December 2nd, 2006

breaking bad

In a strange sleep

I have read many positive comments in the last few days about Joan Didion's book 'The Year of Magical Thinking' - about her reaction to the death of her husband. ozarque (whom I admire very much) has a very touching post about the difficult time that followed the death of her first husband, many years ago.

She makes me think about the feeling of being in the world, but separated from it, when I was depressed after the birth of my first child.

Her post also makes me think about how routines can be a way of coping when your emotions dissociate you from existence.

To people watching me I must have seemed entirely normal; I must have looked like someone behaving normally... if I had been failing to cook meals and do laundry and turn in homework assignments... if I had been wandering through the streets in my nightgown, someone would have stepped in and done something about it. I was protected, I suppose, by the fact that all those things I needed to do were routines that I knew upside down and backwards and could have done in my sleep; that was enough to make it possible for me to do them in the strange sleep that I actually was in at the time. I may have done them very badly; I'll never know.

This is almost exactly how I felt after giving birth: in a strange sleep.