Friday, August 15, 2014

Great. No asterisk.

Look at that: I had a summer! I decided that I would spend the time after the kids were back in school to talk about the summer, but use the summer to, well, summer. We did a bunch of things, mostly documented pictorially on Instagram (I'm peehee over there). The kids finished school, Joel and I rode the Denver Century again, this time accompanied by my parents and some friends. Then we rode the Triple Bypass. We also spent hours at the pool and playing here and there. Ainsleigh got braces. And our last big act of the summer was a week in Kauai with my entire family. It's been busy and relaxing, if that's possible. I'll get to all of that another day.

A couple weeks ago someone, in passing, asked me how I was doing. You know, when you're saying hi to someone without breaking your stride and tack on the "how're you doing?" but don't expect someone to give you more than a 1-2 word reply? That sounds insincere, and it is, though we all do it without being intentionally insensitive, right? Well anyway, someone asked and I answered, "Great." And then something happened.

As that person kept walking, I kind of felt a half-giggle rise up from inside. I've been answering that question for seven months now, always feeling like my "Great" came with an asterisk next to it. An invisible asterisk that few people even knew existed but was attached to the description: "Not great. In fact, kind of miserable, but I don't have the time/energy/desire to go into it right now." But this time, something was different. That asterisk wasn't there. That asterisk was heavy. That asterisk was sad. And for the first time in seven months, I realized that when I said, "Great," I meant it.

Later, I was driving around, considering that whole exchange. I wouldn't say that I feel like a burden has been lifted, but rather my view has been cleared. My mind feels cleaner, not crowded. I feel...happy.  I'm know everyone's experiences with depression are different, but for me it was a lot of tension. I still have a lot to do (ugh, getting the kids ready and off and successful before and during the first week of school is complicated!) and we have (big) plans to change some things in our kitchen, but I actually feel like I can handle it.

I've learned a couple new things. First, I think Ainsleigh going into junior high was weighing heavily on me. My seventh grade year was miserable. It was a new school and none of my elementary school friends went there. I spent the first couple weeks trying to make friends, but mostly just eating my lunch very slowly and then walking around the school so maybe it wouldn't be so obvious that I didn't have friends. After that, I made a friend and for a week or two it was ok and then she moved. I mean, come on! So there I was again. Eventually, I did make a couple friends. But it was a slow process, and I never felt like I fit in.

But this is what I realized recently: Ainsleigh's experience will not be my experience. Um, duh. First of all, we're completely different people. Second, she's going to seventh grade knowing a ton of people. Third, we've been up there to the school and it's amazing. I don't know who these people are who willingly teach junior high, but they are saints. As it dawned on me that she might even enjoy junior high, I felt relief wash over me. Since then, I have felt much better about this new phase of life for her.

The morning I drove her to her first day of class, I wore sunglasses just like I have every first day of school since she started kindergarten. I could not believe how many teachers and security guys were out directing traffic, clapping and shouting and fist-pumping and welcoming kids and parents to school. It looked, dare I say it, FUN. All these smiling, happy people dedicated to making my girl have a positive experience, with her sitting next to me eager to see what her day would be like, ensured that my sunglasses were good cover for the tears welling up in my eyes. I was able to hold it together until she shut the door and skipped off to meet her homeroom teacher. And then I let those tears streak down my cheeks the whole way home.

But I didn't feel the anxious, despairing sadness I've had for months. Just the same mixture of pride and gratitude (and a little sadness) that accompanies every milestone. I'm ok with that.

Several weeks ago I was getting my haircut and my hairdresser (who is amazing - best head massage ever. And if you don't think that's important, then you've never had a good head massage) was asking me about my summer. When I told him about the Triple Bypass he commented that he sees tons of cyclists riding up Mt. Evan.

"It just looks like so much work," he said. "And nobody looks like they're having any fun!"

I thought about that for a moment and then replied, "Ah yes, it is a ton of work. And going down is fun because it's fast and thrilling. But you know what? When you're going uphill, it can be slow and tedious, and sometimes you're by yourself and it seems like a grind. But those are the moments where you can really look around and view the world from a new vantage point. You see beauty like you wouldn't in a car. You notice details and appreciate things in a new way. Going slow can be hard, but it also carries its own rewards."

And then I realized what I had just said was also a good description of the previous seven months. Sometimes, things get hard. But I have been acutely aware of good friends, supportive family, and a loving husband who haven't pushed me harder than I could go, instead giving me consistent love and compassion and validation.

I don't know what tomorrow or next week or next year may hold, but for now I am enjoying what happy feels like. For now, I'm great.


laura said...

Just gonna need to put on my sunglasses here at my desk thinking about Ainsleigh starting SEVENTH GRADE...

And hooray that you're feeling better!

Wanda said...

Well said. I'm filing that cycling analogy in with my other "Life's Lessons Learned From Cycling" stories. Glad you are feeling better.

Becca said...

Aww that makes me smile about Ainsleigh's first day. She is so awesome, I know she will love it. I'm happy that you are feeling back to yourself again.

Nataluscious said...

I rarely read blogs anymore, but for some reason I read this. Love my Sarah. So Much.

Annie said...

Happy for you and happy to read your blog!