When You’re Sinking Fast

Oh, friends.

When we sink, we sure can sink fast, can’t we?

Like lead.

Just a slip off the ship or a trip at the edge of the cliff and, with a splash, KAPLOOSH, we’re on our way to the depths, stone tied to ankle, confused and plummeting down and down and down into the water, wondering if we’re done for.

…Or we sink so slowly we don’t even realize we’re under water until we can’t find breath. That happens, too.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter how quickly we sink, does it? We die without oxygen either way, whether we’re just barely beneath the surface or in the darkest waters.

I hope you’ll bear with me here. I know I’m usually a Pollyanna-style optimist with a side of sass and sarcasm, goofy and grubby in life and in writing, but I’m burdened today with the sorrow of friends who are suffering, so this will tend more toward the grit and grime and, perhaps, by the end, if we’re lucky, to the good again.

In the last two days, you opened up your hearts to your fellow mamas in the wild. You were honest. Transparent. Sweet and sad. Lovely and lonely. Hurting and hopeful. You wrote that you are frustrated. You wrote that you are angry. You wrote that you feel stuck. You wrote that you’re grateful. You wrote wondering if it ever gets better. You wrote to say that it does. And your vulnerability was a gift to us all; to us, the people of the wilderness who are searching for the Village and holding hands in the dark until we get there. 

At the same time you were writing your words of transparency and truth, friends in my small town were processing the sudden and surprising loss of one of the Mama Tribe to circumstances we don’t yet – and may never – understand. 

And so I’ve spent the last few days pondering what it means to be part of this messy, muddy, magical mystery that is life. Pondering how few firm answers we have. Pondering how to be a deeper community. A more inclusive whole. A safer sanctuary. And better friends. 

We’re just so tired sometimes, aren’t we? So tired and done in. And some days the negative thoughts win. And we’re so hard on ourselves to boot. The grace we so easily give to others is so hard to accept on our own behalf.

I’ve suspected for a long time that this feeling or fear of not being enough is less about us and our ability to be all things to all people and is far more about our desperate need for community. For come-unity. For belonging. For being a part of a bigger whole. For being loved. For being valued. For being viewed as precious. Important. Worthy. Irreplaceable. Our feelings of inadequacy, I bet, are trying to tell us we need each other. 

I don’t have any answers for us today, except to say that you are, friends, deeply worthy of limitless love. Of extraordinary value. 

And I’ll end with words of wisdom from our community here, because they’re important to share. 

From G Arrow:

We are enough, my people, we are. This day we have done our best, no matter how much milk we have left. No matter that we told the kids to knock it off or cuddled them or shut a door and wept. No matter how much money we have or how little. And I tell you and myself, we are magnificent, … we are mighty as we curl up on dark nights and wait for the light of another dawn that somehow always comes. We have carried so much, have lost so much, have been stripped and have died over and over, have drowned and somehow found new lungs. We are a force, all of us.

And paraphrased from Mary:

Hang in there, friends. And yell at the moon. 

With love, truly,

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7 responses to “When You’re Sinking Fast”

  1. It is not easy to live our lives. Constant struggles to find balance, to be a good parent, not too strict, not too soft. Wondering if we are doing enough, are we doing too much, what else should we be doing? The feeling of inadequacy is harsh and always looming. Waving in the dark and sending hugs to you all. You are never alone.

  2. I’ve been hiding my head in the sand about this news story. I have a certain unbeatable optimism even in my worst moments–my fear is for my husband, who once told me, “I don’t always feel like I deserve to take my anti-depressants.” I think of another loving husband and father we were privileged to know–our teacher when we took a year long intermediate mountain climbing course–who ended his own life. It’s not just Mamas who battle darkness.

    In the past two weeks, my daughter spent the night at grandma’s (we were supposed to have a date night, but my husband got food poisoning instead), then we had a day of appointments and schlepped the kids off to one friend in the morning and another in the afternoon, then I had a workshop to attend today–and my daughter has been in tears every day for three days. Tonight I was singing Amazing Grace and she started crying in my arms. “That church song makes me think of my little sister and grandpa,” both of whom have died. Her birth mom used to leave them alone for days, and then when the state took over, the kids felt like she had permanently abandoned them by choice.

    I am a crappy parent all too often, but I am HERE and I am staying here. There may be times when that’s all I can say for myself, but to my kids, that’s something.

  3. I read so many of the posts of moms who were wavering in one way or another but I guess I didn’t get to all of them. I pray for that mom and the family she left behind. I can only imagine how much they are hurting. She must have been in agonizing pain and no one saw it. This is strictly a hypothetical guess and in no way am I making this about the loss of this mom but rather I’m making it and pointing it towards me. I have been a dear friend to someone, a mom, who took her very life in front of me. In front of her family of five and all who knew her. I saw things that were flags looking back on it. Her husband did as well. So did her mom. Would she still be here had we did or said something different? We will never know but what we took away from it were what signs of depression, signs of defeat, and signs of hopelessness look like. We saw these but we didn’t see these as signs then. We do now.

    I pray she has eternal peace now and is made new. I pray for all those who loved her as well.

  4. Thanks for writing this. This has weighed heavy on me, too… and even in the not knowing, the never-met-her, the lack of connection, I feel this loss, this I wish-I-had-known-her-ness, I wish I could have helped, I wish she knew she wasn’t alone, she was enough as she was, she was loved for her whole self, flaws and all. Somehow knowing she could go to this place, feel she must find this end, makes us all feel a bit more distant, our connections are that much more fragile, and I guess all the more worthy of protecting. Anyways. Thanks.

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