Just Another Day on the High Wire

– Posted in: Autism Recovery, Chronic Pain, Crazy Tammy, Depression, Family, Grown-up Friends, Mawage, Momless, Newt's Story, Parenting, Personal Insanity

So at the risk of bringing everyone down, I’m having a rough day.  Couple of days.  Actually, make that a couple of weeks.

Even if you know me personally, you most likely have no idea that I’ve been having a rough time.  Because that’s what I do.  I just power through.  I take the kids to school.  I cart them to their activities.  I go out to lunch.  All the while feeling like crap. 

I usually don’t like to talk about having chronic pain because it feels very “woe is me.”  Plus, the last thing I want is to have people talk about what I consider to be a boring subject rather than something fun like what happened last night on “Glee” or how one of the kids went to a birthday where they only served soda and beer and the party favor was a gun.  No, this is something I generally keep pretty locked up.  Besides, everyone has their trials and tribulations that they’re going through.  And mine — at least this particular one — has been going on for so long that it really feels like old news. 

My husband, Tenzin, unfortunately, is the lucky recipient of my old news in it’s entirety.  Or at least the entirety that I share.  He gets to deal with my moodiness, watch me lying on the couch while pressing on various part of my body (usually my head), and feel helpless as he watches me take pain meds.  And he gets to hear me complain — something I think I do a lot less of these days than I did years ago since it’s kind of pointless by now — it’s more like a status update.  But he puts up with a lot.  Has put up with a lot.

I go through these “down cycles” periodically, but honestly, in addition to this just being one of my normal deals that I have to “get” through, I think I’m having a particularly hard time because Tenzin is working so much.  See, I’ve been extremely spoiled for the last eight years or so.  For one thing, Tenzin has been able to have a relatively light work schedule, so he’s been taking on a good part of the load at home.  Add him to my parents being around whenever he was gone for the first four-ish years of my son’s life and you can get a better picture of how things looked for me at home.  Again, I always say “spoiled,” but the situation was somewhat born out of necessity due to the fact that 1) I’m not all that healthy, and 2) we had an autistic kid.  So I suppose “spoiled” is a relative term.

Anyway, now that Tenzin is working like mad, I’ve suddenly become a 1950s housewife.  Which is both odd and nowhere near what I ever pictured for myself.  Short of me walking around in high heels and getting him a martini when he walks through the door, we’re slowly but surely splitting the life-load into its traditionally sexist camps.  His life is sucking because he works so much and never sees the kids.  My life is sucking because I suddenly do everything around the house and always see the kids.

Truth be told, since summer ended, I’ve had a lot more time to myself (obviously) and haven’t been nearly as close to needing psychological intervention.  And Tenzin still somehow manages to make a lot of our meals (because as the years have gone by, I’ve unfortunately forgotten how to cook — not a joke).  But back to the why I feel even crappier than crap. . .

When you have kids, especially little kids, there’s this feeling of working without a net.  When your husband goes to work (keep in mind that I’m speaking from the point of view of a stay-at-home mom here) you’re all alone with no one to “rescue” you.  Maybe other moms don’t feel this way.  Maybe everyone else has it all pulled together.  Me, not so much.  I live in constant fear that I’m going to be feeling terrible and will have to push through a ton of pain and fatigue in order to get dinner on the table or baths done or books read.

For years, when Tenzin didn’t work very much and my parents were coming over all the time, I was rarely alone.  I didn’t think about this until recently.  And when it dawned on me, I understood why I’ve been feeling so lost and lonely.  Here’s the list:  My mom is dead.  My husband is gone.  I don’t have either one of them to unload on (one for obvious reasons and the other because I can’t bear to give him more to worry about).  One of my best friends who was my sort of “last resort” now has two babies of her own and is in worse shape than I am.  I’m in pain all the time.  And things always get worse in the afternoon, right when it’s time to pick up the kids and drive them all over creation.

For the first time, I’ve been working without a net.

So that’s how things really are around here.  The other day, I realized I was singing this over and over in my head:  “There’s a smile on my face. . . it’s just another day. . . for everyone. . . it’s just another day. . .”  At first, it made me really sad to think that I’m walking around, pretending to be happy when I’m not.  But thing thing is, this is how I get by.  It’s how I’ve always gotten by.  If it weren’t for all of life’s distractions — the soccer games, the coffee with friends, even the housework — I’d be a colossal wreck.  A doctor friend of ours once told me that I wasn’t the typical fibromyalgia patient, and he wondered why.  I guess the only thing I can come up with is that the alternative to doing something is nothing — which I’ve found to be so much worse (And incidentally, if you have chronic pain, are reading this, and in fact can’t opt for something over nothing, trust me, I get it.  I’ve been there, too.  It totally sucks.).

So if you do know me, please don’t stop calling and inviting me to lunch.  Or bitching about your job and your kids.  Don’t stop sending me funny videos or calling to chat (even if I don’t pick up — don’t take it personally).  I need a reason to put the smile on my face.  I need the distraction.  I need the something instead of nothing.

Because if I don’t have anyone to catch me anymore, I could at least use someone to remind me not to look down.

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13 Comments… add one

Getrealmommy September 22, 2010, 7:23 pm

Sounds like you are dealing with a whole lot. I think it is very brave that you shared in a public way. I hope you have people in your life who will read this and come to support you, and I hope you will find comfort in the fact that a total stranger has read your blog and is cheering for you…..

CJ September 22, 2010, 8:13 pm

My goodness, I do not have chronic pain but I could have written your post. When I was suffering from depression during my last pregnancy, and I finally confessed to one of the Drs on my high-risk team, my ObGyn apologized for not picking up on the depression. That is actually one of his specialties. I told him not to worry about it because I have spend years mastering my ability to BS my way through.

Sometimes you can't “power” through and its hard for us to recognize that that's ok too. Always reach out for help when you need it. I have a therapist on “stand by”. SMILE

Remember you just lost your mom and have had a major lifestyle change with your husband going back to a heavier workload. Add the chronic pain and kids (one with special needs??) and you are carrying a very full emotional and physical load. Do not add to the difficulty by beating yourself up. You have a right to be crabby!!!

VM Sehy Photography September 22, 2010, 8:36 pm

Wow! I'm impressed that you are able to power through, however, there's always the brick wall looming in the distance. Since I recently lost my mom, I hit my brick wall and had to take a mental day off of work. Is there a mom's support group near you? Like playdate groups. Don't know if that will work for your child. Autism support groups? Someone you can trade baby-sitting days with? Just some ideas. My husband used to work video games and would be gone for 3 days in a row. Literally working. Sleep on the couch at work. That is really lonely, so I can understand how bad it gets when your man isn't around. Well, I hope you are feeling better soon. Don't be too hard on yourself if you can't power through. We all have those days.

PartlySunny September 22, 2010, 11:37 pm

@Getrealmommy: There is no way I consider you a perfect stranger. And thanks for calling me brave. I mainly just feel whiny.

@CJ: I don't know what it is about you, but I always feel like we really get each other. So of course it would make sense that you're an excellent BS artist as well. Thanks for understanding, as usual.

@VM: It really isn't as impressive as it sounds. Just years of practice. Incidentally, now that I've looked back and read this, I can see why everyone's worried about me (oops). But I do in fact have a great group of friends close by. I'm sure you know better than anyone, though — no one can replace your mom.

And I should clear this up for everyone. . . my “autistic” son really is the least of my problems right now. He was a crazy handful until a couple of years ago, but now, he's honestly one of the greatest kids I've ever known. I hate to say it, but in another year or two, he'll probably be taking care of me. Poor little bastard.

MultipleMum September 23, 2010, 3:16 am

Man, that was a bit of a downer. I am sorry you are feeling so lonely and alone. I fully understand the feeling of being a 50s housewife – I had one of those little meltdowns myself today. Keep up the brave smiley face – eventually it will be real again 🙂 and whatever you do, don't stop writing it all down. It helps.

Truthful Mommy September 23, 2010, 5:27 am

I hope the overwhelmed feeling eases up a bit and that the pain can be managed. I totally understand the no one to “rescue me” aspect. I went from having a very hands on husband to him working/living in another state ( for work)so I only have him on the weekend. There have been many times when I've needed rescuing, had breakdowns after the kids went to sleep, blogged it all out…I can't physically be there to help out but know we are all here to listen and and understand. I too have to power through, even thought sometimes I just want to curl up in bed with my girls and have a sleep and veg fest:) Keep your chin up my friend.

CJ September 23, 2010, 9:04 am

Partly – one more thing.

I do not know if I told you this – my middle boy is ADHD! We could be twins. Anytime you want to vent – I am certianly here.


PartlySunny September 23, 2010, 2:28 pm

@MultipleMum: It's always so good to hear that other people have meltdowns. Logically I know it's not just me, but it feels better to have additional evidence. Especially from sane (?) people.:)

@Truthful Mommy: Ah, yes. That curl up feeling. I have to say that at least now that the kids are older, they do let me sort of “crawl in a hole” if I really need to. Unless, of course, they need to be fed, bathed, tucked in, or helped in one of the other thousands of ways that kids need helping. But it beats having a 1 and 2-year-old.

@CJ: Of course you do. You probably also got all A's in high school, stay up too late most nights writing, and don't like touching the door knobs in public bathrooms. Just a guess.:)

Thank you everybody, for being so incredibly supportive. You really have no idea how much I appreciate hearing that I'm not alone. And I am feeling better today, BTW:).

trydefyinggravity September 23, 2010, 8:30 pm

I was going to say something supportive, but all these wonderful and faster people said it for me, and much more eloquently than I could have. So instead I'll say something like “you'd better keep writing, otherwise I'm going to come find you wherever you live and…and…set you up with some great dictating software for your computer so you can still get your stories out while you rest!” (I'm so non-confrontational)
I get what you mean about being w/o a support system. My dad is also gone, and my mom is several hours away so it's just us. But you know what? You can do it just “us”. It stinks, but you'll get through it together.
Now go get some rest.

PartlySunny September 23, 2010, 11:26 pm

Okay Miss Bossy McBossy Pants.:)

trydefyinggravity September 24, 2010, 2:44 pm

Have you been talking to my kids lately?

The Empress October 7, 2010, 12:45 pm

Stopped over b/c I loved and related to your comment at Kiki's post on depression.

Yes. I find myself having to do showtunes and so much more, to keep working through the day.

Just knowing someone who knows what it's like, makes a huge difference in my life.

So nice to meet you!

PartlySunny October 7, 2010, 12:51 pm

@Empress: Thanks so much for stopping by. It's funny how many of “us” there are. Makes me feel better anyway. Nice to meet you, too!

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