What the Heck Is Wrong With Me Anyway, and What Deepak Chopra Had to Say About It. Part One.

First of all, I realize that I have been abysmal at commenting and posting over the last week. I’m really sorry, and can only say that I am starting to return to form. This is going to be a LONG post, so please feel free to pull up an armchair, pour yourself a cup of chamomile tea. Or, you know. Save yourself. Click out 😉

I think it’s obvious that I have been pretty shaken by recent events. I have spent the week speaking about dark corners and light places with my mom in person, with my dad over the phone and this weekend, with Darcy.

Sometimes you need to spend time with those who have known you the longest to understand that SOMETHING is awry.

My mom talked to me of my past. She walked me through my childhood, my teen years, my twenties, my perfect wedding. I used to sparkle brightly, and no one would bet against my chances of doing exactly what I wanted. I achieved, I was a sunbeam. I had one big setback (a bad car accident when I was twenty) that I overcame. But, in general, I was a child of fortune.

But after I turned thirty, bad stuff began to happen to me.

I haven’t talked about it here, but the first year of my marriage I came down with a serious and mysterious illness which crippled me for about a year. After six months of scary anxiety and physical therapy, I “came back”, but it damaged my belief that the world was good. I now thought there were disasters waiting for me around every corner.

I wasn’t wrong. As soon as I got the all-clear from my doctor, we began TTC. Six months later, I knew something wasn’t right. All my tests were normal, as were Darcy’s, so it was another medical mystery. After rounds of IUIs, Clomid, then injectibles, my RE was puzzled so he recommended IVF. They only retrieved ONE egg from me during my cycle. I was 32. I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure. I was told that my best chance to conceive was to use donor eggs. The next disaster had appeared. I collapsed under its weight.

But Darcy stubbornly insisted that we continue IVF, trying to use my own eggs. I didn’t see the point, but somehow he believed it would work. Darcy’s weird that way. If things don’t go the way he believes they should go, he will shout, curse, fight and push his way through. He believes this is his right. I had gotten to the point where I would prefer to crawl into a cave, and wait for the world to hate me less.

Those who have followed my story know I was extremely lucky enough to conceive twins on my third round of IVF. Once I received the news I was with child(ren), I crawled into a cave of bedrest, hoping that the universe would forget about me while my pregnancy gestated. I rarely left the house. I probably smiled three or four times in nine months. I rarely took showers. I took no photos of my “bump”. I hid the ultrasound printouts under my bed. When I made it to my 35th week, I was astounded. When the twins were born, healthy, and I was able to take them home with me, I couldn’t believe my fortuity. I gazed quizzically at the sky, waiting for something to strike me down. I had become one of the suspicious Greeks in the myths, awaiting some jealous or angry or petty or mean god to wipe me and my new, precious children off this earth.

The first year I anxiously monitored my twins’ every breath, poop, meal and feeding. I kept two journals for one year, for each child, detailing every bowel movement, ounce of breastmilk, then formula, then rice cereal, then organic strained vegetables that they consumed. I analyzed every inch of their bodies when I introduced a new food, and noted if there was even the smallest bit of baby acne on their skin. I used an “angel monitor” under their beds at night, which checked for movement, and detailed the amount of times it went off. I counted every moment they were asleep and awake. I noted each milestone, noted milestones that weren’t hit. I stood like an careworn centurion over my children, guarding them from harm, ready to throw my spear or wield my shield in the battle for their existence.

As the first year rolled into the second, my fear morphed into exhaustion. Even the most vigilant defender needs sleep. I became ill, and each bout of illness triggered panic that I would be unequal to the task of guarding their little lives from the disasters which, certainly, were waiting around every quarter. I got pneumonia. I had bronchitis five times in one year. Our home developed black mold. We had to move. My daughter suffered from some respiratory problems. Then: I got pregnant, without medical assistance, only to lose the pregnancy in the eighth week. The gods had done it again.

Year two rolled into year three. My dad in October, during a visit, observed my grim visage, my emaciated body. My lack of enthusiasm. My fearful waiting for the gods to curse us, again.

He noted: “It pained me to see that you had become a spectator of your own life. You went through each day, with its grueling demands and physical exhaustion, as if you were just putting one foot in front of the other, with no enjoyment, happiness or expectation that life was anything but something to endure.”

He was right. By December I knew in my bones that something was WRONG. With my body and soul. I created my 365 days of joy project to try to take control of this problem.

I blogged, I made new friends, I gained wisdom and insight from wonderful people. And a stirring in my soul arose. To live life again as a child of fortune. To not expect disaster. But mostly, I just wanted to sleep. My arms and legs felt, every day, as if I had run a race the day before. And when I napped, there was no replenishment of energy or oxygen or whatever. I was not living my life fully, and had become a train conductor to my children, guiding them through the many things they needed to do each day. Eat. Use kind words. Use the potty. Get dressed. Get to the car. Go to the classroom without getting hit by a car. Picking them up. Getting them to nap. Fixing a snack. Taking them to get exercise outside. Fixing dinner. Bathtime. Books. Bed. After which, I would crawl into bed with my computer and eat a meal, consumed with lassitude.

Darcy and I politely and not so politely negotiated a routine, so he would wake up with them during the weekends and take care of them then, and I would wearily join the family in the afternoons for outings and family times. Enduring.

When my mom left and Darcy returned, he told me that I had become “the girl problems happened to”. He said, “If I told anyone we know right now that you fell and broke your leg, they would say, ‘It’s Jjiraffe. Of course that happened to her.'”

This profoundly saddened me. Obviously, shit is going to happen. That’s life. There ARE disasters around every corner. The news about my dad just reinforced that. But how do I get beyond the disasters? How do I enjoy this “middle” that I’m in? How do I teach my children that there are jokes to laugh about, carefree afternoons of reading in the sunshine ahead, lazy rivers to watch, astounding vistas to see? Wonderful delicacies to digest?

How do I go beyond enduring? How do I move past my bodily pain and exhaustion? How do I become a person whose problems don’t define them?

Then I had a weird thought: Deepak Chopra. Now I’ve probably lost you. But, my dad once interviewed him. My dad is a Protestant who is deeply skeptical about “New Age ideas”. But he enjoyed speaking with him and thought him wise.

Someone I follow on Twitter re-tweeted Deepak Chopra’s thoughts on joy. I admired them and became a follower of his. After Darcy told me that I had become “the girl that problems happened to”, I wondered what Deepak Chopra would advise. So I did what anyone would do. I sent him a tweet.

Part Two: What Did Deepak Chopra Advise? And what did it mean? No, really, what did it mean?

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “What the Heck Is Wrong With Me Anyway, and What Deepak Chopra Had to Say About It. Part One.

  1. chhandita

    Looking forward to what Deepak Chopra had to say. On my birthday I wrote this “I searched long and hard….

    and realized that all I wanted from life was….

    to love myself
    In spite of being in the middle of a storm, I want to b peaceful and happy
    Just want to find my soul and be content
    Live for the moment…………yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not real…..live from my heart….my soul…don’t want to hide it…
    Have the calm smile of the Buddha
    Learn the reality of life, true value of money, my worth…..”

    Now trying each day to live by these points.

  2. I didn’t realize you’d struggled so much in your life. I’m sorry that things have been so hard. It sounds like you’re ready to make a significant change. I hope you can learn the best way to do that.

    I too struggled with a lot of depression and anxiety over the years. Since high school I’ve been in therapy longer than I haven’t and I’ve spent more years on medication that I haven’t. It’s been a very difficult road, one that was just starting to even out when I started TTC. And of course then I was faced with different challenges.

    I’ve spent a long time figuring out what works best for me, and what doesn’t. I would love to share some of those things, though I know everyone’s journey is different. I hope we can talk about it this weekend, and I have a couple of books I’d love to let you borrow. They helped me very much on my own journey.

    And of course the cliffhanger. I can’t wait to read the next installment of this post!

  3. I’m so glad you’re doing this, J. This is the choice to start the move in the direction of “not this.” Even if you don’t know what “definitely this” is, yet.

    I say again, if you want another resource, you have one and I will tell you something I have to ask myself a lot, “What is RIGHT NOW like?”
    There’s so often “crap” coming, or maybe coming, or went, or was, or could be or almost was. yet, the truth is, most of the time, now is pretty good, but we put blinders on to it as if preparing ourselves for the bad stuff is alike a talisman against it. It doesn’t work. It may still come, and in the meantime we’ve lost the goodness of the moment where we sit.

  4. Wordgirl

    What a thoughtful post. I can relate to so much of it and struggle with much the same things.

    I talk about it with X, G’s ex-wife, whose mother died unexpectedly when X was in her late twenties — and up until then her life had been relatively smooth sailing, so to speak — but after that call — it all changed.

    She and I will talk about people who we perceive as seeming to guide their children through life without envisioning the worst of what can happen — and she’ll say “it’s because they’ve never had the call” — Whatever the call may be — whatever moment that shakes your worldview — it can be profound.

    For me I’ve held onto Gibran’s quote — that the deeper sorrow carves into your soul the more joy you can contain — as for how to move forward in joy — that is what I think about each day. I do think it is in the smallest moments, somehow, transforming expectations into the realization that this is it — this moment where she’s sitting in the garage, on the floor — blowing bubbles — or whatever.

    For me anyway — and everything is harder when you’re depleted — and exhausted — and my goodness TWINS… I am so relieved to be at this point with Z at nearly 18 months because I can finally breathe a little. You must be so tired. You’ll re-emerge, as they continue to gain independence and you can reclaim bits of yourself…I have no doubt.

    I’m so interested to read the next section! Sorry this response is so long!

    XO
    P

  5. I’m so sorry about everything you’ve had to go through in the past and present. It seems like life doesn’t hand out the crap evenly sometimes. I’ve always been a fan of Deepak Chopra–I can’t wait to see if he responded!

  6. Lut C.

    I can’t say my experience mirrors yours, but I have my moments.
    I consider myself an overprotective parent, whilst at the same time doubting there can be such a thing.

    I hope your year of living joyfully does what needs to be done.

    By the way, I just rediscovered that my blog has a spam filter – and one of your comments got caught. :-/

  7. Wow. This is an incredible post, and I’ll look forward to seeking what Deepak Chopra had to say. I was in yoga class tonight, and she’s always so insightful … she talked about the ways that when we are in asana, and we wobble, we try to stiffen to balance ourselves, when if we relax into the wobbliness, that wobbliness holds us … and we become more steady, for having accepted our imbalance. It sounded counterintuitive, but it worked. You are such an amazing person and mother … though I hate “relax,” I wonder if there is a way to embrace our imbalances and become more steady in the process …

  8. Pingback: What the Heck is Wrong With Me Anyway, and What Deepak Chopra Had to Say About It. Part Two. | Too Many Fish to Fry

  9. Wow! What a heartfelt and thought-provoking post! I read part of this earlier this week and knew that I would need to return when I had time to really digest it. I can’t wait to read part 2, as I see you have posted it, but wanted to read part 1 first.

    I am sorry to hear about the great deal of suffering that you have dealt with in your life. You raise such an important question in your post,

    “How do I become a person whose problems don’t define them?”

    I too have struggled with that over the years and often felt like the universe had it in for me.

    There was a time when I believed that everything happens for a reason, but I don’t anymore. I now believe that we can (and should try) to make some good come from everything that happens to us in life (especially the challenges and trials we face).

    I loved reading and contemplating the comments here on your post, as much as your post! What you wrote some candidly really invited some wonderful things to be shared by your readers. Thank you!

    I really like what Tracy said about “What is RIGHT NOW like?” and how “most of the time, now is pretty good.” As I so often get caught up in what “might happen” in the future.

    I also had never heard the Gibran quote that Wordgirl shared, “The deeper sorrow carves into your soul, the more joy you can contain.” I resonated with how she talked about “transforming our expectations into this is it.” Again, those darn expectations get me everytime…

    I was also really moved by what Justine shared from her yoga class. I too practice yoga, but had never heard that take on “wobbliness.” How awesome to think about it that way… “Relaxing into the wobbliness.” I love what Justine’s yoga instructor said/she relayed about how “wobbliness holds us and we become more steady for having accepted our imbalance.”

    So much to chew in your post and having read these comments!

    I will add a link to a post that I wrote this week about “Delicious Ambiguity,” as it addresses some of these same themes. I started with a quote by Gilda Radner about how we deal with life when it doesn’t go our way or at least how we imagined it could or would. While my husband and I were dealing with secondary infertility and loss for over 5 years I thought if only we could have another child that “everything would be alright.” When were were finally able to, I was somewhat surprised to realize that life wasn’t that simple. You can read more in the post here: http://chicagobensons.blogspot.com/2011/05/delicious-ambiguity.html

    Anyway, clearly this post struck a chord with me. I am sending lots of prayers for healing and strength your way. I am proud of you for putting this out here. I am glad that you are receiving so much care and support now. I appreciate that your family was able to be so honest with you, in loving and caring ways, to help you on your path to get better (not bitter) and find joy in your journey. Hang in there. (((HUGS)))

    On to read part 2! 🙂

  10. Pingback: Joy and Pain, It’s Like Sunshine and Rain | Too Many Fish to Fry

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