Fish Creek in Winter
I went on anti-depressants after mom died. Almost pre-emptively. In September 2016 I went to my doctor and she agreed that some of the sluggishness and swirly thoughts and exhaustion and arm-numbing anxiety I was experiencing could be mitigated. And I needed to mitigate them. I didn’t want to parent in that state – and I didn’t have to – so I didn’t.
And it was good. And I happily gained 20 pounds. My skin went haywire. And I enjoyed my friends, I enjoyed my girls, and laughed with B and I enjoyed fish creek like it was my job. I tried some new retreats and did some scary, scary things and then two amazing jobs were, almost literally dropped in my lap. And then EVEN MORE scary things came along. And I was up for taking that challenge.
And now I’m ready to stop – the medication. If you know me, you know this isn’t my first rodeo, not my first time going on or coming off anti-depressants for my brain circuits. I’ve been weaning off since November – which mightn’t be the most advised time to stop an anti-depressant – but I think it’s right. I am glad I trusted that I would know when the time was to change again.
So this post is about one fun side effect of stopping the medication that I’m becoming very aware of. And it’s how my body is right ready with the tears. The last few weeks, every time see something even remotely beautiful, the tears are up and out and over the banks.
Now I don’t want you to think that before I was not experiencing joy, fullness, happiness, beauty – that I was somehow asleep to this goodness. Because I most definitely was experiencing the good – there’s just this extra tip to it right now, this bit that pricks my eyes. Along with this physical reaction to beauty I know that there will be a bottom tipping too – and that’s ok. There has been a bit more grief to my grief. A bit more “oh… ow” and I am ready for that. I am seeing my people regularly – my spiritual director, and my emdr therapist. And I have habits that are forming me how I would like to be formed – like walking, like fish creek, like friends, like imaginative prayer, like yoga (with Adriene!), like breathing, like writing, like NAMING the “oh….ow” and the “oh eff” and “I don’t know at all” and trusting that I am still held.
IF there is one thing that it is right and good to do – it is to trust that WHEREVER I am, so is God. In all of God’s big kindness and presence. In all of my ends of spectrums.
So here I am noticing beauty – like I was before – but my body is literally spouting joy from my eyes because of it.
So I wanted to list and describe these things. For me, because listing and describing are some of my favorite things to do. And for anyone else who wants to read, because calling attention to beauty, and then going, “oh yeah me too” has got to be one of the best gifts we’ve been given.
Ok, so for us all, here are some things that have made me literally weep this month.
1. Two Ravens. I was walking in Fish Creek on a mild day. I cross the bridge over the creek almost as soon as I get to the bottom of the valley from my house and as I was crossing, I looked up. There, in a tree, were two birds, black and big, sitting on the top most branch of a tree that looked like it hadn’t had leaves in years. The branches were broken off where they had stopped growing and now hung blunt and thick against the sky like art, like something posed.
The Ravens were there beside each other on that top branch. They were close and touching. But one was facing north and one was facing south. They heads and beaks were nestled into each other. Resting on each other’s shoulders, their wings shuddering every now and then. I’ve never seen birds do this before – sit, facing each other, close and intentional. It was so striking. And I wept.
2. I was walking out of Mount Royal University. It was overcast and windy. And there standing on the wide walk were two people. A man and a woman. The man was young and tall, and broad, with a red baseball cap on backwards. The woman was also tall, was older and had shorter, sculpted hair. Both wore plaid. I didn’t see their faces. The man was stooped over, resting his tall frame onto hers, his face buried in her shoulder and hers was pressed against his head, tucked in beside the red hat. She had one hand supporting his body and one hand holding his head, still and to her. And his shoulders were shaking. But they were both silent. And they stood like that for the entire time it took me to walk the sidewalk to where they stood.
I think it was how physical this demonstration of care was. And how long they let it happen, without pretense. And I think it was his tallness and obvious physical presence that was so open with…himself? that caught me. And just how out there, in the open, the open, open, open care was, that caught me. It was a deep thing that was happening, right there under the lights at the side of the walk. I didn’t look back – I did not want to intrude any more. But I cried. Because he wasn’t alone.
3. My daughter was talking to me about….I think Harry Potter. And all of a sudden I realized that she was taking up more room. She is taking up more room in this world. Her body is growing into the body she will be known and loved and judged by for the rest of her life. Its taking up more room and while I can have a bit of weird grief over her not being my baby, it hit me like a ton of bricks that she is so very excited to be who she is going to be. And that kind of trust in God and herself and the whole process got me. And also the way her mouth moves when she talks, and the way her mouth goes way faster than her words and her brain way faster than her mouth. And I was so struck by her growing and how she sometimes forgets to be afraid about it. And I cried. And she said, “oh mom…you’re so weird.”
4. I was driving into COP to pick the girls up from lessons when Brandi Carlisle’s Most of All came on the playlist. And the line, “And Most of all, he taught me to forgive, how to keep a cool head, how to love the one you’re with.” And then this one, “I haven’t heard my mother’s voice in awhile. But her words are always falling out my mouth. “ And, “Most of all she taught me how to fight, how to move across the line of the wrong and the right.” Oh and this one, “She taught me how to be strong, say goodbye and that love is forever.” I literally don’t know how Brandi Carlisle knows to describe how I experience my parents so exactly (or how I experience my daughter, for that matter –see Mother from the same album), but anyways, I cried. Of course. My parents are like freaking rare gems. And I breathed a bit deeper knowing that these things I carry around were named well.
5. Speaking of COP, my girls took skiing lessons for the first time. I have skied once in the last 20 years and it was fun, but I don’t do it regularly. I was, am, so afraid to learn as an adult. But then I watched these girls be so brave and just do it and LOVE it and get it. The first lesson they were tired but ok with how it went, but by the end of the second lesson, they were pumped. They were proud. And I jumped up and down and squealed and drew lots of stares and the kind, very tall, german man in his 60’s who is teaching them said, “oh yah, they are just loving this.” And I cried. And he wasn’t phased one bit.
Ok, last one for now I think….
6. I was at the consignment store by the kids’ school and passed by the baby clothes rack. And immediately started to cry. Like sudden, big, whelpy cries. Because my brother is having a baby and that baby is going to be so loved and so wanted and so held. By her aunty. And that baby will not know mom. And by brother won’t have mom to tell him she’s so proud and that she loves that baby with all of herself. Even though there is not a shadow of doubt about the fact that she does, even now. But that baby will have me. And I love that baby so much that I think I’m weirding out my sister-in-law. I physically have to reign myself in to not talk about that baby at all times like she’s the freaking new queen of the world, like it’s my baby. Like I’m living vicariously through this baby. Like my life needs this baby to remind me of all the things that are good. I looked at those clothes, their pinkness and smallness, and wept. It’s devastating really. These tiny creatures who make you open up your whole being. And their smallness is such a flash in the pan in the scheme of things and its so precious. So precious. So good. And I literally have been smelling my kids baby clothes for a couple weeks now and kind of weirding myself out.
But I can’t think about that baby without getting teary. I can’t think of those two becoming parents without crying. So I’m actually crying quite a bit about this these days.
Ok. That’s a few of them. There have been more. An unexpected hug. News of a friends perfect new job. The way Brad smiled at me one morning and I remembered exactly why I think he’s so great. Literally anything Padraig O’Tuoma writes about Jesus or Mary Oliver wrote about the light. And a whole lot of emotional movie moments, Like crying when Tonks and Lupin are found dead reaching for each other’s hands. Or when Neville reveals himself and his faith-full ways to be standing exactly as he was always meant to. Or when Dumbledore says, “Words are the most inexhaustible sort of of magic” or something to that effect. Also, yes, there’s been a lot of Harry Potter around the last few weeks.
But tears. Not just feelings. But physical, down the cheek tears.
I’m living – but not more, not better, not freer, than I was when I was on anti-depressants. That’s not what I’m saying. But what those little white things did was they gave me was enough ground under my feet to sleep well and not be afraid of paying attention – more fully, more often. So yay! And now I can reach just a bit wider and a bit deeper and there are a lot of beautiful things everywhere in between.