I’m going to make an effort to write more frequently in order to unpack the shit going on in my head. Maybe with more introspection, I can get a handle on some of these things that live beneath my skin and in the shadows under my eyes. Maybe - and this is the honest, anonymous truth - maybe if I talk to the demons long enough, they’ll leave and I won’t have to go back on antidepressants.
Today was hard.
I’m kicking myself for telling my mom I have the next two days off. My parents are not spontaneous people and I have no idea why they suddenly decided to drive down for a couple of days when I told them I have time off. I can’t really fault them - they want to see their grandkid. But that time was supposed to be my time. For about two weeks, I didn’t take lunches because it was QA weeks and the release had a hard deadline. I can’t come in any earlier than I already do (which isn’t really early - but my alarm rings at 6:30 every morning because we’ve got a baby to take care of, and that’s what’s relevant here), and I can’t stay late because I have to go pick up E from daycare. My only option for putting in extra hours at work is over lunch, so that’s what I did, and I burned myself the fuck out. I’m tired. I need a few days to myself. I was so excited to bum around the house and do nothing tomorrow, then go shopping on Friday. (I was also fully prepared to feel a little guilty for sending E to daycare and doing these things - but that’s typical mom guilt for you, where you always feel a little bad for self-care.) Now… well, the house isn’t clean, we don’t have food plans, this is added stress to my already stressed-out mind.
I realized today that depression saps your resiliency. If I weren’t tired, stressed, sleep-deprived, fucking sad, I would be able to deal with this a little better, but right now it really feels like the end of the world. It won’t be. But it feels like it.
And N is heading to court with the ex-wife because she signed the kids up for sports without confirming with him first, and practices and games fall on our days. Honestly, I’m glad. It’s time for him to show his teeth. That bitch has been at her shit long enough.
I don’t know what to do about this depression. It has clearly returned, but god damn do I not want to go back on meds. What’s funny is that if anyone I know is struggling with mental health, I always tell them, get help, get meds, get whatever you need. There is no shame in medication, I tell them. But for myself, I have different standards. I have this self-image where I’m not just some dumb American, popping pills and going through life mindlessly. I’m a foreigner. I’m not from here, and my mind reflects that. My culture is one of dogged resiliency. My country’s history is not a drama, it is a tragedy. My people know sadness, they sit down with it and pour it a shot and tell it their tales.
My people also die of alcoholism disproportionately.
But that mentality is probably why I’m so reluctant to take the meds again. I already did it once, and honestly, it was wonderful. I felt great. I miss how good I felt. The winter that I took the meds was the best winter I remember having (my depression is seasonal, and winters have eaten away at me for over a decade now). But even that whole time, I couldn’t wait to get off the meds. I couldn’t wait to feel normal again, and my definition of “normal” includes not taking meds.
I just feel like meds are a shortcut that doesn’t address the problem. There is a reason that my depression keeps coming back. Neurotransmitters don’t just start failing out of nowhere. (I absolutely tell other people that neurotransmitters can start failing out of nowhere, for no reason at all.) I think there is something that lives in me and eats at me, and if I go on meds, they take away my ability to feel that something, and therefore rob me of my ability to fix it for good.
And I think that something is being a step-mom. But I’m not sure.
I was reflecting the other day, and the kids’ mom has influenced their development so completely that they are nothing like N. And I love N with all my heart, and if they were anything like him, I think I would love the hell out of them too. But they aren’t. They’re like their mom - she’s made sure of that, by making sure that every hobby they have is something she likes, but N doesn’t like (like sports). Now they’re little clones of her. Little strangers who come to stay at our house sometimes, with school supplies that she’s bought them, needing a ride to activities that she’s excited about - not to mention that she’ll show up for, even though it’s not her day to have the kids, “just to watch” the practice. She is the only parent in the bleachers - all the rest of the parents drop their kids off and leave. This doesn’t bother her.
I have nothing in common with them. Zero. Zip. The closest thing I have to anything is that K likes videogames, but he has no mental capacity to play the kind of games that I like. He likes instant-gratification online games, and he has to be playing with friends. I can’t stand multiplayer games. Give me singleplayer with a story and I’m golden. He doesn’t have enough of an attention span for games like that, because his mom has made sure that he goes from activity to activity and his attention span is constantly switching between all these different things that she has them doing.
S is a typical girl, and she has no imagination. I struggle to cope with the idea of a kid who doesn’t have an imagination. But it was never fostered in her, and I think it’s too late now. She wants to be a teacher. She likes to color, but not to draw. Every weekend morning she comes downstairs and goes past all her art and craft stuff, making a beeline for the TV, because mom has made sure that they’re always entertained with screens in front of them and that’s what she expects now.
Our son, E, can entertain himself perfectly well for reasonable amounts of time. He’s already leaps and bounds ahead of K & S in that department. He’s 7 months old. We put him into the pack-n-play tonight as we ate dinner, since he loves to sit but we have hardwood floors in the kitchen and wanted him to be able to sit without risking him falling over and smacking his head on the floor or a cupboard. He sat for a long time and played with his toys, then eventually did fall over and rolled around happily in there the whole time. We cooed at him a few times and he made some noises back at us, then went back to his toys. Independence and independent play is extremely important to us, and because we prioritize it with him, he’s going to grow up knowing how to do it. He’ll have an imagination, and a good attention span. These are things that weren’t prioritized in K & S’s upbringing, and now they suffer for it, and let’s be honest, N and I suffer for it too.
I don’t have the energy to go through the whole “but I still love them” bit. All step-moms feel massively guilty that they don’t love their children, but the expectation of loving them is a false one. You can’t expect yourself to love a child who isn’t yours, who has a totally different background from you, who just happens to live in your house and share your life with you. That love comes in time, and you have to let it. But it needs a foundation to build on, and I feel like our foundation is so small. I love them through sheer force of will, because I believe that love is a choice and it’s something that I can cultivate. But that doesn’t get me as far as I want. I want to love them with the “I will step in traffic for you” kind of love. But we need common soil in order for that kind of love to take root in it.
N wants to sign us all up for martial arts as a family to build that common soil. It sounds good in theory, but I’m worried that it’ll take away some of my time with E, since he’s too small to bring there. And spending time with him is my top priority right now. Honestly, I’m just so tired. I wish the ex-wife wouldn’t be such a dick about activities, so we wouldn’t have to sign up for family martial arts just to block off a day a week so that later we can tell her “Sorry, you can’t sign K up for [activity], we already have something going on on Monday nights.” We shouldn’t have to sign up for this shit in order to bond, because we should have plenty of bonding opportunities that don’t involve an activity. But we don’t, because the ex-wife sees family time as “empty space” and wants to fill it up with activities.
It’s a perfect storm right now. There’s a lot going on. Unfortunately, I’m tired and it’s bedtime, so this entry will have to be short on philosophy, but I’m hoping that by putting it into words, I can help my brain process these things in its subconscious.
ALSO - just real quick - did y’all know Frank Spinath teaches a psychology course at Saarland University in Germany? Is it too late for me to get a third degree? In Germany? Mostly so I can show up, sit in the back of his class, and periodically ask him how Seabound’s going?
Last updated October 11, 2018