Saturday, September 22, 2012

Four Weeks

Four weeks almost to the day.

Several times, I thought it is a lot like dealing with a child.  When you have a toddler throwing a fit, sometimes you spank.  Sometimes you don't.  Sometimes, you put them somewhere and go on life without them until they stop.  Part of that mentality is to teach them that throwing fits will not get them what they want whether it be attention or control of a situation.  It always works.  Some tantrum throwing toddlers take longer than others, but they all learn.

It was a lot like dealing with a child throwing a fit.  And we just went on with our lives, calmly, without fear, without attention, without trying to placate.... nothing.  As if we were saying, "You're welcome to throw a fit if you want, but it will get you nowhere besides wearing yourself out."

It worked.

And in the meantime - four weeks is a long time.... but at least during those four weeks we had what we usually do not have - calmness and control.  We did not live in fear.  We had the energy to survive and the strength to support each other.  The kids and I survived without taking it out on each other or cracking under the stress of it.

It may have worked, and it did, but it is not without cost.  To be married to a man who will blow over really nothing and who will remain angry for four weeks of not talking except for snide comments is tough.  The repeated cycles of extreme irritation and sullen depression take a toll.  The cost is that we, the kids and I, have less to invest each time around when we get to the "good" part of the cycle.  We invest less of our lives and hearts.... we know that whatever we invest into this relationship will get damaged again on the next cycle 'round.

So I am quietly relieved that he is apologizing slightly and ready to move on, but I am not jumping for joy.  I'm relieved, but not ready to invest my heart deeply.  There is less and less of me available to give.

That is the cost of anger.  It's sad, but it is reality.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

In the Shadow of a Coaster Ride

 I got the job!  YAY!  I absolutely absolutely love it!  I get to work with kids, get to work with someone with health problems (who won't live much beyond high school.... :(  so in some ways similar to nursing home care in that these are the last years, let's make'm good), get to work with people I like, get to be around my kids, and get paid for it!  I'm "taking" applied courses instead of academic, so I'm in classes with kids who need tutoring, and I've done tutoring, so there are a few classes where I get pulled in to help with that, and I love that, too.

Life on the home front is about the same. Well sort of.  I'm beginning to realize something important, I think.  I think I began to realize it awhile ago, but not applied here in this realm.  I think I began to realize that I am not responsible for my husband's choices awhile ago.  I'm not responsible if he chooses to be angry or depressed, or silent.  I think I got that.  The part that I don't think I got the last few times around the roller coaster is that I can chose. 

I'm choosing now.  I'm choosing to be me, to not be controlled by how he is.  No longer needing to check in with him before I can say I am ok or not ok.  No longer, he is angry, so we are cautious; he is depressed, so we are quiet; he is ________ so we are ________ .  I am who I am.  I choose to be happy, to live life, to be me, to be calm, to be confident, to go on.  To not allow him so much control over my life.

Interestingly, I felt guilty at first from distancing myself thinking it might not be a caring thing to do.  I found out, though, that it is more caring.  In distancing myself and refusing to ride the coaster through the ups and downs, I am limiting the emotional toll it takes on me.  I am limiting the wounding that I allow for my heart.  I'm beginning to think that by keeping myself whole, when he finishes his ride, he will step off to a whole wife who will be able to accept positive steps towards healing the relationship.  If you ride with him, you end up looking for the closest bucket to hurl into when you step off and are in no shape to assist in building wholeness in the relationship.

So I'm choosing to live.  To live with both feet on the ground.  To choose joy.  To choose to smile.  To choose to love - but with borders that keep me whole.  A whole person is more able to love wholly anyway.

I'm watching this coaster out of the corner of my eye while I enjoy life. I refuse to be miserable just because someone else is.  I am enjoying my life.  But watching it, I see signs that it might be on the last few loops.  We can hope.  Until then, I chose life and joy.

We can continue to hope and pray that his rides 'round will get fewer and fewer and less and less in intensity, and that perhaps some help in that might be accepted, but I have decided that the kids and I will not live in the shadow of a coaster ride.  We will not allow that that much control over our lives.  We will survive, grow, laugh, and be happy, and we will survive together.  Since that talk, they've been more relaxed, too.

In fact, I have two high school boys who are delighted to have their mom in their school and who beg me to come on class trips.  Yet they are not clingy and timid.  They are fine without me, but love to have me with them.  Some days when I see that, I smile.  We are going to be ok.  And we will survive.  Whether he stops riding the ups and downs of a roller coaster or not, the kids and I will stick together and thrive together.

Monday, September 3, 2012

An Old Ride and New News

I seem to live on a roller coaster.  True, this one's ups and down's are gentler than a few years ago, but the ups and downs have not stopped.  Some things make improvements and things go well for awhile, but there are inevitable slips back on to the cycle.

It is such a predictable cycle that I could write it out.  So predictable.  First this, and then this, and then this.  So predictable that we even begin to tense at the "happy stage".  We know it is coming.  We see him and know.  First happy, then not sleeping as much, then irritability, then the inevitable blow up at something trivial or just the deepening grouchiness, then settles into a silent withdrawenness for a few weeks.  Round and round we go.  Sometimes there is a season of normal that occurs to give us a break before we go back to the no-sleeping and irritability.  We enjoy life in that normal pause - but honestly, that pause is not normal; the roller coaster is.

I've begun to ask myself different questions.  Wondering perhaps if looking for a "solution" may not be even a possibility.  If instead, we ought to turn our attention on how to survive and be whole.  On how the kids and I will manage.  Things like order and routine may help lesson the roller coaster.  Managing and keeping stress away.  Teaching the kids to pause and bring conflict to me later to solve instead of their dad if he is in the irritability or withdrawn part of the coaster ride.  To let me carry their load when possible.  On how to take it less personally, get less emotionally involved, and learn to sit it out.  We do not all have to ride the coaster just because it exists.

The sort of good news of the week is that the planned travel plans have been delayed.  I am not sure why they are delayed or what is going on as we are now on the "silent" part of the coaster ride, but I have been told by others that they are delayed.  I'm thankful.  Dealing with that and all right at the beginning of school was not going to be fun.  I am thankful for the schools my kids are in and the support they get from there.  I had meetings with teachers, principals, and guidance counselors to be prepared for the inevitable stress the travel would cause.  We can push pause on those plans for awhile - maybe a month or two.  We will still need them, and I am thankful for the understanding we have at the schools.

Speaking of schools - I'm applying tomorrow for a small job there.  Being where we are, we just don't raise enough support to survive, so I work outside the home for one or two days a week.  I have been working in an old folk's home, which I love.  But it's rough work.  I was injured twice this last year by an male patient.  He slammed me into a wall and then body checked me.  My hip hit the corner of a bookshelf and bruised.  Now I have bursitis on the hip.  He also dislocated my wrist.  It is an old injury, so it popped back in again, but my wrist which had been stable for seven years is now weak again.  I'm seriously wondering about my ability to keep going at that place and allow healing.  Last week I heard about a position open at the school to assist with a student with serious medical issues.  There is another mother and I who both can not work full time due to our lives, but we can job-share.  We go for an interview tomorrow.  I'm hoping to get the job.  My husband had been telling me and telling me to get in the school and volunteer so we get to know people and are involved and know what is going on.  This may be better.  I'll be there one day a week, and I will get paid for it!  So I am hoping.  We'll see.  My son tells me that during class time, the nurse's aide simply sits and reads and is there if needed.  Hmm... with a small computer and internet, I could actually get work done while working.  Hmm.... prayer letters done, address changes made..... do I dare hope?

Then, if I can get work as a doula, too, perhaps I could quit at the old folks home, or at least take a few months off and allow my hip to heal.