On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

hanging on to dross

It has taken weeks on end to unwind from the last 15 months of Sissy's ever-escalating behaviors that amounted to a whole lot of trauma and crisis for all of us. I really didn't know how severely her issues were impacting the rest of us, I was just muddling through day after day, puzzled by my unrelenting exhaustion and brainlessness. I kept telling my therapist that I would go to bed every night frustrated because I never felt like I accomplished anything in that day, all of my energies being sucked up to parent Sissy through the unending barrage of meltdowns. She assured me that mental and emotional investments in my child were nothing to scoff at, that I could go to bed with a pat on my back knowing that I hadn't destroyed myself or my family in the midst of that chaos. I always argued back that it didn't feel like my life was moving in a forward direction, that I'd reached a stalemate both personally and as a parent when it came to managing Sissy.

Like grains of sand running through my fingers, the anger, frustration and pain of managing Sissy's volatile behaviors for 15 straight months has ebbed away, leaving only the larger fragments of straw, driftwood, shells and beach debris to sort through. But still, my mind feels like white noise and my ears ring. My transmission is stuck in neutral, my body aches and my personal passions feel more like nagging goats than life-giving forces. Cognitively, I know that I'm still suffering PTSD despite the cessation of the rash of panic attacks I had in December. I know that if I'm not cautious, the dreary, rainy months of winter coupled by my PTSD symptoms and my slow thyroid could dip me into a depression. I know that I should give myself a license to rest and relax, to take advantage of my respite but I'm having a hard time accepting that freedom.

I've always been driven by an invisible internal mechanism of tightly wound cogs and gears. It's hard to let the tension in those springs loosen up. Parenting kids with needs has an opposite effect, forcing me to wind the springs ever tighter in an effort to maintain some semblance of sanity, continuity and functionality. In Sissy's absence, I've definitely unwound some but it is still difficult for me to be satisfied with a slower pace. Some of my racehorse attitude is inherent, most of it learned but all of it needs to be abandoned between now and Sissy's return or I will be on a one way street to mental breakdown after she returns. I'll be beating myself up for not taking the time to enjoy my peace.

So today, it is raining. Rain means no window washing. No window washing means no money earned. No money earned means we are that much further behind on our bills, bills which we still haven't caught up on from January due to The Dad's knee injury. My cogs and springs start to coil up and race when I think of it like this. It makes my heart race and my body ache, my mind go blank and my ears ring. But I'm forcing myself to rethink like this:

So today it is raining. Rain means no work. No work means I can be at home where it is quiet and enjoy a few hours without demands on me. No demands on me now means I can mentally, physically and emotionally rest for the months ahead when Sissy returns and will be demanding of me 24/7. I should be grateful for this respite, so many other moms would kill for this type of reprieve. I need to enjoy every ounce of this unfettered time and not feel the tiniest bit guilty

And seriously, i could absolutely wear this attitude if I knew the bills were paid! It's just so very hard to unwind, to be at peace, to thank God for this time knowing that Sissy's basic needs are being met so I can meet mine. I just don't know how to fully embrace it, I'm finding it darn near impossible and then angry with myself for looking this gift horse in the mouth.

I'm looking at all of these metaphorical rocks, shells, straw and driftwood left in my hands and I'm having a hard time tossing them in the trash without a second thought. I am having a hard time accepting that they don't have any real value beyond what I assign to them. They aren't treasures, they won't help me, they look nicer left on the beach, not in some jar on my shelf. Yet I feel the need to shove them into my sandy pocket and lug them around with me a little longer. Like grains of sand, my free time is running out and I haven't take full emotional advantage of it because I keep hanging on to the dross.

Somebody kick me in the butt please and save me from myself!


Diana said...

Sounds to me like you just gave yourself a good butt-kickin'!

Jeri said...

You're like a piece of sea glass....the rough treatment of the tide has smoothed out some of your edges...making you beautiful! You'll have to take that piece of sea glass, tumbled and tossed to make it a thing of beauty out once Sissy is home to remember....the rough spots do have their purpose...but why do they have to hang on so darn long!

Christine said...

Bend over, baby.

heh. heh. How often does a person get to say THAT?


Mama Drama Times Two said...

Loved how you switched it up about he rain giving you some space to unwind and you taking control of your attitude and response. Oh and there is no kicking butt in DFS (or whatever acronym your state uses for social services).Hang in there!

waldenbunch said...

I so understand the money situation. My husband is self-employed, doing online school at night to finish his degree and then hopefully going into church music ministry. And he's almost 50. And I stay home with my kids and homeschool. We can't make it on what he is making so we just borrow. I hate it but I have to trust God in the situation or my marriage will falter. Plus there's all the usual RAD stress. I constantly work on attitude adjustment. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

perfect description! I totally couldn't unwind when i went through something like this either. Sometimes a yoga class or video where they make you relax helped, but it was still crazy.