It’s been almost a year since I wrote anything on here. A year ago, things were starting to go downhill for our family, before picking up speed and careening down said hill, splashing into the ocean, and then sinking deeper and deeper into this metaphorical ocean. Each time we thought we’d reached the bottom, we’d roll off another cliff and discovered new depths. We navigated through unfamiliar places and spaces, a journey we never thought we would go on, never wanted to go on, but found ourselves traveling just the same.
So many part of our lives remained relatively unchanged: you get up, you go to work, you eat meals, you buy groceries, you watch your favorite TV shows, catch a movie now and again, play whatever mindless app on your phone that is your current addiction, read the news, make small-talk. But it all takes on a surreal quality, because something isn’t quit right, but you can’t think about it all the time, talk about it all the time, address it all the time, or you would collapse under the pressure of that metaphorical ocean you are sinking in. You are that dog in that meme in the fire drinking coffee saying that everything is fine.
I could manage everything except the small talk. Small talk would break me. The worse were the people who sort-of knew what was going on. What was I supposed to say? That I was, at that moment, fine, because I was standing there, in clean clothes, in public, and everyone was safe? Or that I was actually barely hanging on? Small talk would undo me, because any response felt like a lie, or at least only a partial truth. A full description of the truth would be entirely too much, and would break me just the same.
We are a year away now from when things got REALLY bad, and I find myself reliving that trauma, revisiting all the things I should have done but didn’t do, all the things I did that I probably shouldn’t have. It isn’t productive and in cases like what we have been dealing with, hindsight is not 20/20. There is literally no way to know if changing what we did would have made any positive difference. We just kept trying to do that best with the situation as it was unfolding in front of us, confronting each crisis as we sped headlong into it, unable to slow down let alone stop.
This past year, more people than ever before have told me that I am a good mother, a good parent, even exemplary. It doesn’t feel that way a lot of the time, but more often than not, I believe them, but also wonder in that moment what good it is doing. We tried to avoid all of the mistakes and misdeeds our own parents did to us, and yet our child still suffers. Badly. Our chemistry is more of our destiny than we let on, than we hope.
I no longer say that I am doing the best I can, I say that I am trying (or tried) to make the best decision based on the information I had at hand and the amount of time I had to make said decision. Which most of the time was “not much” of either. But I also know what is important to me, to my life, and when things are literally life and death, you really do stop sweating the small stuff. You do learn to live in the moment, because not living in that moment reminds you of the cliff you careened off of and the metaphorical ocean you are sinking in, but if the moment is all that matters, then at least you can find some stillness and maybe even peace or beauty to appreciate.
I am still on edge all the time, steeling myself for whatever comes next. And yet the next time still comes as a surprise. My heart still sinks. I still have hope, I guess, and each setback, however small, still stings. Stings is the wrong word. Or maybe not. I’m not sure anymore; my mental pain-tolerance scale has been re-calibrated so many times that I don’t know if something stings or hurts something more. Or maybe it’s just another layer of resignation.
I guess I don’t know how I am supposed to feel anymore. Or I feel too many things, too many conflicting things, all at once. Hopeful. Resigned. Sad. Angry. Proud. Relieved. On edge.
I don’t know how to end this post, this vague update and reflection that isn’t compete. I’m still here. We’re still here. For now, I guess that’s enough.