Was Blind, But Now, I See

“God, give me clarity.”

It was the only prayer I could manage, laying there on the edge of my bed at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on a work day.

I’d been fading in and out of numbness for almost a week.  I’d find my center, pick my head up to do something with it, and it would fade away into the ether, mocking me for even contemplating progress.

“I don’t know which way is up,” I had told my mom, feebly trying to tell her how I was doing.

The truth was, I wasn’t doing.  I wasn’t thinking or feeling or being much of anything.  I was just sitting with an empty heart and a head stuffed full of colorless cotton candy.  Sitting.  Staring.  Looking like someone who was praying or something really hard, but not even able to piece together a coherent internal prayer.

The stillness would feel like serenity, strength even, maybe, and I’d lean ever so slightly out of it to survey my surroundings again with new, more clear eyes.

Whack.

Confusion would smack me on the nose, dull and blunt like a rolled up newspaper or a well used hammer.  “It’s not time yet,” Confusion would say, and I’d slink back into my numbness again.

I was tired of the numbness.  Not frustrated, not angry.  You can’t really be frustrated or angry when you’re numb.  But fatigue – fatigue has no problem making space beside numbness.  The emptiness inside me seemed endless, and I watched it idly and wondered if it really could go on forever.

And then I layed my head down on what used to be his pillow, and quietly asked for clarity before I closed my eyes.

I woke up an hour later and groped around the cavern.

Shit.

I was still numb.

I opened my eyes and checked the bed side clock.  I had another hour before I’d have to leave to pick up the kids.  The weight of that hour was at once too big and not near big enough for me to gather my strength and leap back into motherhood.

Fuuuuuuuuck.

So much for clarity.

I spent the next hour rolling out of bed and putting my shoes on.  I pretended to check my email, picked up my keys, and fumbled to the car.  Confusion slid into the passenger seat beside me and started to titter.  I reached for the numbness, buckled my seat belt, and tried to focus on what I would make for dinner.

“God, grant me clarity.”

The word ‘grant’ seems to slip into a mindless chant easier than the word ‘give’.  It fit better between the confusion that was taunting me and the numbness that was trying to protect me.  None of it had any fucking idea what to make for dinner.  Or how to handle homework.  Or how to be anything but a scary ghost in front of two children who had spent enough time with ghosts recently.

I was half way to the daycare center when I admitted defeat and picked up my phone.

“I need help,” I said.  “I’m sorry.”

“What do you need?” his voice was cool and calm, like pool water that your body has already adjusted to.

“I need you to come to the house.  I need you to take care of the kids.”  And then the shamefulness of what I was doing came rushing through the fog, and my words sped up to stay ahead of it.  “I’m sorry.  Do you have plans?  I’m sorry.  I know this isn’t fair.  I just… I just can’t.  I can’t be enough for them.”

“It’s OK,” he said.

“I need you,” I repeated.

He stayed on the phone with me as I covered the rest of the distance to the daycare.  He stayed on the phone as I picked Emma up and made my way over to Devin.  He stayed and listened to my silence and did the talking for me, all the way home.

“Listen,” he said.  “I don’t know exactly what you’re feeling or thinking right now.  I know that.  But it seems like you’re scared of changing your mind.  It seems like you’re afraid that you’re really done with us, that this is it, or that maybe you’re not done with us, and you’re afraid once you make a decision you have to stick with it.”

“Yeah,” I mumbled.

“Britt,” he steadied me, “you don’t have to decide anything.  You can not be sure right now.  It’s OK.”

“It’s not fair,” I said, meaning it wasn’t fair to him to have his fate tied to this wispy, waffling half of a woman.

“It’s OK,” he said again.  “You’ll figure it out eventually.  You don’t have to stick with anything right now.”

A thought occurred to me – which sounds insignificant, I know, but it was a pretty damn clear thought compared to the way my mind had been working recently.

“Are you saying that because you’re not sure?” I asked.

“Of course not,” he was so damn certain.  “I know exactly what I want, and I want us to work.  I want us.”

“OK…” I said.

“But you don’t have to want anything right now.  It’s OK,” he pressed the words into my palms through the cell phones.

And suddenly… clarity.  Silver and shining and small… but clear.

That’s about the most generous fucking thing anyone has ever said to another person.

I tucked my gift into my heart, and waited for him to arrive.

And then he did.  He cooked dinner and fathered the kids and stopped to put his arms around my neck for a moment.  And I felt, for the first time, like I was tied to the earth again.  “It’s OK,” he said again, before disappearing back into the noise of evening hours with two children.

Several hours later, my phone rang.  Again.  My phone is always ringing now, and I usually let it go to voice mail because I just can’t stand the idea of talking to one more person about everything one more time.  Yes, I’m fine.  Yes, I know you’re here for me.  Yes, thank you, I know, thank you, it’s OK, thank you, I gotta go.

It was Lynne again.

She’d called earlier in the day and I’d quickly silenced the call.  But here she was, calling again in the same damn day.  God, some people are persistent.  I watched the phone vibrate for a moment before finally picking it up.  I took a deep breathe and accepted the call.

“Hi Lynne.”

I have no idea what she said.  I was making the appropriate noises that said yes, yes, I’m listening and yes, yes, I know and oh, thank you, this is helping so much.  I can make those noises in my sleep now.

Lynne kept talking.

And then, I was talking back.

I don’t know what I was saying.  Something soothing, I’m sure.  And then, I wasn’t.  Then, all of a sudden with no reasonable provocation that I can recall, I was telling her why.

It was like I was reading a report.  I was laying it all out in clear black and white with easy to read roman numerals helping the outline take shape.  Check, check, check, I ticked off each issue on one of my fingertips as easily as if I had been counting beans.

Like beans.  Magical, counting, not jumping beans.

I felt my skin.

I didn’t touch my skin.  I felt it.  It was suddenly on me, for the first time in a week.  I felt my teeth click together as I talked to her and my lips move back and forth over the magical, counting, not jumping beans.  I felt the weight of the iPhone in my head and the sticky smooth surface of its face against my cheek.

My brain popped.  It snapped and crackled and popped, and I listened as the thoughts made their way from one side to other across neurons and pathways that connected and lit up.

I was alive.

And more than alive, I could see.

Laying before me as if on a clean white sheet of paper was a perfectly ordered list of things.  Of tangible, touchable, fixable things.

And they were just things.  Like beans.

They weren’t scary or muddied or shape shifting wordlessness.  They were just there, sitting there, waiting to be picked up like milk on a grocery list.

I hung up the phone and blinked my eyes against the new light.

I could see.

Oh my God, I could see.

And what I saw didn’t look so damn scary after all.

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  1. avitable says:

    Your ability to recall how you feel, in both an emotional and tactile sense, always astounds me. It’s a gift. And I’m very glad that the numbness didn’t last. I knew you’d be closer to your true self soon enough.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @avitable, I used to read non-fiction books and think “how the hell does this guy remember the flag he walked by??”

      I totally get it now.

  2. I agree with avitable. I was with you the whole way. Hugs, honey.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Aimee Greeblemonkey, thanks for coming along.

      I realize it’s a completely narcissistic practice to relive every moment, but it’s so useful for me to be able to put it in a capsule here.

      Taking the hugs. :-)

  3. Robin says:

    You’re an inspiration. Such an inspiration. And I am going to use your prayer too….because God knows I need clarity too.

    ::hugs::

  4. Laurie says:

    Just lovely. Pulling for you.

  5. Al_Pal says:

    Wow. The description totally brings me on your journey. Vision. Clarity. FEELING.
    Yes. Things. Hooray.

  6. SciFi Dad says:

    This isn’t a complaint, or a criticism, but I cannot figure out what is going on with your situation right now, yet somehow I feel compelled to say that I’m happy for you.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @SciFi Dad, heh. I’m kind of amazed anyone is still reading this cryptic angsty shit. It’s hard when there are details that can’t be shared, but processes that I need to.

      Happy for me?

      Totally the appropriate response.

      Thank you.

  7. Nanna says:

    I know this is a weird commentary but Britt, your writing is extraordinary with this post.

    Things. Just things.

  8. Sybil Law says:

    Love it. The list, the post… it’s just… awesome.
    So glad you can feel again. I think that’s a good sign. :)

  9. Robin says:

    You are doing amazing.

  10. ya gave me chills again. wonderful writing. and exciting journey.
    still praying for you. and jared. and the kids. it is all i can offer, but i think you don’t mind an extra voice asking god to be in your corner while you all navigate this time in your lives.
    much love to yinz…

  11. oh…and i am kinda loving jared even a wee bit more for his being there while telling you it is ok for you to take time. way cool.

  12. melissa says:

    with every post, you pull me in. Vivid clear beautiful writing

  13. lceel says:

    I’m so glad you’re doing better. I’m so glad you’re finding – or have found – your center, again. Now that you’ve found it – hang on to it.

  14. Maria says:

    I want to stand up and cheer, dude. I check this blog first thing in the morning. I am totally obsessing over you.

    I had a snap-together feeling last week. Not as significantly, but enough that I can nod and say YES.

    Love to you.

  15. Finn says:

    I can’t tell you how giddy Jared just made me.

    And in case I never told you, I’m totally rooting for you guys. Whatever happens, I just want you to be happy.

  16. bo says:

    The difference between ‘give’ and ‘grant’ is that to be granted something connotes that you’ve earned the object being granted. I find it admirable that, even now, you’re concerned with deserving what’s given to you.

  17. perpstu says:

    I’m so glad your skies are clearing. I hope they continue to get better and brighter!

  18. Hilary says:

    Just discovered your blog from Sarah and the Goon Squad and am thoroughly enjoying it- am sorry to learn I am discovering you as you move through a difficult time in your life. I hope and know that things will get better. They will.

  19. I love this most:

    “What do you need?” his voice was cool and calm, like pool water that your body has already adjusted to.

    This feels good, Britt.

  20. Headless Mom says:

    There are lots of gifts in this. Bask in it. Own it. Keep praying. I’m praying for you, too.

  21. muskrat says:

    I was one of your peeps asking the Man upstairs to help you in this regard. Glad it helped.

    Now that you’ve got these special powers, can you suggest some lottery numbers this week?

  22. Hockeyman says:

    That’s awesome. I hope the pressure of the full weight on you lifts more rapidly now. Relish in the moment, the now is most important. Take notes if you have to.

  23. In my next life I’ll be able to describe my feelings as well as you can.

    Until then, I’m going to continue to use words like “awesometastic” and “woah”.

    Also, I’m so happy to read you’re finding your way and have to room to discover it.

  24. stephanie says:

    Have to say, once again, I can almost “feel” your writing, does that make sense?

    And have to say, “yay Jared!”

    Much hugs and prayers.

  25. You have an amazing knack for pulling your readers into the story. Often I feel like we’re all right there with you, watching and feeling it all ourselves. I’m glad the skies are clearing for you, and cheering for you from the sidelines. I’m wishing the best for you and your family, whateer tha turns out to be.

  26. I’m here for you, no matter what, and I hope that you are able to fix those things.

    Hugs and love.

  27. Selma says:

    I’m glad. Really glad. When clarity comes it is such a gift.

  28. Faiqa says:

    See why people say you’re the light, now?! Because you totally are. Love you.

  29. Rachael says:

    This is good. So good. Thank you for taking us with you into these moments, it is really incredible.

  30. mommymae says:

    you are NOT half a woman. don’t ever forget that. i’m happy to hear you are coming back together. take care of yourself & figure out what you need. he’s right about taking time. it will make it more clear.

  31. Tonz says:

    I’m with SciFi Dad…I don’t know whats going on but the way you describe what you’re going through and feeling, it doesn’t seem matter. But this sounds really good…positve. I’m so very happy for you.

  32. Kelly says:

    Fuck, Britt. I’ve been so absent lately, I havent read anything in about a week – but had to see how you were before I cleared out my reader.
    I know you feel weak, but please try to remember that you’re not – a weak person couldn’t do what you’re doing.
    I’m in the same place – seeing again, breathing again, almost feeling again. And while it hurts like hell, it also feels damn good, for a minute or two at a time. I know that while we’re going through the same thing, the backgrounds are quite different – just remember I’m available if you need to talk.

  33. dad says:

    i love you ..all 4 of you…you know how to find me if any of you need me to talk,., yell laugh, or ,,,

  34. Becca says:

    I am thinking about you often, you amaze me with the strength you have to even talk about the issues. Hugs, lots and lots of them! :)

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