That Way Madness Lies

No, I will weep no more. In such a night

To shut me out? Pour on; I will endure.

– William Shakespeare

Hello, My name is Anne.

If you asked me who I was a year ago, I would have said, Granddaughter, Daughter, Sister, Cousin, Mother, Friend. I would have said that I am sure of myself, of my place in the world, of who I am, what I want, where I want to go. I would have said that I was comfortable with myself and all around me, and that the things I were uncomfortable with I dealt with or cut out of my life with ease. Above all, I would have said I am a Loyal, Honest, and Truthful person, in all of my dealings with myself and with those I care about, and that my life was easy and mostly satisfying.

I am not the same person I was a year ago.

I am still many of those things I listed above, but I am more than that, less than that, and I am changed. I am no longer so sure of my place in the world, or what my name means. What am I now?  Yes, I am definitely still a Daughter, Wife, Sister, Mother.  I am still a writer, a gardener, and a piss poor runner. I am still competitive. I still have brains. I still believe in right and wrong. I still love tomatoes, dogs, music, beer, days floating on the lake, and nights gazing up at the expansive starry sky. I still have my sense of humor. It is darker than it was.

I am more than I was, though. I am a learner. I am a questioner. I am a thinker and an over-thinker. Yes, I was these things before. Yes, I do these things too much. I always have. I am learning that I am both weaker and stronger than I thought I was, that there are things I cannot say aloud, and things I cannot say to others. In my arrogance, I never thought that was the case before, but I just hadn’t run into the things in my mind that were too dark and shameful to speak aloud.

I am a person often bored, sometimes sad, and occasionally in pain. I am learning to recognize these feelings for what they are and to embrace them as such, to let them come sit with me instead of pushing them away, but learning to not let them sit inside me and consume me. I name them and tell them they can be here with me, or they can go, but that they cannot control me.

I am learning to be more present. I have, in the past, been very good at being in the present. You see, the present is very easy to be in when the present is pleasant. It is much more difficult to be in the present when the present is painful or when there feels like no way out of the present. My present has been uncomfortable, and even painful, this past year, and I have slipped into questions of whether or not I made the right choices in the past and even more into paralyzing anxiety about the future. I have been unable to make myself mindful and in the present, because the present sometimes hurts or makes me feel guilty or simply seems insurmountable or hopeless. In the past year, I actually felt the biological imperative of Fight or Flight. I felt it in my mind, my bones, and my heart.

I made a conscious decision to stay and fight.

I took this self-portrait last night. It isn’t technically good. It looks awful. But this is the one that most captured who I am and what I feel, right here, right now, in March 2015. Light and dark and all.

I think one day I will look back at her and I will know who she was, what she went through, and I will know who she becomes, and I will be proud of her for sticking it out when the going got tougher than she ever thought it would.


“Self-Portrait: That Way Madness Lies”, March 18, 2015




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