Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise*

“We have absolutely no tolerance for uncertainty.”
– Pema Chodron, Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears


Ahhh, relaxing yoga with the boys ... that's Upward Facing Floor Mat.

This past week, I got reacquainted with my depression and anxiety. We had fallen out of touch; I never called and seldom emailed. I “defriended” them on Facebook. I deleted them from my cell phone. Even so, I would stare out the window now and then, peering down the street to see when — not if — they would pay another visit.

I’m not sure how I feel writing a blog showcasing my deepest, darkest feelings. Unless I think it will help. Then I feel pretty good about it. That word, ‘help,’ is tricky. I think of “getting help” from therapists; my mom telling me her view of life and mothering so it might “help” me feel better.

“Help yourself!”

An offer to take-what-you-want. Or, to get over it … to stand up for yourself.


I get flack sometimes from my husband for reading what he calls “self-help” books. Why do you need these people telling you what to do? They’re a sham; each one says something different about the same thing! There will always be a “they” who thinks they know better than you do about X, Y, Z …!

Like most things in my life, I had to experience something to actually know and understand my husband’s disdain on a deep level. That something was the birth of my children. Until then, I truly assumed that the answer — to my never-ending questions of “why am I not happy?” — lay somewhere OUTSIDE me. When I gave birth, inside became outside. Certainty became uncertainty. Dreams became the present.

And every goddamn parenting book, website, magazine, blog, newsletter — told me that I knew nothing about raising my babies and I needed their help or else I, and my kids, would suffer irreparable damage.

For most women, I guess this wealth of knowledge OUT THERE might be a good thing. I don’t know. But for me it was the kiss of death. Overnight I became a giver-of-life, and I was scared shitless that I would not be able to keep this tiny being alive. And certain facts seemed to confirm this. The baby’s inability to latch on and nurse. The most natural thing in the world! What my body was meant to do! My flat nipples (which I did not think were MALFORMED until I read about it). The baby’s unexplained drop in body temperature four days after he was born. Having to go back to the hospital. Still no nursing.

I was a wreck at my 6-week postpartum check up. I was drowning in constant, pounding waves of uncertainty. I was trying to swim straight to shore against a riptide. It was pulling me under.

I’ve learned a few things the hard way since then. So when depression and anxiety stopped by last week, I listened closely to every word they said. I leaned in when their voices dropped to a whisper. I even embraced them, just once, before they said their goodbyes. It was physically painful at times. I wanted, wanted, wanted. Wished, wished, wished. I desired so strongly for them to GO AWAY. To be free of them forever.

Instead, I tried some Pema-style freedom. Some yoga-style freedom. The freedom that comes from refusing to fight against yourself, your insides. I practiced ahimsa on myself — for once. It’s taken over five years for me to work up an emerging tolerance for the uncertainty of my life. Would “they” have known how to do it better, faster, less painfully? Maybe so. But really, who cares…?

* From the Surangama Sutra, a Buddhist text.

4 thoughts on “Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise*

  1. I wish that I knew you had “malformed” nipples, too! We could have worked together to “correct” our “problem”. I had the same problem. no idea there was a problem until someone told me that women’s nipples are supposed to stick out….

    Anyhow, glad you have found a way to center yourself. I will have to take pointers from you since I am working hard to do the same but lately have turned to meds to get me going.

  2. @Amanda: Yes, please, let’s compare our malformed nipples one day! Of course, mine no longer ressemble nipples … yet I know that this is what they must be. 😉 Or so I’m told.

    As for centering myself, the disclaimer is that this works only some of the time for me — kind of like I imagine with meds (contrary to what I think most ppl believe). BTW, I constantly consider taking meds. And I try pretty much any thing at any one time to just get by; for example, this past week it’s been chocolate, wine, carbo loading, and some yoga and running (in that order). And I was STILL a raging lunatic yesterday. I blame PMS, but it still sucked. And “turning to meds” doesn’t make you weak or somehow “less enlightened.” At least in my book.

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