Monday, June 23, 2008

Treading lightly

I'm not entirely sure how to write about what is going on. I'd love to just spill my guts, but I need to tread lightly. I made a promise to myself about 3 years ago that I wouldn't post anything that may hurt another person that I care about. I didn't like the waves made by a particularly personal post, and I felt even worse about how it affected someone I care about. I don't want to make that mistake again.

Having said that, this is an issue that affects me deeply. And it likely will continue to affect me deeply for a long time. It's made its own ripples in my life, and those are things that I will have to talk about. But where is the line between my issues and someone else's?

Actually, the issue of boundaries is an appropriate one at this point. I'm learning all about personal boundaries. I'd love to spout off my opinion to many people in my life with no thought as to how they might take it. But that's not an option. I'm reaffirming that I can take care of my issues, and that's all. Everyone has to take care of themselves.

So, on that note, I am going to leave out as many of the gory details as I can. I'll just bring you up to speed quickly: an incident occurred last week that took me completely by surprise. In hindsight, maybe I should've seen it coming, but I was completely dumbfounded when it happened. The result was that I stayed home Thursday to call day care centers, Tim and I toured one over his lunch, and Friday we committed to a day care center. Sophie started today. It was all very sudden and stressful, especially for an OCD planner like me. Our decision was basically made for us though--I called over 20 day care centers in the area, and only one had an immediate spot for an infant. Some of them had waiting lists until fall of 2009. Those children haven't even been conceived yet!

Tim and I visited the place on Thursday. It's very close to our house, convenient for both Tim and I, and very busy. It's a chain with a good rating by the BBB. Everyone was friendly, the place was impeccably clean. And yet it ripped my guts out that I have to leave my baby there. But back to that later.

Oh, and it's expensive. Want to know how expensive? $924 a month. That's more than our old mortgage payment. And that's for one child. And, that's middle range for the centers I talked to. Now I understand why people hire nannies. If you have more than one child, you come out cheaper in the long run! I can't imagine what it is in bigger cities. Kim was telling me that in Boston, it runs 1800-3000 a month. Unbelievable.

I'm still in shock at how suddenly everything happened. Wednesday was the impetus, Thursday I stayed home, Friday Tim's mom watched her, and today she's in day care. Unreal.

Tim and I both met up to take her into the center this morning. It was so hard. We got there just as the other infants were being put down for the morning nap. We put Sophie right into her crib, and she just looked so confused. We gave the instructions to the teacher, said goodbye, and then left her room. I was just heartbroken. For as nice as everyone is there, my baby went from being the only baby in the house to one of three or four at the center.

The day care called me at about 11:30 or so to get some more information on her schedule. I asked how Sophie was doing. The teacher said that Sophie had cried for about 15 minutes, but after the teacher held her and calmed her down she laid her down in the crib to sleep. Sophie cried for a minute or two and then went to sleep about 10:20. She was just waking up at 11:30, so she got a pretty good nap.

Now, that sounds fine, right? All I was thinking was, "She cried for 15 minutes? Poor baby!" Never mind that we let her cry it out in 10-15 minute increments at night until she falls asleep. No, somehow her crying for me is better than her crying for them. I'm paying them money so she is happy and won't cry! Well, not really, but that is how I think of it.

It's been a rough few days. There was the day care issue, dealing with the issues that precipitated day care, Sophie was a teething maniac all weekend (but still so cute when she cries with her little mouth open! I feel so bad for her!), Tim gone all day golfing Saturday, me going into work on Sunday (and saving my cells yet again from a crappy incubator), Tim going into work Sunday, and then me making a visit to deal with the issues Sunday night. I didn't get to bed until very late last night, and I feel it today.

And on top of that, Tim's leaving today for another business trip in North Carolina. I'll have help this time around--Tim's mom and my sister Jen both volunteered to keep me company--but it's still tough to do the day care routine alone. Mornings and evenings are very stressful times anyway, and even more so when it's just Sophie and I. But, we made it work two weeks ago, we'll make it work this week, and we'll make it work again when he goes out of town in another few weeks. He'll have been gone 9 of 27 days--that sucks hard core. But, we'll cope somehow.

And of course, lab is not letting up. The CO2 tank went again over the weekend, but I caught it Sunday in enough time to save the cells (I hope). Does the lab have the money to fix the problem? Heck no. And so I cope.

Oh, and did I mention that we now have a roof leak at our house? Yes, the house is 7 years old, and we have a leak.

Honestly though, I am doing better than I expected. Saturday was a tough day. Tim was gone, Sophie was in the peak of her teething, and the other issues had come to a bad place. I was really stressed and anxious. But it is amazing how things work out. The homily at mass on Sunday was "Be not afraid." It was all about how fear is the opposite of faith, and in order to truly have faith and be at peace, you have to let go of the fear and anxiety and trust that God has control. I needed that, and I got it. I felt like there was a big neon sign over the alter, flashing "Listen up!" I hear ya, loud and clear.

I also went to my first Al-Anon meeting today. Through another amazing coincidence, my school had sent out notice on Friday that there was an Al-Anon meeting held in the hospital every Monday. My school has been sending out these daily newsletters for years. This is the first time Al-Anon was ever mentioned. And right when I needed it.

The meeting was...good. I didn't know what to expect, and I didn't know what to say. There were 6 women plus a leader, and it was the first or second meeting for three of us. The leader talked about resentment today, and it was an eye opener for me. I don't have any resentment directed at the alcoholic in my life--I understand that alcoholism is a disease. I do have resentment towards the way other people treat the alcoholic in my life, and that is something I need to work on. I resent people that I feel have abandoned her, I resent people that I think would judge her if I told them what was going on. I resent that I can't be open about what is going on in my own blog because I am sure there are people reading this that don't know her story, and they will judge her. And I resent that I have to spend so much of my already stressed-out life worrying about other people.

I've already accepted that I can't make her change. I've known that for a long time. I've accepted that yelling, laying on the guilt, bargaining, crying, and punishing her will not make her any more sober, and they may make her worse. I've also accepted that, although bargaining does not work, there do have to be consequences for her drinking. It's not punishment. It's to help her want to change. If there are no consequences, if everyone fixes everything for her, then why change? Having said that, I've also accepted that consequences need to be fair and consistent.

And, I've also accepted that I am only in charge of my own attitude towards her. That is the hardest part. No matter how hard I am willing to work, no matter how many Al-Anon meetings I go to, no matter how many books I read or journals I write, I can only change me. And changing me isn't enough. If she comes home to the same environment she left, how can you expect the results to be different?

Things are tough at the moment, but (and I say this with great trepidation, because I don't want to tempt Fate) I think I've reached stress saturation. That's not to say that things can't get worse--things can always get worse--but I don't think I can be any more stressed. I'm sure my cortisol and adrenaline are off the charts. But I'm almost zen about the whole thing. You go into survival mode--you have to prioritize, and your mind can only focus on one thing at a time. Have I had time to wallow in self-pity that my experiments have been for crap? Heck no. I've been doing new ones and trying to move ahead instead of looking back. I've got to move forward.

Tim thinks I am this strong person, that I pick everyone up and carry them on my shoulders. I disagree. I'm strong on the outside, but on the inside, I'm too scared of what happens if I'm not strong. If I let in a little weakness, where does it stop? I've felt so close to crumbling for so long now. This last year, with all of its major life changes and stresses, has worn me down. I honestly don't know what happens if I let my guard down. And god forbid I let myself be vulnerable or deeply honest with myself. I've built this persona, this life, these goals and plans for myself. I'm not ready to start over. And until life calms down, I just can't think about it.

So, I'm not strong, I'm weak. I'm too weak to be honest and vulnerable. I've got to be strong, to get through everything, to come out on the other side. I'm not just Bridgette; I'm Sophie's mom, Tim's wife. I'm a daughter, a sister, a student, a co-worker, a volunteer, and a (pretty crappy) friend. I don't have the luxury of just stepping away for a few weeks and sorting myself out. I've got people who depend on me.

I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. I don't know why I am being tested, but I have to believe that it will help me in the future. Not every year will be like this past year. And even in the midst of the drama of the past year, I've been given the greatest gift I could've ever asked for: my daughter. If all of the pain and suffering I am going through now was for her, it's worth it.

I apologize for the vague tone of this blog. I really would like to get into the "issues" that I keep referring to, but I don't think now is the time. I've got things I need to work through, and many of the people I love most have their own issues to go through. I'll do my best to be honest with you. There's no point in being dishonest, but please understand if there are things I can't talk about yet.

And I promise, the next post will be happy. And with baby pictures. They are a surefire way to lighten the mood.

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