Tuesday, September 23, 2014



It's been quite the whirlwind around here these past couple of weeks, so you'll have to forgive my lack of posting.

My PTSD has been challenged in some interesting ways, and I (well, the Wise Adult part of me) has risen to the challenge in a way I wouldn't have thought myself capable.

We are definitely talking about new territory here, people.

But I get ahead of myself.


Two and a half weeks ago:


My sweet monkeys.
We got them off to their first day of big-girl school without a hitch. They're in different classrooms, as I mentioned last time, which I thought might cause a bit of a fuss at some point, but apparently we'd built it into their expectations so seamlessly that they didn't even blink.

My husband was here to walk to school with us on the first day and share the whole experience, which was wonderful for him and I'm so grateful he was able to do it, because...


Later that evening, the girls had to say goodbye to their daddy as he left for London, duration To Be Determined.

He's still there, and has another month to go. He's terribly homesick, poor thing-- he hates to be away from the family and London is really, really far away. But, as you may recall, I leave next week for a week-long visit! **

Even better: my husband is such a world-class badass at his job that his company is paying for my trip to thank him for saving their project!

He's also going to be able to take a couple of days off while I'm there, so we'll get some extra time to hang out in London together.

I still intend to write you a post while I'm there. Watch for me!

So, husband gone, new schedule with kids, all of which tend to tax me quite a bit under normal circumstances with all the details to track and things to remember and nonstop action and little time to decompress.

The girls had shortened days for the first two weeks, so were only at school for 3 hours each morning, which is not enough time to get more than one significant thing done. I squeezed a couple of neuro appointments in, some grocery shopping, that sort of thing, and just tried to keep myself focused.

I don't think I've been able to express how difficult normal things like this can be for me, especially when it's all on my shoulders. I feel easily overwhelmed. The fear of losing the threads makes me so anxious that I actually begin to lose them. It's a struggle to feel like I know what I'm doing. Which is humiliating. Which causes more anxiety. Which makes it hard to sleep. Which makes me feel overwhelmed, and I lose threads. 

Vicious cycle.

So, there was that. When that happens, it can become a bit of a slog; just trying to make it through to the girls' bedtime, when I can finally take a moment to recharge. Survive another day. Survive another day.

But a few days after my husband left, something pretty profound and awful and strangely powerful happened that... well, that changed some things. Mostly all for the better, I'd say, although mostly in very difficult ways.

A very dear friend of mine-- I'll call her "Hope," which, although it's not her name, captures her tirelessly positive, tenacious, boundless spirit perfectly-- has been struggling with a crisis with her husband's mental illness for the past several months, and it has been very difficult for all of them, including their four daughters, aged 3 - 15.

They moved to the Bay Area about a year and a half ago, putting us in close proximity to each other for the first time in over 20 years, and we were thrilled to be back in each others' daily lives, especially now that we have our daughters (officially termed "The Girl Army") to raise together.

But since their arrival, Hope's husband began to spiral downward into his illness. I don't have his permission to write about his diagnoses, so I won't. I will say, however, that this crisis began with his attempted suicide last May.

Since then, their family has been through a firestorm of suffering. The girls are, variously, confused, angry, fearful, sad. Hope has been absolutely heroic in her efforts to keep things consistent for them, to support her husband in finding help-- although his illness prevents him from acknowledging that he needs it to the extent that he does-- and to keep the family afloat amid what has been nothing short of chaos.

Over the summer, tensions escalated. Hope's husband has never been physically violent, but the weekend my husband left for London, his moods escalated to the point that Hope felt unsafe in her home for the first time in her marriage, and she called me at 10 o'clock on a Saturday night and asked the question I'd already told her she never had to ask:

Can we come?

Come. I told her. Come now. Grab what you need for tonight and just come here. You will all be safe here.

And so, in the dark on a summer night, the Girl Army arrived at my house. 

It was a heartbreaking moment: the unspoken acknowledgement that whatever happened next, that night marked the end of something. Those girls and their mother were facing a new truth, and it was painful and frightening and sad.

It was so hard to know what to do. I blew up air mattresses and they squeezed them all into the guest room, covering every inch of the floor, and all five of them slept in there even though there was plenty of room for them elsewhere in the house, unable as they were to be out of arms' reach of each other.

Hope and I stayed up talking late into the night. In her astonishing, inspiring way, she shed a couple of tears, made a few plans, and then found a way to laugh, and found gratitude and... well... hope for the choice she'd made,  and went to bed prepared to be strong for her daughters in the morning.

We didn't know it then, but that night also marked the beginning of something. I've found a great deal of gratitude for it, myself.

I'll tell you about it in my next post... from London!

** This post was delayed. So I'm here now. IN LONDON. Another post to follow shortly!

1 comment:

  1. I so enjoyed reading this tonight! I'm sure my cousin Mark didn't pick anyone less than wonderful to be his wife, and the mother of those 2 beautiful girls, that I wish someday I can meet! And of course also to meet you! Enjoy your time in London, and please sen mark my love!
    Cousin Paula