anxiety. depression. guilt. stress. loneliness. uncertainty.
I spiral through at least a few of these emotions daily. Lest you think that I am teetering on the edge, just know that while these are all part of my life, I apparently have also been gifted with pretty decent coping skills. When all else fails, I know how to “fake it, ‘til you make it”.
I have definitely been faking it at work. On many levels. There are quite a few teachers who are new to the school, and I am quite sure they don’t know my story. I think they would be surprised to hear it. And, unless I am fooling myself, there are teachers who do know and don’t give it much thought. On the outside, I am pretty much the same old me. I started the school year with a new job title and description. I have definitely been learning as I go. In recent weeks, I have had feedback from teachers like “I appreciate your common sense approach” and “When everyone is telling us what we have to do, I am grateful that you are helping us figure out how to do it.” Considering the sources, I believe this is high praise indeed. So far the faking it part has been paying off. But that approach does have repercussions. I think that I am way more feisty and confrontational. My tolerance for petty issues is significantly lower than ever. So as much as I think I am the same old me, I’m really not. These aren’t necessarily unwelcome changes. Maybe just a little surprising.
I’ve been faking it with the kids too. I have been trying to be the spontaneous and fun parent who seeks adventures. This is pretty far out of my comfort zone, but they deserve to experience all that we can do. At the start of each trip (5 so far), my anxiety is sky-high. I have a physical response to these situations like someone has planted their foot directly in the middle of my chest. When Dave was alive, we would start each trip arguing. Mostly because I perceived that I had done 99% of the work necessary to make the trip a reality and he had packed his suitcase. But I digress. In all of the anxiety and thoughts of “I wish Dave was here”, I have realized that I am capable. I can do the things that make me anxious. And we all have a great time and are better for having done it. I just hope it gets easier.
Sam has called me twice this year in hysterics. She is not an overly emotional kid so when she goes Defcon 5, it is startling to say the least. Most recently she has been having severe pain from a hip issue related to her OI. I was on the road as soon as possible to see her at school. The reality is that if Dave was here, I would have still been the person jumping into the car that Friday night. But he would have been here for me to talk to and cry to and talk me down from my freak out. I coped. I got there in time to see her before her MRI. I stayed in the sketchiest hotel imaginable – less by choice and more due to the time of night and misguiding photos on hotels.com. I barely slept a wink, but I did it.
I have grown as a person in the last 9 1/2 months. I guess that is the silver lining in this storm cloud. There are definitely areas that are in need of more work. There are some things I just can’t control. It is hard to believe that I can be lonely when I am surrounded by the kids, colleagues, friends most minutes of my day. But there is a deep isolation that I feel. Alone in my parenting. Left without my partner. For every squawk and squabble, there were the looks of understanding, the tender moments and the doubled over belly laughs. This is the one that I can’t seem to cope with. I hold on to the idea that it gets easier. Or at least it gets less crappy.
Sometimes, I imagine Dave’s voice in my ear reminding me to do something. This is all in my head because he didn’t extract any promises from me before he died (except for the no funeral rule and one other promise just between the two of us). Sometimes I tell that imaginary voice to give me time because I am doing the best that I can. Dave trusted completely that I knew what was important to him and that I would honor those ideas/people/things in his place. He was right. I’ll get there.