A Momrade in Need Is a Momrade, Indeed

This is the message I received from Not Susanna today:

Beth,

We haven’t met. I’ve participated some on your blog. I recently moved with my family to be nearer to our extended family and to have more living space. We left 14 years of friends and connections and memories.

I apologize in advance for dumping this on you. Possibly this is not good boundary setting, but I don’t feel like there is anyone else I can tell who won’t completely freak out. I just need someone to sit next to me and say that they understand and that I am not crazy and that they don’t know how to fix it, either.

I am so tired. I am tired of feeling. Tired of feeling sad, feeling scared, feeling lonely, feeling responsible. I just want to hide from it all for a while. I am numbing the pain with food and the Internet and a confusing pendulum swing between busy-ness and lethargy. I am terrified to try alcohol or pills or shopping. But all the feelings are exhausting.

I walked down the sidewalk this morning in a part of town where no one knows me and I had to fight to keep from lying down and giving up. I went into the bathroom in a public library and had to fight to keep from curling up in the corner of the floor.

I am not okay. I am lost inside. I don’t know how to make decisions anymore. This is horrible and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I am tired of being brave. I am tired of being unknown,  but I am also tired of introducing myself.

I don’t know if I have time for friends. I don’t know what I can or should commit to. I can’t seem to make myself make a schedule/routine and stick to it. Even though I know that I am a person who feels safer and more competent when I have a schedule/routine.

Just shout out a prayer for me would you? Likely I will feel better in a couple of days. I am going to try to keep treading water until then.

Thanks. I hope this doesn’t find you huddled in the corner (literal or metaphorical) hiding from your world, but if you are, please know that you aren’t alone.

Now I have to walk into a new-to-me grocery store, find and buy things on my list and hope to hold it together if/when the clerk asks about my day.

Not Susanna ( <– not her real name. Obviously.)

Oh, momrades. I SO GET THIS. We ALL get this, yes? WE HAVE ALL BEEN THERE. I wish it wasn’t so — I wish, I wish — but this is part of the Mama Condition. And part of the Human Condition. A piece of it. A gigantic, hard to chew, impossible to swallow piece of the Human Pie.

And Not Susanna is So Right. I can’t fix it because I’ve lost my magic wand, and Jesus keeps forgetting to act like one, even though I keep telling him and telling him I think that should be in his job description.

Besides, all of our “fixes” are different. Some of us (ME, for example) need medical assistance; our brain chemistry demands it. Some of us need TIME. Some of us need Wise Counsel, professional and otherwise, and some of us need friends to wave in the dark and let us know we’re not alone, though it feels so very much like we are, while we wait for dawn, which is inevitable but oh-so-slow to arrive, like waiting for the watched pot to boil. Some of us need all of the above, a cocktail made of medicine and patience (which I hate) and counseling and mamaraderie and finding the elusive Village, and so I send my thoughts and my prayers — which is a way we beckon Love closer — to Not Susanna.

Love to you, Not Susanna, while you wait.

I wrote to Not Susanna, in part…

I want to lay down in a meadow with you.

Which sounds a little suggestive, now that I think about it. I should probably think before I speak and before I write, but where’s the fun in that? NOWHERE, I suspect, so I’ll add it to a list of other “shoulds” I never intend to actually do, like balancing my checkbook and making my bed.

I want to lay down in a meadow with you,

I wrote to Not Susanna, and also,

It will have wild flowers and be surrounded by mountains with pine trees and the sky will be cobalt with big, white, fluffy clouds that will drift in front of the sun. There will be only charming, small beetle bugs and no gnats or flies or wasps, and the ground will be spongy and soft and dry and we shall not twist our ankles as we walk to the very middle of the field and lay down on our backs and find shapes in the clouds.

We will rest.

Other momrades will join us. They’ll drift from the trees, the young with babies on their hips and the crones full of wisdom and grace, and they’ll lay down beside us and look to the sky and remind us that mamas go ahead of us and come behind, and we will be each other’s cadre, present to support and defend. 

Love to you. And laying on the sidewalk, too.

xoxo,

B

And, so in conclusion, I invite you to be each other’s cadre today. To support and defend. And to send messages of love to Not Susanna and to each other in the comments below.

Thank you for being our people.

With love,

Signature

 

 

 

P.S. I was supposed to write you yesterday with our book review of September’s Escapist Book Club book, The Golem and the Jinni. But THINGS, guys. Things. I hope we’ll do this tomorrow.

P.P.S. And today’s blog post is supposed to be the introduction of our October Escapist Book Club book. But see above, which didn’t happen yesterday. So maybe Monday? But it’s picked! And I’m excited! Coming soon!

P.P.P.S. I think we can agree Not Susanna is more important right now than even books, though, which is Saying Something, because books. Mamaraderie and the Village, though, are at the top of the priority list. Now and always.

P.P.P.P.S. Also, this, friends:

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
24 comments
  1. Hi Not Susannah,
    It’s been a month since Beth’s post, and I hope time has helped. I battled the dark and the sadness for way too long, and almost put myself in the permanent dark. One day I realized I was so tired, and the sadness was making me more tired. I went to a dr and told them my head, my heart, my soul was just so darned sad and tired. They helped me, and I now live without the sadness. Sometimes I get sad, but I don’t get SAD, unless it’s something that SAD is all too appropriate for.

    Remember this: Every day is new. It takes one small decision to begin to change your life. Each day is a chance to make your life something extraordinary.

    Ask for help if you need to. I myself get caught in the cycle of overwhelmed. I forget that sometimes on the outside it may appear like I have it together, even when I am a big old mess inside. When I finally ask for help, people say “If I knew you needed help I would have offered ages ago!”. I hate asking for help when the world seems to much, or I am not my best, but I am always better for it.

    Hang in there.

  2. Today is a dark day for me. I can’t even decide why. Usually on these days I come to Beth as she always makes me feel loved and welcome even though I don’t know her either. I cried reading your letter. You wrote the exact things I am feeling. Except I haven’t moved. I feel like on my good days I am treading water. My bad days I come up for air as often as I can. But mostly I’m suspended without the ability to function on a basic level. Except I do function because we have to keep going. My husband stays home with the kids and I work which is hard because I still do ALL THE THINGS but I get no breathing room. There might be 20 minutes of breathing room on any given day and it goes to my husband since he has kept the kids alive for the day. This makes me grateful and resentful. I keep thinking “if only” insert a million different things there. I want to be happy where I am with who and what I am but I don’t know how. Happiness is this balloon that I accidentally let go and I’m just watching it float high above me with no way to retrieve it. So, yeah…you’re not alone. I hope it gets better for you. I hope it gets better for all of us. Much love and well wishes from NC.

  3. Not Susannah,
    It’s been 13 days since Beth posted this, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. I’m Not Susannah, too – 16 years in my old place before we moved eight weeks ago to bring our family closer to my in-laws and, eventually, potentially, the family business. I get all of it that you wrote, 100%. I miss belonging, so, so much. I miss the web of connections that meant that I had support and that I gave support, every day. I miss being noticed, and needed, and valued. I feel invisible now, even in this new huge city.

    And still, I have these two little people who left everything they know, too, and who need me to Make the Lunches and Do the School Pickups and Put A Good Face on Everything. So I do, except with this harsh edge of grumpiness, because I’m not someone who does best when 67% of my social circle is under the age of 10. And I lie down on the floor most nights after the bedtime battles are through, and I really, seriously think about not getting up.

    And my in-laws are lovely, truly lovely, but we’ve always been family-at-a-distance, so I’m still treated as a guest, which is, in the grand scheme of things a good In-Law problem to have, but doesn’t take the place of the family-of-friends that we left behind. So I show up to the family dinners, and also to the school-friend birthday parties, and I smile and chat and help serve dessert, and the enormous gulf between these parties and the old parties yawns inside me until I think my heart will split in two.

    And I know the “right things” to do, and so I show up to the gym, and the family-friendly activities around town, and toss my name in the hopper for the PTA activity volunteer list, and casually-but-not-desperately mention that “yeah, we just moved down here a few weeks ago.” And I hope so fervently for that one person to say, “Oh, you’re new? Let me add you to our Doing Stuff text circle, and why don’t you bring the kids to this park thing we’re doing on Friday.” And so far it hasn’t happened, and it’s so hard to be the vulnerable lonely one and ALSO feel like you have to be the social initiator.

    So I’m here, waving at you, original Not Susannah, and all the other Not Susannahs coming out of the internet woodwork. I’m lying down with you – but not really, because there are still lunches to be made and little bodies to get from point A to point B. I hope so very much that the tide turns for us all sooner rather than later.

  4. I was walking towards my phone, saying the words “I am so alone, I am so alone.” I was looking for any connection with the outside world, with someone who understood me or cared for me. No e-mails or texts so I thought I would check on how Beth is doing. And there was the letter from/to Not-Susanna. I guess all I can offer you is that there are lots of people out there who understand which probably means that there are some people in your new town who will understand and can sit with you in the dark, helping you light your candle (while feeding you cups of tea) and listening to you. You said you have moved closer to extended family. I don’t know if they can help you out with babysitting so you and your husband can venture forth together to make new friends. Maybe you have moved closer in order to care for people – find out if there are carers’ groups, they might be a way to meet people.
    OK, the relentless small people are calling me. Good luck. Just keep going and be kind to yourself

  5. Thirteen years ago, I had the same experience. Moved across the country with my husband and three kids and no family. After all these years of depression, I am now divorced, have no kids left at home, and very much alone. I’ve yearned for that magic wand to make everything better and am still waiting

  6. OMG, YES!! YES, YES, YES! In all Caps, I know, but YES! How do we all feel so alone in the same struggles? And how grateful are we all to have Beth here to pull together us like-minded mommas as that glimmer of maybe, just maybe, I might just make it through this too.

  7. Dear Not-Susanna,

    There are days when even sitting in my office chair is too hard. All I want to do is lie down on the floor and not move, not think, not feel.
    I have fought back the same impulse to lie down in even the most awkward, or gross, or inappropriate places, too. Lie down and rest a while – even if it feels like that “a while” needs to be the next eight and a half million years. And instead, you stay upright and you keep on going, because what else can you really do? But “keeping on” doesn’t make it go away, it doesn’t make it better, it just makes it harder for everyone else to see how heavy the burden has become.

    Not-Susanna, DEAR Not-Susanna, you are not alone. Even lying on the hard, cold, filthy tile of a strange bathroom – even if it’s only your soul lying there while your body keeps pretending to be OK – My soul is there with yours. Trying to find rest and respite, even when there is no dawn on the horizon.
    That dawn will come, my friend. I promise it always comes – but I will lie here on the tile with you, or in the meadow with you, or wherever it is your soul needs to lie down – until you have rested enough.

  8. Not Susanna, Thank you so much for writing Beth. And Beth, thank you for sharing it. Gosh I have felt (am feeling) all of your feelings. And I nearly cried when I read that you have to go to the grocery store. And find the things. And buy the things. And talk to another stranger as you get checked out… Shopping at a foreign (to me) grocery store has maybe been the hardest part of this move. I feel so dumb. I can never find everything on my list. I visit each aisle at least twice to find all the things, when quite frankly, all I want to buy is ice cream and hard shell topping.

    “I am numbing the pain with food and the Internet and a confusing pendulum swing between busy-ness and lethargy.” I feel like you have been watching me in my living room window. I vacillate wildly between being insanely productive (unpacking, reorganizing) and laying comatose on the couch binge watching Call The Midwives. And all the business that moving requires– the phone calls, the address changes, the finding of new doctors & services… it is so utterly exhausting even if you are feeling well mentally. If you’re not… it feels like moving mountains.

    My advice, if I can offer some, is to focus on one day at a time. Find something you will look forward to today, and find one thing you need to accomplish today. Keep it simple and slowly plod through. Eventually I believe you’ll find a new normal. In the mean time, I will be praying for you (and me) to find friends, to figure out the grocery store, and to find a balance between do-all-the-things and do-nothing-at-all.

  9. Hi Not Susanna,
    My hubby and I moved to Europe. Then Asia. Then to 2 different locations in California. Each time was starting over, with kids. It’s painfully hard. But the fact that it was hard for you to leave your friends means you will make new ones. But new relationships are hard because, like new shoes, they hurt a little and aren’t as comfy as the old ones. But after some time walking in them, they will be your new favorites.

    1. “But new relationships are hard because, like new shoes, they hurt a little and aren’t as comfy as the old ones. But after some time walking in them, they will be your new favorites.” — I want to put this on Pinterest and pin it everywhere. I just moved to a new town and this quote? It speaks my very heart. Thank you so much for giving me a little hope.

  10. I read something once about stress, coincidentally while we were moving to Oregon from another state.
    There were lists.
    Small stress.
    Big stress.

    On the big stress list, the first two items were ‘death of a spouse’ and ‘moving cross country’.

    Having to start over. To learn the spaces and where you fit in. And which spaces are ones you want to be in and which spaces are safe. Then you multiply that by how many people you’re responsible for because you have to make sure they fit in and are safe and are finding their way. And it’s all on you. You’re the tiny stick figure with the whole world balanced (precariously) on your little shoulders. And it’s SO HARD. And it’s not fair! It’s not! It’s all on you. It doesn’t matter if someone is lending you assistance around the edges or even if they’re helping. You still have to do all of that yourself.

    Most of the comments above are of the ‘me too’ variety. Which tells you that we’re living through or have lived through similar circumstances. Let that be a thing you can hold on to… that we made it through and it WAS hard and it wasn’t fair and there is no one way to manage.

    And time goes past and one day you realize you’re actually handling things instead of them yanking you around.

    Reaching out is good. If reaching out here and getting the support isn’t enough to help you feel better, then PLEASE reach out to a professional person or persons who can help you get through this.

    And it’s trite, but true… you’re not alone.

  11. Not Susanna: I’ve been where you are. I have this summer been curled up nearly every day in a puddle of tears on the bathroom floor because of some Hard Things that are going on at our house. Moving, though, is up there on the list of The Worst. It’s so HARD. When my hubby decided he needed to finish his education, and we had to move several hours away (us and our 5 children) from our home and our families and our life, I cried every stinkin’ day for 9 months. EVERY DAY. It was so hard. But God gave me courage and grace to make friends and memories in the new place, and eventually I loved it there. You are in the desert, but you will emerge. Take it one day at a time (that’s scripture) and lean on the Father. You can make it. *hugs* and big Mama waves of love and support from Nebraska

  12. Dearest Not Susannah,

    My heart aches for you, yet I am strangely proud of you for recognizing and owning your life and feelings. I too, left my BFF and friends that turned into family 5 years ago. I miss them everyday. I feel your pain and am waving and listening to you in the dark.

  13. Not Suzanna,

    No words of wisdom . Just….I’ve been there too. Moved to our new place , to be near my husbands family , in Jan. Near Flint MI. The place with the poisoned water. (Not affecting us) . But it is a depressing place to live to be honest . And multiple times a week my husband declares that he really regrets moving here. Its hard to hear so often, when you didn’t want to move here in the first place, because you tried to tell him that his family would not magically welcome us and be better to us once we were close to them. They didn’t change, and now he regrets it. But I left friends and everything I knew, where I grew up. And I’ll be 40 next month, so that’s a lot of years! I have though, met a friend here. We actually connected through Beth’s ComeUnity groups through here!! That was when I still lived two hours from her. But now where close, and super rad friends!! Her friendship saved me in this new dreary place. I have been meaning to tell Beth that. 😉 I just hope, wish, and pray the very best for you. Me and the kiddos have found our favorite places in the area, and just try to frequent them as much as we can. I have taken the opportunity to be much more outgoingly friendly to people and try to start up conversations with strangers. NOT my normal. Sometimes it turns into a connection, often not. And just today I was out running errands, I had a few more to go, but I got overwhelmed with still not knowing how to get anywhere without my gps, and the glumness of the city, so I decided to come home and take a nap instead. I’m glad you wrote Beth, I hope it helped to just get it out <3 And we are all waving to you in the dark <3

  14. Just keep swimming. Say it like Dory. Say it a lot.

  15. Not Susannah,
    I’m so sorry you are drowning. I’m thankful that you’re continuing to tread water, tho. Hang on, girl. And try to find a good therapist. I know it sucks to think of introducing yourself to yet another person, but this person’s job will be to help you find the shore. We moved five years ago to a new town to be closer to extended fam after living in the same area for 14 yrs, too, and we’re finding our bearings. I pray you can grieve what you’ve lost and look around to see what you can like about your new home. Take it one day at a time or some days, one minute at a time. Waving in the dark. Much love. You will survive this.

  16. Three years ago, we moved 300 miles from where I had lived my entire life. It has been through the magic of the Buy Nothing Project, that I have made friends and connections that rival those of my past home of nearly 30 years. I highly recommend you check out buynothingproject.org and find a group in your area. It is a group based on kindness and getting to know your neighbors. In the meantime, sending love to Not Susanna and all the other mamas out there who are barely treading water. Sharing the boogie board I have, even if it is a little tattered and overburdened.

  17. Dear Not Susannah,

    Depression sucks. By reaching out the way you did, that was a throat punch to Depression. Someone needs to kick Depression’s ass, and that someone is you . . . and me . . . and all of us who have met that weasle called Depression.

    Every day, do ONE thing that spits in Depression’s eye. Whether it’s showering, putting on pants, calling a friend, taking a walk, or going to an actual kick-boxing class (triple gold stars for that), do ONE thing. Keep on. Keep on. Kick booty.

    ❤️

  18. Dear Not Susanna, I think if any woman says she hasn’t been where you are, she’s… well, I don’t know if she exists. I don’t know if it helps, but when you look around in that dark, see the flickers of tiny lights from other Momrades in the distance, holding a candle in unity. Hold on and keep treading. It will get better and you will find your way. Because you are stronger than you know. And it’s ok to not be for a while.

    I’ll keep you in my prayers and hope that wherever you are, the sun shines bright and warm on you tomorrow.

    God bless,
    Jen

  19. Hey, Not Susannah, I am in Indiana, and if you are near, you can come collapse on my couch. If you are far away, you can pretend you’re at my house. I have tea and cookies. I haven’t moved to a new house and I’m also tired of all the feelings. You are my hero for being coherent enough to ask for help, because that’s too much for me most days. Waving and sending hope, momrade.

  20. Not Susanna,

    I would wander into the meadow with you and Beth. I’ve been where you are…a few times, actually. With each move we’ve made, I’ve been there. To be new again. To not know my way and why is everyone looking at me to take care of them to make them feel at home? To not have my shield…and damn that sidewalk looks comforting.

    But so many of us are alone together and I just wanted you to know I’m here.

  21. I’m not Susannah. I mean I am. Sometimes. A lot of times. Today I am okay. But maybe not tomorrow. Tomorrow I will start packing up a house to move. A house that has way too many things. I should get rid of over half the things. But realistically, I won’t. That will be way too much for me, even though I wish I could do it. I will spend too much time looking at drawing and pieces of paper deciding if I should keep them. And even thinking about it is overwhelming. And this is me on a good day. One can just imagine the bad!

    So, Not Susannah, I get it. I’ve been you. Sometimes for reasons I consider legitimate, like a health crisis or death of a loved one or unending stress, but sometimes just because I’m
    Me I guess.

    Once, before I had a husband and kids, it crossed my mind to just quit. Just quit everything. Like, you know, sit in the floor of the house and do nothing. I wondered how long it would take to be missed or found. I didn’t do it. I still wonder.

    Sometimes it gets better because it just gets better, situations change. Sometimes I have to work really hard. And sometimes all the work in the world just doesn’t work. If knowing you are not alone helps, well I think you will have a lot of help.

    I wish you could come to my house and sit on my sofa and we would drink sodas and cry and laugh and curse. Not as pretty as a meadow but I’d love it!

  22. Dear Not Susannah, I fear I may fall more toward Beth’s descriptor of Old Crone than Baby on Hip, but I,too, have been where you are. Beth pegged me when she said some of us are “all of the above.” It”s nearly impossible to see how far into the Black Hole you are until you get help. It is at that point that you realize three critical things: 1) yes, you are in a black hole, 2) you’re not alone, and 3)because you now have the proper professional/ medical assistance, there is light at the end of your tunnel. I’m one of those momrads in the meadow with you.

  23. Oh, Not Susannah,
    I have been in your shoes. Sometimes I find myself there again for a period. I don’t have any magic for you. I wish I had magic for you and a little for myself. I can tell you that it won’t always feel like it does today. It won’t. And until then just keep repeating that to yourself. Waving in the dark.

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