Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Red Couch

There have been times I've wondered if it was the right one for us.  It's so red, so big. 

The back cushions are bulky and uncomfortable.  We've long since let the kids toss them off to be used in whatever building projects they've dreamed up that day.

But there is something about it, something that makes me love it.

It is red, so so very red.

There are times when I catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye and I am transported half way around the world to a hotel lobby filled with red couches.  Red couches where so many anxious parents took so many photos of beautiful babies.  These beautiful babies and anxious parents were now families.  Frink and I sat on those couches, taking pictures of our beautiful baby, creating memories of the time when we became a family.

Red couches mean family.

It is big, so so very big.

It takes up a lot of space but it provides lots of space too.  In the afternoon, I often (but not often enough) spread out and doze on the couch while Lion is napping.  Sometimes he joins me.  He curls into me, gets comfortable and sleeps the deep sleep of those without a care in the world.

There are times when we are joined by a cat or two.  And there are rare, special times when Bunny will join us.  She forgets that she is six.  She forgets that she no longer naps.  She surrenders to the warmth of the afternoon sun, the comfort of the couch and sleeps the deep sleep of those without a care in the world.

Big couches mean togetherness.
And that is how I know it is the right one for us.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


We've all seen her.  She is standing alone, struggling against an angry torrent.  Tears, screams, feet stomping, tiny fists flailing.  She tries in vain to soothe, to calm, to stop but she cannot.  Once the tantrum train has left the station, it is impossible to stop.

Tantrums are frustrating to deal with in the comfort of your own home.  Tantrums in public are heartbreaking.  You dread the stares  in the grocery store.  You fear the unspoken judgements of those around you.  All you want to do is to  run away, to scoop your child up and flee to the safety of your car.  No one can see you then.

But you aren't in the saftey of your car or your home, you are in the aisle of a store.  Your cart is full with needed items, milk, laundry detergent, diapers.  If you leave without buying these items, you know you'll just have to go back.  Do you stay and check out?  Do you leave and hope to return with out the kids?  There is no right answer, no easy thing to do.  You are alone facing a furious, heartbroken child.

We've all seen her. You want to do something to help, to let her know it's okay.

We've all been her. Wishing, hoping that someone, something could help, could make it okay.

I was her yesterday.  We were in a craft store across town.  I was buying things for Bunny's Daisy Scout troop.  It was too close to lunch, too close to nap time.  We'd been there about 10 minutes too long.  I knew these things.  I knew it could be a problem.  But I had to get the supplies, the meeting was the next day.  I didn't know if I could make it back.

So I pushed on and Lion pushed back.  It started in the checkout line.  We were so close to the exit, close to the car, close to freedom.  But it was too much and he lost it.  I tried to hold him, to soothe him.  I was rewarded with kicks and a tiny bit of hair pulled from my scalp.  Putting him down resulted in a bolt for the door or tossing some impulse item on the floor.

I was lost.  I was broken.  I did not know what to do. 

And that's when it happened, the kindness of strangers helping me, soothing me.  A mother with an infant let me skip her in line. She knew it would be her time soon.  She could be me, she would be me.  The cashier who followed me out of the store with my gloves and Lion's book.  I had forgotten them in my haste to exit the store.

Their kind gestures helped so much.  For just a brief minute, I did not feel alone.  I did not feel judged.  And for that I am forever grateful.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Clearing Out

I'm surprised at how easy it was. 

It seemed so big, so overwhelming.  Everytime I looked at it I would freeze up.  I.  Cannot.  Do. This.  So I would just close the door and move on.  The door kept it hidden from view but I knew it was there.

A friend came over.  She said she needed to get her mind off of her own stuff. She wanted to help out in whatever way she could.  Use me she said, I'm here for you.

I was embarassed to open the door to show her the chaos within.  But she didn't flinch.  We can do this.  It's not that bad.

So we did it.  We worked through the mess.  Toss or keep?  Toss, toss, toss, toss.  Keep.  Slowly but surely until the floor was clear.  The piles on the tables had shrunk to manageble size.

I cleared out the wreckage, the external clutter that had been keeping me down.  Now I no longer have to navigate a path to the computer.  It's no longer a room of doom but an office.  I can enjoy being in here.

I did it.  We did it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Feel It

I read a post today about feeling our feelings and grief that really hit home with me. With all of the physical pain I have been going through, I haven't really let myself feel the frustration and emotional pain. I always feel the need to be strong. I can't let you see any weakness in me. Feelings, grief and pain are weaknesses. I stuff them deep inside, never letting them out. Occasionally I will sate them with a bowl of ice cream or a box of cookies (okay maybe more than occasionally). So they stay hidden, if I can't see them or feel them no one else can.

I don't ask for help when I am in physical pain. I am superwoman. I can do it all. I am in control. Because of this it's hard for me to ask for help when I am in emotional pain. I can't ask for help, I don't know how.

So I do the only thing I can think of, I radiate the pain and discomfort out into the world. Looking at me you would see a giant wound. If you got close enough, you could physically feel the pain coming off of me in waves. You have to see the hurt. You have to feel my pain. You have to share my misery. You have to help me because I cannot help myself.

But at no time do I allow myself to express those feelings, to deal with them in a healthy way. I need to take the time to feel the physical pain, the limitations it has placed on my life. I need to feel the frustration of no diagnosis. I need to curl up in a ball on my bed with Bunny's stuffed dog in my arms (which I totally stole because I love it). I need to cry, big, huge, gut-wrenching sobs. I need to experience the pain, to name it, to own it and to move on.

I can't be the woman, the mother, the wife I want to be unless I take care of myself.

Friday, March 2, 2012


It started innocently. I was sitting in a meeting in a church basement, listening, learning and growing. The metal folding chair was uncomfortable. I shifted in my seat, trying to find a comfortable position. Eventually my right leg fell asleep.

I thought nothing of it. Things like this happen all the time. On my way to the car, I stomped my foot, hopping up and down trying to regain feeling. It didn't come. My leg felt heavy and sluggish.

At home, the sensation spread to my right arm and eventually the right side of my face. This was not normal. I was scared.

A trip to the ER in the middle of the night, allayed some of my fears. No stroke. No lesions. Nothing serious.

My primary care doctor thought it might be a pinched nerve. A referral to a neurologist led to multiple blood tests. I had MRIs of my neck and brain and and MRA of my neck. All of these tests revealed nothing.

Nothing. We don't know what is wrong.

I was still having symptoms. Numbness, pain, headaches, neck aches. The pain was real, I felt it. I continued feeling it for months. Months with no answers.

A referral to a rheumatologist revealed nothing. A painful nerve conduction test, nothing.

Nothing. No answers.

I began to question myself. If the doctors can't find anything, is there something really wrong? Is this real? Am I imagining it?

The seeds of my doubt had been planted earlier in life. Physical symptoms were discounted by doctors. I was told it was stress, depression. I was given anti-depressants with no follow up.

I didn't question. I thought doctors knew best. I was crazy. It was in my head.

But it was not. There was a real problem. There was a solution, a treatment. If it was true then, I have to believe it is true now. I cannot live in the unknown.