All Fall Down

Admitting you had a problem was the first step - everyone knew that - but admitting you had a problem also left you open to the possibility that maybe you couldn't fix it

conversation with Dave, telling him what had happened.

Don’t upset your mother, my father would say.

face and figure from my dad’s mother, Grandma Sadie, who was tall,

F.E.A.R. Stood for face everything and recover

For women who do too much—which includes, dear publishers, pretty much all the women who have enough disposable income to buy your books—this is the ultimate fantasy: not a man who will make you come, but a man who will make agency unnecessary, a man who will choose your adventure for you.

How could I live a life where the person who’d built and experienced and created it alongside me, the person who’d seen me in a hundred different moods, at my highest, at my lowest, in the middle of a C-section with my uterus laid out on my belly, was gone?

I believed in newspapers’ mission, the importance of their role as a watchdog, holding the powerful accountable, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.

I had read all the books, from The Highly Sensitive Child to Raising Your Spirited Child. We’d learned about how to avoid overstimulation, how to help Ellie through transitions, how to talk to her teachers about making accommodations for her. We’d done our best to reframe our thinking, to recognize that Ellie was suffering and not just making trouble, but it was hard. Instead of remembering that Ellie was wired differently than other kids, that she cried and threw tantrums because she was uncomfortable or anxious or stressed, I sometimes found myself thinking of her as just bratty, or going out of her way to be difficult. The woman beside

I had started on the marriage and motherhood beat by accident with a post on my personal, read only by friends, blog called ‘Fifty Shades of Men’. I had written it after buying Fifty Shades of Grey to spice up what Dave and I half-jokingly called our grown up time, and had written a meditation on how the sex wasn’t the sexiest part of the book. “Dear publishers, I will tell you why every woman with a ring on her finger and a car seat in her SUV is devouring this book like the candy she won’t let herself eat.” I had written. “It’s not the fantasy of an impossibly handsome guy who can give you an orgasm just by stroking your nipples. It is instead the fantasy of a guy who can give you everything. Hapless, clueless, barely able to remain upright without assistance, Ana Steele is that unlikeliest of creatures, a college student who doesn’t have an email address, a computer, or a clue. Turns out she doesn’t need any of those things. Here is the dominant Christian Grey and he’ll give her that computer plus an iPad, a beamer, a job, and an identity, sexual and otherwise. No more worrying about what to wear. Christian buys her clothes. No more stress about how to be in the bedroom. Christian makes those decisions. For women who do too much—which includes, dear publishers, pretty much all the women who have enough disposable income to buy your books—this is the ultimate fantasy: not a man who will make you come, but a man who will make agency unnecessary, a man who will choose your adventure for you.

instead of cash. It took me the better part of another week to register

I thought, not for the first time, that maybe it would have been better if he’d just died, a thunderclap heart attack, an artery bursting in his brain, a peaceful exit in the middle of the night, in his own bed, after his favorite meal, with my mom beside him. We’d have mourned, then moved on. This was a slow-motion catastrophe, death by a thousand cuts.

mom with a part-time (inching

Once, she'd cried, telling me that she thought she should have noticed, should have seen that I was in trouble, should have done something. I told her it was my problem and my job to solve it. "Just be my friend," I said. "That's what I need most.

really? How many times had I heard my husband

seventeen, tells her

Something that’s bigger than you, and something that’s kind and forgiving, I’d heard one of the meeting leaders say. That’s all your Higher Power has to be.

Still waters run deep, I’d thought. Later, I learned that silence did not necessarily guarantee depth.

The new pills made my body feel loose and springy, warmed from the inside, but I didn’t think there was a chemical yet invented that could have quelled my insecurity, or convinced me, in that moment, that my husband loved me still. A

The problem was, he’d never told me what he wanted, which meant I never got to think about whether it was what I wanted, too.

There was a parallel universe that ran alongside the normal world, and if you went through the wrong door, or turned left instead of right, ran up the street instead of down it, you could accidentally push the curtain aside and end up in that other place, where everything was different and everything was wrong. That

when I married him, but, in the ten years since, it seemed like he’d decided that anything that went wrong in his life or anyone else’s was the liberals’ fault. Ellie considered

With motherhood and marriage there was no finish line, no hour or day or year when you got to say you were through. Life just went on and on, endless and formless, with no performance evaluation, no raises or feedback or two weeks’ vacation.

wrathful old guy with a long white beard who was big on testing

You’ve got to make time. It’s important. You know how they tell you on planes, in case of an emergency, the adults should put their oxygen masks on first? You’re not going to be any good to anyone if you’re not taking care of yourself.