“Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”
It’s interesting where you get your inspiration to write sometimes. I recently read a few words of truth; ugly, ugly truth; and it moved me to get serious for a moment. Those words were just tucked into a sentence, a third-hand telling of tragedy that brought a message.
“…depression tells you terrible lies and that you can’t fight those lies alone”. Thank you, Bloggess. I’m going to tell you a few things that not a lot of people know, so that we can fight our lies together.
You see, I have danced with the devil. I am so very lucky that my depression was tied to very concrete physical things, to a long enduring situation that ruled my life for a time. I got to magically get better one day, which is something that I am truly, truly thankful for. Most don’t get that chance.
“So, when are you two having kids?”
Do you know how irritating an innocuous question can become? Do you understand that a simple thing can be a doorway to hell? I do. Wifefish does. And frankly, I’d be willing to wager that most of the people you know have been there at some time or another, or will be before they shuffle off the mortal coil. We’re all going to go through moments when what is simple to most becomes pure hell for us.
In our case, the problem was infertility. To put it bluntly, my balls are broken. I have some perfect swimmers, but I have about five of them. You need five million or so. Each time. I won’t go into the details, but suffice to say that I’m not directly contributing to the gene pool.
We tried for years. YEARS. And while it was great fun to try over and over, the lack of being fruitful and multiplying started to become a bit of an issue. And people would ask, again and again, when we were going to have kids. The answer changed over the years, from “Later”, to “anytime now”, to “I’m going to the doctor soon”, to “you asked that last week, fucknut. When are you going to pull your head out of your ass?”
Please. Stop. Fucking. Talking.
When I finally did go to the doctor, it was to that crushing news, that I had a problem. This didn’t assail my manhood, I didn’t and don’t feel like less of a man. And frankly, that stereotype is bullshit…we men are more than our dicks. But it pissed me off, and it crushed me in ways that I still find myself healing from at times.
To shorten this long tale, Wifefish and I talked, analyzed other people’s stories, and charted a path for ourselves. We decided to pursue adoption, rather than try for any medical procedures. That shit is expensive, to the tune of about $26,000 for a 30 percent chance of conception. Folks, I play poker. I would, and did, fold that hand.
Wifefish and I were strong for each other over the next few years. But we would fall at times. Someone we knew would get pregnant, and we wanted so badly to feel good for them. But the filet mignon can taste like ash, at times. So it was with our joy for those who were just doing the most natural thing you can do. It tasted of ash.
And that’s when the lies started.
“Smoky, my friend, you are entering a world of pain.”
A little voice pipes up inside when depression comes to call. You don’t realize it’s there, but it is. Soft, insidious, and in a very twisted way, seductive. You ignore it at first, because you recognize that it isn’t you. It says things you don’t want to hear, but that start to sound right. Because the voice of depression is like fucking Goebbels, and it’s going to repeat that big lie over and over and over, as annoying as Cotton Eye Joe on endless repeat.
I started to hear the inner monologue…you know, the one that tells you not to bang that hooker…except it started saying things like “you’re not good enough”. Not that clearly, of course. It starts by just questioning things. “Why me?” you ask. “Why me indeed?” it echoes, and you think that’s you. It sounds like you. Weeks later, it has you crying in the night because it’s convinced you that the gods hate you, and that everything is pointless.
And believe me gang, I tried over and again to rise above it. I firmly told myself stories of all the times I’ve landed on my feet, and of all the blessings I possessed. And then I’d pass a billboard for a birthing center, and the picture of a baby I couldn’t have would be there. And then someone would ask…”When are you two having kids?” Did you know that homicide is frowned upon in all 50 states? Fortunately, I do know that…saved quite a few lives in those days, I’m sure.
I had a horrible moment when someone I knew, someone who I deem to be incredibly stupid (and with good reason), became pregnant. That was the ultimate insult…that I could not do so simple a thing as to create a child…but the universe chose her over Wifefish and I. That was the day that I decided I hated the gods. And the voice told me that I was right. That little lying fucker inside, the voice of depression…it told me to feel that way, that the universe hated me right back.
On the rock of Wifefish’s love, I broke asunder that night. I cried as I have only rarely done in my adult life, and I despised myself for feeling this way. The lies continued, and the liar had learned to speak with my voice. It told me I didn’t deserve her, or any of my other blessings. But I could look at her, and the voice of depression would be stilled, and I could do the same for her…be her rock. Being her rock let me ignore the voice of the liar.
“So how’s the adoption going?”
So the liar gets a new question to play with. “We’re still waiting” is all you can answer, because that’s all you’re doing. Waiting to be selected. Waiting to be good enough. Waiting to be the one. The liar gets excited every time you get a phone call.
I developed a very, very thick skin while we walked down the adoption road. The upside of it, I suppose, was that I could tell myself that eventually, it would happen. I knew this. And yet, the liar ignored that inconvenient fact like it was a hobo asking for loose change. It started telling me all the horrible things I deserved, and each hardship that seemed like nothing more than a roadbump to the normal people around me was like a kick to the broken balls for me. It was my just punishment from the universe for being me, and the voice of the liar, in my own voice, just kept telling me so.
We had a couple of really close brushes with being selected, but they didn’t pan out. And both times, the liar had an absolute field day. I would sit at my desk some days, staring at my screen, no will remaining to make a sales call. I wouldn’t even click on the internet, I would just stare at the screen as if it would reveal to me some universal truth I’d been missing. It never did. The liar started to tell me I sucked at my job, too. Work on the nursery stopped, the door left closed for weeks. The liar told me it was a wasted room.
That was about the time I started to hear the subtle difference in the liar’s voice. It wasn’t me after all. It was depression, and it had me by the short and curlies. I made a choice to start leaning on some friends. And that choice got me through some pretty heinous shit. I considered therapy for a bit, but realized that my liar was tied to a single situation. I knew that mine was temporary. I can’t express how thankful I am for that simple fact, the light at the end of the tunnel was truly what allowed me to learn to ignore the liar. Had it not been for that knowledge, I would definitely have entered therapy…when it gets that bad, you must have help.
My story has a happy ending, thankfully. Eventually, we met Little Danger and brought him home. People stopped asking stupid questions. The liar left in a huff, and I honestly haven’t seen it around. But I remember it. I remember the lies it would tell, and if I’m ever hearing them again, I’ll make sure to lean on friends and family, shamelessly.
I wonder what it must be like for those who suffer with no light at the end of the tunnel. And to be honest, I don’t want to know. Not first hand. My dance with that devil was plenty enough for me, thank you.
I did learn this, though. Lean on them. Open up to them. They will not forsake you. They may disappoint at times, but they won’t run screaming. They are those who love you, even when the liar tells you they hate your guts.
We are not what depression tells us we are. We are shards of divinity, perfect in our imperfection, walking around with too much time on our hands. We are something more, and we have love to guide us.
But the first time I hear “So when are you having another one”, my answer is going to be delivered by emu death squad.