You know that feeling in a swimming pool when you think you've reached a point where you're at a depth where you should be able to reach the bottom so you stretch your feet down, and then all of a sudden you can't find the bottom, and your chin dips under the water, the bottom isn't where you thought it was at all, and all of a sudden there's that moment of panic, disorientation, almost of falling, sinking? For a moment you keep going down, how far down it is to reach the bottom? You don't remember the water being this deep. And you can't find it. You bob back up to the top, gasping for breath, looking for air. Are you where you thought you were? Everything looks the same. But everything underneath your feet has somehow changed. You look around you and everyone seems to have not had any trouble navigating this new depth. Did they grow somehow over time and you missed it? Are they all taller and breathing easily over these inches of water that are suddenly over your head? They glide easily through the water where you are left treading water.
I feel like I am perpetually stuck in a moment like that. That feeling of losing your footing and not being able to find the bottom of the pool. The water feeling too deep somehow.
And yes, I see it. I know how to swim. Of course I can do this. I can get through this. But it takes so much more out of me to tread water and swim everywhere, when I used to be able to walk easily through these depths. And sometimes, I can hold my breath and pretend to be the same as I used to be. I carry rocks in my pockets and walk along on the same ground as everyone else, underwater, and I try to smile. But I can't for long. I have to come back up to the surface to catch my breath and stop and tread water again, while you go on ahead without me. Or I bob up and down, in a crazy lopsided way, grabbing my breath and coming in and out of the water, and you will wonder what in the world I'm trying to do, but I'm just trying to stay doing what I remember I used to do. It's not at all how I remember doing things. I don't remember everything shifting below my feet like this. I don't remember how everything looked so much easier to everyone else. Did I really used to glide so easily like that too? Just doing things? Was it really ever easy? I might have always been somewhere on that edge, slipping and sputtering with water at my chin.
This is what it's like living with chronic pain. Some days are harder than I ever think possible, in ways I never expect and I never feel like anyone truly understands. I feel like the ground under my feet is constantly being pulled out from under me and I can barely tread water and keep going on the bare basics. I don't know if anyone, even Zac, can ever really grasp how overwhelming it all can become in some moments. Pain and depression coupled together are nasty nasty unrelenting beasts. They are like underwater serpents grabbing my feet and trying to pull me under. This water is perilous. There are too many ways to go with this metaphor. Let me just suffice by saying please help me along the way, if you see me struggling to stay afloat. There are monsters swarming beneath my legs, and I cannot reach the bottom, even though it seems like I'm tall enough that I should. And sometimes I've been treading water for far longer than you may realize and my arms may just be at the end of how long they can hold out and burning and screaming for rest. Please be patient with me and I will try to do the same for you. Forgive me when I am tired and overwhelmed. There are no excuses for poor behavior ever. But maybe understanding can be a salve for hurt sometimes. That's all I ask.