There is a time in every significant family struggle where the energy and adrenaline that sustains the individual handling all the behind-the-scenes matters seems to fade. Even worse, the fading can suddenly crash into a wall of nothing where everything feels a bit numb. I am certainly at this point this week and wondering how I made it so long through tedious piles of paperwork, hospital visits, feeding a 6-month-old throughout the night, working online finishing a semester of teaching, communicating with hundreds of family members and friends, organizing fundraisers, and being present enough with the kids not to traumatize them with the sudden changes.
It's a lot.
I am sitting here now as my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter does my makeup and hair, in a not so pampered way, and trying to catch a moment to vent in this blog. The baby plays in her playpen in front of me, my ten-year-old preoccupies herself with her laptop (I'm too tired to argue about screen time), and my husband is asleep because I can only assume that he is experiencing chemo side effects. I made a lovely dinner that my kids didn't finish eating, caught up on a ton of laundry, and completed the dishes. It would appear as though everything is in good order, and I should feel proud of my accomplishments, but instead, I have a vague sense of emptiness.
If I think about all the goals I had planned for this year, then I know I will feel grievances, so I don't think about them at all. I don't make plans anymore. I respond logically and reasonably because there isn't enough time to have emotions and handle all of the items on my ever-growing to-do list. I know having feelings is healthy, but the other problem is that I can't have them. They bubble up to the surface and briefly sting my eyes with the slightest tear, and then they recede. I couldn't begin to explain where they are going, but I keep writing this blog because I have to find some way to get the frustrating and disappointment out of my mind.
There is no time for yoga anymore, and I honestly don't have the energy for it anyway. I want to convince myself that I need to get the mat out and at least stretch because maybe that's the obstacle. I can't seem to mentally prepare for anything more than what's already on my plate, though. I tried to take photos of my children yesterday, one of my most cherished activities, and I lost the ambition in the middle of posing them. I put away all of my photography equipment today without ever questioning it. My mind and body make room for the other one hundred things going on, and I do not even realize it.
Then it hits me this evening; I would rather be at school teaching. I had everything figured out before the pandemic and cancer. I was happy in my career, and I loved my students, coworkers, and principal. I was doing well enough that I believed I would make my first home purchase this year. Unfortunately, working in a school right now is dangerous. I have an autoimmune disease, and I had come to terms with the risk I might get sick, but I can't risk Rob's health now that he's going through chemotherapy. There is no way I will jeopardize my children's welfare by both Rob and I becoming seriously ill. I had Rob to help me when my disease flares would incapacitate me multiple days before we found out about his cancer diagnosis. I now feel immense pressure not to have a flare knowing how chemo affects him every day, which is ironic because stress triggers flares. It's important that I don't overwhelm myself mentally or physically unecessarily.
As I said earlier, it's a lot.
I am writing this blog tonight as a symbolic way of letting go of all my aspirations and plans for this year. My new plan is no plan. I don't want to punish myself for hitting "the wall" and losing interest in previous goals; I want to make it through another day. Then maybe I can make it through another week or month while I'm at it. More importantly, I want to enjoy my family, and I can't if I feel like I'm failing to meet my expectations. My mind is responding to numerous emergencies and I feel overstimulated by sound and commotion. I can sometimes feel myself cringe when someone raises their voice too much or someone says something in a negative tone. It gets tiring keeping everyone else from having a meltdown.
It's 8:00 pm now and I've left my blog several times to hand towels to kids in the shower, give baby food to my husband to feed Kaelyn, change over laundry, and answer questions. I'm trying to go to bed early so that I can think clearly when I drive to my doctor's appointment an hour away in the morning, but then I remember I have to put air in my tires before the trip. I'm sure more of those reminder thoughts will pop into my head as I drift to sleep. Normally, I would apologize for sounding negative or complaining, but I don't care about offending anyone at this point. I'm tired. Instead, I will leave off with saying that I'm going to go squeeze my baby and tuck my kids into bed because then I will at least have those few minutes of dopamine release from bedtime snuggles. That's all that really matters.