Tag Archives: oubliette

I wear leggings as pants. And other confessions.

Confession #1: It started with yoga. All the other girls were wearing leggings and it seemed like they were a bit more comfortable than me.

So I bought some.

Sister to sister selfie -- do I look ok???
Sister to sister selfie — do I look ok???

And then it got real cold, so I wore them under my running pants too. Until it got a bit warmer. And I lost the top layer. Leggings for running too.

And then, little by little, leggings on a random snowy Wednesday. I told myself it’s because it’s so much easier to slip on my boots this way, but… but it’s not… it’s…

See? Right into the boots! Easy peasy!
See? Right into the boots! Easy peasy!


I’m one of those people. Leggings as pants people. Do you hate me?


Confession #2: I flew down to Florida the day after my birthday from Central Wisconsin to Ft. Lauderdale via Detroit. That wasn’t the original plan, but a delay resulted in a rebooking and a re-routing and I had a couple hours to kill in Detroit. I hung out at the far end of the A terminal for a couple hours, reading and texting and Facebooking, like I do, until 30 minutes before my flight when I super responsibly got up to use the restroom one final time before boarding. As I walked in the door of the restroom I suddenly noticed the “men” sign on the door and quickly backed out — that was almost awkward! — and I ducked in the next. Crisis averted.

It was an odd restroom though. I needed a wastebasket in the stall (you know), but there wasn’t one. Ugh. Antiquated. No matter though, there was one near the sinks. So I washed my hands and ducked around the corner for a paper towel… at which point, a big long row of urinals came into view. My heart stopped, I whirled around, and in walked a man who looked just as confused as I felt.

Turns out… there are TWO doors to the men’s room. I backed out of the first only to walk right into the second.


Confession #3: I’m not a graceful person and falling while I run is kind of my thing. So stupid. And after something like my third fall in the last couple months, I have two seeeeriously bruised and skinned knees. I’m a 32 year old woman who is walking around Wisconsin in February with two skinned knees. For shame.

And it’s not even the ice, really. It’s tripping. Tripping over wonky sidewalks and the like. Even my pretty aqua green shoes are all nicked up at the toe. I want to be PERFECT at the marathon (since lord knows I won’t be fast), and these nicked up shoes and knocked up knees (at least my knees can get knocked up! ha!) are not going to do it for me.


And a million other confessable moments: I recently bullied (like, maybe she should tell someone about me…) a 50-year-old woman into reading the entire Harry Potter series and I don’t regret it. I fed my dog handfuls of butter after she swallowed a burr because it seemed like it might make it slide down her throat. I’ve spent way more hours than any adult should reading in the bathtub over the last couple weeks. With bubble bath. When I finally vacuumed my house last weekend, I recovered enough dog hair to make Curly a super personalized sweater and she doesn’t really even shed — that’s how long it had been. But worst of all: I let myself slip back into a dark place.


And that dark place, my darlings, is where I’ve been. I’m not sure exactly how it happened. It started the week before I traveled, I think… I got kind of busy and stopped doing the daily mindfulness practice I’d been cultivating. And then when I fell the last time, I stopped going to yoga because it really, really hurt my knees. The dark thoughts started creeping in, piling up, and I latched onto those again. I stopped writing, because I didn’t want to be a downer anymore. I spent an evening, and another, and another, even one particularly ugly weekday morning, sobbing about how much I hated myself. And I meant it.

Danger zone.


The truth is, I’m in a bad place. A place much worse than a men’s bathroom. (Granted, it really wasn’t a terrible place to be until I realized where exactly I was.) And I’m going to have to work really stupid hard to get back out again.

Confession #4: I feel really, really tired and I’m not entirely sure that it’s worth it.

I suspect that’s the depression talking, but it feels pretty true to me right now.


Interestingly, I know for a fact that there isn’t all that much “worth it” about running a marathon. And yet, I’m absolutely desperate to do that — willing to put in mountains worth of work to get there.

marathon training

So maybe I just need to print out some sort of anti-depression training plan and assume that it will be equivalently worth it. Fake it til I make it. Mile after mile.


So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got five miles to go this evening yet — Curls spent last night puking, and I cleaning it up, so when 5:30 am rolled around this morning, I was in desperate need of a bit more sleep. But the treadmill calls and I have faith that crossing the finish line in DC in a couple of weeks will be worth it to me. Faith as well that putting in the work to climb out of the oubliette,* let the light in, and work to not be in such a dark place, will be worth it too.



*I use Audible to listen to books while I run. I’ve never read any Neil Gaiman before, but I couldn’t really ignore the legions of people I super respect who love him anymore and when I saw that American Gods was nearly 20 hours long (woo hoo! all that bang for the buck!), I jumped on it. Within the first 5 miles (I measure books now in miles rather than chapters), the main character mentions an oubliette. YES.

As pointless as an inside out raccoon.

Once upon a time, some medieval a-hole invented the oubliette: a dungeon modeled after the mythical bottomless pit. The only entrance, a trap door in the ceiling, was so far overhead that the person banished to the depths went mad with hopelessness, knowing they were left in the dark to be forgotten. (Or something like that.)

Clearly, the aforementioned medieval a-hole was familiar with the concept of depression. And weaponized it. Genius. Mad genius.

Today, I greet you from the depths of the oubliette, depression having settled in like an old friend I never really wanted to meet in the first place. But here he is and the associated fog will likely cover the faint glint of light from the mouth of the pit for a while. It’s my job (with the help of medication) to work really, really hard to remember that it’s not actually hopeless and I do actually matter. But first, how did I get here?


Are you familiar with Jenny Lawson? Alias: The Bloggess? Author of Let’s Pretend this Never Happened and, more recently, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things? I kind of adore her — her irreverence and frankness about mental illness is a thing of beauty and I think she’s done a lot, lot, lot of good for a lot, lot, lot of people who might otherwise feel very alone. Her point: we’re all broken, some of us more than others, and for those of us in whom that means mental illness, it is a legitimate disease worthy of medical treatment. And that is all. That and a silver ribbon to be worn with pride — I am surviving. No shame.

Anyway, I’m reading Furiously Happy right now and the star of the show is Rory the furiously happy raccoon (see book cover):


Rory is a taxidermied raccoon. Taxidermied to a state of permanent, furious, happiness.

I kind of dig Rory and all his maniacal excitement. And I fully understood what it meant to be a taxidermied raccoon — once upon a time he was alive, he died, his skin was removed, he was stuffed, posed, preserved, the end.

But then last weekend, this horror show took place in my backyard (not a fan of gruesomeness? scroll by real quick):

inside out raccoon

Not actually my backyard, of course, but the backyard that butts up to the edge of mine. So close enough. That’s a raccoon. Hanging from an apple tree. Having its skin removed.

An inside out raccoon.


I was disturbed on Saturday, but when it happened again on Monday morning (happened again on Monday morning because #Wisconsin), less so. I mean, that’s how you make a taxidermied raccoon, right? Even a furiously happy one was once upon a time dangling from something having its skin removed.

The premise behind the idea of being Furiously Happy, a la Jenny Lawson, is that when you suffer from severe bouts of depression, it steals the joy right out of your life. So in those moments when you can be happy — you should be furiously so. Embracing life and adventure and goodness and joy to the fullest in those moments when it is in your power to be in that place, when the fog isn’t hanging over you, when all the exclamation points haven’t mysteriously vanished from your life. Or, as is apropos here, when you’re not busy being turned inside out, be like Rory.

I liked that analogy for depression — an inside out raccoon with the potential to be happy again, given a little help from a skilled taxidermist with a good sense of humor.

But then again, once the inside out raccoon suit was off the bare raccoon body, my neighbor took the pelt (is it a pelt? is that what we call the removed skin/fur???) inside the house and left the (now naked) raccoon body hanging from that tree. It swayed there for a long time and I couldn’t look away. What do you do with a dead, naked raccoon, I thought? I mean, people don’t eat raccoon, do they? That naked raccoon isn’t going to get furiously happy — just his little suit. So… what’s his point?

My neighbor came back outside with a bucket, untied the raccoon, dropped him inside, and carried him away to who knows where. To nowhere, probably.

And I realized that I felt past the point of the little raccoon suit with the potential to be happy again. I felt a lot more like the dead, naked, slightly swaying, completely pointless raccoon left hanging on the branch. It was just grief at first. I was so sad, and with good reason, but I had moved past that point. Somewhere in my grief and brokenness, I had convinced myself that that’s all there was. That I was pointless.

I had let myself slip back into the oubliette.


The thoughts that came and went (and still sometimes come and go) are scary. I wished to not be loved — because then it would be easier to disappear, no heartache left behind. I wished for tragedy of the variety that was unquestionably not my fault yet would somehow lead me to oblivion. For an end because why was I bothering anyway. I did not matter and that the people who for some reason thought that I did would be better off without me… when they realized that there were prettier wives that were good at keeping their families healthy, children with the ability to produce grandchildren, sisters that don’t harbor ugly jealousy, writers with more talent and less baggage, friends with the ability to smile, nieces without drama, etc. I want to be all those things to all those people. I have been none of them. I had no point.

I don’t want to lie to you. I’m still there to some extent. It’s a bad neighborhood of the mind, as my aunt would say, and I wander there frequently these days. But I do have some good days too. Thanks to the people that love me, goodness knows why, and the mental health care I have sought — needed to seek. But maybe most of all this time because someone else heard what I said and shared their own story with me and I thought for a second, hey, we just connected. And maybe connection is enough of a point. Enough of a reason. Something that matters.

And connection does keep happening, when I really stop and think about it. It has for a while and it has very frequently recently. In ways that I didn’t really expect. Not just those who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy or a child, but those who have been to broken places for other reasons too. People who look so shiny and bright on the outside that there’s just no possible way for that to not be the whole story, except of course there’s more. And they said to me, “hey… me too, because this thing…” And dang. That’s powerful stuff.

On the surface, it seems a little bit like misery-loves-company, but it’s not. It’s a lot more like hey-let-me-lend-you-my-strength. Let’s-walk-together-for-a-sec. I’m-going-to-hug-you-gently-with-my-words. I’m-going-to-show-you-something-tragic-yet-beautiful-and-remind-you-that-it-is-possible-to-be-furiously-happy-again.

For those moments, for those people, and for the people that love me… that I love back… I’m going to hang on. I’m going to remember that even an inside out raccoon isn’t really pointless. That the bottom of the oubliette is temporary and that somewhere above me, no matter how far away it seems, there is light.