Shortly before I moved back to Maine from San Francisco, I was subject to a devastating life change that sent me into the deepest depression I had experienced in my life. Good news for my dear friend Erin, who was composing a photography series called Proper Sorrows.
The name of the series comes from the 19th century when women were institutionalized, often in their own homes (see The Yellow Wallpaper), for experiencing “undue” or “prolonged” sadness over events in their lives like miscarriages. There was a mourning period that was considered “proper,” and beyond that, women were considered hysterical, and subject to treatment. Signed off on by their owners — err, husbands.
So, as much as I hate being photographed, I agreed to be part of the project. Erin made it comfortable and easy, and I love her results, even if I don’t love looking at myself.
Here is the shot she ended up displaying as part of the exhibit.
I thought of this today because the last time I remember feeling like I do right now, I was crying soundlessly in a chair on my back patio. I am devastated to my core and I can’t see any light at the end of any tunnel and I really don’t want anyone to try and convince me to see things differently just yet.
Allow me my sorrow. Let me decide what is proper.
Today, a car almost hit mine head-on when the driver turned the wrong way up State Street out of a driveway at the bottom of a block. The oncoming vehicle I had no way to avoid felt familiar.
Today, I wanted to apologize to every little girl I saw in the grocery store.
Today, I cried in front of strangers and friends.
Today, I wondered if my pharmacist was just better at putting on a customer service face than I am these days, or if he was not bothered.
Today, I attended, and left, a vigil that did not feel like where I wanted to be.
Today, I supported and comforted others who are mourning because it is the only thing I have to give that does not take from me what little I have in reserves to function.
Today, I wondered where I could go and feel safe, and I had an answer.
Today, I am broken. Today, I am fucking destroyed. Today, I am unable to trust more than half of the people around me. Today, I cannot understand. Today, I want to know WHY.
Some of these things will also be tomorrow. Some will be Friday, and next Wednesday, and January 20.
What I am not today, is unable to go on. And I know that that is not how many of us feel.
If you today, are unable to go on, please, please reach out to someone who will help you not have to. We can hold onto the rest of the pieces so you can just exist, in stasis, until you are ready to move. We can make the phone calls and mail the rent checks and call the bosses and do the grocery shopping. We can change the sheets and get fresh kleenex and pick up the kids and find that DVD. If you can’t do these things for someone else but you have a few dollars to share with someone who can, donate to one of the organizations below, or the ACLU, or your local worker’s center or pride committee or women’s health clinic.
We need each other more than ever. Let’s pair the resources with the need and get each other through this.
24-hour Trevor Lifeline: 866-488-7386
US: (877) 565-8860 Canada: (877) 330-6366
Crisis Text Line
Text NAMI to 741-741
24/7 crisis support via text message