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I am coming to this space ready to be raw and ramble… you have been forewarned.
I feel almost a stranger to the blank space. I’ve written so little here this year and for so many reasons.
By the end of the summer I was a hot mess. Like hiding-under-the-covers-and-calling-it-quits mess. Then what I hoped would offer some relief – sending our son to preschool every day – ended up making things worse and ended 3 weeks later in his expulsion.
My back was breaking and I didn’t know how to keep being a wife and a mom. I was so undone that I wanted to just drop him off at a hospital and have someone put him in a coma until he could start behavioral therapy. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to not have any responsibilities. I wanted to be heard and understood.
Inpatient therapy gave me all of that. People who got it. Dear providers that would not only help my son but love on him and me and my husband. Who would tell me to go home and nap and watch Netflix and that it was okay. People who would rejoice in his successes and not make me feel like crap when his hard work looked more like failing.
Finally, I was safe. I actually had time and space for the whitespace I was seeking.
I dropped out of everything. Every church responsibility, every Bible study, every MOMS group and MOPS group, every social circle. A lot of days, even saying yes to coffee with a friend was something that I had to think long and hard about because I needed my alone time so desperately.
I’m still trying to figure out if that was entirely the best thing.
But I wasn’t just a blob, you know? When I wasn’t binging on Netflix, I was working hard to overhaul everything about our parenting, our home, and our lifestyle. To make things work for our son. To give him what he needed. I threw myself into the role of teacher/therapist and tried to do exactly what they did with him in therapy at home.
All of this was happening while my husband was dealing with getting fired, being unemployed, looking for work, and starting anxiety medication.
The carousel never stops turning…
At the end of last year, things were looking up. I was pregnant. My husband had a new job. I was filled with hope and had grand plans to share hope with the world by sharing stories of redemption with all of you here on my blog.
And I’m not really sure what happened with all of that other than to say that the carousel kept turning.
In January, on top of dealing with first-trimester zombie-like status, I was hit with a wave of doubt…of questioning everything I believe in. And I thought I had done that before but I hadn’t. Not really. This was different. This was questioning God’s very existence and wondering if I could even believe in anything at all.
It lasted for months.
I held on tenuously to everything. Faith. Sanity. Happiness. Hope.
I celebrated the joys. The baby bump. The therapy successes. The days when things were a little less hard.
I’ve remained withdrawn. Introspective. Doing a lot of this on my own simply because I don’t have the time or the energy to try to get people to understand. I’m pretty sure that that’s not the healthiest choice, but at least I’m still talking to our therapists and my besties so I’m not completely alone.
Last night I went to a dinner for military caregivers put on by One to One: Women Coaching Women. They treated us to a spa night and a free (yummy) dinner. I sat around with the women, asking them about their program. They asked me questions about me and my life and the words sort of came rushing out. The husband with the anxiety disorder…the special needs son…the exhaustion…the therapy…the move to civilian life…the deployments…the unborn child…the hard stuff.
Some of the other caregivers who attended have husbands who are missing limbs. Husbands with severe PTSD who refuse to leave the house sometimes. Children diagnosed with secondary PTSD.
I found myself telling the hostesses…
“I know that everybody has hard stuff to deal with. I know that what we are going through may not be as hard as what other people are going through – and I never want it to seem like I think what we are going through is harder or whatever. But it’s our hard.“
Our hard. That’s what it is.
Because while there’s been therapy and more therapy and medication management and amazing social workers and hours spent in research and so many changes to make the life we live more manageable…and while we have seen so much improvement…our hard is still hard. The day in, day out, bone-tired weariness and wondering if it will ever get easier is still there.
The carousel never stops turning.
My son still punches me and tells me he hates me sometimes. Russ still calls in sick for work when he is on the verge of having panic attacks. I still have to mediate fights between an anxious husband and an anxious, oppositional child. I still don’t know how to move forward in this life with broken faith and most days I’m too tired to even care.
I still wake up at 5am to cries from the bedroom and wonder how I am going to make it another long day without having a complete breakdown.
This is what it means to be a military caregiver. This is what it means to be a special needs parent.
This is why my blog is so quiet.
This is why you won’t always see us in church or small group.
This is why sometimes I forget to call you or text you back or schedule a playdate or coffee date.
This is why I took the year off of MOMS group.
This is why I watch so much Netflix and drink so many lattes and listen to Taylor Swift and P!nk.
This is why I somehow completely forgot about the budget and overspent so badly that I had my debit card declined buying groceries.
This is why I pay for massages.
This is why I take so many belly pictures.
This is why I don’t make Pinterest-friendly graphics for my posts or schedule social media or do most of the things that bloggers do.
This is why there hasn’t been a May newsletter.
This is why gluten-free chicken nuggets have become a household staple.
Because the carousel never stops turning and our hard is still our hard.
But I’m still here. I’m going to walk 5 miles today and take my sore ribs to yoga class. I’m going to chug water and eat like a horse because Little Brother is hungry. I’m going to hug my boy with everything I have within me. I’m going to smile and enjoy the cool air and sunshine. I’m going to cope and survive and maybe, somewhere in there, do some thriving too.