But, to continue my story about having children:
When I was younger, I occasionally experienced something akin to depression. I guess this is the common experience of being human. This has happened to me perhaps 3 times in my life, the first time when I was an undergraduate. At its worst, for perhaps two weeks, perhaps a month, I lost the ability to understand speech. Or I believed I had, although I still seemed able to give the correct verbal response. People would say something to me: “verbalburbleburble”. I would look at them blankly, then hazard an answer: “yes”. They would then hand me a cup of tea, or something.
It felt like I’d become paralysed while swimming in the middle of a great lake and that I was sinking deep, deep down into the dark and silent depth, the last air, under pressure, chuckling in my ears.
I dealt with this by telling myself that this experience wouldn’t last forever. It could be endured. I should just sit and wait for it to pass. And it worked! After a while I got better. From then on, I prided myself on my capacity for resignation. I thought my strength was resilience. I endured, with relative good humour. I didn’t care where I lived, as long as it was warm and dry; I didn’t tend to care what Jo and I decided to do together, where we went, what we ate. I exhibited a philosophical tolerance, let her decide because I wanted her to be happy.
Now, confronted first by one, then by two babies, I had not actively chosen, I attempted to live by that same philosophy. I loved all three of them profoundly, but I demonstrated this by being passive, by not making decisions and telling myself it was a form of self-sacrifice because I loved them.
The philosophy that suits one mode of being doesn’t necessarily suit another, however. This was just a refusal, a suppression, a cultivation of indecisiveness. Abdicating all responsibility wasn’t good for me. It was storing up problems.