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The More Things Change…

13 Aug

Yesterday I had to go through all of my  old MiniDV tapes to find some raw footage for an editing exercise for my students. A lot of the tapes were almost ten years old, and it turns out that in my early twenties I was not so good with the coherent labeling of things.

For hours, I inserted tape after tape and zipped through them to see what was on each one. What started out as a mechanical job ended up slapping me upside the head.

I found a few video diaries I had made around my 22nd birthday – that’s 9 years ago. I hadn’t even remembered making them. For an hour, I sat there, dumbfounded, watching my 22-year-old self. I recognized her, but yet I didn’t.

22-year-old me was feeling stuck and depressed. She was having money problems and trying to get through her second year of college, away from her family, and supporting herself while keeping up her grades. She cried a lot. She had a bit of a pizza face. Turns out she wasn’t much skinnier than 30-almost-31-year-old me.

I looked at her talking to the camera and crying. I wanted to teleport through that LCD screen and shake her. Tell her to calm the ef down. Everything was going to be ok, and she should just go out to a frat party and have some fun and just, well, be 22.

My 20’s, in general, were spent in either a depressive stupor or an over-achieving haze. Looking back on them now, I’m tempted to say I “wasted” my twenties. On a lot of levels, I feel like the last few years I’ve been just resting to get over the non-stop, over-achieving, constant panic mode that I was in for almost a decade.

I looked at 22-year-old me last night and I was jealous of her. And I felt sorry for her. And I barely recognized her as myself. And yet…

And yet if you swap around some names and places, this could have been current me talking. Feeling stuck. Feeling broke and helpless, though thankfully not so alone any more.

As I was listening to 22-year-old me bitching and moaning about her life, I looked around. My messy, cramped apartment which will soon be sold so we can move on to bigger and more family-friendly digs. My amazing little Luna, laying on her back and having one of her doggy dreams, being a huge source of joy for me, just because she is here. A picture of my husband and I hanging on the fridge, taken about a week before my third miscarriage – showing us happy, dancing at a wedding. So much heartbreak to come, so much heartbreak overcome.

All of these things made me grateful. But looking at 22-year-old me also made me feel like I have lost so much since then. People who I’ve loved have passed away. My left tube is gone. My innocence is gone. My passion for filmmaking is gone. My go-getter attitude – that pushy, “I can do anything I set my mind to” mindset – gone. My bravado. My drive.

I had to wake up early to go to a bris for PM’s little one this morning (that’s us Israelis’ version of a baby shower, only it’s after the baby is born and usually involves a live circumcision. This one, thankfully, did not). PM’s little guy is already getting bigger. He’s almost a month old, and it’s evident that she has hit her “mommy stride”. I was surrounded by babies. But my mood was ok. There was something freeing about last night’s revelations. They have made me think things over, and look at them differently.

Two big questions keep on haunting me: If I look back at myself ten years from now will I want to shake myself and will I be jealous? What happened to my drive, and what the hell can I do to get it back?

And two important revelations have fallen on me like a ton of bricks:

The first, is that upon looking at myself in hindsight, I finally understand just how deep my depression and anxiety go, and just how long I’ve been suffering from them. I think that back then, I handled it by working myself to the bone. Now, I handle it by cocooning and disconnecting from the outside world. Neither of those work. Neither of those are healthy. And my happy pills certainly aren’t doing the trick. I realize I need to find a way to take care of this disease. Because looking at this – realizing that 9 years ago I was just as depressed, just as anxious, has made me finally understand that this is a disease. And it’s not one I want to live with any more. Something has to be done. I don’t know what. But something.

The second is actually a bit more complicated. Since my lap I’ve been feeling very down. I admit, I’ve found myself wishing that they had taken the right tube along with the left. I found myself wishing that we could just go straight to IVF, just so I have “science” behind me and some sense of control.

But you know what? Last night I mourned the loss of my tube for the first time, looking at my younger, more physically whole self. I realized that I am lucky. Yes, I am still at a huge risk for another ectopic. But on the other hand, I still have the luxury of trying to let nature take its course. Of trying without any more invasive procedures. Of having a baby “the old fashioned way.”

So many women in the ALI community don’t have that luxury. I’m one tube down, but I still ovulate. Egg still has a chance to meet sperm naturally. My instinct to burn the house down to the foundation just so  I have some sense of control is wrong. I understand now, that losing both tubes would have been a huge blow. It would have been a devastating loss. It would have meant that I no longer have the privilege of trying on my own. That any  child I would have would be a child created in a lab. That in itself is a loss, and it’s a loss that so many women have to go through. Right now I still don’t, so why force myself down that path? Why not be grateful to still have that chance?

Yes – we are at risk for another loss. But I am privileged, I am lucky, that a small part of me still remains whole. That we still have a chance to do it on our own.

Last night, I finally understood that. And I’m grateful to 22-year-old me for teaching me all of this.

I don’t know where all of these revelations will take me. I’m restraining myself, trying to think things through one step at a time. But I know that ten years from now, I want to look back, read these blog posts, and not want to shake almost-31-year-old me. I want to be proud of her. I want to hold my children, and read these words, and tell her: “You did good.”

Me - age 23

Me, age 30

Hey there Mo – even now – you’re not doing so bad after all.

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12 Responses to “The More Things Change…”

  1. Me0me August 13, 2011 at 22:58 #

    Beautiful post, me Mo 🙂
    Oh, and to realize you didn’t label things coherently in your early twenties? Shocking!

  2. slcurwin August 13, 2011 at 23:01 #

    Live circumcision…I don’t know what to say about that. I’m still a little traumatized that my brother had his son circumsized and I didn’t have to watch that.

    I think we all would look back and think that we could have done more, appreciated things better, but that’s that whole hindsight issue working for us. We’ve got to do that best we can with what we’ve got and try not to shake our fingers at ourselves. But we’ve also got to try and push ourselves so that we don’t become stagnant (pot meet kettle) so that we have something to be proud of when looking back.

  3. BleedingTulip August 14, 2011 at 09:11 #

    Wow.

    What an amazing find. Makes me want to start do unending my lice so ten years from now I can look back. Oh. Waaaaaait….. Guess that’s hat we are all doing.
    I’m glad you were able to mourn your tube. It sounds strange but I think it’s part of the healing process. I’m also really proud of you for wanting to tackle the depression more. I wish I could give you a big bear hug!

    Circumcision… I asked my husband what his opinion was (since he has the same anatomy and all) and he voted that if we ever have a son to circumcise him. But my guess is it won’t be done publicly! 🙂

  4. BleedingTulip August 14, 2011 at 09:14 #

    Um.., stupid iPhone typos. That should read “makes me want to start documenting my life so ten years from now….”

    Awkward!

  5. Port of Indecision August 14, 2011 at 18:30 #

    Great post, Mo. I think we all look back on our younger selves and have a few thoughts of “What the hell was I thinking back then?” and I think we always will, because as the annoying cliche goes, hindsight is 20/20. I like the picture of cute, happy Mo.

    (Also, my first comment signed in from WordPress! Look at me gooooo!)

  6. endoandbeyond August 14, 2011 at 20:22 #

    I recently re-read my journal from 10 years ago when I was 25. I wanted to tell my earlier self to relax and take it easy! I tell my current self that too, I should really take my own advice both now, in the past and in the future!!

    Great post 🙂

  7. Kristin August 15, 2011 at 07:22 #

    You are an amazing, beautiful woman and I think you’ve shown an amazing amount of self awareness and introspection lately. You should be incredibly proud of who you are.

  8. bodegabliss August 15, 2011 at 08:27 #

    I love this, Mo. I wish I weren’t so tired so I could write a more eloquent reply, but I want to say that I think you will be proud. You’ve made it this far in this journey of hell (I’m talking losses here) and you’re still fighting. You’ve been so strong and you’ve helped so many people through your words and your love and your kindness. For that you should be so very proud. I love you so much. xoxo

  9. Marie August 15, 2011 at 21:36 #

    I like you-age-30. You look so joyful. And I talk to you a lot, so I feel like I have the right to tell you: you ARE joyful. Yes, depression is a disease, and yes, it sucks a fat one, but I still don’t think it defines you. I think of you as bubbly and funny and smart and obsessed with silly things like Potter. I think 40-year-old you will be pleased with the person she has to look back on. ❤ (not creepy)

  10. Kristen August 15, 2011 at 23:31 #

    Love the pictures…you’re so pretty. 🙂 It feels like you are on the verge of major forward movement in a lot of different areas. How amazing that the 22 year old you was able to give you so much insight.
    XO

  11. myjourney7283 August 16, 2011 at 15:41 #

    I love, love, love this post! You made me start thinking about what I would have read had I been better about journaling back in the day.

    Thank you for the reminder to look at what we still have — for you it’s ole’ righty. For me it’s a loving, supporting family. You’re an inspiration and I hope you never stop blogging/writing. (Who knows what the blogging world will be in 10 years — maybe it will be hologram-blogging! How cool would that be? But I digress.)

    Anyways, know that we’re thinking about you over here across the oceans. 🙂

  12. AK August 17, 2011 at 04:52 #

    God, do you even realize what an accomplishment realizing that the depression and anxiety you battle are part of a disease that needs to be managed is? If nothing else, you can be proud of that. I remember yelling at you to get up in LA and you telling me it was normal that you slept all day… It’s a giant thing to overcome but you can’t do it without knowing what it is that is holding you back. And you now you know, and have admitted to yourself that the depression is not something you want to live with and you can figure out how to be sad when you need to but keep the negative stuff at bay most of the time. *I’m* really proud of you for that.

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