I was driving home from work. It was pretty dark for 5PM—I was still in that initial shock of getting adjusted to “falling” out of daylight saving time. I was used to going home when it’s still light outside. It was also cold, and it felt like something in between rain and snow was lurking in the air.
I was born on a rainy Monday morning on one of the shortest days of the year. I know it was a Monday because I Googled it. I know it was one of the shortest days of the year due to its proximity to the winter solstice. And I know it was rainy because this guy I used to see/date/be enamored with/be manipulated by told me this, because he found an old journal with an entry on my birthday, and he wrote about how much it was raining, which is a bit peculiar for December in our geographical area.
I used to feel like I was doomed to be stuck in a horrible, downer of a life. When I think back to the way I was raised, it makes me really sad to see the absolute pessimism that surrounded me. My parents weren’t horrible, but they were pretty disconnected. I look back now and see that my mom had some pretty serious mental health issues that weren’t addressed. My dad was abusive toward her, often as a result of her issues. My brothers were a perfect genetic blend of also being abusive toward me, while having their own unattended mental health and learning issues. I didn’t even know my grandmother was my grandmother until I was about six years old—I thought she was a maid. I was somehow attuned to this idea that my family was atypical, which I associated with being “wrong” and “bad.” Really, it was just incredibly unhealthy.
I think at my core, I’m a pretty hopeful person. I mean, I don’t think I could be in recovery right now if I felt totally hopeless. But my home environment definitely influenced who I am. There was an attitude of, “You can do it … but don’t try; you might fail.” We couldn’t have more than one dog, because we would never be able to love them equally. We couldn’t have friends over, because what if they weren’t our BFFs? There were so many excuses for not living life fully. I wanted to be girly when I was pre-school aged; I wanted long hair (“Too much of a hassle.”) and to wear dresses (“Nowhere to wear them. Don’t get your good clothes dirty.”). Very few photos were ever taken in my family—”No one to show them to”—and in those photos, my mom was rarely present, because she would say, “I don’t know how to smile.” While my parents never directly told me “You can’t do it,” their actions and self-esteem told me otherwise.
The hopes I did encounter were unrealistic expectations. “Someday, we’re going to win the lottery. Someday, we’re going to move. Someday, you will be beautiful.” I fell in those traps of black-and-white thinking pretty early in my life, and I like to say it got me through life—but it got me through in the way a few slices of bread and a glass of water can get you through a day. It might allow you to survive, but you sure as heck aren’t going to be running a marathon after eating that as your daily meal.
I used to feel like I was destined to live the life of a cold, rainy, dark Monday. That it was my birthright I was born into. I used to feel like I was born into such an unstable family that I was meant to be depressed and abusive just because I share the same genetics as them: dark hair, light eyes, suicidal. Or maybe it was less biological than that, and more like an unhealthiness caused by osmosis.
I was driving home from work. It was not a Monday. It was not raining. I realized, in my younger years, I had never thought I’d feel a steering wheel in my hands or know the view from the driver’s seat. I never thought I’d be able to go home from my job (in an office!) to my house that I rent all by myself. I never thought I’d be able to go to the store and buy the food I want to eat. I readjusted the seat belt, thinking about how I was an overdue baby by a few weeks, and how the elderly obstetrician finally decided to give my mom a C-section to pull me out of her womb on that rainy Monday. Mom told me I was the only baby in the nursery at the small hospital.
I peered through the silhouettes of trees at the dimming sky of a day I never thought I’d survive to see. I was no longer that dried out, reddened newborn, alone in the nursery on a dark, rainy Monday. I was something beyond that baby, not just in age and experience, but something more. I thought about the hopeless doom that dark, rainy Mondays bring … and then I remembered that the week gives us six other days.