Jul 7, 2013

the princess and the pea

we all know that the highest incident of suicide happens around the holidays.

for many people this is confusing, and shocking, and completely against intuition, but for others it makes perfect sense

I have no right to claim understanding of the motivations of those who hit such depths of dispair...what drives a person to spiral to that level, to say goodbye to everyone and everything familiar is...personal, to say the least, mysterious to all that don't live in their head on most levels

but I think, sometimes, I begin to understand how the most joyous, celebratory, and momentous occasions can, ultimately, be the most lonely, alienating, and halting in their tracks

the other day I read this phrase on a pregnancy site "being pregnant is one of the most joyous and wonderful experiences of a woman's life" and I didn't even make it to the rest of the article. in fact I want to say I laughed out loud, but mostly I just stared.

I have no found pregnancy to be joyous or wonderful. I have, in fact, found it to be confusing, alienating, uncomfortable, and at it's best, at times, exciting and hopeful. But mostly I have found it to be frustrating, anxious, and more often than not, lonely.

Understand, I do not, by most counts, live a lonely life. I have many friends and acquaintances. I generally have at least a few social engagements every week. I am around people all the time.

But what is that phrase: alone in the crowd? The other day I sat there contemplating the warm familial rush you see represented on TV, in movies, around major life events, and the chasm I sense when I look at my growing belly and it's possibilities and realized that the last time I felt this way was the period approaching my wedding, and the way I generally feel on birthdays, on Jewish holidays, during times that I mostly associate with tradition.

Because, in many ways, though I have much in the way of a social life, I have something much more inconsistent, disfragmented, and confusing when it comes to "tradition".

And when I hear friends complaining about their sister always being over, their mother in law visiting for months on end, their relatives taking over their weddings, their obnoxious cousin ruling their shower, all I can contemplate is their overwhelming lack of gratitude, their complete immunity to the safety this claustrophobic world provides.

And yes, they say, you can build your own family, create your own traditions, synthesize your own annoying sister in law and favorite uncle. And, for the most part, I believe this to be true.

But I think, in a world steeped in tradition, where media shows every bride surrounded by bridesmaids and every baby born into a rich circle of parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles, and recently familied best friends, the cognitive dissonance can be deafening when you very independently find yourself making your own wedding decorations, or designing your own nursery, or packing your bag for the hospital and interviewing post partum doulas.

And, objectively, I don't even know if you can say the latter isn't somehow better, more freeing, but it is, most certainly, for some, more lonely.

There are, now, many many websites that deal with holidays blues, post partum depression, and all the surprisingly common emotional trials that come with the best times in life. Thank heavens for that. But that doesn't change expectations, and it doesn't prevent us from wanting, expecting and never not hoping that each peak will be solely beautiful and happy.

Perhaps this is a good thing too, everyone should seek new and beautiful heights, and are bound to be stunned, to grow from the beautiful view....but the air can feel awfully thin on the highest peak for some, and sometimes it can get pretty dangerous if you aren't tethered to a whole party of people who know that, indeed, altitude sickness is both common, and normal,

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