So, last time I explained the depth of my ignorance. Today, I will begin to explain the depth of the depression - the chasm of bottomless need - that I lived in.
In 1982, when I was 18, everything about my life changed. I went from being:
a country girl living in a trailer in an all-white town of 2000 people with 3 friendless unemployed adults who literally watched TV all day
pregnant and married to a black man, living with his family while he went through basic training, a family who had more friends than my town had people, the adults both employed, happy, busy, and rarely sat sit to watch TV, living in the 'big city' of Little Rock.
Back then I didn't know anything about that stress test where you get points for every life change and add up your total to see your stress level, but I've since done calculated 1982 for myself and it was up there. At the top of the chart, so to speak.
My husband and I got our own place in another state where he was stationed by the Air Force, our beautiful baby girl was born - and I should interject here that I had absolutely no experience with babies whatsoever - and I was home every day changing diapers, doing laundry, and having supper on the table, while my husband went to his job using our one car (which had been mine - my only possession of value and my personal symbol of freedom).
And despite the stress, I was happy to be independent of my parents, even though it hurt like hell that they disowned me after I told them I'd eloped and had a baby. I loved my husband. I loved my new baby, despite having nightmares where I smashed her skull against the wall. Despite the constant growing fatigue, the numbing never-ending chores, living paycheck-to-paycheck. I was a grown-up. I began looking ahead to what I'd do as soon as the baby was old enough. Going back to school. Making a career as a writer.
Then, before the first baby was 2 years old, I was pregnant again. And about the same time I realized that, my husband's brother was killed in a car accident, a huge stressful blow to the family that shifted everything for them and drove a wedge between my husband and me (they'd been very close; and neither of us knew how to handle the grief - him to feel it, or me to comfort him - I'd never known anyone who died before, nor had I ever been to a funeral).
Around that same time, I won a creative writing award at the university where I was taking classes. Then our second beautiful girl was born and I had to take a semester or two from school again. I was now 21 years old with 2 babies.
Still, I pushed on. I felt increasingly trapped. I felt alienated from all the other young people at school because I was a couple years older and had children. I had no family or friends other than my husband, who was spending more and more hours working, leaving me alone with the two babies.
But wait.... there's more.