An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Hair, day thirty

“Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel?”

That’s the question almost everyone keeps asking me, and so far it’s the one thing that doesn’t make me cringe or want to cry or run outside and punch my fist in the ground. It’s an innocent, heartfelt question that doesn’t make any assumptions about what happened or is happening or who is to blame.

Sometimes people send me advice and it is so colored by their own pain, pain that I honor and regard with reverence, but it wants to believe so much that isn’t true about this. This thing that I’m living through. This thing that is full of details and dynamics and its own kind of pain, a kind whose shape I think I have figured out and then I turn it over and find another side.

I don’t mind the advice, not at all. This experience wants to tell its story, and our common ground is the struggle. We share the simple hope that no one at the store will notice that we are wearing sunglasses indoors, sunglasses we won’t take off until we’ve pulled into the garage and slouched over the steering wheel to resume sobbing.

And no matter who is to blame, no matter what happened or is happening we’ve each had those moments when the panic rises so fast in our throats that to hold it down is like swallowing the deep end of a pool. But then we make dinner, we help with homework, we somehow walk from one end of the room to the other. Like so many of you have assured me, that light at the end is around here somewhere. And sometimes just a glimpse of it is enough to get me to the end of the day.

  • Catchick6

    “You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness…..”
    Check it out…..incredible song….

  • HallieLuYa

    Ok so this is my 2 cents you didn’t ask for. When you all were buying the house you currently live in and you wrote the post about NY, the fax machines, the divorce, the lien, the crazy… I thought… oh no. Oh shit. Don’t move into the house. There’s a something there. An ominous. Whether it’s vestiges of the whirlwind of spiral energy of the previous people, or something entirely different, I don’t know. And maybe it doesn’t exist at all. Maybe it’s just my brain that thinks up these things. But place is important, and the feeling of a place is important, and what has gone on in the past can linger in the present, or paint the future. What started to happen when you all moved in? My thought is that this energy can be changed, with a silly ceremony, words and incense or candles. Or maybe there’s a bungalow near the beach in Santa Monica that’s just perfect for you guys.

    Peace on your journey, and please throw my two cents away if they feel heavy in your pocket.

  • khadley

    Your blog is in my feed reader, and i absolutely love to read your posts, and love what i know from them about you. I can’t begin to know your own pain, can only relate from 55 years of my life… All i can say is you have a community of people out here who are trying to hold you up in any way they can, who encourage you to keep taking that one step in front of the other to the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s worth it.

  • tracy

    damn, honey….you’ve got some amazing readers. Reading these comments are helping to bring me some perspective & hope with my own non-trial-separation-soon-to-be-divorced situation.


  • strawberrygoldie

    Sometimes this feeling will creep up on me, quite rapidly, that I am going to explode into itty bitty pieces. Thank God THAT passes 🙂

  • SurprisingWoman

    I think your seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is BRILLIANCE. ABSOLUTE BRILLIANCE. I could see things were changing but couldn’t see the light. That’s a lovely visual to give people.

    I am one of those that you may have read my story and it didn’t really speak to you, and that’s not a bad thing. I just wanted you to know that others had been there and you do know so it’s all good.

    I love Ray. Love him. He comes to SLC sometimes. You can sign up on his website to be notified.


  • prestonk9

    I dunno, I think that question would make me cringe too. I understand the good intentions and concern but if you don’t see the light, then it may just make you feel worse. Are you better now? Are you better now? Ugh.

    The light is there for sure and you WILL get there, but as someone else mentioned you can’t fast forward through this journey and there’s no set timeline. I’m thinking of you and your family more than I can even believe.

  • sabina

    Once when I was in a wailing rant – about some serious stuff actually – I’d been bawling for about 25 minutes (my shitty job!! I can’t get published!!! I’m fat!! My stepmother is destroying our family!!! My cat died!!!), seriously losing it, an ex friend with benefits (now a photographer at the SL Tribune incidentally) was silent for a few seconds, then said, ‘But you know what? Your hair looks REALLY GOOD today.’ For some bizarre reason it actually cheered me up. Mostly because I could picture my dear friend desperately cycling through positive things to say, and even if that was the only one he could come up with in the moment, I felt the love.

    Heather, you are a beautiful woman… and your hair looks REALLY GOOD today.

  • myformerlife

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but nothing spoke I’ve read before today spoke to me like this post. So beautifully written, so poignant, so achingly true. By sharing your own pain, you also help color others…and sometimes, that’s a good thing.

    “Sometimes people send me advice and it is so colored by their own pain, pain that I honor and regard with reverence, but it wants to believe so much that isn’t true about this. This thing that I’m living through. This thing that is full of details and dynamics and its own kind of pain, a kind whose shape I think I have figured out and then I turn it over and find another side.”

  • Mommytopia

    May I share my own thoughts on light and dark? I write for myself nowadays, but maybe this will be helpful to someone who reads here. I have experienced a lot of sun and shadow in my life so far and this is how I survive the contradictory relationship between the two. I’m not a religious person, but I do have a lot of faith, and a lot of faith in my own ability (after years of practice!) to always be moving forward.

    Darkness and Light and Their Inequitable Offerings

    Light is wonderful; it’s our generous, all-encompassing friend. Light is hope and love and peace (and, let’s be honest, unicorns) and even if you can only catch a glimpse of it in your day (in my world, that glimpse is called “bedtime!”), it affords us the belief that survival, survival that extends beyond concentrating on the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other-breathe-in-breathe-out-existence, is a valid possibility. Light lets us look back at the darkness we swum (yes, a word!) through and marvel at our stamina. Light allows us to view the entire challenge: from the initial joy to loss, through the grieving, healing, and finally transformation. Then there is the selfish demanding bitch….

    Darkness is depriving. It pulls us into its blackout environment, but unlike light, it denies us any perspective of contrast. Pitch black wraps itself around our sensory system and denies us the knowledge that light awaits us or even knowledge of light’s existence. We are forced to blindly traverse through this terrifying unknown on nothing but the faith that there will be good again, and we have to do this excruciating exercise when we are completely diminished: broken hearts, broken souls, lugging a tote bag (tote bags! valises!) of broken dreams and plans gone wrong. Dark offers no comfort, no reassurances, no clue as to where the light is, no indication as to when it will first make its merciful appearance. (Incidentally, I think being forced through any harrowing experience that is provided no guarantee of a peaceable conclusion, and still choosing to fight for the light, is the true definition of faith and spiritual mettle.)

    For me, the only way I’ve outlasted darkness (as opposed to setting up a chaise lounge in the ink and pouring another Manhattan with a twist of benzo, resigning myself to a seemingly easier fate of lightlessness; darkness is deceiving in its exhaustive nature.) was to realize that I had to release control (paper bag, please? *breathe*breathe*) and submit (*breathe*breathe*) to the facts: many before me have survived the journey, therefore, I would (and will every single time), too.

    In short…

    Darkness Move through it as efficiently as you can. We must (!), knowing that it isn’t eternal as long as we are in forward motion. There have been times that I let despair trump progress. I’m here to say that inertia in darkness is the equivalent of an anchor in quicksand. Dark has an outer shell that you will crack through; sanity is a wonderful motivator, I’ve found.

    Lightness It really is where everything worthwhile and lovely is. It provides vision of a today that looks different than days past and offers a panoramic view of the horizon, AKA “the rest of your life” ahead. Most importantly, light sheds its rays on all that is behind you as well; permits you to peer back at the scary places you were at, once you’ve come out on the other side. Take a look back, absorb your lessons, celebrate your strength and say goodbye. You don’t live in that space any longer.

    There will come a day when you will be in some place in nature that is peaceful for you–beach, mountains–and you’ll close your eyes, feel the sun on your face. There will be peace (daresay joy?), and in that moment, you’ll know… You’re fully out of the shadows. You’ve arrived at your new life.

  • gcostaki

    People say I give awful advice so a good thing you may want to try is going to a male strip club.

    They’re usually all gay and the dancers have serious drug problems but besides that it seems like it would help.


  • dawnskor

    just move through it and breathe and pretend it is all a bad dream. trust me. that is what it is. with an end. not in your sight. but in ours. we are with you.

  • theciderguy

    To help you find The Light… hugs!

    FYI- Justine Suissa hasn’t been FDA approved as an anti-depressant yet, but soon, I’m sure…

  • TheWillow

    As a member of the ‘Broken Lizard Brain Panic Club’ I am all too aware of how debilitating fear climbs up from your stomach to your throat like a noxious weed. I’d offer a hug, but total strangers hugging me when I’m freaking out isn’t one bit comforting.

    In my tool-box of remedies there are two that rarely fail me. Of course writing this probably means they won’t work come tomorrow… So it goes.

    1) Xanax… because my doctor frowns on prescribing horse tranquilizers to humans.

    2) An incredibly lame-sounding visualization that my yoga teacher taught me. Stand (or sit if you can) and close your eyes. Push your feet in to the floor. Breathe. Consciously feel the floor. Breathe. Tell yourself you are standing on the floor. Breathe. Push harder on the floor. Breathe. Imagine the earth beneath the floor and visualize yourself pulling energy and strength up through the soles of your feet. Breathe. Rinse and repeat.

    One final thought… a light at the end of the tunnel is all fine and good… unless it’s an oncoming train. In other words, sometimes the dark isn’t such a bad place to be.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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