I'm just kind of thinking about life today... You know, 42. The meaning of life, the universe, and everything. Well, my life, anyway...

Don't get me wrong. I like my life. Love it, in fact. I've got a little house of my own, I've got a solid relationship with a wonderful man (though lord knows it took years for that to be able to happen!), my husband has a steady job that pays our bills (mostly... if I could keep out of the danged emergency room, that would help), I have health insurance, the medicines that I need to keep me alive (wish I were exaggerating on that one), I have a job that I love with an understanding boss, and we have food in the cupboards.

That being said, there's also a lot that sucks. I mean, it's hard. Really hard. Every day is a battle, and a fierce one. I'm very grateful for my antidepressant. Even just the low dose that I'm on has helped to smooth out my peaks and valleys so much... it's a relief. That was a hard, draining battle to be fighting all the time, and it was making my health struggles worse. Still, I must fend off the grasping tendrils of depression almost every single day. There are days when I wake up bright, cheery, and not an emotional cloud in sight, but... those are the invisible pink unicorns, pretty much. The purple elephants. Oh, sure, I don't spiral downward into the black gaping maw of that horrible pit that I grew to hate and yet know so well. Well, not often... but I still have those voices in my head that scream and holler at me my worthlessness, my failings, the futility of my fight or of pressing hard after anything good in my life... because really, I do have to chase the good things in my life. Nothing has fallen into my lap. I've worked damned hard for the good things I've got, and I refuse to let myself botch them up.

I've had a lot taken from me. My childhood, for one. Abuse, molestation, more abuse, dysfunctional family dynamics, playing the mother to everyone including my mother, more abuse... My family. Sibling bonds torn apart, taken from my mother on more than on occasion, divorces and betrayals... My sexual purity. I can't even be sure I was a virgin when C and I went on our special camping trip. I have no way of knowing, really, because so many of those years are lost to the blackness of my mind, willfully blocked to save my sanity. My mind. Poisoned genes passed down to me through generations of mental illness, a past that guarantees PTSD and depression, and I am helpless to resist the black tide that has washed over me for so long.

And just when I thought I had it all beat... just when I had climbed out of the fighting pit that I was thrown into at birth... I get sick. Real sick. Fuck my life. Now my livelihood is taken from me. Parts of my identity. Dreams. Plans. Hopes. Aspirations. Gone. All gone, in the span of a year. In place of my bright future, I am left holding ashes. The family that I thought I would have... gone. Two miscarriages and a diagnosis later, I am left wondering if I will ever hold the living embodiment of our union? I wanted to travel, to work for the forest service or a national park, to live in Alaska and hike Denali, to hike Mt. Whitney, to travel the floor of the Grand Canyon from rim to rim, to fly to distant lands and eat the local foods... I can't even eat out at restaurants. The past few days, I haven't been able to stand for longer than 5 minutes because of pain and fatigue. I want to see my friends, to go to movies and go out to eat and hang out at houses and go to the store or even just window shop, but I can't. Those basic, simple pleasures of life are denied me, and I weep.

I weep for the unfairness of it all. Haven't I suffered enough? Haven't I been through enough? When will it end? I was going to be a massage therapist, a mighty advocate, an outdoorsy photographer. I was going to be a survivalist, living off of the land and cutting my own wood. I was going to bear and raise children. I was going to visit every single state in the US, and other countries besides. I was going to go to Italy, France, Scotland, Ireland, England, Japan... And now? Now I lie on the couch, watching the clock and anxiously awaiting the time for my next pain pill.

So how, I ask you... how the hell am I still happy when I see my husband walk through the door at night? How am I still happy when I go to work and spend my hours tidying, filing, typing, creating, listening? How am I still happy when I create some especially tasty dish to savor, or even when I have a good cup of tea or a particularly perfect bowl of oatmeal? How am I still smiling when I see the pictures of my tall, beautiful sisters clad in pink and white and covered in flowers?

I don't know. I really don't. By all rights, and if I didn't have love to anchor me here, I would have killed myself by now. I am tempted to believe that the heart can only take so much suffering and pain before it breaks and all hope is lost, but... it seems that my heart has the capacity to absorb more suffering than I ever would have imagined. Maybe it's love that pours in to regenerate and heal the broken, bleeding parts of the heart so that it can go on? I know that my heart didn't start scabbing over until I went up north and found... love. Pure love, in the arms of a sister/mentor/friend, and in the warm circle of an honest, human, humble family. Things I had never experienced before. No, not even with C. We loved each other, true enough, and passionately. I would gladly have spent my whole life by his side, even then. But I was broken, so broken... even he, my life vest, couldn't reach the broken parts of me that needed healing. It had to be someone else, years later, when I was ready to face the truth of my brokenness.

Maybe that's why I can still smile. Because I've faced down my brokenness and I know that I cannot be conquered. All of the loss, all of the suffering, all of the agony... and I'm still here. Weeping, smiling, laid out on the couch like a corpse at a wake, but I'm here.

I guess you can cry and smile at the same time.

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