Sunday, August 18, 2013

Persistant punishment

The emotional roller coaster

For several days I felt great. I thought of Jon often. I daydreamed about him while I was driving. I spoke to him in the car and even laughed at things we would have laughed at about my day. I told people his stories and felt happy about the memories instead of being filled with dread. There was still a nagging pain of regret that I couldn’t see him or touch him, but the lack of debilitating sorrow felt good, but a little bittersweet.

Then came the crash.

I woke up one morning, still feeling pretty good. I got myself ready, got the kids ready and headed off to work. My drive that particular day -  it varies day by day – was about an hour. About 45 minutes into the drive I just started crying. Uncontrollably. I got to the story I was covering for the day with puffy eyes and smeared makeup.

I pulled myself together and got through the press conference. I drove back to the station with little incident. I wrote and produced my story still without much of a problem. Then it was news time. I sat down ready to go on air … live. With only seconds until my mic was on, tears started streaming down my face. There was literally no reason for it. I don’t know what I was thinking or why my emotions all of a sudden took over, but they did. I was able to stop crying when I needed to and got through the 30-minute broadcast with only those sitting in the room knowing that I was in the middle of a meltdown.

My best friend later asked me what prompted it and I told her I didn’t know. The past couple of days have been just like that – one minute I’m fine and the next I feel like crumbling into a ball. And my nightmares – which I hadn’t had in almost a week – came back.

I needed to get a bus route for my eldest daughter. I was able to set up bus routes for my other two daughters over the phone in a matter of minutes, but there was a glitch with the address on file for the other. Somehow, the school’s database still had an address listed from seven years ago. And we had moved 4 times since then! Something that should have been simple turned complicated and suddenly I was shaking and tears were welling in my eyes. Suddenly I found myself not quite shouting, but not really using an inside voice either, exclaiming to the entire front office that my husband had just died. Not that it was my intention, but I got some damn good service after that. I was embarrassed at my outburst, but it was, in fact, completely out of my control. I was in a situation and I felt it spiraling downward quickly. I was being told that the one thing I needed to happen before the first day of school, the only thing I needed to make sure I could continue to balance my full time work with my kids’ school schedules, was perhaps not going to happen until several days into the first week of school starting. I think in that moment I realized that setting up a bus route for my children had never been something I had ever even considered. Putting their precious lives in the hands of an underpaid school bus driver and at the mercy of inevitable school bus shenanigans was too much to even think about. Now I find myself in a situation where I don’t have a choice and it’s all because I lost the love of my life and my partner in dealing with all of these things. With him by my side we could split all of the duties. I have so many people standing guard ready to help in any way they can. But they can’t be there everyday. I don’t feel comfortable calling them at a moment’s notice because I’m running late. Running late is just no longer an option. I can’t necessarily ask someone to pick up milk on their way “home.” And now I have to put my kids on a school bus. I feel punished for losing the person – the adult person – I love most in the world. And to add insult to injury, a “glitch” had made it that much more difficult for me. This particular meltdown is pretty easily explained.

There are so many things I’ve lost above and beyond just losing him. I mentioned losing a partner – someone to share responsibility with. But I also lost my best friend. And I know I have a best friend, but that relationship was different with Jon. I don’t get to come home and vent about my day. I don’t have him to wrap his arms around me, insisting that we just hold each other for a moment before saying a word. That was a tradition he started pretty early on in our relationship and he did it almost every single day. I don’t have someone to lie in bed with chatting well past our bedtimes. And I lost a substantial part of our household income. Most of it, in fact. Now I’m left with three children on a meager journalist’s salary. It doesn’t pay the bills and won’t even if I cut some expenses. Jon and I never really spent much anyway, so there’s not much to cut. So, compounding my grief is this new financial stress bogging me down. It all feels like a punishment when I’ve already been punished quite enough.

I’ve dealt with this frustration as best I can by trying to refocus on what I do have. I have three amazing daughters who have really stepped up through this journey to make our home run smoothly even though it’s missing the one person who really held it together. I have amazing friends who would do anything for me. I have a loving and supportive family. And even though I feel like my salary is meager and doesn’t pay the bills, at least I have one. I know there are single women out there far worse off than I am and somehow they get by. So many people came together for our family to help us when we needed them most. Even now that the dust has settled and casseroles have stopped accumulating in my freezer, they are all still there ready to help in any way they can. It’s hard to be sad for too long when you consider all that you still have.