Blog 22: If I could change one thing...

In the kitchen with Nancy

By Haley Jakobson

Last night in the kitchen Nancy says, “I have a feeling you’ll fall in love before you leave.” I grin and reply, “God I hope so.”

Last year I walked in the kitchen and Nancy said “I have a feeling you’re falling out of love.” I crumbled right into my cereal. 

Letting go of what doesn’t serve us. It’s earth shattering. It’s gut wrenching. It’s a kind of dry-heaving you do curled up on the floor, mouth crystallized in a permanent “why?” But necessary. It’s that, too.
My friend Stacy was sick for a long time. She began to heal with food and in a matter of days she was out of bed, after seventeen years, and her life began for a second time. She left her husband soon after. 

Letting you go made the basin of my stomach into a blender, into rusty coins, into a darkness that caved into itself over and over and over. 

A year ago my brain wasn’t my own. I sat on a bench outside the Edgartown bookstore and forced myself to read a book of poetry too profound for my fragile state. The poems ripped at me, they stung with a venom that made me cry right out in the open, in vacation dreamland, and no amount of ice cream cones or self baptisms in that big blue endlessness could make it go away. 

My depression told me I had to go live in a cave like the Buddha. That I had to leave the life I loved and force myself into an unwanted enlightenment. That I’d have to be silent. That I should get rid of my identity. Surgically remove my ego. I read pages of books that told of white men and women from big cities leaving for India and never returning. Devoting life to gurus and to quiet. But everything inside me was screaming. I binged entire chapters, gluttony as a garnish for my guilt. And then the purge would come, heaving crying and panic, and panic, and nothing at all to comfort me in a vast world of disappointment.

My depression left me alone in a one bedroom apartment on the upper west side, my body in a constant state of trauma, my toxic brain the loudest thing in those rooms. I painted the walls with that misery. Everything felt like fear. Death looming, my grandmother dying, caves in India, and no energy left to assume my role as fighter in the relationship. 

Exhausted, wrapped up on my parents couch, still entirely unsafe in my own mind, I accepted that we would not make it through. I understood that I was too tired to fight and that you would not, as you never really had, as you were never very good to me when I wasn’t there to remind you that I hung your smile across my sky. 

When I am depressed my spirit cannot speak with me. Our intercom breaks and she can’t scream loud enough over fear’s whispering. My spirit has since told me she wonders if we would have made it had she been able to climb back into my ear. I tell her, firmly, that it doesn’t matter. That we need to find someone who loves us even when the intercom is broken. That knows that part of the package, part of the mirror to the resounding resilience that is my nature, is a darkness I didn’t ask for but sometimes have to answer to. The thing I know but that is impossible to remember when I am depressed is that the universe functions on a scale. And it swings at a peaceful rhythm. The good doesn’t outweigh the bad. The bad isn’t quite as heavy as we think. Balance. It’s the root of the root and the bud of the bud (that’s what you meant, didn’t you, poet man?)

My friend Stacy tried every medicine known to western man for seventeen years. But her healing came instead through the natural stuff. This was a mirror she had not looked in. 

I tried everything before the medicine. Yoga, food, sleep, therapy, my mom, my dad, my friends, my dogs, perseverance, pot, apathy. It was a different mirror I’ve had to look in.

There’s a way to write this story where I weave together the depression and leaving you. But I can’t quite do it all the way. I found the pieces in the same box, but they are part of two different puzzles. All I know is that when clarity came, the decision made itself. All I know is that the medicine fooled me into believing love didn’t have to feel like a punishment.

Other days I walk into the kitchen and Nancy says “You’re incredible. The beauty, yes. But the wisdom! I can’t believe it.”

I like to think she is saying “I have a feeling you are falling in love with yourself.”