The dark spaces of my mind
18 December 11
There have been times before when I have fallen in between the gaps of reason and renewal, when I have stopped progressing either on the physical or on the spiritual planes and have just … stalled. This is one of those times.
Sometimes it’s called the baby blues. In Australia we use the term “black dog”. It was probably inevitable for me. After such a magnificent birthing story, how could the mundane aftermath ever compete?
I am thankful that we are in a house — imperfect as it is, isolated, with grime, fleas and dog-hair everywhere. Still, this house gives me a breathing space, a bedroom to retreat to, a bed to lie on as I ignore everything else.
For this is a time where I do nothing but disassociate. I separate myself from my children and from David and retreat into my mind, emerging only to lose myself in B-grade movies. Occasionally I am brought back to reality by the cries of our son or someone bringing him to me. But if I could abandon him too, I know I would do so.
I would just walk away, catch the train to the city and stay somewhere safe — somewhere where no one talks to you unless you talk first and you can wander in anonymity without ever being called on to take responsibility. I do not know where this place actually exists, which is why I am still here.
Caring for a newborn is supposed to be a lovely joy, but in truth it’s a terrible monotony. They suck you dry, demand constant care and rarely maintain eye contact long enough to encourage you that they represent a small personality. We believe that this larvae will turn into a man, but until then, he’s just a grub with a lusty pair of lungs and lips like a vice.
Our older children are pretty self-sufficient, but in times like this when I lack the energy to deal with them, they too are vampires, seeking to suck me dry for whatever nourishment — physical or emotional — that I can provide. I am thankful that I have David here full-time because he keeps the girls placated, loved and well-fed in the shadow of my neglect.
To retreat, to disassociate from those around me, means that I feel no emotional connection with those for whom I am most fond. I isolate myself from all. In order to justify my horrible behaviour, I create them into monsters — David most of all. In my mind, I magnify David’s past wrongs and personality faults until I can’t see past the looming spectre of my own creation. I say and do things to push him away, and then hate him when he retreats. He can’t win against this black dog — he can only endure the marathon of emotional abuse.
This is not an invitation for dialogue, or a conversation that I care to have with anyone. This is merely a record for the future, a window into my mind so that our daughters may one day understand and perhaps realise that I can empathise with them, if they, too, meet this black dog along the wayside.
For the black dog is an ugly beast. It’s hard to kill, and it sure takes the sparkle out of life. Until it recedes, I will retreat back into my mind, into the dark spaces where I can curl up and forget about life. For that is how it is.