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October 28, 2022

Thoughts Are Leaves That Grow And Fall

Right now everything feels like it’s falling apart.

Anyone else?

I mean, to be fair, it’s felt like that for a few years now. A plague will do that. Especially without a system of universal healthcare.

I’m watching my relationship die in real time.

I’m learning what I refuse to accept, and what wounds can’t heal without cauterization.

I’m learning how not to panic, and how to pay attention to things that actually engage with me. Relentlessly.

Especially when all I’d like to do is crawl under a blanket and weep for a week.

With three kids under ten, that’s not an option.

I’ve also had to learn how to accept comfort from my ever-attentive kids when I randomly fall apart. I can accept comfort during a bout of crying without making it their responsibility (and I make sure to verbalize this even with a face full of tears and snot).

When someone treats me with love I want to hide.

Thanks for that stellar mind wiring, dear estranged relations.

When your marriage is sinking and the boat can’t be saved, you feel alone.

And not in the way where the ever popular words “you are not alone” are a comfort.

This is a grief, and like a war, you can’t be done with it in a hurry.

My oldest came down with something this week, headaches and a high fever that kept him in bed. I’d never seen him so listless, and this child I have to constantly ask not to climb every wall he sees, is suddenly a nine-year-old whose skin seems translucent and whose rain-colored eyes are an exhausted sky. Worry was a knot in my belly, even with the reassurance of two doctors that rest and good food would have him back in a week or so.

Then something happened.

I tend to forget myself and live only in my head and not my body. The stress of everything manifested itself and localized in an old pinched nerve in my back. It become difficult to walk, and I felt energy coursing down my legs in an ache that reminded me of the last weeks of being heavily pregnant.

I had to rest. My body forced me to rest. I am honoring my body now, and I think the flesh finally believes me. I used to ignore it, always on survival and fawning mode for others. Now, my body lets me know when I’m overdoing it and will make me stop.

So, my son and I cuddled while I tried to puzzle out this feeling of being unable to walk. Suddenly, he became very upset, and I watched the thoughts on his mind begin to spiral and throw him into a state of panic.

“Mommy, what if you’re really sick? In all the movies, the mom gets a hurt back or weak, and then later on she dies. Mommy, you can’t die.”

And then he began sobbing, clutching to me, and trusting me with this deep fear that we all have in the pits of our stomachs when we love someone so fucking much the world would truly end without them.

I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t process it.

Someone was crying just at the thought of me not being in their lives.

He felt the same about me that I did him.

I guess I never believed it before.

How sad for both of us.

It’s so easy to lose track of how important you are to others. Though I knew my husband loved me, the storm I was feeling at his desire to leave had me feeling pretty disposable. I frequently felt if I just closed my eyes and disappeared that the world would stumble a bit for everyone else, but they’d keep stepping quickly.

My feeling was wrong, and while I didn’t know I was feeling it, it was framing my entire experience into a resigned hopelessness that was difficult to tread.

I’m not alone.

I’m really truly not alone.

Maybe this is the first time I believe it in my life.

Maybe this is where I can start from.

Maybe this is the lesson I needed to learn from all of it.

Maybe you can know it too.

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Dani Mullineaux  |  Contribution: 1,475