walking down the middle

Dropping off Anya at my mom's today, she asked me how I was doing in that tone reserved for the slightly broken. "I'm fine." I answered, in no way wanting to discuss my emotional state.

"You seem fine, but then I read on your blog that you're struggling. I don't know if it's just for drama or if this is really happening."

I shrugged my shoulders, not wanting to talk and interested in the idea that my blog might be compared to a show. I guess in many ways it is. It's what I'm OK showing you all. And, more importantly, it's what I'm OK showing my kids. From the start, I wanted this journal to be something that offered a glimpse of what their childhood was like through their mother's eyes. I've said again and again that when I don't want to write or feel like giving it up, remembering who it's really for is the thing that makes me commit the words to the universe. And I don't mind if they see me struggle some. In fact, I know how important it is to feel like someone else has walked the path before you and you won't be required to do too much bushwhacking. Seeing the evidence of someone else's journey is what makes you feel not so very alone in the world, especially when you're struggling with emotions you think nobody else may have ever felt.

Growing up, "divorce" became a very common word.  It intensified in my teen years when my own parents signed their paperwork, ending their marriage. I grew up believing that very few marriages had a chance of surviving and that some of the ones that did... well, shouldn't. Committing to marring Mark, while the easiest decision I've ever made, was also the most frightening. Saying "I do" was like saying, "Yes, I accept that one day you may break my heart so thoroughly that I may never be able to put it back together. And having kids with you? That means we'll break them a little too." So far it's been worth the risk, but there are times when that potential reality comes into sharp focus and I just about piss myself trying to figure out how to fix it. In my head, there's already a plan for if we fail. I try not to spend any energy worrying about it, but it almost feels naive if I didn't at least have a plan.

So yeah, I'm OK. I function in the world just fine. I can drive my kid to school and go to playgroup with the other and make meals and clean up and do all the things normal people do. Of course. But my relationship with my husband is so very, deeply important to me, that when I see myself behaving badly towards this man who could so easily shatter me... I see my anger/depression/worry/whatever as an act of self destruction. Almost as though I am so convinced that marriages can't last that I have to work to ruin my own.

That's not how I want to exist. And I know it's not what my husband signed up for.

It's funny, but whenever a newbie comes into my circle of friends, they invariably make a comment about how they don't understand how anyone could ever hurt a kid. There are a couple of us who always respond with, "OH, I can. I would never condone it and haven't done it myself, but I've wanted to." Newbie's response is usually one of shock. But before you know it, she's describing the time when she was so tired and frustrated and broken inside that she had to walk away from the baby so she didn't shake it silly. We all nod and say, yep, and point out that she was stronger than her rage. And that thin line is what separates some abusers from the rest of us. But that rage? Damn, that rage is there, people. We all touch the edges of it occasionally. And it's a scary, scary thing to feel. But when you talk about it, let it see the light of day around supportive people who can recognize and diffuse it, then the chances that you'll stumble over that thin line diminishes.

So no, Mom, it's not just for the sake of drama. It's to keep the drama from getting too thick. And while I may not want to talk to you about it in person, I can assure you that I don't lie here. I tell the truth as deeply as I can stand it because I don't know how to mother any other way. One day my own kids may be feeling these same things and may not be blessed with friends who understand the visceral desire to throw their kid at a wall or say horrible things to their spouse. I don't want them bushwhacking when the path HAS been walked before. And when they realize that their mother felt that way and yet never harmed them, they'll realize there is a way through.

I can see that path. And for now, I'm walking right down the middle.