Where to go...

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Tomorrow is a beautiful day. And tomorrow is about joy and wonder and life and love.

So tonight we'll talk about something to the left of all those things. Not quite in opposition of, but nearly adjacent. A window's view.

My daughter was born on a Thursday. I don't remember what the weather was like or what was going on in the world. Facts that nearly never escape my elephant memory are ghost like wisps of a thought. A dream. A forgotten story. But sometime after 7pm, she was removed from me and revived to life. She and I didn't meet until hours later, and there is very little that I can remember from the following moments.

This is a deep, cold, hard sadness that I will hold forever. My body failed and everything was wrong and sometimes it is too much for me to think about.


I have decided to focus on what I do remember. Because within the fog there are beautiful, wondrous things that deserve time and space to live. And sometimes those moments take 364 days to sprout roots, dig into the surrounding soil and push through everything else. These moments are strong, resilient rays of light, parading to the front of my memory to remind me that in struggle, there is a terrible beauty. A pulsing warm river of life that helps to push out the cold and hard. And that after 364 days, perspective can cure all matters of terror and pain.

So I remember.

I remember deep blue eyes staring directly into mine and tracking every person that walked into our room. I remember knowing that those eyes would stay blue despite everyone telling me that they would not. I remember peaceful sighs and an easy sleeper. I remember how easily a tiny face could contort into different expressions and hold a gaze. I remember weeping at desperate cries as we navigated the next four days of medical testing. But mostly, I remember how we knew each other instantly.

I remember my husband desperately fighting for me when I couldn't fight for myself. And being the first face I saw when I woke up. I remember how proud he was. And how concerned he was. And how resilient, beyond all expectations, he was. He changed the first diaper. And fed when I couldn't. And held when I slept. He walked me to the bathroom and reminded me to slow down. He carried the burden of two healing people and never hesitated. Never wavered. And mostly, I remember him standing strong when I certainly could not.

My daughter is God's reconciliation for a whole slew of things that weren't right with my world. And things that didn't make sense before have tumbled into place easily since she's been here. Of this, I have no doubt. Our experience means something and has had an impact on everyone in our lives. She is the rock in the pond, extending rolling ripples in circles around us. We are banded together and I have finally learned how to hold on.

For the first time, I am tethered to life. And it is blindingly beautiful.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Recovery feels like a rollercoaster. You are dipped and turned at will; the wind piercing your cheeks and burning your eyes. The air comes too fast and it's almost impossible to breathe. You are blind to what is in front of you and at mercy to the ride.

I had a traumatic delivery with my daughter. It contributed to my postpartum depression and is the reason I struggle with PTSD.

I had no romanticized ideal about childbirth, nor did I have an official plan of what it would look like. I didn't listen to adorable music or dance around my hospital room. It was rather boring for the first half, honestly. Breathing and pushing and sweating and sometimes laughing, the time seemed to blink by.

And then.

The second half halted with squealing brakes, practically audible. It is when every preparation I could have made was shattered. A handful of things went very, very wrong, very, very quickly. Time was no longer blinking speedily. It slowed down and stretched out before me. Each frightening detail had its own breadth to it. Each second a lit and snuffed match, burned into my memory. These moments get stuck in my throat and make me hoarse with tears if I try to explain them. The mental and emotional scars are raw and somehow worn.

I didn't meet my daughter until hours after she was born. I barely remember anything of that moment. There's nothing poetic I can say to make this sound more horrific than it was. These words are as straight and ugly as I can make them. I don't remember. I don't remember most things from the coming days. I don't know why, and I'm not sure that I care to. And this is what I obsess over when it's just me. In the minutes before I fall asleep, or when it gets too quiet. I think about her. And I think about me. And I hope she knew that she was loved the millisecond she was removed from me, even though I wasn't a part of it.

I want her to know that I'm sorry my body failed me. And I'm sorry things were so terrifying.

But I also want her to know that we fought side by side. And we always, always will. My warrior girl.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The 3rd Floor

My windows looked out onto a small parking lot. The building across from me was nondescript; maybe an apartment building. At night, I would see a patchwork of windows lit up and wonder if anyone was inside, peering back at me. I could close my blinds whenever I wanted of course, a set of shades incased between two panels of thick glass. There was no cord. Instead, a small dial affixed to the outside of the window frame. It matched the window on the door into my room, where the dial was set outside so my nursing staff could look in whenever they wanted or needed. Which was often. Every fifteen minutes to be exact. And at night, the door would remain open.

I checked into Swedish Hospital Psychiatric Unit, located on the 3rd floor, on a Monday night close to 8:00pm. My eyes burned at the fluorescent lights and I could barely feel my legs as the lead nurse walked me around like we were touring a home for sale.

"Do you need this?" She asked, pulling the drawstring out of my sweatpants that had been hastily packed into my luggage. We were rummaging through my belongings, item by item, and removing things that could have been used to harm myself or others. I shook my head and she snipped the drawstring with a pair of safety scissors.

"I don't think I need to be here," I choked out through a cascade of tears.

"Well, 24 hours ago you wanted to kill yourself. So I say you're in the right place."

And she was right.

Postpartum depression snuck up on me silently and suddenly. Like a quick rolling fog, before I had noticed it, it was there. And it was thick and deep and terrifying. I had my daughter just two weeks before. Two weeks before I sat on my couch while tears flowed. And flowed and flowed. They rarely stopped and I was always some level of frightened, suffocating in fear. I reached out to my doctor, but it was too late. The Zoloft he prescribed either didn't work or cursed me with a severe set of side effects. The fear and sadness violently increased, a weight dropping onto my chest and settling into my lungs, strangling me. And with every thud of my heavy heart, a voice reverberated within my bones, keeping me awake at night...

You are not good enough.

You are a burden to your husband.

You are unfit to care for your baby.

Life would be easier for them if you weren't in it.

Just die.

I convinced myself that the voice was right and true. It was then that I knew I needed help.

Walking into the Emergency Room at Good Samaritan was the most terrifying moment of my life. Hard sobs racked my chest and I could barely get the words out. Would they take my baby away? I wondered over and over, rationally knowing that they would not. I had read about postpartum. I am sure every woman has, at some point. So it is no secret that it happens, or could happen. What they don't tell you is how deep and sharp it hits. And how horrific it is. And how you want to tear your own skin off. And run away. And just not be anymore.


The help came. Immediately. Once I spit out the poison, I began to heal.

That very night, a tiny speck of light began to show up at the end of the tunnel. The hospital social worker interviewed me and deemed me unsafe to return home. She advocated for a bed for me at the closest psychiatric facility that would benefit me the most. (And yes, Seattle was the closest. The lack of proper psychiatric care in Pierce County is astounding). Logistics aside, I was checked in and settling into my bare-walled room at Swedish 16 hours later. It was there that my medical team (nurse, psychiatrist, medical doctor and social worker) decided to change my prescription to another, lower dose antidepressant. That, coupled with a routine of group and occupational therapies, is what started me on the path back to normalcy. A week later, I returned home and wept as I held my baby daughter.

But hear this:

The apex of my healing lay within my support system. My husband, my M2, my mom, and my friends. Equally holding me along the way, allowing me to lean on them harder than I ever knew I would need to. They carried me across the finish line.

Actually, they may still be carrying me a little bit. The finish line is damn close though.

(If you're experiencing postpartum depression, or think you might be, you are not alone. Don't be scared. You will get help, I promise).



If you, or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please reach out. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/#  (1.800.273.8255)

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Let me tell you a little story about choice.

I got married at the age of 32. This was a conscious decision. Not to search out a rightful partner and marry them, but to make a commitment at an age where I was ready to respect everything it encompassed.

We've talked about what life would look like had we not met; or if (God forbid) something happened rendering either of us spouse-less. And my answer is the same.

It's always been the same.

I would go on living my exact same life, partnerless. Maybe a dog or two, maybe a change of location, maybe a tweak of habits here and there. But mostly, my life would look the same.

And I think that's what life... marriage... partnership is all about. Two people stepping toward one another, closing the crevices of experience and doubt and opinion and individualism to form a cohesive unit. A team. Forging into life as a united front. A choice.

Sometimes daily.

Sometimes hourly.

Sometimes, albeit rarely, minute by minute.

Our society and celebrity have lent us to the notion that partnership and romance cannot exist without one another. And while each complements each other, they do not need each other to survive in each second of each moment of life's microcosm. Life is not always romantic. And that's okay. You choose your partner beyond what romanticism will offer you. This is the person you will trudge through the mire and muck with. Your trusted confidant when you can't bear to open your eyes upon the glare of the real world. This person is designed to reach out a steady arm when you're stumbling. When the decisions hold too much weight. When it all just doesn't add up or make sense.

This is your second brain. Your additional set of legs.

Your subsequent heart.

Your only choice.

You choose this person every minute of every hour of every day.

And oh, how lucky you are.

How lucky am I.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Walls and Ceilings

I think I may eventually get to the point where I can just lay all my insecurities out there plain as day. When someone will ask me, 'What's wrong?' I'll be able to answer truthfully justlikethat.

Last night, I had two of my closest friends over and for the first time (in ever) I was comfortable enough to lay out my anxieties willy-nilly. They tumbled out of my mouth and danced between us while I laughed them away.

This is just me, I finally thought.

'This is the weird stuff that goes on in my brain,' I said out loud.

And for once, the weirdness didn't feel like a burden, but rather a banner. And suddenly the banner was easy to carry and didn't feel so neon and white hot to the touch.

I think this is what love is all about.

The one thing (if I can really call it a thing) that I can't write about is my childhood. I wouldn't even know where to begin and if I began, I think that the words would never stop. They would be loosely strung together and trip over themselves to the point where it would just be rambled pain. And the point wouldn't be the pain, but to open the door to a dust filled room. To show you that light can creep in and make the bad stuff good.

That it isn't always all dark, all the time.

That abandonment isn't a life sentence.

That being forced to believe that you are unlovable and not worth fighting for isn't forever.

That friends and other families and husbands and wives and dogs can come in and breathe life where there wasn't any. That things can be re-taught. And relived. And rehashed. And it isn't your fault.

That you are an incomplete human being trying to patch the holes in the drywall and sometimes you're ill-equipped. But sometimes, life will bring you someone, or multiple someones, that will have tools and experience and patience and love and before your very eyes, will rebuild your walls. And those walls will have plenty of windows and doors to let in the sun and the breeze.

That this life can be owned, created, loved and celebrated multiple times over. And the shadows of memories that wake you in the middle of the night, cold sweaty and tear stained, are only fleeting. That there is a warm body next to you with a strong heart, and big arms, and even larger shoulders who will, without fail, carry your burdens around for you while you sift through your own mess.

Life will provide you a way to talk about it without talking about it. And sometimes, that's just enough.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Love Letter (to J.K. Rowling, and Harry Potter)

I shrugged my shoulders and finally picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when I was 21.

I was on 'vacation' with my boyfriend-at-the-time's family. More accurately, he and I had driven down to Newport, Oregon to spend time with his father. This side of my ex's family was relatively estranged. The visit had multiple purposes... But, we'll get to that in a minute.

In hindsight, I can piece the puzzle together quite easily. My ex's parents split while he was very young. He then lived with his mother, who was a drug addict and blatantly neglectful. This side, the father's side, was so ridiculously stable, it was almost laughable. But that's how families work, right? Function and dysfunction. Yin and yang. The yo-yo leads to instability, which leads to a very broken human being.

I never knew the truth of what happened and why these people were so far away, both geographically and emotionally. However, they were wonderful people. Sweet, gentle and kind. Involved in their church and community, and clearly in love with each other. To put a finer point on my confusion, my ex was abusive, controlling and miserable. (I wrote about it here).

This visit was my attempt to patch together what was so very broken and lost in my ex. I naively thought that if he spent time with his estranged family, something inside of him might repair. And if it repaired, I would be safe. It was selfish and silly and wrong. But I was alone and I too, was in need of happiness, stability and a father figure.

Mostly, I wanted peace. And safety.

And that's what I remember. My ex's step-mom was reading Harry Potter to her two sons. She handed me the first book and told me to read it. This was 2001, and the Harry Potter notoriety was just beginning to crest. I began reading that night, before bed, and was hooked from the very start. I felt safe. And peaceful. For the first time in so. very. long.

The vacation, and my peace, lasted a very short time. As soon as we were back on the road, the abuse picked right back up. There was no wasted time in his verbal backlash... probably years of anger and confusion and neglect from a life so wonderfully paraded over the past week. And I was a very easy target.

I went home with the first three Harry Potter books. And reading them was my only respite in a tattered and shorn time. It was a world I could fall into easily, and in those days and hours and minutes reading, I would remember what joy felt like. Reading helped me remember that there was a life outside of abuse. And that words were magical and beautiful and melancholy and poetic and full of life. The life that I couldn't be a part of, but remembered.

These sacred moments with J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter brought me back from the brink. They brought me back from depression, fear and anger.

I left my ex in a fighting fury one night. But I never stopped reading Harry Potter. Those three books were lost in the wreckage of that relationship, but I have the hardbacks of the last four. And even though the last four books were read during a significantly lighter period in my life, they have been read and re-read during the most trying of times.

These reasons are why people read, passionately. This is why people like me (and you) love Harry Potter. Or whatever else happens to tickle their fancy. The memories are tied together...life and words. Seasons and stories. Packaged in worn bows, taped together with a little love and a lot of gumption.

I guess you could say this is a bit of a love letter to Ms. Rowling. Who saved me, many times over, and didn't even know it. She, and Harry, gave me life in a time where I could barely hold on long enough to breathe.

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


There are plenty of secrets to be held. Plenty of elephants in countless rooms.

The thought of laying any vulnerabilities out makes my throat tighten and my heartbeat thud in my ears. Suddenly, breathing becomes a chore.

Sort of like anxiety.

Or exactly like anxiety.

But this is important and important things deserve time and care and space and kind words. Just like you. Just like me.

My freshman year of college was, at the very core, a blur of survival. I can clearly and acutely recall several moments where the weight of life was just a tick away from being unbearable. I was constantly dancing on the edge of clarity, my sanity a foggy mess that dangled itself in front of me, hovering just beyond the horizon. I clawed and grasped, desperately wanting to be ever closer, holding my breath and counting my tears. At my weakest, I just did not want to be anymore.

Let me be clear: I did not want to die, but I did not want to be in this life.  It had simply become too much.

And this is where the anxiety festered and took root.

That year came and went, but my anxiety stayed. I attempted to cope on my own by smothering any anxious thought that entered my brain. My concentration and life's focus aimed at overcoming it by achieving.

Success was my antidote.

Avoidance was my mantra.

Do you know what antidote means? A substance that counteracts a poison. A poison. Anxiety, when left to run amok, is a dramatic and systemic poison to your mind and body. And this is how I operated - by running - for a considerable amount of years. My value was measured in mental strength; a stiff upper lip and sharp tongue. I don't think that it is much of a surprise that my tightly wound galaxy eventually imploded, collapsing in on itself.

I think it's vital to point out that I have never been cured of anxiety. And since we're almost down the rabbit hole, I might as well pull you all in for a tumble:

Things that seem mundane to some people can trigger years of obsession in me. Counting repetitive behaviors, while soothing, can become mentally draining. I tangle myself in compulsive loops over certain things (the garage door and my hair straightener). Social settings can be downright over-stimulating to me. Some days, I barely have a hold on it all. Some weeks, the really bad ones, are peppered with intrusive thoughts (those are fun), considerable amounts of coping skills, and constant reminders that I am neither crazy nor weird.

And neither are you.

Just know that I get it. If this is you... if you're reading this and you're nodding along, take away this one point: I. get. it.

I get you.