Life is a strange, circuitous road sometimes full of detours, cul-de-sacs, pit stops, and unexpected turns. Just when you think that you know where you’re going, something happens. The car breaks down. The road is closed. You find out that Google Maps was wrong, all wrong! You should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.
Sometimes you just have to go with the flow even if you don’t like where the flow is going.
I always think I’m going with the flow until the flow fights me. It is then that I realize that I’m trying so very hard to push the river. That seldom works out. Have you ever tried to push a river? You drown. So, I metaphorically relaxed into the circumstantial flow and went with it as much as I could. This is not me. I fight. I push. I fix. I am the embodiment of ambition at times. I have to be. It’s how you get things done. It’s impossible to care for a child on the schizophrenia spectrum with no ambition while compensating for a spouse who is completely avoidant.
It isn’t sustainable. This is what my therapist told me last winter. I would not be able to sustain that level of energy expenditure or a relationship longterm. My response? I have to. If I don’t, then who will?
She predicted I would become ill. She predicted that my marriage would fall apart. She was right. In the midst of all these revelations, however, I think I can almost feel gratitude. It had to stop. What fills in the gap then? The overcompensation had to end to be sure, but what does one do with that information? Life has a way of forcing solutions sometimes.
Eadaoin’s therapist called me yesterday. She is referring Milly to the crisis stabilization program. Jane will be back in our house again. Both Grace and Eadaoin have used that program in the past. It allows for immediate in-home access to mental health services and a fast track to psychiatric services.
Milly has an anxiety disorder in addition to an autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder. She is not doing well. She has been writing me letters daily expressing her anxious thoughts and waking up in the morning saying, “Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to die so that I wouldn’t have to feel so anxious.” Grace has been picking fights with Milly daily because she can’t self-direct. Grace really needs day programming in the summer, but there is none. Summer is unpleasant in our house. We have a lot of mental health needs, and I can’t cover it all alone. So, I do a lot of behavior management, and Milly is losing her ability to cope with Grace’s behavior. I don’t blame her. There are days I’m there as well.
During this phone call, Eadaoin’s therapist was honest. She indicated that it was time to throw a lot of resources at our family, in part, because I had been the sole therapist and case manager for too long, and we needed support. I didn’t have to manage a child with schizophrenia, a child with autism, and a teen with a mood disorder on my own in addition to a new health diagnosis. She kindly mentioned my husband as well. “You are not alone in this.”
I want to believe that. These past few years have been indescribably difficult, and they didn’t have to be as hard as they were. Had I had a partner in this, the journey would have been far more meaningful and so much less isolating, but, at the same time, I’ve shared this with friends. Bonds have been formed indeed. Unfortunately, they have not been formed with the right person. We deepen our connections with others through ordeal. We also lose those connections through ordeal. It all depends on what happens during those trials. Do we draw near or isolate? Life is predictable, however, in that it will always provide us with opportunities to try again. Circumstances are always fresh with ordeals, great and small. We will always have another chance to try again and put into practice what we learned.
Such is the case presently. I have another chance to practice self-care. My husband has another chance to practice being a partner. I begin another little jaunt with a bit of a limp because I have a flair for the dramatic. Next Monday, I have the profound pleasure of having a local anesthetic injected into my right hip joint. It sounds terribly exciting, I know. You are all lining up behind me to experience what is sure to be some kind of euphoric bliss. Should, as my Scandinavian orthopedic surgeon said, the angels sing and I feel no hip pain after said injection, I have to have hip surgery! Clearly, I am the female equivalent of Rip Van Winkle. I have aged thirty years in six months since I have a hip injury and no clear idea as to how I achieved it.
So, in the name of self-care, I have already lined up someone to clean my house because I really have lain in bed and dreamed that my whole house was clean. As Doireann said yesterday after I received my estimate, “I feel like this is your wet dream, Mom. Having someone come and clean your house. Yeah, you should totally do this.”
It is my wet dream! So, I’m starting there. My husband has his first intake appointment ever on Thursday (Mwahahahahahahahha!) with his new therapist. Milly will be getting some much needed services. Eadaoin is still chipping away at DBT. Grace is immersed in her services. Doireann is processing her life experiences, and, apparently, I will be reaching the heights of pleasure while watching someone else clean my house while I wait to find out the fate of my hip.
I’d say that’s a typical summer for us…