For the last 4 years, since becoming a single parent, I have always felt as though I was within something like 20 paces of falling off the edge of the cliff, the cliff that marks my the boundaries of sanity.

At first it felt scary, to be so close to falling apart.  But then I realized that 20 paces is really quite a ways a way.  After awhile it felt quite comfortable.  Even as I knew that it could all unravel quite quickly, I knew that it most likely wouldn’t.

There are times when I move closer, within 10 paces or even 5 of the edge.  Those times initially felt scary too.  The wind is stronger here and I can smell the dangersous dropoff but I have survived moving so close so many times that it feels old hat.  I know 5 paces is still 5 paces and one step backwards is all that is needed to get me back to 6.

But lately, the last week or so, I have been perched with my toes curled up against the edge,  gripping with every last bit of strength—channeling it all down to the tiny muscles in my pinky toes.  Its not a trauma that pushed me to the edge.  Instead I am just the daily business of keeping it together, through winter, through Max’s latest bouts of separation anxiety and the flu, through the battle with a house which is slowly falling apart, dissolving into a pile of broken toys and popcorn crumbs and dirty laundry and dust,  Four years of trying so hard to do the work of two parents, to build a community that fills the holes in our hearts, of striving and working and being solution focused.  Its got me worn out and in my exhausted stupor I stumbled like a drunk to the edge where I stand now, holding my arms out for balance and crying out “Whoa…”.

The other night as I was dropping off Max’s playdate, and running to the store to pick up the M&M’s Max needed for a graphing project, I thought if I don’t ask for help I am going to fall apart, literally, figuratively.  Asking for help is hard and while I feel I have pushed past all my fears and the taboos that I carried, I still wince when I need to ask.

And truth, unlike the help I needed in the past the help I need now makes me feel so much more vulnerable.  I didn’t need a babysitter.  I don’t need someone to cook me a meal or give my kid a ride.  What I need is a hug from someone who loves me, who sees me, who isn’t trying to change one bit of me or hope that I am someone other than I am.  I need someone to appreciate me, celebrate me, tell me why they cherish me.  Oh…and I need someone to sit on my couch and drink a glass of wine while I clean, cause I need to restore order to this house and I have been having a hard time settling.  I need someone to help me settle.

I wonder if  I can whisper wishes so precious and vulnerable out to the world?  Can I ask my community to fill in this way?  Even just a few people–my closest and dearest friend or two?  Is it too much?  I know these are needs that so many of us have unmet.  If I ask, do I give permission for others to ask too…Do I open up a door where we all start unsurfacing our most vulnerable needs exposing them to the air where they can be met?  Or… do I risk creating resentment and hurt during a time when everyone is so stressed, by the economy, by illness, by their own demons that feels so much bigger than my exhaustion.   I think we are going to find out.


Post script:  I wrote this piece last week but never posted–The frantic pace of being stuck kept me from making it to my blog.  And then I asked.   Not wide and far but within a very tiny circle.  And like a magic carpet that request swept me away to safety.   I will continue to ask, because I know how easy it is to know that perch and when I am ready I will write what I learned along the way.

4 Responses to “Mother On the Edge (of a Nervous Breakdown)”

  1. Mom Says:

    Sending a huge hug to my baby girl. You are so loved.
    I miss you.xoxo

  2. Elizabeth Harper Says:

    Whew! What a post.

    Let me say this, I have been where you are and know how difficult and overwhelming these times can be. I have no magic words…just factual and honest ones…these times will not last forever.. You are wonderful and talented and deserving of all good things and they will come…wait and you’ll see. So just step away from the edge and no falling off the cliff on my watch.

    Here’s a big hug from a stranger who understands and cares. 🙂

  3. Leenie Says:

    My dearest Meglet – here is a thousand hugs – use them as necessary. I am here for you always – call me if you just need to talk and I will send my love via the phone lines 🙂 Glad to see your postscript as well – you are a beautiful person – INSIDE AND OUT

  4. Jennifer Ballantyne Says:

    Oh sweet friend, I feel so bad that I haven’t seen this post until now. I would have reached out to you with an email at least and now I’ve probably missed the boat, in fact I think we’ve emailed each other since you wrote this post. Just know I love you and if I lived near I would come round and drink wine and help you clean (or anything else required for that matter) in a heartbeat and as often as needed. I hope you feel a little further back from the edge since you wrote this post but I still want you to know how wise I think you are, how kind, intelligent, talented, I honestly think the world of you Meg and I hope knowing that warms your heart just a little. I also think you are a wonderful mother and friend and I know I don’t see you in action but I don’t need to because I pick up so much from our conversations and from your writing which is what drew me to you in the beginning. I love you, your friend forever, jen xxxxx