Friday into Saturday I was in a funk. I tried to push through, moving from one thing to the next like I could outrun it. The funk clung. Sean knows me, recognizes these lows after 18 years together, and has mastered worrying from a gentle distance. He did things to clear my path—setting the girls up with activities, passing me a plate of eggs and bacon, setting a bottle of sriracha next to it and saying “Eat, please.”
I felt myself slipping deeper, colors began to mute and I forgot all the reasons I’d been grateful for the weekend to arrive. Despite the clutch of nothingness, I ate. One solid achievement I’ve unlocked in my 40s is to listen to him more often. I still resist and make noble, stupid, or stubborn moves, but more frequently I see the food, the pjs, the invitation he offers to help me escape my own cycle.
I eat. I say yes.
I followed that yes by a dozen more.
Yes, let’s go to the gym.
Yes, let’s take a drive.
Yes, I am starting to feel better, but it’s still there.
“It’s ok, babe. You’re exhausted. It’s been a week and you get to feel like this,” he kept his eyes on the road. I took a breath and stared out the window.
For me, daring to commit completely to a relationship has been the chance to have another voice to listen to other than my own. The echo of, “You will never be good enough,” grows more faint each time he cups my face in his hands and says, “You are everything I ever dreamed of.”
I look at the girls and imagine the things I’ve said to myself being things they ever hear inside thier own heads. I press against the numbness and reach for everything Sean is coaxing me to remember.
I plot the steps ahead. I leave my phone behind when I get up in the morning. Coffee. Daylight. The fog of yesterday is gone, but I know myself and I can’t be passive. I have to actively claim a different today, which in no way suggests that people can choose happiness or beat depression through willpower. I am talking about my own rhythms and hurdles. I pad down the hall toward the stairs.
I see Ave and Fin building with LEGOs. I walk in, “What are you doing?” They launch into an introduction to the empire of little rooms and shops. I work to stay focused on what they are saying.
I sit down and begin to build. I choose beige and white pieces to add to a green base. A room starts to form beneath my fingers. It is wide and airy, with entire walls of windows, I add arches. There is a gate to pass through and I decorate it with red, pink, and blue buttons.
“Mom, that is so amazing. What is it?” Finley asks.
“I don’t know, I just thought it would be a place someone would want to be.”
“It is. Keep going.”
Avery holds her hand in front of me, offering me pieces. Fin hands me flowers and asks f I can make a bed. We keep building.
“Ave, would you go start the coffee for me?”
She leaps from her spot, “Sure.”
When I finish the bed Finley declares it perfect. I start to stand, “Can you add it to the room, mom?”
I move toward her when Ave says, “I can do that. Go get some coffee, mama.”
Their heads touch as they add the bedroom to the room and then begin plotting, “So my girl will be asleep…”
“And then mine will open her work..”
I walk downstairs to the smell of coffee and last night’s fire in the woodstove. I stoke the embers back to life and pour a cup of coffee. I settle in with my laptop and start the internet.
No email. Period.
I open Feedly and see a link to “Barbara and Stanley: A Modern Romance.” I don’t usually watch long videos, this one clocked in at 17+ minutes. I start to scroll to the next thing but decide to watch.
What followed was the oddest, most lovely, and different from my own world slice of life. I listened to the Barbara and Stanley tell their own story, why how they live works for them. Early on Barbara coaxes Stanley to get out of bed.
“I think what you ought to do is get out of bed.” He says he is tired.
“Come, you must go the gym, g-y-m, we must move or what is it all for?” He says that he will.
They are across the country from one another and are wildly different from Sean and me, yet that insistent exchange, the urgency of guiding your partner to what will bring more daylight, more tomorrows and better todays; it’s exquisite.
I followed it with a post up at Cup of Joe about a woman seeing herself though the eyes of her partner. Again, I was fascinated by the generosity and wisdom of a partner debunking the cruel inner voice.
I looked up as Avery and Finley bounded into the room announcing they were ravenous. I’d bought baking mixes at the store in a plan to fill the day with new things. They did the dishes to prep the kitchen and then they began to bake. Entirely on their own.
The house filled with the scent of cinnamon and the sounds of the fire and Katy Perry. The girls danced and goofed, and I remembered why I’d been excited for the weekend and why I am so grateful for this life of mine.