2011 was hard. When I look back on it, it feels like my life was covered in a dense fog, I felt like I couldn't breathe. I felt helpless and lost all of the time. Physically, aside from my snakebites and my super long, healthy hair, I do not look that different (which is nice since I am pushing 30), but emotionally I was a walking wreck.
I was the new mother of not one, but two adorable chunky babies, who in the picture were 18 months and 6 months. My postpartum depression came back with vengeance the second time around, and I spent most of my days crying, in bed, or both. My husband, who had worked his butt off in architecture school only to graduate into a perishing job market, had recently found a job selling cars, so he was gone every day, all day, and really only came home to sleep (sleep meaning, laying down but not relaxing because the baby never slept). Looking back now I realize how lucky I was to have a partner at all, but I also remember how lonely I was. Believe it or not, when you get pregnant at 21, and then again a few months later, your friends seem to just vanish, one by one. I never had that many to begin with, and aside from two elderly grandparents, my family is non-existent. I was extremely depressed and lonely.
Two babies at one time is not easy for anyone, but it was only worsened by the fact that I had no help, nor could I afford paid help because even if I could get a job to help with money, all of the money I made would just be going straight to their childcare. I felt the lowest I ever had in my life. I woke up every day to a screaming, inconsolable newborn, and spent all day trying to make him just be okay, all while also making sure my 1-year-old didn't hurt himself, and was fed, napped, changed, read to, and loved. Any and all conversations I had were either chatting with my 1-year-old, pleading with my newborn "why are you crying? just tell me what is wrong and I will make it all go away?" or via text message. I was so lonely, guys, and exhausted. My whole body felt like it was filled with sand, and like every step was a close one. I remember moms and other people telling me "it gets better" and having to fight the urge to choke them. My friend Erin explained it best when she said, "you can't pour from an empty cup" and I was bone dry. I cried all the time; I woke up every day afraid, and went to bed every night feeling worthless.
Now when I look back on those babies in my lap, I just wish I could do it all over again. I look at them now, 5 and 6, and I see my worth crystal clear. I can look back on those days and remember how my heart broke every day, and also smile and be proud of myself for powering through. I am proud of myself and of the humans I am raising. I am proud that I finally chose to be the light that I needed in my life, instead of looking to others to chase away my own darkness. I started treating myself like a friend instead of an enemy, I began to look in the mirror and say, "don't be so hard on yourself", and I began forgiving myself. I traded my snakebites for a nose ring, I took a few semesters of college and even made the Dean's List, and of course, I started The Crybaby Club. I am still very much a work in progress, and of course, life-the little jerk that it is- likes to throw curveballs every now and then just to see if I'm paying attention, but I feel like I own my life now, and not like I am just passing through, aimlessly. This year I dropped out of college to pursue art and Crybaby full time. This year I saw the Pacific Ocean, I ate cheese curds in Wisconsin, I found a way to stay home with and enjoy my kids AND work. Everything I longed for in 2011, I now have. It turns out all those people were right, and it does get better. It is a funny old world, isn't it?