This was my view just a week ago when I had the opportunity to spend a few days with the SpouseBuzz crew in Hawaii. I was lying on my back on the beach looking up in the sky and realized I had not seen something so blue and beautiful in a long time. I marveled that there is a place in the world where it looks like this EVERY day. It was great that SpouseBuzz took its live show on the road and we were able to spend some quality time on Waikiki Beach.
The memory of this view will be necessary to move me through winter as well as pretty much every moment of every day for the foreseeable future.
I tried very much to enjoy my time in Hawaii and to live in the moment while there because I knew it would be fleeting. I wanted to feel the sun on my face, let the island breeze blow my hair and listen to tropical music while eating as much pineapple as one could consume without having to actually go into the field and pick some one's self.
It isn't that I wanted, necessarily, to call it quits on the life I have here; it was more that I didn't miss the life I had here enough to be desirous of returning. The constant barrage of frustration that comes from being M3's mother was conspicuously absent in Hawaii. I did not miss it for a second. Not one. And, it's been so ridiculously overwhelming, frustrating, embarrassing and unrelenting that I didn't feel guilty about not being in the thick of all that nonsense for a few days.
Of course, as soon as I arrived home, it was business as usual. The starter in my car literally went out as my husband and I attempted to leave the restaurant where we'd had lunch after he picked me up at the airport. And, for some reason, when the mechanic called the next day to allow us to pay over the phone, he called the house rather than my cell. Had he called my cell, I'd have put the over $350 repair on a credit card. We have not used credit cards ONCE this entire horrible time. I've managed to keep us afloat and all our bills have been paid on time. I'm amazing like that. But, the call came to the house. My husband gave the mechanic our debit card number and just like that--POOF!--over $350 disappeared from our checking account. This happened just three days before I needed to marshal together $2300 as I do every month for our three biggest bills that come due on the 14th, 15th and 20th respectively. It remains to be seen if I can put together the funds for the 20th. I'm not holding my breath. I just marvel, continuously, at how someone can be so out of touch with his surroundings and the dire nature of our precarious financial situation. Christmas is less than 40 days away and my chances of purchasing anything in the way of gifts for our children just evaporated with that money. I will be robbing Peter to pay Paul in a very real way and we will be behind (because we will literally be starting from $0 after the 20th) that we will not be able to build up enough money to meet the upcoming bills. It's stuff like this that makes me kick myself for not staying in Hawaii. Truly. But I know that if I somehow pull this off I will be told, "See?! You worry too much. Everything is fine." It's fine because I MAKE IT SO. It's hard being the grown-up.
Today, my husband and I had to attend M3's parent-teacher conference at her school. We were not surprised by the stories the teacher related to us. M3 is on target academically, but socially she falls way short. Her teachers, unfortunately, did not heed our information at the beginning of the year and were still characterizing M3's overt bossiness and rudeness and controlling behavior as "trying to be so helpful that she just couldn't help herself from taking charge." Um, no, ladies. Not at all. We did our best to deconstruct each and every scenario they presented and shift their paradigm so that they could see M3 for who and what she really is. The sooner people in her circle stop treating her like a run-of-the-mill homegrown five-year-old, the sooner we can set about the business of healing her hurts and helping her to conquer the behavior that has put a huge wedge between her and her family and will eventually keep her from connecting with friends, teachers, coaches and beyond.
After the conference, we had to go have a one-on-one meeting with a therapist that M3 will begin seeing once per week later this month. She did not register surprise with anything we'd told her and advised us that we were in a healthy place (even if it didn't feel like it) to be able to admit that this is NOT what we signed up for, that this child has taken over and changed the core dynamics of our family in a rotten way and that we have become hermits to avoid having to deal with additional trouble from her. She also said that these kids are like puzzles. There are lots of things to try to help solve the puzzle, but trying them takes time, there are endless combinations of things and if anything works, it will take a long time. It may even take a long time to see even a slight improvement. I'm kicking myself for not starting some kind of intervention therapy with her sooner. Rationally, I know that was not possible until very recently because I was the only driver in the house, we only had one car and I was shuttling myself between three jobs each day. But, emotionally, hearing the words "a long time" made me want to tear my skin off and run from the room and right out the window.
My husband's ability to be oblivious is helpful in this situation. My habitual vigilance in the face of the obliviousness is not. Where he can get up each day with a clean slate, I lie in bed when the alarm goes off with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and an unvocalized groan in my throat. I just want one day where I am not resisting the urge to run away and/or lock myself in my room. I could openly weep at the drop of a hat and I am scared by my increasing inability to think clearly and behave in a with-it manner. I've been so stressed or whatever before that my physical health is shot to hell, but I have never been to a place where I feel I don't have a good hold of my mental faculties. My memory is usually spot-on. I write things down and I know them. Now? Well, let's just say I had told everyone and their brother prior to last week that my appointment with the therapist was a 1:00 today, but today? I had myself convinced it was at 1:30. So, when we showed up at 1:30 we were not on time but horribly late.
I. Hate. That.
I am so pissed that at this stage in my life after all I've been through and survived that it's going to be a goddamned five-year-old that sends me to the looney bin!? Seriously!? Are you freaking kidding me with this?!
But, with each passing day, that reality grows ever more clear and I do fear that I will never be the same. The guilt of what I have done by taking my family down this road haunts me every single day. No one here is the same and the changes have not been positive ones. The only one who seems to be enjoying themselves is M3 which only annoys the rest of us more.
Our pastor delivered a sermon on Sunday in which he talked about clinging to the altar of Christ by one's fingernails. And that hope could live on just one calorie a day. His granddaughter, a beautiful and vivacious 5-year-old has very recently been diagnosed with a stage four neuroblastoma. I realized when he said, "You show me someone who has nothing good to look forward to and I'll show you someone who is already dead" that I couldn't think of one thing good I had to look forward to without thinking too hard. I've never been a glass half full person so although I'm thankful that I have three jobs to help pay the bills, I can't actually say they count as something "good to look forward to" like he was meaning. It seems my husband's sight is coming back little by little every day, so yes, it could be worse. He could be dead. I could be dead. One of our kids could be sick. None of these things are so. I'm thankful for that and I know those are all tremendously good things. Does it make me optimistic that because those things are so that tomorrow will be a day worth climbing from bed for? Not quite.
I cried during that sermon for his family and their granddaughter. And, as rationally as I know that it can always be worse, I have been in the damn ditch too long to really see the road anymore and I can't imagine what it will take to yank me out--I'm not even sure I'd recognize a way out if I saw one. Hell's bells I was in HAWAII and still came back! Put myself right back in the ditch. If that isn't ever stupid, I don't know what is. The pastor also talked about a research project where they put a mouse in a 5-gallon bucket to see how long it would swim. The first mouse swam about 30 minutes before it gave up and sank to the bottom. The next mouse swam the same amount, but as it tired and slowed, they lifted the mouse so he could see over the rim of the bucket. The mouse, allegedly, swam for another 36 hours. I was sick to my stomach thinking the researchers let the damned mouse drown after all that, so let's just pretend PETA got to them and made them save the mouse. But, even a mouse with hope could only go on so long. Once he lost it, he just couldn't get his little legs to go anymore.
I've been physically tired for a long time. The stress of deployment coupled with the stress of the adoption process followed by the reality of adoption come to fruition and a serious, life-altering injury to our major breadwinner has affected me in ways I cannot adequately articulate. Until now, I'd hit bottom and bounce...swim back to the top to grab some more air before being pulled down into the depths of the bucket. Anymore my ability to reach the top is waning and I'm disoriented in the bucket. I kind of still care, but the other part of me is growing tired of the frantic and futile scrambling to try and escape and I'm growing resigned to the fact that life as I knew it is gone.
I'm still grappling with that and I'm not sure what comes next or how to best deal with that reality. I'm honestly too fried to know or care how to adequately address it at the moment. I will likely end up needing medication and/or a nice, 3-day stay at a state hospital before it's all said and done.
That whole thing pisses me off more than you know. I'm not really used to being beaten into submission, especially not by a kindergartener.