Retreat

I have been blogging for (what feels like) a long time (I actually missed my six year blogoversary last month). I used to write almost every day, and I would write whatever I was thinking or feeling. My blog was a raw, honest place.

That has changed. I have changed. I don’t write as much any more, and I don’t write everything I’m thinking or feeling. Partly that is a reflection on me and the ways I’ve evolved–I don’t share as much with others as I used to in any area of my life. At least it doesn’t feel like I do. I wonder sometimes if that is true.

I don’t put myself out there anymore, because I realize now that there will always be judgement; there will always be those people who read what I write and think my words here are a complete reflection of who I am. And perhaps it’s not fair to ask someone to remain constantly aware of the fact that what is presented here is not an accurate account, that I am more than what I write in these posts.

Despair. There can be an air of it, evidently, in how I present myself. Even people who know I am more can be weighed down by it. So I’m trying hard to hold it close, to contain it. I know it’s there. I recognize it myself. I can see how others perceive it. And I understand that those people who are not afflicted by depression, who have never suffered it (or haven’t suffered from it consistently) can’t recognize its manifestations. It took me over a decade to do that myself, and I’m living with it, so I don’t expect others to easily identify it and understand it for what it is–a thing I am afflicted with, but not who I am.

Few things have hurt more than when my words here were taken as some indelible truth by those I loved, and used against me. I do, and will continue to, try hard to ensure it never happens again.

And so I hold things close. When the stress starts to get the better of me and I notice I am falling into that pit that others recognize as despair, I hang back. I put on a mask. I don’t share that part of me with anyone else. Not even here. But I also don’t force myself to pretend I am somewhere I’m not. I don’t force myself to pretend anymore than I’m already required to. So I stop writing. I stop texting. I stop reaching out. I know that people don’t want any part of me when I’m like this so I don’t thrust it in their faces. Instead, I let there be silence.

Silence doesn’t have to be bad. Silence can be a healing place.

This is a hard time of year for me. It always has been. There are myriad reasons why this year the stress is even more intense. I’m not handling any of it particularly well. I’m okay with that. I’m giving myself time and space. I’m giving my friends a break. I’m reading bad YA novels and watching mindless TV. I’m working out (which helps my stress levels immensely). I’m not writing. I’m not posting. I’m putting up cute pictures of my kids on FB. I’m answering How are you? with Fine.

And I will be fine. I know that. If I were worried that I might not be fine I’d reach out. This is not the kind of melancholy that requires I seek outside support. I know myself. I know my moods. I know my up and down cycles. I know my depression. I’m on my medication. This is a tough time–this will be a hard year–but eventually it will be become routine, and the weight of it won’t feel so overwhelming.

In the meantime I retreat. And that is okay. Sometimes retreating is the right move, strategically. Sometimes retreating is the smart thing to do.

How do you cope when you’re struggling?

18 Comments

  1. I do know this feeling—where you feel so raw you don’t want to expose yourself to the possibility of being hurt—even the most well-meaning attempts can be painful when the hit the sore spots. I’m so sorry you’re struggling. Here when you are ready to reach out.

    1. Thanks. And I know you, and everyone else here, will be around when I need it. Or when I’m ready. And I think that confidence in the people I care about me has helped he feel comfortable enough to retreat when I need to. I am so thankful for you, and everyone else who comes here.

  2. I’ve felt much the same way lately. I think we used to all have this illusion that the blogosphere was made up of a small circle of friendly faces, and at some point the reality hits that no, it’s actually the Whole Entire World. I’ve also had the same thought you did, that my blog portrays a more negative side of me than what is really the full picture. It’s nice to have a space where you CAN share that stuff, but it’s hard to think that anybody would take that as the whole picture.

    So anyway, I’m sorry youve been in a funk lately. I hope it ends soon, but I’m glad you’re able to do what you need to do for yourself in the meantime.

    1. Yeah, knowing anyone can find my words here is more disconcerting than it used to be. But honestly, I’m more concerned by how people who know me see me when they read my words than by complete strangers. I’ve had good friends, even people who understand what blogging is and why people come to their spaces to vent in a safe space, use my words to judge me, and that hurt way more than a random person making determinations about me based on my posts. I guess I just feel differently about being honest, and that is probably a good thing.

  3. I understand pulling in to a safe zone. I know a lot about really hard years. Without having a blog I have walked through the impact of being judged. I think blogging opens up to both sharing reality that is not singular but also to feeling and being judged on different tiny parts of you that are not all of you all the time.
    I have learned and grown … and improved me … because you have written and I have read and then written and then seen what others (and you in responding) have read in the black squiggles on white space.
    So thank you. And no pressure. And hopes and good wishes. It was moist in SF last night and today is clear and blue skies… sending hopes that you can enjoy this day.

    1. I bet you know A LOT about really hard years. A lot. It’s hard to be at the beginning of one, to look out and see it stretching in front of you. I know we’ll get through it, but it’s hard not to think about the ones that are coming, lined up like dominoes. So many hard years ahead.

      Thanks for reading, even in the hard years.

  4. I’m retreating now too. Or I am trying too. It’s hard with family. And by family I don’t mean husband and son, but parents and siblings.

    I don’t blog but I can see how it would be hard if someone from your world used your blogging against you somehow. It makes the space less safe.

    1. This space does feel less safe. And perhaps that is a good thing, because it never really was safe to begin with. I am definitely someone who trusts more than she should, who assumes people have the best intentions, but that is not always the case. And I’d be smart to remember that.

      I hope you can find a way to retreat even with all the familial complications. I know how hard that can be.

  5. Retreating can absolutely be the right move and silence can certainly be healing.

    Blogs are tricky little things, aren’t they. I remember when I first began blogging and started making connections with all kinds of women who seemed to understand what I was going through. And because at the time what I was going through was rather all-encompassing and such a huge part of ME it felt like all these new women understood ME. And many of them did, but certainly not all. And many of those connections were real, but, again, certainly not all. There was a good, long honeymoon period for me, but when the time came for me to feel exposed and vulnerable and misunderstood (as I think is inevitable for almost all bloggers), I, too, needed a retreat. So I shuttered things for a while before I found my way to a new understanding.

    I know you said that your difficulties lie in people that you already know using your words here against you, so my experience is very different, but the result is the same – when these words stop helping, we need to stop writing them.

    I hope that your retreat is helpful and healing.

    1. “when these words stop helping, we need to stop writing them.” Those are wise, wise words. It took me a long time to figure that out.

      And you’re right that it’s easier to find your community when you have a huge, hulking THING in common with everyone else, especially when that thing is as all consuming as infertility and/or loss. And when that thing falls into the background, it can be hard to find, and hold onto, that community. I have definitely found that to be true, but it’s important to be reminded.

  6. I just want to tell you that I admire you. I’ve thought to leave that comment a number of times, and I just haven’t done it yet. So, today: I admire you. For your courageous attempt. All I know of you is the very little of what I’ve read of the little that you’ve written, but what I read is a person trying. Trying to be herself as much as possible, trying to live her life as much as possible. Struggling is part of trying. To me, that’s the most admirable thing in the world. Thanks for sharing what you do, when you can. Wishing you respite in the retreat.

    1. There is definitely an element of burnout going on. More on that in my next post… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I’m definitely only reading fiction right now. I can’t bring myself to read anything about parenting or self help. It’s all about a trashy YA novel… something that requires very little brain power.

  7. As usual, you have some wise commenters, and I hope they have been helpful for you. I’m impressed, as always, by how well you know yourself and what you need to do. Here for you if you need to reach out.

    1. Sometimes I wonder how much good it does me to know myself and what I need if I can’t always give myself those things. I guess knowing is better than not knowing. At least I then I can try to meet my needs. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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