I live in less than 80 square feet, but I can’t find the stamps I bought before I last went to Chicago. I’m upset about the schedule with the kids, jittery adjusting to a new antidepressant, and still reeling from the Sandy Hook shootings. I’ve got holiday cards to mail, this week’s rent to pay, an almost-empty bank account, and barely enough money for a one-way Greyhound ticket back to Chicago after my pre-arranged ride backed out. A third check for freelance work’s been lost in the mail, and despite confronting my mailman no one has any answers. I’m rationing pain medicine like it’s stockings in wartime, taking it only when I can’t bear to be human otherwise. I have no idea whether money will come before I leave for Chicago on Friday, and I have no idea how I’m getting back to NYC once my time with the kids is done.
Freaking out doesn’t help anyone. At my sponsor’s behest I’ve been praying for the people I hate/dislike/can’t stand/want to disappear. I’ve also been praying for me, that I can weather this latest storm with more grace than I have previous weather systems. And I stocked up on Harold Kushner books at the library last night, after I spent hours huddled there using the wifi to catch up on Gossip Girl, Bones, and The New Girl. I also got a couple of books about prayer and Judaism and finding spirituality in a screwed-up world. If I know anything it’s that I need to look inward for the solutions rather than seeking them from the outside, but the knowledge doesn’t make it any easier.
So it’s back to a day at a time, sometimes an hour or thirty seconds or five minutes at a time. It’s back to meetings and talking to my sponsor and meditating and writing things down and taking deep breaths and apologizing when I make mistakes (which is often). It’s back to remembering I’m human and doing the best I can and forgiving myself when I fall short (also often), and it’s back to attempting to be care-full (full of care) with others and myself. In short, it’s back to the basics which are anything but easy.
And I’m writing here to let you all know I’m okay without actually being okay. The fog of depression has lifted to some extent, thanks to modern medicine, but it’s still a process of progress that will never be done as long as I’m alive. It’s a process of coming to terms not only with all of what I’ve lost but all the things I’ve gained that should engender gratitude. It’s realizing that this year has been threadbare but that I’ve survived under conditions many people would find unthinkable. It’s acknowledging that I have strength that is present even when I’m at my most desperate, that I’m still here despite the odds.
A few months ago my brother asked me when I’d know if things weren’t going to work in New York City. I told him that this was the end of the line, that I had no Plan B. This isn’t entirely true — if I ended up actually on-the-street homeless, I don’t know what I’d do then. But, for now, I don’t have any better ideas. I made this leap of faith to make a better life for myself, which would in turn allow me to be a better mother to my children. So far, it’s not working out as I’d hoped… but it’s working out in a perverted down-to-the-bones sort of way. And even if it’s not how I imagined it would happen, well, I’m still in New York City and I have a roof over my head and food in my house that I will eat for dinner tonight while I sit on my bed and watch television in a warm place.
No matter what material successes (or failures) I have, no matter whether I find the stamps or the cards go unmailed, no matter if I spend four days or five with my teenage son, no matter if I have to sell three hundred books for my Greyhound ticket back to the city, I’m still here. Call it bragging, call it whatever, I don’t really care. It’s important for me to say and to point out. Even if I leave New York City tomorrow (and I won’t), I’ve done this, and that’s something not a lot of people can say.