Tuesday, May 17, 2011

pulling back

Ed note: The following contains some (very) adult language. Although I typically take pains to avoid it in my writing, it was - like it or not - part of the story. It felt disingenuous to edit it out or even to sanitize it. Apologies to any who might find it offensive. 

**

Driving

I don't recognize the voice, no less the woman who is screaming at the top of her lungs. For the life of me, I have no idea what she is doing or, for the love of all things holy, why.

It appears that she is shouting at the man who cut her off. An absurd altercation. He might be wrong, but who the hell cares? Why does it matter? It doesn't.

But there she is, enraged beyond reason, screaming bloody murder in response to his raised middle finger and the words Fuck you mouthed through the closed window of his SUV. And there she is, without so much as a single salvageable shred of control, screaming back at him with everything she has. Screaming, "NO. You're WRONG. Fuck YOU."

*

I lean into the consonants of the word, beginning with the F, taut and short like a spitting hiss, then landing with all of my weight on the C and the K, searching for relief on the sharp edge of the sounds.

I can see nothing, feel nothing. The only thing I have is rage. I am looking at this man, at the world, through a lens of molten, dripping, toxic rage.

For his part, he is laughing. Laughing at the lunatic whom he's provoked with no more than an aggressive moment on the road followed by an obscene gesture. He is laughing at the absurdity of this woman screaming her pain, screaming her anger, screaming her impotence at him -  from a convertible no less - raw, vulnerable, exposed, completely and utterly out of control. A boiling pot whose lid has finally flown across the room.

And there I am, driving away as he finally turns the corner, heaving and sobbing and searching for a place to pull over - to breathe to escape to run. To figure out where the hell I've been.

**

Family dinner.

Out of nowhere, I can't breathe. I have no idea why. I'm going to vomit or cry or .. something. I have to get up. NOW. I have to .. I don't know. I have to DO something.

I blurt out the only words I can find. "I have to walk away."

The words have no context. They make no sense. But I'm walking away. I simply have no choice. I can't stay at the table.

Luau is looking at me. He is concerned, confused. I can't say any more than I've said. I just have to get out the door.

I walk outside and try to breathe. I spot a slab of slate in the yard and decide that it has to - needs to - absolutely without question MUST - be moved rightthisverysecond. I pull it up from the grass, stand it on its end and heave it into place with a satisfying thud.

I search for something else. Something I can put into place. Something I can FIX. Physical order in place of emotional order - I'll take whatever I can get.

I think of my girl. How for years her autism compelled her to create lines, rows, towers - order. Like never before, I get it. 

I pick up a chaise lounge and drag it across the lawn. It's awkward to lift - heavy and bulky. I set it down in its new location. I don't like it. It doesn't feel right. I move it again, then one more time before settling on a spot. I'm sweating. I go back for the other one. I line them up. By the time I walk away, they are perfectly parallel.

My family is eating without me. I see Luau through the window, talking with the girls. He's keeping it together. I am grateful. And envious.

I go back into the house, but excuse myself from the table. I head upstairs and find myself in the bathroom. I pace. I don't know where to go or what to do. For a moment, I'm lost.

**

 

Friday night via text

 

A walk in the morning sounds great. Only time I've got is 8am. Can we make that work?

Perfect. I'll meet you in front of the elementary school. I need this!

 

Saturday via e-mail

 

Thank you so much for the invitation, but we're unable to attend. I really appreciate you thinking of us. Hopefully next time!

 

Sunday via e-mail

 

All,

If it's not too late, I'd like to retract my offer to volunteer as liaison coordinator.

I'll remain a member at large if the group will have me, but I absolutely have to cut back my commitments moving forward. I'm killing myself - literally.

Thanks for understanding.

J

 

Sunday night via text

 

Thank you so much for thinking of us. You're so sweet to ask. It's just not going to work this time, but hopefully in the future!

 

Monday afternoon via e-mail

 

All,

I unfortunately need to resign from the Committee, effective immediately.

Our family's commitment ... is in no way diminished ... but I desperately need to take some things off of my plate.

If you'd like to, please feel free to keep me in the e-mail loop and I'll offer input when I can. Either way, I'm never more than an e-mail or phone call away.

Thank you all for your dedication to our kids. I appreciate it and am grateful for it every day.

I hope to be back again (if you'll have me) when / if time allows.

Thank you for your understanding.

Warmly,

Jess

 

Monday night via text

 

I need your help working on the awards. You in?

**

 

Bed time last night, lying in the dark with my ten year-old daughter

 

"Mama, are you OK? You haven't been very, well, hmm, YOU lately."

"I know, baby. I'm sorry."

"It's OK, Mama. Is life hard?"

"Sometimes, sweetheart, yes. It's been tough lately."

"Is it frustrating?"

"Well, yes, sometimes it is."

"Is it confusing?"

"Hmm, well, yeah, it can be."

"Is it annoying?"

I laugh.

"Often, yes."

She pauses.

"But is it happy?"

I fight tears.

"It is, baby. And Mama's working on finding a lot more of the happy, OK?"

"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Cause I miss you."

"I know, sweet girl. I miss you too. And I miss me too. I'm working on it, OK? I promise."

"Cool."

We lie together in the dark. 

"Yeah, cool."

 

Jess can be found at Diary of a Mom where she writes about life with her husband Luau* and their beautiful daughters - ten year-old Katie*, an utterly fabulous typically a-typical fourth grader, and eight year-old, Brooke*, a loving, talented, hilarious second grader who has autism.

She also runs the 
Diary of a Mom Facebook page, a warm and supportive community of parents, friends, adults on the autism spectrum and some random people in her life who cared enough to hit 'Like' and probably now wonder what they got themselves into.

25 comments:

  1. sending you love.

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  2. Jess,
    Am worried about you! You need a little relaxation break! You are such a wonderful person and have poured your whole heart and soul into being there for Brooke, Katie, Luau, autism as a whole, and on and on and on...
    Please take some time for yourself. Know that you worry how Brooke will do without you there for the brief interlude that you do something for herself, but you really need to have some you time, even if it is an afternoon to go get lunch or like I said before a spa day. Luau and your extended family can cover and am sure that Katie would pitch in to help out too. You need Mommy time, down time, not-trying-to-save-the whole-autism-community time! Everyone knows how hard you work, how dedicated you are, what a fabulous person you are, and I feel that way even though I have never met you in real life, just through blogs and emails back and forth.
    I swear I want to start an effort among all Hopeful Parents and all of your blog readers to send you a spa package!
    Luau, if you read this comment and like the idea, I am serious!
    Sending you a virtual hug and a cup of coffee...and if I can figure out how in the heck to send you a spa package, I am doing it!!!
    Please love yourself and take time for yourself, Jess! You are the world's best warrior for the autism community and the world's best mommy to Brooks and Katie, but you need to be the best you!
    Warmly, Colleen
    If anyone reads this comment and agrees with me and wants to do something to show Jess to take some time for herself, please contact me.
    My Twitter is @F5th or else thru my blog or email. Not picky.

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  3. Sorry that there were some typos. Typed with emotion, not with editing skills. Hope everyone could figure out what I was saying and know that I just woke up, read Jess' post, wrote a reply, and hit send without much thought to typos.
    Colleen:)

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  4. take more of those walks and more of those "cool" moments in the dark. those are the moments that will refresh your soul and give you the strength to get up the next day. all my love to you.

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  5. I highly recommend taking up a contact sport, like roller derby or kick boxing. Hitting consenting adults is very cathartic.

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  6. DOAM, saying no to others is saying yes to yourself! Sometimes God whispers, sometimes he needs to shout. Good for you for hearing him. One love, always, xoxo!

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  7. Colleen,
    Just wanted you to know that I am working on some things along the lines of what you are talking about so please don't worry. Things are already in the works. You can call off the cavalry.
    That said, the "good" is that Jess is making time for those personal moments, those "me" moments by pulling back. Less on her plate mean more time for her to take those walks, enjoy a massage, spend QT with herself (or however she chooses to spend it ).
    Thanks for your concern,
    Luau

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  8. My goodness, no wonder you are drained, yet at least you know when to say enough. Time to top yourself up by focusing on yourself for a while- the only way to get your power back. Take care, and recharge.

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  9. Is it possible to clone your husband???
    (hug)

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  10. Oh Jess...pull it back. Do it with no shame, no regret, no turning around to see if everything worked out. Do it. This journey requires that of all of us from time to time. A time to reflect, to anchor ourselves to something real, something in our cores that we've somehow severed ties with. I know your desperation all too well; that don't feel comfortable in your own skin, can't look past the raw emotion that tugs at your reality, your sanity. I've felt it too many times. I suspect all of us have. It is our bodies reminding us that we are human, that we have feelings, and needs too and that we HAVE to meet them. We cannot be a shell of ourselves, we must be whole. Sounds like you already know all of this because you are pulling back from this icky place with strength and courage. Don't look back. I'll be carrying you in my heart today, as always and sending you soothing, whole thoughts. Aimee

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  11. YES JESS! Just YES! Yes to NO!

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  12. Jess,
    I my heart is breaking for you. Like Colleen I am worried about you. I have been where you have been. Feeling that I could not take it one minute one second longer. That I would break just break....not able to pick myself up off of the floor. So from one mom to another mom.....please take the hands that are reaching out to you. The faces that you know, that people that you don't know and will never meet. They are here to help. They will hold you......I pray that you will let them hold you. You must let them hold you....you must or you will break........I am praying for you and your family.....Cheairs

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  13. "Pulling back" is a difficult thing to do effectively.
    It is sometimes very hard for those who love you to NOT surround you with help and support - but really - these are the moments that need to be spent without outside assistance.
    Time FOR you and BY you, Jess. For YOU to decide how/when to just BE.
    When short and sweet - "I hear you"s are all you need - followed by the actual space and right to make this time for yourself ON YOUR OWN TERMS.
    People that love you the most will be the most quiet until YOU are ready to reinsert yourself.

    Jess - I HEAR YOU.
    XO

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  14. I know this is probably silly in the grand scheme of things, but my favorite way to relax (often mid-panic attack or meltdown) is a lavender bath. Get some lavender bath salts and even 5 minutes is wonderful (usually 5 minutes and I'm wanting to move onto something else!). Maybe it's silly advice, but that's all I've got.

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  15. This I like.
    Rather than suggest another "outlet", I offer this:
    Do nothing. Be.
    Breathe.
    Sounds like you've got it, Eliza Doolittle.

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  16. I'm so sorry, my love. Your pain is so palpable, Take the time you need. You're right to pull back and you need to take care of yourself. You can't be all to everyone but yourself.
    I love you,
    Mom

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  17. Wow Jess....powerful post.....good for you for pulling back....takes strength to realize that you need to do that.

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  18. I have been there too! And one of my blog friends seems to be in the grips of it. Just sent her this:
    Just read your post today. So sorry you haven't been feeling the greatest. Maybe I told you this story before, but in our special needs moms group, we had mom who got sent to a 30-day rehab for an addiction problem. The rest of us looked at each other and asked, "What do we have to do to get that?" Somebody said, "Boy, when Lindsay Lohan's lifestyle starts to look appealing (in and out of rehab at the time), you KNOW you're stressed!"
    I know I was at the end of my rope then, too. It took me a while, but I scheduled some time off for myself. It was so hard to get away! And I felt like a failure for needing it, and selfish for taking it. Once I was away, tho, I couldn't believe how I could just spend hours thinking and I DIDN'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING! When I came back, I was really refreshed and had renewed energy for everything. Then I told myself that I wouldn't let it get to that point again, where I so desperately needed a break. So I try to plan a few "getaways" spaced out throughout the year now. Doesn't have to be extravagant. Just a few days with my parents in Chicago or my brother in California, if I can get there on a cheap fare. One of my friends just gets a hotel room in town for a weekend, every now and then. I house-sat for a friend while they went on vacation, and it was a real vacation for me, let me tell you.
    And of course, I'd love to go to the beach with my husband again, but that doesn't happen too often... One thing I found was that since I made it a priority thing that I just have to do, I haven't gotten to the same level of stress anymore. So far, anyway.

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  19. Yes. Sometimes it's all about the no.

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  20. Some times it feels so hard to say no, but sometimes it is what you have to do. You can't take care of everyone else unless you take care of yourself first, right? Love you and glad you're taking some of your time back.

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  21. Jess,
    You have done so much recently that is a wonder that it took this long for you to realize you need some time for you. It is okay to say no and to take care of yourself. I for one am happy to be part of your fb fan following. I have not commented as much in the last couple of weeks because I too have been working on things that have been upsetting.
    The main thing to know is that we all admire you and this post just makes it easier to do so as it shows that you too need to recharge. I am sending you hugs and prayers!

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  22. Tiffany, Mason & Peter RabbitMay 17, 2011 at 10:46 PM

    Your online family hereby requests that you take a day of solitude to clear your mind and purge your soul. We are not asking this of you, but insisting that you only think of you and your family for one day. Yes, you are a warrior fighting for your child and ours, but some battles cannot be won and others must be walked away from. It is time you sat on the sidelines and let us do some of the fighting. Don't worry, we've painted our faces and grabbed our big sticks, we'll be fine. We love you and wish you the very best.

    It will be okay, this will pass, I promise. The confusion, anger, fear, it's all toxic and it's bubbling to the surface. If you don't let it out it will eat you alive, trust me I've been there. I can recommend driving to a less populated place and screaming until you are hoarse or Green Day's Take Back, it's a great screaming song.

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