Monday, March 16, 2015


I feel very broken.

I feel like at some point over the last few months, I just shattered.  Like a giant mirror falling off the wall, I hit the ground hard and shattered into a million pieces that someone will inevitably find when they're not wearing shoes.

I'm taking a break from social media, mostly Facebook and Twitter.  This is hard because I run both social media accounts for my job and I'm involved with a production that posts frequent updates on Facebook.  I'm actively not reading messages or comments or posts from friends though.  Facebook is a bouquet of happiness and the more I read, I realize a lot of it is not real.  People post their best moments, pictures, quotes and leave out most of the hard stuff.  I was having a problem with only posting hard stuff so it was time to step away for a minute.

I'm breaking away from bringing work home with me from two out of three jobs.  There was a time where every rude remark, every sideways glance, every slight would send me into a tizzy.  I can barely stand one job.  I dread going there because I know that I don't matter.  It's been showcased time and time again that what I say, what I do, what I think doesn't make an ounce of difference.  There is a gross double standard that exists for me and only me and it's played out in banishment from the building when I'm not working, a lack of support when there's a problem, and a general disdain for how I feel.  If I didn't like extra play money, I would have walked away months ago.  Unfortunately for me, I like buying stupid shit on Amazon so I'll clock back in during my next shift and actively hate being there.

I've started the process of breaking off toxic friendships.  I have people in my life that will never answer the phone.  I can call them when I'm sobbing and lost and at the end of my rope so I can listen to their voice mail.  I don't need a voice mail, I need a person.  Them not calling or texting back until they need or want something is the hardest part.  So slowly, I disappear.  I don't reach out as much.  I don't try and make plans.  In the process of this, I've made new friends in people I may not have reached out to otherwise.

I'm on a break from my relationship.  This man has been my best friend, my go-to, my constant for three and a half years.  I've been steadily gaining speed on being my absolute worst for the last two years and both of us finally snapped.  I need to figure out how to be a friend again.  I miss my number one.

I've started picking up the pieces.  You know how when a mirror breaks, there are a bunch of little pieces but then there's jagged chunks that are still recognizable but you can't see the whole reflection anymore?  I feel like I'm picking up those big pieces right now and when I do, I can see parts of the person I was before the mirror broke but it's not whole.  In order to get it back to the full reflection, I need to piece back together all those tiny little shards.  Those little things we suck up with the vacuum, thinking they don't matter, until we try and glue the mirror back together and realize there are blemishes that distort what people see.  This repair will take a lot of glue and time and patience to put it back together.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Lesson on Loneliness

I very rarely feel alone.

I work full-time, five days a week, in an office filled with four other permanent people and about thirty-five others that come and go throughout the week.

On the weekends, I work a second job at a Community Center where people are hosting parties or working out or coming in to ask what time we have open swim (spoiler alert: never).

I surround myself with people.  Funny people, talkative people, intensely intelligent people.  Old, young, in between, it doesn't matter.  These people make me laugh and commiserate with me when work is tough and give me parts of themselves through stories that make me feel like I'm a part of them

I almost always feel lonely.

It usually happens at home.  I'll come home from a day at work and walk into an empty apartment.  There's no one here to greet me or ask me how my day was.  Sometimes I'll make dinner, sometimes I'll make cereal.  I don't fight over what to watch at 8pm.  I don't wonder if the washing machine is free.  The flowers in the vase are always the perfect bouquet because I picked them out and cut them the length I want them.  I wake up in the morning and don't have to worry about if there's hot water or clean towels or milk in the fridge.  These are all decisions that are influenced by me and only me.

I can't tell people how lonely I feel.  The people I've surrounded myself with are a variety of moms with basketball practice and husbands with wives to spend time with.  My friends have lives very, very different than mine and I spend an awful lot of time thinking about how my life has become so standstill while everyone else's kept moving.  I've almost created this cycle of loneliness for myself because I'd rather lay on the couch in Shondaland than go out and be a third or fifth or seventh wheel.  It's easy to say "well, the grass is always greener on the other side" but I don't know that my grass is greener because I've never seen it through anyone's glasses but my own.

Sometimes people just need to be told they matter to be reminded they exist in your world.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What it Looks Like

"You've had a shitty attitude all day."

My work husband's words hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was the end of the night and we had worked together for lots of hours, most of which were spent sitting around wondering when the parties would actually leave.  I had laughed at some stuff, we spent a fair amount of time online shopping, and he was just at the point where he was teasing me and I was getting offended.  This was someone who was in my inner circle and who had put me into his.  This person had become one of my best friends.  I had zero reason to be offended at what he was saying but I had latched onto one off color comment and run hard with it.

"I've been in a fine mood all day."
"No, you haven't.  You let all your other stuff get to you and now you're being shitty at me even though I didn't do anything to you."

Sometimes I wish that my depression looked like depression in the movies.  I feel like it would be less taboo to talk about it if I could just reference how I sit in a dark room all day, staring out of a window, looking at all the happy people and wishing I was them.  If my depression kept me in bed all day, every day, to the point where I couldn't go to work or shower or function, a conversation would be that much easier.  I don't know how to tell people "I'm not mad at what you said but it made me think of fifteen other things that I am mad about and now I'm going to take them out on you because you're standing in front of me."

This is not the first time I've struggled hard but this time the depression is taking me down with its path of destruction.  It's taken all the hopes and dreams and plans I had for almost-thirty and thrown them in my face while laughing.  Sleeping alone is hard.  Watching women with their children is damn near impossible.  Going to another social gathering and thinking of creative ways to avoid questions about college and kids and marriage while still maintaining a smile is enough to hermit me for life.

I drove the twenty minutes home in silence.  As I pulled in the parking lot, I sat in my car for a second before heading into my apartment.  I texted my friend.

"I'm sorry I was being an asshole today."

I put my phone in my purse and gathered all my things and went inside.  I threw everything down on the kitchen table that's become a dumping ground for all my literal and figurative baggage.  I went to the fridge and drank straight from the lemonade container because the dishes hadn't been done in days and I didn't have the energy to dirty another glass.  The classic depression signs were evident here and hard to ignore.

I pulled out my phone, ready to plug it in and set the alarm for another day I wasn't mentally prepared for.  I pressed it awake from sleep and read his response that was sitting on my screen.

"Don't worry about it."

Friday, March 6, 2015


I've been running after-school programming for over ten years.  I've been an assistant, a site director, a teacher.  I've wiped tears and braced broken arms from playground falls and had my hand hurt from high fives that turned out much more powerful than I anticipated.

I've also perfected the following standard 'teacher' phrases:

"Please don't touch that."
"We need to stay in our seat."
"We don't say that to our friends."
"Remember to raise your hand if you have a question."
"I've asked you ___ times to not do that.  If I need to ask you again, we'll need to move where we're sitting."

Last week I used all of those sentences plus more on a little girl in my after-school program.  It wasn't even my program, I was subbing for another instructor.  Instead of the normal one-hour class, snow days had sent us into two-hour territory and while it was a long day for most of the kids, it seemed exceptionally long for *Bree.

Bree could not sit still.  Group work was near impossible.  We went outside to launch a rocket ... Bree was more interested in launching snow from a pile onto whatever unsuspecting classmate was standing nearby.  Not many stood nearby for too long.  I watched the other kids, listened to them.  "She's so annoying."  "She never shuts up.  Shut up, Bree."  "We don't want you to sit here."  I pushed my irritation down and reminded myself I was only here for the day and then never had to come back again.

The class ended and everyone was picked up by smiling parents, all ready to see what they had created in science class that day.  Soon Bree, a rushed custodian, and me were the only three left in the room.  I sighed, "Come on, Bree.  We'll go wait in the hall and I'll call mom."

We walked into the hall where Bree immediately flew the copter she made up to the ceiling.  "Did you see it?!" she cried.  "Yes, please don't hit the ceiling with it, okay?"  She flung herself onto the floor, laying flat on her stomach while I left a message on her mom's voice mail.  I tried calling our contact person only to discover her office was already closed.  I resigned myself to the fact that we just had to wait it out at this point.  "You've been here a million times before," I thought.  "Moms always come back."

I took a deep breath and tried to take all the frustration out of my voice as I said, "Bree, can you stop rolling on the floor and just sit on the bench?  I know your mom is twenty-five minutes late but she should be here soon."

Bree sat up and looked at me, her long brown hair swinging over her shoulders.  She studied me with the same observation she made when she first walked in the room two and a half hours prior, sizing me up, calculating what she could get away with.  It was a game I had played with dozens of kids and knew well.  I braced myself for a meltdown.

Bree stood up.  She walked over and sat down next to me.  Eight years of wisdom and big eyes looked at me as she said, "I'm always the last one.  I bet you would be a good mom.  My mom always forgets me.  I bet you wouldn't forget me if you were my mom."

I looked back at this little girl.  The classmate annoyances, the seat jumping, the non-stop onslaught of questions hit me like a wall: This girl doesn't know she's irritating.  She wants so badly to be heard, for someone to acknowledge they're listening to what she's saying with words and showing with actions.

I opened my mouth to tell her to fly her copter again, that I wanted to see how high it would go.  As I did, mom breezed in through the front door with a list of excuses, none of which I cared about.  I told her to  have a good night and put my coat on as I listened to her tell Bree to put everything in her backpack and "you can show me at home, we have to go."  I walked past them, desperately wanting to get to my car before my heart broke completely.


I turned around to find Bree barreling toward me.  "Did you forget something?" I called.

She slammed into me with the kind of hug you have to prepare yourself for.  "I had the most fun today.  Thank you."

Thank you, Bree.

*Not her real name, obviously.