Thursday, February 9, 2012

Struggling, but I WILL NOT get stuck.

In the interest of honesty and full disclosure, I am struggling. However, I think the reason I am finally finding the will to write about it means that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I'm going to get my words out and go with it. When I've struggled with things in the past it has always helped to be able to think about the situation, put words and descriptions onto it, and then move forward.


I'm not really sure when I started to feel like I was being washed away.

My husband, The Man, turned 30 in January. 30 is kind of a Big Freaking Deal, and I dreamed about throwing a huge birthday bash. Funds being what they are, though, especially after a cross-country move just a few months ago that literally left our bank account empty, a huge birthday bash was not in the cards. It's okay, I thought, I'll surprise him at work with a cake. He ended up with the day off. We had a great time hanging out as a family, but of course there's the damn guilt. Moms always have THE GUILT. I should have done more, it should have been a bigger deal, I should have made him the steak he loves instead of suggesting we get take-out. But it turned out wonderful, and I don't think that's where my feeling of Sinking came from.

Maybe it's the complicated Personal Relationship Stuff that I've been sorting through and figuring out. Not even regarding our marriage, but other personal relationships. Complicated, sordid, life-long relationships that have pretty consistently been a source of anxiety. Having grown up in a family affected by alcoholism, I came to realize as an adult that I have embodied the typical role of the oldest child in an alcoholic family pretty damn well.  I've had a lifetime of being The Fixer, of absorbing the blame and problems that other people have, and cleaning up other people's messes while burying my own emotions. Of course there's only so much of that kind of "fixing" that a person can handle before they crack, and I think my personal cracking happened in the months leading up to our move. It's been a tremendously healing move in so many ways, but there have been many emotional ramifications that I honestly didn't consider beforehand. The last heartfelt, meaningful conversation I had with my mom was 9 months ago, and it ended with me telling her we'd decided to move. While moving away from her was honestly not even on our list of reasons for going, she perceived it only as me leaving her and taking her grandchildren away from her. While I realize now that it's the healthiest choice FOR ME to be away from that kind of negativity and resentment, it's an emotional hurdle that I didn't factor in when considering all of the things that would be hard about moving so far away. Does this make any sense at all? I think it does to me, but I wonder sometimes.

Speaking of Complicated Personal Relationship Stuff, The Man and I are making an honest effort to reach out and connect with one another, but we have some "stuff" to overcome as well. And of course it's never easy to connect as a couple when there are constantly these busy little boys buzzing around us. We went on a lunch date yesterday, and enjoyed delicious sushi and a quick trip to the pet store and Trader Joes, but I'm not sure whether we ever ended up having even a brief conversation that wasn't interrupted by Boo Boo dropping something on the ground and bursting into tears, or Bug needing to make a comment about something, or needing to rush someone to a bathroom, or having to clean up a spill or blow on food that was too hot or find a beloved toy that had suddenly disappeared. At this point in our lives we need to choose between 1) paying a babysitter, or 2) going out together, as we just don't have the financial ability to choose both. We both fully realize that this is the situation that we have chosen deliberately, but it doesn't make it any easier. I'm thankful for the fact that I may be starting a new work-from-home position very soon, and since the income he brings home is what we need to cover the bills, my income will be able to go towards "fun things" and we will get the break we desperately need.

Maybe it was the miscarriage I had a couple of weeks ago. I didn't make this a public announcement because I was feeling so weirdly conflicted about it myself. It would have been a really awful time for a pregnancy, but that doesn't negate the feeling of loss that accompanies an event like that. While I fully realize that my body and soul are not in the optimum condition to support new life at this time, I couldn't help but look at my beautiful children and realize that they, too, could have been swept out of my body within days of implantation, maybe without me even realizing I'd ever been pregnant. One of my strongest spiritual beliefs is that everything that happens to us has a purpose, even if we can't even begin to realize what that purpose is. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that if we ever decide to have another child, the life energy that would have been this potential baby will come back to me. I don't feel consumed by grief and loss, but those emotions were part of the barrage of emotions I felt while I was actually going through the bleeding. Even though it's over now and I feel at peace about how it all happened, it was a huge emotional event. It was a huge PHYSICAL event as well, it was hard on my body and left me very tired. My appetite was nearly non-existent for a few days, and that didn't help as I was trying to perk myself up and take care of things that I simply wasn't able to pass on to anyone else.

Maybe it's the sicknesses that the kids have been dealing with. Boo Boo was the first to come down with it. He had a few days of coughing and sniffling, accompanied by very poor sleep at night, and then came down with a fever that he spent a couple of days fighting through. His sleep is always the first thing to suffer when he's not feeling well. For the past week or so he's been sleeping in stretches of 1-2 hours during the night, waking up to squirm around, cry, or nurse, because he's not had much appetite for food during the day. It's at times like this when I'm thankful that he is still nursing, because I know the energy from that has helped to heal him when he hasn't had much desire to eat "real" food. Bug came down with it next. It was the same thing, a couple of days of cold symptoms and then a fever that crept up on him. His fever started yesterday, and he woke up fever free this morning - I felt hopeful that he might return to school tomorrow, but then the fever crept back up again as this morning has gone on, and I realize now that he'll be home sick again tomorrow. My heart aches to see my babies suffering, but then I have these conflicting emotions of being resentful about my nights of very little sleep. It's hard to summon sympathy and compassion for an irrational toddler who has kept me up for half the night when he gets up at 6:30 am, exhausted, and starts screaming nonsense in a shrill shriek that makes my eardrums rattle.

The Man and I have at least been able to find some brief times to connect. We let the TV babysit the kids for a few minutes this morning while we sat on our bed and TALKED, a real, live conversation without interruptions, at least until he had to leave for work. It's funny how when we were dating we'd spend hours and hours and even days just spending time with each other and it never seemed like enough, but now in the face of everything else that happens in our Grown Up Lives we can seize an opportunity to have a 10 minute conversation and it perks us up more than we could ever imagine back in our carefree college days. He suggested that we go hiking - that way we can take our little amount of "fun money" and use it to pay a babysitter while we do something that is free. It sounded like a fantastic idea to me and I'm looking forward to the chance to connect with nature and connect with him at the same time. We keep talking about playing Scrabble together, but we keep alternating nights of being utterly exhausted and crashing at the same time the kids go to bed. First it was him, then it was me, then it was him again. That's all right, at least the intention is there. We'll get there.

I was right - writing it all out HAS helped to bring clarity to these situations. These struggles are huge obstacles for us right now, but our struggles ARE NOT US. We are bigger and better than these curve balls that life throws at us. Everything does happen for a reason. Maybe my continuing emotional struggle with complicated, toxic relationships are my reminder that I'm still allowing those negative feelings to control me, which means I haven't put a stop to that like I thought I had. I realize that I deserve better than to be weighed down with other peoples guilt and insecurities, but I need to better teach myself how to push their issues aside and nurture myself. I don't have an easy fix for the sleepless nights and the sick kids, but I can tell myself that This Too Shall Pass. When I look at Bug I realize how much he has grown up in what seems like the blink of an eye, even though there have been so many days that seemed to crawl by at a snail's pace. Boo Boo is going to be headed off to school with his brother before I know it, and I'll be nostalgic for the days when all he needed was some extra nurturing from Mama to feel better. I can meditate more, I can do more yoga, both of which are very healing and renewing for me. I can now pour my energy into my (potential) new job, doing the best that I can do and also adding some extra funds to the bank account, which will be a tremendous help in many ways. Writing this out HAS made me realize that we can only move up from here. The kids will get older and more independent, the bank account will grow. We have pretty much no time as a couple now, so that can only get better, right? Especially when we are both making a conscious effort to work on it.

If you have continued reading this far, I am impressed and deeply touched. Thank you for sitting here with me as I process this. I've always found great insight and healing through the power of the written word, and this time to sit and "think out loud" with my readers has been no exception. I am struggling, but I will not allow my struggles to consume me, and I will not BECOME my struggles. I'm strong and I will overcome this. I have already overcome tremendous obstacles, and after thinking of it all in context I realize that this could all be so much worse.

10 comments:

  1. Oh, my friend. I'm so proud of you for being able to put this out there. It can be so difficult to wade through all the muck of our emotions to other side, and I'm very glad that you're coming out on the other side.

    Please know that if you ever need an ear, a shoulder, a hand, a boob... I am always available.

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    1. Jenna, you have this amazing gift of being able to make me tear up and then laugh so hard that I snort in the same couple of sentences. I hope you know how much I treasure your friendship. <3

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  2. Wow, this really is a lot to put out there. I remember how bad it was having a miscarriage. Even when you can sit there and say it's not a big deal, and it was meant to be, it is huge. I wasn't hit by it until some time later (this was with the last guy who you know btw, not my husband).

    I am so glad that you and your hubby got to sit down and talk. Sometimes it isn't really even the kids that make a TALK not happen. It feels like my hubby and I haven't talked in ages.

    I am glad that you are letting yourself be the one who needs a shoulder. You have always been a very strong woman, but you are right, at some point being the strong one and taking on everyone's problems, you are bound to crack.

    Please just know that you are loved and you are special. *hugs* Angela

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    1. Big hugs to you too, Angela. Thank you so much for your love and support. <3

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  3. Love and light to you. Always.

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    1. Love back at you, Sherrie. Thank you, my friend.

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  4. Oh Nat. I just love you. I so hope you find balance and happiness. You are wise and amazing...I'm feeling optimistic that things will somehow get better. ♥

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    1. Thank you, Lori. I love you very much too, you are such a dear friend and I always treasure your wisdom and insight!

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  5. Nat, Thinking of you. Hope that things get better from here for you. I relate when you talk about the importance of taking time for you and your hubby and how hard it is with little ones running around. Ted and I struggle with that every day too. and we only have the one little munchkin. When I think of the perfect mom...I really do think of you. Know how special those around you think you are and that means it is so important to take care of yourself.I know how exhausted your body can get after such an ordeal. Lots of good thoughts for you and your family.

    Rachel

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    1. Rachel, thank you so much for your kind words. I am so touched! That part in the middle was especially nice, thank you very much, that means so much to me. Lots of love to you and Ted and your sweet little girl.

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