in which I am jumbled and rusty, but I tell it true


Did you ever have so much going on in your life, so much constant motion, that you just felt frozen? Locked up? That’s how it is over here these days. I’ve been digging through my toolbox of comfort behaviors- all my mental health lifesavers- but nothing has been doing the trick. There’s no magical plaster for the amount of sheer madness happening in my life right now. I’ve tried to John Wayne my way through this monster of a year- oh, 2013, you just are not playing around, are you?- and I cannot do it.

I come back to writing because there is nothing left to do.

I’ve come back to documenting this life because there must be no other way out of this.


There’s too much, just all so, so much. Everything seems so huge, is the thing: there’s so little in my life that seems small right now, and that’s really what I crave: smaller things.

  • Spring, which has always been always a brutal period for me (death: awful anniversaries) is worse than usual, in the usual ways.
  • Kiddo is headed to college. TOO ENORMOUS FOR WORDS. TOO ENORMOUS FOR ALL- CAPS.
  • The business grows in leaps and bounds. No pressure or anything. This is a positive thing, but positive stress still = stress.
  • Opportunity is everywhere. (How to choose the right ones?)
  • Samuel’s mother has been diagnosed with stage IV cancer. I can’t even begin. It’s just too goddamned huge to start on here, and is also more than a bit personal, as in: not really mine to discuss. In brief, though- oh, cancer, you bitch. You terrible, awful, hateful bitch.
  • The travel. Oh, the travel. I love it so much, but this year we stepped it up and it’s rather complicating things. Travel is easy when you don’t have a family member with a potentially life- threatening illness; planning becomes infinitely more fraught when that changes.
  • Family business. Family as in my family, which is odd because I never let my family be a thing. (I expect that’s rather the price I pay for admission, to paraphrase from Mr. Savage.) I have a wedding to attend this autumn, and I want to see these two people married more than anything in the world. Also: I can’t imagine being in a room with people who hate me this much for all the money in the world, so instead I do it out of love. Oh, the things we will do out of the desire to destroy ourselves: I will go and break bread in the same space with the man who tried to kill me, with the mother who invited him over for every holiday after that, with the step- father who always, always kept his silence. I don’t know if I am strong enough to hurt myself in this way. This final degradation was meant to be a wedding present to the sister who always only ever wanted everyone to get along: once, just once, the illusion, served up no matter what it cost me, but I just don’t know.
  • There’s more- isn’t there always?- but this is the bite I thought I could chew today. And so.


I don’t feel equipped to help Sam handle what he’s been handed. I don’t feel equipped to handle what I’ve been handed. I do feel inspired to open a small set of franchises, though: Silence Rooms, I’d call them. Small booths you can rent by the half hour, sound- proof spaces you can just lock yourself into and scream.

When Sam had his first stroke, I would go to Walter Reed every day. After the first few weeks had passed and we knew he wouldn’t die- but still didn’t know what the damage would be- I needed to be his primary advocate, but I didn’t need to be there overnight. It was a 45- minute drive, but I needed to keep myself together; it’s a freeway run from Baltimore to D.C., so you have to stay on your toes, and of course I wanted to be sharp for the doctors. I’d listen to upbeat music on the way down, see Sam, read his charts, study from the neurology texts Tedra had given me, talk to the doctors, talk to Sam’s roommates, scare the interns, that sort of thing. I’d corner his neurologist in the halls and push for direct “Yes/ No” answers, help new amputees play Wheelchair Jousting after-hours in the back hallways, sneak in better coffee or cigarettes for anyone who asked, and then, when it was time to leave, I’d go out to the parking garage, get in my car, take a deep breath, and just scream. I’d cry, punch my steering wheel, and inevitably, it would always lead to just- plain- old- screaming.

Other visitors would walk out to their cars, and they’d see me, and it always seemed so— natural. Normal. Sometimes I’d be the one who saw them screaming. It wasn’t embarrassing at all- and I hate sharing my private feelings with strangers. It just never seemed like the sort of thing any of us needed to hide; we knew who we were from seeing each other in the halls, or the dining facility, or the smoking corners. Family members know one another; it’s the grey skin, the shaky hand, the burnout eyes. Yes. I see you. This is us. This is how we carry this fucking thing. There was nowhere else to go, no place to take grief and put it. You can’t take it home where your kids be frightened by it, where your neighbors might overhear it. You can’t take it to your friends, who will never understand it and can’t possibly have the capacity to hold all of it. You can’t take it to the chapel-  that’s not a screaming sort of place, and I am not a chapel sort of girl.

There is nowhere to scream. There really should be. I’m here to tell you, darlings: that place would make damned bank. 


Of course- there is always an “of course” here, and if you made it that far, through all that dreary doom and gloom, the endless whinging, the rending of cloth and gnashing of teeth, all that drama above, you really do deserve some payoff, honestly. And so:

Of course there is something to what they say about growth and change under pressure.

We lean in, and in leaning in to the work of this incredibly trying late winter and spring, we lean into each other. We handle one another with care. We are all sharp edges and tightly wound springs, but we work on bringing out our senses of humor, on looking into our ability to take care of ourselves and each other, on how to be healthy. We look into how to best grow, and we watch out for which nights we need to give up on the idea of growth; sometimes what we need is 6 hours to give in and just marathon the hell out of Downton Abbey, because it is silly and complicated and really, a costumed soap opera and that is 100% okay, damnit, because it makes both of us feel better for an evening. We snuggle our pets. We eat too much comfort food. We talk, when we can, and we don’t when we can’t. We hold hands. I knit. He weaves. We drive, endless long drives to shows, and I read to him. We change. We change as a couple, learning how we manage these things, but that isn’t a bad thing; god, we have had so many hard times, but I’ve never felt they left us worse off as a pair.

I wonder how this will change us, in the end, once we have come through to the clear.

I’m beginning to make up lists of things I’d like to do, once we are in the clear, but I think that’s another entry. (SO MUCH another entry. Oh god. All of the many, many things.)

I know I am still rusty and jumbled today; all my pieces are still so broken lately. I’m too used to speaking my thoughts lately, mostly from the safety of a two- person blanket fort. Give me time.

Be well, Patient Readers. Be kind to someone who is patient with you. Be patient with someone who is kind to you. Hug everyone who will stand still.

  One thought on “in which I am jumbled and rusty, but I tell it true

  1. Tan
    April 30, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    I hug you.

  2. Nancye
    April 30, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Oh my dear Sarah,
    I barely know you but your words touch me so deeply. I feel you. I feel the raw true beauty of your words. Of life. For that is what you share. The rawness of being human. Thank you. And so many hugs to you

  3. April 30, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Oh my god, what the hell is wrong with spring?? It has been like crashing through a big glass window but instead of getting through it.. there’s just another window. It is time for the heat of summer to just burn it all back a bit. *Hugs* See you on the other side. We’re almost there.

  4. April 30, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I send you love and hugs from a distance. You’re one of those people who writes so well about the unspeakable, those things we feel and can’t say. I wish I could do something awesome to make it easier. Take care of you.

  5. Lindsey Stephens
    April 30, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    I’m not quite sure how best to express that a) this Spring really has sucked on so many levels and b) hugs and empathy.

  6. Gail
    May 1, 2013 at 2:50 am

    In this the cruelest month, I send you love.

  7. May 1, 2013 at 7:38 am

    I too send copious amounts of love and good energy and strength and peace to you… whatever it takes to keep you going and as sane as possible. I love your bravery and honesty – speak the words out loud – it doesn’t make it better but it does keep you surrounded in love.

  8. May 1, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Life is messy and just bites sometimes – am taking a deep breath and sending you all of the positive energy I can muster. You will get through it. It might not be pretty, but you’ll get through it.

  9. May 3, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I am sending you lots of hugs today! It is sad to me how people do not take time to address mental health issues. Maybe your blog will make people more aware. One thing for sure, blogging is a great way to make one feel better and I hope to see more from you! Thanks for letting me stop by and have a wonderful and loving day!

  10. northernmalewhite
    May 3, 2013 at 11:09 am

    can be
    as powerful
    as life
    but thankfully
    (or rarely)
    does not last as long

    keep on


  11. May 3, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Beautifully written, even if I feel uncomfortable saying that when you are clearly having such a difficult time. *offers virtual hugs*

    Can the screaming rooms also have walls one can punch and feel a satisfying impact (unlike punching something soft) but without it hurting? Because sometimes I just want to punch things.

  12. Angie Schaffer
    May 3, 2013 at 11:33 am

    My goodness, this IS one of the cases of “when it rains, it pours,” isn’t it? Spring is such a crap time of year. I hate it. I can never wait for it to end. There are always so many horrible things happening to people who do not seem to deserve it.

    All the best to you. You deserve to have some peace of mind.

  13. May 3, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Oooo I love that @ hug everyone who will stand still! I’m a toucher, a hugger, a talk-with-my-hands-type-of-person…so I concur. No words will nor can truly comfort us in the time & space you’re in now..So I won’t waste the fingerstrokes..What I will do is give you a major BIG hug!

  14. May 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Lots of hugs all round! 🙂

  15. May 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I tear up reading you and wonder the same things.

  16. May 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I tear up reading you; wondering similar things.

  17. May 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for sharing. It sounds weird but it’s comforting to know that not everyone has it “together”.

  18. May 3, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Take a step, rest, breath…take a step, rest, breath. Repeat. These words were my mantra during a difficult time in my life, “the only way out is through”, focus forward, one step at a time.

  19. laurabethknepler
    May 3, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Such honesty and apt articulation. You are helping your readers get in touch with humanity, and I think it quite brave.

  20. May 3, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Lovely blog. LMK if you would like to be friends. 🙂

  21. May 3, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    I’ve often been paralyzed by the overwhelmingness of what life brings. It’s funny how things start to stand still when you can’t take it all coming at once. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism. For me, I find it’s a dark place where I’m likely to resort to negative habits of moping about and going down a dark hole. But everytime I make it through a phase like this, I feel like I’ve earned my stripes and am more ready to face the next. That’s life, it keeps coming!

  22. May 4, 2013 at 1:34 am

    It’s the raw openness that draws me to you. MANY hugs

  23. May 4, 2013 at 4:25 am

    you have a gift – a gift of expression and of touching lives…i see your pain and i have you in my prayers. i am not much of a hugger but i crave one at times (very rare though) but i love your hug the ones who stand still…
    wish you well..good luck and congratulations on being fp!

  24. May 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Sending love and warmth and light your way. You will see through these times when it is time. I was struck because I had to back off of blogging this last couple of months for reasons so similiar to yours. Yet, I take heart in the fact that you are writing through it. I am finally back to where I can physically sit at the computer. But with one knee in a therapy machine… this is where I am best found now for hours at a time. Healing thoughts are with you and yours. – Renee

  25. Tara
    May 5, 2013 at 11:19 am

    So much of what you have said resonates with me–the brokenness, cancer and her horrible ways, grief, spring–oh please be over, and so much more. Thank you.

  26. May 5, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    life can be really tough!

  27. May 6, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    I understand where feelings are too enormous for all capital letters. Thank you for figuring out how to say that when I’ve been struggling.

  28. May 7, 2013 at 2:23 am

    Oh my gosh – stay strong. x

  29. May 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Thank you for making me realize that I am not alone with these enormous thoughts. I wish you strength, May is a horrible month.

  30. May 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    So beautifully said. I identify very much with screaming in the car..really that is the most perfect place sometimes.
    My heart goes out to you and I wish you strength through all of this!

  31. Jon
    May 20, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    It’s nice to read this. Very uplifting and inspiring. Thanks for posting!

  32. samirclark
    June 2, 2013 at 12:56 am

    I was just thinking about this and i magically see them on your post, nicely written: I come back to writing because there is nothing left to do.

    I’ve come back to documenting this life because there must be no other way out of this.

  33. June 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Reblogged this on Selden Vos VIII.

  34. July 9, 2013 at 7:41 am

    Thanks for posting this, keep posting.

  35. July 16, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    bookmarked!!, I really like your web site!

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