I cut my nails short.
It’s a symbolic gesture to myself, one that serves to remind me to take care of myself while preparing for what’s to come. My fingernails have always grown long, strong and have been one of my vanity loves about myself, but I need them short right now.
Right now I am fighting with all of my everything not to fall down a deep depressive hole even though all the usual suspects are present. Loss, grief, stress, anxiety that reaches the moon, feeling and being out of control of my life. Having life move and change far too quickly for me to adapt to. Living with very strong trauma reminders (not triggers exactly, but reminders) and it would be so incredibly easy to just free fall to the bottom of that dark pit and sleep.
I don’t want that to happen though. Life is fucking terrifying, but right now it’s pretty terrifying for everyone I know. Taking a step back from the usual subjects of a depressive episode and pretending for at least a few minutes that there is a different American President, there is so much good in my life and possible in my life right now.
Val and I are back together and happy. I’m finding the ability to write again. The kids are all doing well and turning into lovely little people. Poly life is interesting. The world can change in a way that works better for me than how it has operated for a long time. I am closer to the life that I want than I have been in a very long time.
I “just” have to keep myself from falling down that hole, from self-sabotage (my depressive acting out of choice), from getting too deep into an anxiety hole. (Totally different than a depressive one for me, just as hard if not harder to get out of.) “Just” have to keep myself making steps forward and I can get to a level of okay that has been unfathomable until recently.
What the fuck does this have to do with my nails?
My nails are short and polished so that if I do fall down those holes, or if I start to slide, I don’t tear them off climbing back up. They are short and strong, they can grab hold, they can scratch and dig if needed. Chips in polish are little signs where I was fighting back. Scrubbing a floor, building lego sets, typing hard enough I should fear to break my keyboard.
So if – let’s be honest – when I do fall into a hole, one less part of me will be bloody and broken.
I was working on a series of posts covering the highlights of #sfs17, the Twitter account for my clit @ClitstaAnne, the amazing panel #sfs17bodies, a mock workshop on how to craft a 30 talk by the seat of your pants cause you kinda forgot you were presenting, awesome times with wonderful people.
They are all drafts in different stages of completion, all things I want to write about, but Thursday afternoon my Grandma died. A lot of my summer, almost all of July, I was doing end of life care for her with my mom. She was 94, her body was simply breaking down. Lots of little things that had her fading fast. All of Sunday at the summit was lost to an epic migraine, Monday morning I woke to pack up and discovered that my Mom and Aunt has rushed Gram to the ER. Pneumonia and singles. Part of me know she wasn't coming home, but I wasn't ready for the call.
Cause you're never ready for that call. I'm lucky that I had her for the first 35 years of my life. She knew all of my children. She saw me stop fucking up and making my own weird life. My Dad missed all of that. Mae counted as one of my parents. Lived with her for most of my childhood, she was a powerhouse of a woman who taught me feminism, civil engagement, sex education. She is why I'm me and I do this. It's in my blood from her. She spent years driving across Milwaukee doing home school for "unwed teenage mothers" so they could get a diploma. She hid marriage and pregnancy to finish getting her degree, doing post grad with sick toddlers at home.
She fucking survived polio.
She was endlessly proud of me, forward thinking and tolerant. She introduced me to her friends who are a gay couple as like any other couple, in the midst of the AIDS crisis. She was very active in the Methodist church, but have no fucks when I became a pagan as an adult. She only cared if you were a caring person.
I'm unmoored without her in the world.
If you follow me on Twitter you've seen me talking about what a strange monster grief is. I've lost so many people in my life, recently even, but this leave the hole that my father's death did. I know it was weeks until I was semi okay and functional from his passing, talking years that I didn't constantly think about it. My relationship with Gram Mae was less complicated but more loving. Deeper and more fleshed out. I've been saying I didn't know how is react to the actual news and that's all true. I think I'm still in shock.
Grief is a strange monster. It's unpredictable and crushing. I'm deep in it.
I need to be working, I need to be looking for more stable employment, I need to be writing again.
I need better waterproof mascara.
One of the most annoying things about me, too me, is that when I'm upset enough I should be saying something, I can't make words. PTSD says RUN at emotions that are too strong. When I'm unmoored. So words sick in my throat and I twitch while my brain is burning down. Mental illness is super fun. Grief is a strange monster.
Eventually I'll be okay, nothing has knocked me down for good yet, but okay is far off and I'm not going to hide that. (If you'd rather not see that for whatever reason, I'm keeping those tweets #strangemonster. Mute away.)
For now, I'm respecting my sadness as much as possible while also trying to keep my head above water. I put on makeup that says otherworldly and vaguely threatening, put on galaxy pants and a hoodie dress.take it until you make it doesn't work here for me, it is so what you can to keep moving and let that be a success.