Monday, October 19, 2009

So Who Needs Mental Health?

When I had started this blog, I had anticipated writing about the realities of facing facts about a marriage that had long outlived its potential, and deciding to separate and divorce, including the personal struggles involved. The upside of the journey has been reconnecting with the things I love, like writing. Somewhere along the line, I started getting sidetracked.

One thing was that the man I was divorcing was reading the blog. I had attached a “visit my blog” tagline to my outgoing email, without anticipating that outcome. There’s no law against him reading my blog, but a discussion ensued about fair and unfair representation. The experience left me even more sensitive about what I’m blogging than I had been already. I had never set out to “bash” anyone in such a public forum, but felt like I needed to censor myself. I have had the same fears about the repercussions for being completely honest that I had before the separation and divorce. Obviously, I am determined to get past that.

In addition to considering the ex-husband’s potential reactions, I have gone through another loss, one which I still can’t share. If I can’t evaluate with any objectivity what’s appropriate to share from an experience because I am too close to it, then it is too soon to try. After a few months, it is still too difficult. It’s a situation that touches all the issues I have been working out in recent years, learning when I can trust myself; knowing that I am enough, regardless of what happens with other people; trusting that I am more than my mistakes – even if I have botched something important to me, I am not hopeless; there’s even the wild and crazy hope that at some point, there will be more joy in this life, that the sum of my choices isn’t an endless treadmill.
Flops are part of life's menu and I'm never a girl to miss out on a course. -- Rosalind Russell

While processing all of the above, I have been making the effort to cultivate my joy, in writing, in spending time with good friends and with my family, in feeding my creative spirit with plays and live music and art. Lately, I feel more and more that there is no time in my life to do anything other than to work and to parent. My second child, the one who has Asperger’s Syndrome, is having a particularly hard time getting adjusted this school year. This morning I had to go pick him up from school. That’s the second time in a week. Part of me thinks it’s time to buckle down and just commit for a while to work and to focus on my kids, and not even think about anything else. But I have tried that tunneled vision of living, and know that it’s a fairly direct path to a breakdown.

Through the past year, what I see again and again is that I have learned, finally, what doesn’t work. Denial and self-delusion, beating myself up, consenting to be a hostage to someone else’s expectations… those are all the old ways that don’t work.

It’s good to know what doesn’t work. That’s good information. But it is so difficult to be facing each day, still needing to learn the things that do work. At the same time, some days I am so raw I feel like I am walking around with the top layers of skin flayed. Every day that comes to an end without a fatal puncture to the thin skin I’ve got left seems like a miracle, or a sham. Maybe I am losing it, have lost it, but no one’s caught on.

One thing I know is that over the past few weeks, I have not been blogging, nor have I been doing much other writing. For the most part I have felt nothing but tired. There’s not much to say about that. Underneath the tired has been a lot of stuff I would rather not put out there, the sadness and a daily effort to reclaim hope. But not writing brings me inevitably to feeling completely out of control.

Today, after leaving to pick up my son from school, I have to scurry through a few hours of work before leaving early to take him to an appointment at the Children’s Hospital. It’s a scheduled appointment to reevaluate meds for him, in the effort to help him get back on track at school. It is already an insane sort of day. Despite the time crunch, I had to write. If I didn’t, I would not be able to focus on anything at all. Before I can work, I need to write. That’s one of the things that will work, if I can just remember it, every day.

I would like to learn, or to remember, how to live. -- Annie Dillard

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