I thought that was just me. Once again my social media community has reminded me that I am not alone in my titanic struggle to live.
When the family is home I feel like I need to escape into the night in order to put my brain back together before people start needing me every second, of every waking day. I get stressed out.
And since the breakdown, I can’t tell you all the ridiculous things that set me off. Like yesterday, for instance, I lost it yesterday because my cat got into a bag on donuts. Yeah, I also have a cat, Sparky, who steals delicious human treats. And then stares at me defiantly as I have to clean up his mess.
I let Sparky run the neighborhood and stay in my basement because I can’t handle the stress of taking care of him right now but I don’t want to leave him nowhere to go. I feel like even our basement is too cold for him but I can’t deal with all the stressful worries I have when he’s in the house. The thought of having him in the house plagues my mind with worries that shouldn’t concern me. Worries that I can’t control right now.
A whole lot of things happened at once. To set up my frame of my mind for you, I was in the middle of writing my post – Frame of Mind (how ironic). Locked away in my secure spot, I had opened myself up completely to share those darkest parts of myself that were overwhelming me at the moment.
When I need to release my excess, I go to the most comfortable place in my house, the bathroom, close the door, get completely comfortable, letting my guard down in the process, and I start putting my feelings down on paper. Sometimes I draw. Sometimes I write. Usually I do both. I usually choose the sanctuary of my bathroom because it is the only place I can expect privacy and enforce the right to have it. Usually.
While sitting in my bathroom, completely vulnerable, at my absolute weakest, with no expectation of interruption because I am home alone, my husband comes storming into the the bathroom bringing with him a chaotic whirlwind of stressful emotions that were plaguing him.
From a completely calm and sedate state where I was completely aware of my thoughts and feelings as well as at peace with them, I was suddenly bombarded with cold and jarring irritations and mysterious emotions I had no natural understanding of.
He was freezing. He had to leave work early to get the girls from school. He had to leave extra early to swap a two seater car with his friends sedan so he would have room for the girls. He was stressed out because the roads were bad. He was stressed out because the sedan doesn’t have heat and it is freezing out. He was stressed out because he wanted to be home. He was stressed out because the girls want to be home. He was stressed out because he doesn’t know where our relationship stands. He was stressed out because I am not well. He was stressed out because he could feel I wasn’t myself in that moment. He was stressed because the girls needed taken care of. He was stressed out because he wanted to take care of me.
He was stressed out and wants to come home to relax because he pays for the house. That’s the only thought that registers in his head when he is stressed out. Yet when he opens the door into my world I’ve shut myself away in, I’m immediately plagued with all of those thoughts that feel so foreign. All of the thoughts that are not my own but he claims are not his. And he didn’t even warn me be was coming.
From a completely vulnerable state, I am stabbed with foreign splintered daggers from a stressed mind. I immediately feel the need to go into “safety mode” where I shut down all of my emotions so I don’t have people asking me questions I can’t handle thinking about. So I don’t have to handle my emotions while I attempt to process the foreign ones.
Safety mode doesn’t just kick in anymore. It takes hours sometimes days of prep to be able to kick it on. And now I needed to go from nothing to full power instantly. Not equipped. My system started to lose control.
Along with all of his stresses, he brought my two blessed daughters. Patience and Prudence are the two best children I could ask for. They are kind, compassionate, and intuitively sense other people’s needs.
Patience cares about me and seeks to let me know she still loves me, even when I’m manic. Prudence, who like Mommy always gives of herself to take care of others, brushes my hair, asks me if I’ve eaten, shares her treats with me, and always has time to cuddle when willing, and never makes me feel guilty when I’m not.
Those amazing girls, who at the age of five and six intuitively understand the problems I face and the special needs I have far better than their father, have their own needs. They are desperate for the love and attention of their mother. They so desperately miss me and just want to be around again. They want me to love them. To hold them. To share with them. To help them. To teach them. To comfort them. To just be there. And right now I am not. And it kills me that I am missing so much of my children’s life.
I had the breakdown in May and while the calendar tells me it is January of a new year, I don’t know where the time has gone. I don’t know much of anything that has happened since my brain went wonky, outside of the microscopic bubble I am living in. A bubble that revolves around me. And sadly, most of the time my microscopic bubble doesn’t revolve enough to include my husband and kids. 😦
My absence in my children’s life weighs very heavily on me. I built myself around them. I built myself based on their needs. They built themselves to rely on me and I’m not feeling very reliable right now. It is hard for me to reconcile the overwhelming need to provide love to my children and the overwhelming knowledge that their needs are beyond my capabilities currently and that their needs are not being met.
When I get the rare opportunity to spend time with them, I have to put up a special guard. I want to teach them the right way so I must be alert for any opportunity to teach. To show them that love is the way. I must be alert for any opportunity to show them where reality has it wrong. I must be sure to teach them without scaring them. I must be sure to teach them while still validating their opinions. I must be alert to show them I love them. I must be alert for opportunities for them to think for themselves.
To love my children the way I feel I need to love and provide for them, I use my mind, body, and soul. I pull out no stops for my children. I give all of myself to their cause. I can’t help it. I can’t fight it. It’s in my nature. I use all of myself to keep me completely alert to their ever changing, but nonetheless necessary, needs. Alert mode and safety mode are on two different ends of the spectrum.
My system can barely handle operating one mode at a time. It cannot handle running two modes simultaneously. So my system lost more control. It became more unstable. Warning signals were going out like crazy. Please someone pick them up!
Vulnerable state, foreign stressors thanks to my husband, motherly alertness because I have to take care of my children, he also let my cat into the house.
The house that is not ready for company. The house that is a mess because I have been too much of a mess to clean up after myself. The house that stresses me out to have company over in when it is a mess.
The house that has food laying all over it. Food that the cat can scavenge into. Food that my family doesn’t care enough about to stop him from getting into. Food I care about because I so rarely get to eat. Food they laugh at when he devours. Food the cat leaves wasted all over the floor while I am left to clean up the mess I am no longer willing to eat but would have lovingly eaten every last crumb had the cat not been let in the house.
A hungry cat in the house means I need to be in chaos mode. I need to be able to expect the unexpected based on past behaviors and knowledge of present circumstances.
Where is he at? What good food is out? Sparky is a scavenger now. He has to be. So when he comes inside he is looking to fill his belly with whatever he can get his disfigured little face in. I understand why he does it. I just can’t handle it.
Is he pulling his hair out all over the furniture? My neurotic cat doesn’t get hairballs – no he just grabs large bunches of fur and yanks the whole clump out. These clumps appear everywhere and separate onto clothes like little hairy bombs of frustration. “I will need to vacuum before company sits down” starts running through my mind like a hot red burning stake through my mind.
Is he wiping his grungy face all over my clean walls? My cat has a hole in mouth. Electrocuted as a kitten he is missing part of his mouth, making his face look like he’s constantly sneering. Picture TwoFace in the form of a cat. Dirt and food build up around the edges of his sneer and Sparky attempts to remove the gunk by rubbing his face all over the edges of walls and door frames. Leaving his dirty brown gunky hairy grime as proof he was there. “I’m going to have to wipe down all the edging now” blazes in my head like a fireball.
Fleas. Fleas. Fleas. My mind starts racing whether he’s bringing fleas into the house. He’s an outside cat now. Outside cats have fleas. “I’ll have to vacuum the furniture everyday for two weeks to make sure a flea infestation doesn’t break out” is seared into my mind by another hot branding iron.
Chaos mode is usually my strong suit. I’m quite adept at navigating murky waters and finding myself safe amongst the storm. I think it is what people come to rely on me for. The ability to think through the chaotic storm of life. Because when all else fails, it is my responsibility to keep thinking. To keep coming up with ways to make it work. To keep pulling other people to safety.
Usually I’m good at this. I naturally float so I can easily pull people along with me. However right now I am drowning in my own chaos, the chaos of my mind and the chaos of my emotions. My thoughts are so unending and my feelings so fluid, I don’t know what to expect moment to moment. I’m constantly being pulled under by a riptide of questions and an undercurrent of emotions. And no one is throwing me a lifesaver.
If I don’t know what to expect from myself, how can anyone expect something from me?
And yet everyone has their expectations. Everyone has their beliefs on how I should be acting, how quickly I should be recuperating from an illness they can’t understand, how I should be a mother when I can’t take care of myself, how I should be working to live when I am fighting to breathe, how I should be happy when I’m falling apart, how I should be.
Why do people not hear me when I say I cannot handle myself right now? Why do people not care when I tell them I am not well? Why do people not care that their expectations of me feel like daggers in my heart when I fail to meet them? Why do not people feel how much it hurts me to fail them? Why do people not feel me?
Normally I can handle the chaos of random events and ever changing expectations. It’s just who I am. But right now I am not myself and so while trying to cope with running Safety Mode and Alert Mode simultaneously after an emergency boot up, the always running Chaos Mode suddenly kicked on and threw my system into overload.
Patience needed go to the bathroom. She needed to flush me out of my sanctuary I so desperately needed to cling to. And so I left it knowing I was risking everything because she HAD to go to the bathroom.
Things were going along. The family wanted to cuddle. “I can’t tell them that I don’t want to be touched right now. I can’t tell them that their touches feel like sandpaper on my arms while I’m feeling so chaotic. They miss me. They want to be close to me. They want to show me they love me. Sandpaper isn’t so bad if you rub it lightly and don’t rub the same spot too long. I’ll suffer that so they’ll feel better while Patience goes to the bathroom.”
But Patience was taking what felt like a really long time in the bathroom and suddenly the sandpaper started to feel like it was sloughing off layers of my skin. Gouging out individual chunks as each grainy particle ran over my body. It became agony.
When would she finish? Why do children have to take so long going potty? What mess did I leave in there? What could she be curious about? What could of happened that’s making her take so long?
And then she popped her beautiful little face out and told me something had gone wrong. There was stuff all over the towel.
My heart sank. I leapt up to find out what happened to my sanctuary. When Patience went in the bathroom she let Sparky come in with her. Somehow Sparky came to start eating my bag of donuts. Leaving a huge crumby slimy donuty mess all my sanctuary.
He ruined the same donuts I had just been planning on putting in a bowl and pouring milk over to comfort my stressed mind. Now I was going to have to clean up the very good food I was desperate to eat and throw it into the trash leaving myself to debate if I was desperate enough to eat the remaining three cat grime contaminated donuts left in the bag.
The saving grace my system managed to scrape together while having my skin torn off by my family was now ruined and I had no backup data on how to function. And no spare memory to start up a fail safe.
My system shut down. I started spiraling down. Quickly. So quickly. I knew I was going and I remember trying to make Patrick know he needed to get out. He needed to go quickly.
He needed to go because I didn’t know how I was going to act. I didn’t know what I was going to say. I didn’t know how I was going to feel. I didn’t know how I would hurt other people. Get out. Get out. Get out!!!!!!
But though I was desperate to save him, he didn’t listen. He didn’t hurry. Instead he started telling me I needed to pull it together. I needed to not scare the children. I needed to do this. I needed to do that. On and on an on he went with what I needed to do while I was begging him to give me the only thing I truly needed.
All I needed was to be left alone. Why when I am falling apart and I ask only one thing, can I not have it?
Why am I left a mess when I am not given what I know I need? Why am I made to feel like the bad guy when I warn people I am not in control and then I lose control like I told them I would?
Why am I made to feel bad when I fail to uphold the responsibilities I’m screaming to anyone who will listen that I can’t cope handle?
Why is life so hard when I feel like it should be effortless? Why am I alone when I want to surrounded by people? Why do I want to be alone when I am surrounded by people?
Why do I not feel connected to my life? Why does my life feel fake? Like everything I worked for up to this point means nothing?
Why does my heart hurt to live but keep my body alive? Why does my brain make me feel like I’m dead or dying but tell me I’m alive? Why don’t I feel alive in my body?
Why do I feel alive when I share my intangible feelings over an intangible connection?
Why does the intangible feel more real than tangible reality?
Why do I feel an invisible connection more than I feel the need to eat, drink, or sleep?
Why do I have to ask so many questions? Why do I get so few answers?
Do I get to solve the mysteries of the universe? I could get on board with that if it means there were a reason to all of these ridiculous questions that plague my mind.
I’d just like some answers. I’d just like to be free to be me.
Is that really so much to ask?