leaving messes. Jack trailed behind me, trying to clean them up. Then, he boiled over in frustration at my fourth mess (understandably). So, I cursed at my husband when (I hope) no one was looking. It wasn’t a very pretty side of Taylor.

I envy Jack constantly for his rock-like mind. The rain, the storms of life hit him, and they cascade off, just like water down a rock. But me? I’m more like concrete, always porous. Always. And, if there is too much rain, too much tension, even too much stimulation, I start to crack. When the cracking starts, I know I’ve already crossed the line. Even though I tried so hard not to.

Then the fear comes, the am I getting sick fear that haunts every day of my life. I slow way down, take naps, pop benadryl, and pray. I pray for joy, I pray that God will fill this crack and let me get on with loving people. I count my gifts, light the candle, bow my head. I pray that I can be useful, not sick. I pray for this friggin illness, this monster in the basement, as Marya Hornbacher phrases so eloquently in Madness, this demonic haunt, to be held at bay for one more moment, one more day. Because there is work to be done, here and now: Prayers to pray that are beyond myself, people to minister to, blogs to be written. I don’t believe the only struggles I am to concern myself with are my own. Still, when you have a monster sleeping in your basement and you think she’s about to wake, it is hard to think of anything else.

Last January, I slipped into a depression so profound I eventually slinked into my psychiatrist’s office and begged for ECT. Yes. I asked to check into an Inpatient Psychiatric Unit and have a series of induced shock treatments. Bite down on a board shock treatments. He said no, I wasn’t there. I asked him if I was going to be depressed for the rest of my life? If this half-living, war-time existence was all this joy-filled, gifts-counting, happy-hearted, sunshine girl-in-aged-old-woman would ever know until heaven? And at 33, as a mother of 2 little ones, I am determined to wage every day of that existence to be here for them. Still, future bleaks in these humbling moments, and the road to the cross stretches. The idea of reminding myself to breathe through these endless minutes endlessly devastates deep.

I try not to show it when I’m–you know–in public. I think a lot of people very close to me miss it. And I want them to, because I can’t bear the idea that haunts me the most deeply: that IS THIS MY FAULT? DID I DO THIS? might be uttered from someone else’s lips. talk about cracking the concrete

Because I take my meds. I take my vitamins. I don’t eat gluten, even at Christmas time: not one of my mom’s cinnamon rolls that make you want to die and go to heaven they’re so good. Oh, and a gluten free substitute of her famous Christmas cookies is just that: a substitute. And I sleep. I plan ahead. I limit myself. I count my gifts. I count it all joy. I do tend to drink a few too many glasses of wine, if I’m going to be honest. But it’s Christmas! Maybe that was it. And so we are back to it all being my fault.

But, I will say that bleak now is not what bleak was. As I am writing this, I am caring for my children (while in my pajamas); feeding them (chicken nuggets from the freezer instead of homemade soup); making appointments and filling prescriptions; slowly picking up the house (even if I spend much of my time walking in circles); keeping the laundry going and allowing myself the freedom to leave it in baskets instead of folding it; potty training Sam (which pretty much means cleaning up messes and getting him to the potty every 20 minutes, which in itself is an Everest-worthy feat); assuring myself that Christmas need not be packed away just yet (the house seems so bare in January without the lights on the mantle and the red all around).

And I know that as I falter, as I question every beautiful moment of Christmas and recognize where I should have put the breaks on sooner, wonder what I can do better next year, wonder if there is a way to avoid the freezing cracks of January, I know that I am making progress. I see the rebar reinforcing this life, protecting my children, keeping us suspended. I see God growing me, teaching me deeper dependence and transparency. I see life in this aged old woman.

So, as I push the “publish” button and splay my brokenness across the internet for all to see, these words come to mind:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1: 2-4

Not lacking anything. Tears. Publish.

Taylor