From the side bar just to the right you can see that my web perusing isn’t all doom, gloom, and politics. I occasionally partake in the goss, and really, who doesn’t? I know the criticism: why are we paying attention to Paris Hilton’s prison togs and not the Troop Surge? Or Darfur? Or the minutia of universal health care? Frankly, I rather resent the implication that ingesting information on Britney Spears impairs my ability to recognize the seriousness of marines dying in helicopters over Baghdad as if this is a zero sum deal and intellectually I can only handle so much information. Or, worse, the way I choose to relax my brain is trashier (and therefore more memory consuming?) than someone else’s. I will join in lamenting the unfortunate blurring of “The Press” that covers celebrity garbage and “The Press” that does in-depth reporting on the alarming number of murdered Russian journalists (CNN, I’m looking at you). But hey, we all need to give our gray matter a margarita now and then, whether it be watching foreign films and reading art reviews, watching mainstream television while doing Sudoku, or having a cold one while watching the game and flipping through People. I like to think I bridge the spectrum as a wine-drinking, New York Times crossword puzzle-doing, NFL-watching, occasional goss reader. Furthermore, I happen to have enough brain capacity, despite the grief and Zoloft and Toddler, to pay attention to the war, name all the presidential candidates, and know that Willie Parker rushed for over 100 yards against the Browns last weekend. Nobel prize mental capacity or average ability to juggle a few balls? You be the judge.
ANYWAY. I’m scrolling down through Pink Is the New Blog looking for some David Beckham eye candy, and hit upon the news that Owen Wilson tried to kill himself. Brain spins. Wilson. Actor. There are brothers there, Alec, Bill . . . wait, those are the Baldwins. Oh yeah! Owen and Luke. Was Owen the one on “That 70’s Show”? No, I think that was the brother with the non-broken-looking nose. Owen appeared in “Royal Tenenbaums” and that Bosnia action flick which I actually rather liked. Owen. I know zippo about Owen. Nada. Not even the rumors. Does he drink? Smoke? Shoot up? Date? Date Gay/straight? Have a mug shot? No clue.
But I do know this about Owen Wilson: he is in a deeper level of hell than I am, and that is saying a lot.
In my darkest hours, on my absolute worst days -- the days my therapist calls me “inconsolable” – I fantasize about a cave. A cave that would appear on my porch that I could crawl deep inside of, curl up in the fetal position on the cold, dank floor, in the dark without a scintilla of light, and cry whilst undergoing some sensory depravation. A place where no one would find me, the phone wouldn’t ring, and the dogs wouldn’t need walked. I wouldn’t see the neighbor pushing her double stroller around the block, there’d be no house to upkeep, no shopping to do, no bills to pay. I wouldn’t have to explain to people what happened, or fake it. I wouldn’t have to force my way through the seemingly endless list of holidays I’m now facing without my child. I wouldn’t have to hear the news that other people get to bring their babies home from the hospital after having them. And I’d like to stay in there for a long time. Like maybe a decade. And then, after I had caught my breath and dried my eyes, I’d emerge into the sunlight, hopefully a bit thinner, and see if I could take it then. Essentially, I’d let all this “time pass” that people keep talking about but do it without interference so I could just get “there.”
My other fantasy on the really bad days is for a lobotomy. (The fantasy also includes a hysterectomy, lipo, tummy tuck, and boob job – you know, since I’m under anyway and they have the knife out and all.) I’d love to simply forget everything from May 2006 forward. Forget I was ever pregnant. Forget all the stupid conversations about naming the baby. Forget the delivery. Forget how beautiful Maddy was. Forget that awful week of bad news, and worse news, and the growing number of tubes and wires hooked up to my increasingly listless child. Forget the conversation on Feb. 18 where the doctors told us we were looking at hours to days. Forget her death that replays in my head like some awful ESPN slow-mo footage loop that I can’t shut off. Because right now I can’t seem to find a single damn good thing that came out of any of this, and I wish desperately it would all go away so I could be my “old” self again. (Correction: “old” self with perkier breasts.)
This is me at the very bottom floor. It’s a circle of hell that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, and would hate for anyone to even contemplate or imagine. But after reading about Owen’s suicide attempt, I realized that there’s a whole row of elevator buttons below mine that I haven’t noticed. And the meaning of my metaphoric fantasies suddenly hit me like a metaphoric anvil: the reason I long to do a Rip Van Winkle or turn off part of my brain is that I want to stay here. Apparently sometimes I actually rather like being here, on this plane of existence, with the husband and daughter I love – just not all the time anymore. Pale skin or dead brain cells notwithstanding, after emerging from my make-believe locations I am curious to see how the story unfolds.
And part of my new Awful self is an ability to feel other’s hurt extremely well. Joy? Happiness? Excitement? Might as well speak to me in Swahili and hand me a plucked chicken because the “Huh?” expression will be the same. But pain? That I get. I suppose I could easily condemn Owen from this side of the computer and snot that he has a ton of bucks and didn’t lose a child (that I know of), so what does he know about being depressed? But I realize now that his reasons aren’t important, it’s what he feels. And that’s real. And it’s horrible. Owen’s near tragedy made me realize that I’m at the bottom, but apparently not the very bottom, and need to be grateful daily that I can experience my daughter’s laughter (and head-spinning insolence) and my husband’s smile (and dirty socks on the coffee table). And I feel so awfully sorry that Owen’s elevator is barreling south, his cave doesn’t have a back or wall, or a crack of sunlight to eventually return to, and his brain is so completely poisoned that he wishes it gone altogether. I honestly can’t imagine.
Good luck Owen, please seek help. Not the Britney/Lindsay kind I’ve been reading about either, the real deal. I’m thinking of you.