I’m beside myself… My 11 year-old daughter recently decided she wants to live with her dad, citing that she’s not happy living with me. Unsurprisingly, this has elicited within me feelings of failure as a mother… I’ve loved her and always provided for her as best I could as a single mother (with a hell of a mother wound myself) since the day I found out I was pregnant with her. I’ve sacrificed, fought back tears from her dagger-like words and given SO MUCH of myself that some days I don’t know who I am anymore.
I’ve been in therapy for a year working on my past traumas, as has she. I have offered myself as a safe space to her and have used every parenting tactic known to the human race… I don’t know what to do. I feel helpless, hopeless and want to crawl in a hole and bury myself. She has told me she wants me all to herself, doesn’t want to share me with her sister or anyone else. She’s also been mean, verbally abusive and morbid as long as I can remember. Her dad can’t believe the behaviors I’ve described to him, as she’s never that way around him.
I feel like giving up, folding my cards and letting them fall as they may. My health, both physically and mentally, has deteriorated tremendously over the last several years and I simply don’t have the energy to keep fighting.
A while back, I was spending some time reading the blogs here on Band Back Together. Usually I travel over to Mommy, Alcoholism, or other topics….this time I fell upon some PTSD posts, and thought I should share my story.
Back in February 2010, I was in a car accident that changed my life. I have a multitude of physical injuries with muscles and nerves and emotional/brain issues. At first the doctors were hopeful that time would resolve these with physical therapies but it’s a really slow process. I’m now under the care of a neurologist, undergoing testing. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is something I was diagnosed with when I visited a therapist who sat me down and did a simple checklist with me. Imagine, that one Big Black Thing can be determined… with a checklist.
What it’s like in my head is so difficult to describe, because words get mixed up in my brain. It’s been almost impossible to describe because it is unclear to me. I lose words. As I write blog entries, I have volumes of words in my head and cannot seem to get them out; they elude me. I tend to type paragraphs or sentences while chapters are locked in the prison of my mind. It is a very dark place I rarely explore these issues outside of therapy offices anymore. There, at least, they have the right questions, the ones that can open the cell door a bit.
Life hasn’t changed on a day-to-day basis. If I had a new ball of yarn, tightly and neatly rolled, I could easily begin to knit a scarf. If I took that new ball of yarn and allowed a puppy to play with it for an hour, it would still be a ball of yarn with the same length, color, and overall properties, but it would have imperfections. I can still use this yarn to knit a scarf that will keep me warm but the imperfections can be apparent if you look closely. The strength, however, will not be the same.
For example, I have a phone where all my appointments are stored, as are daily tasks such as picking up my kids from school, eating, sending paperwork, and calling friends to help with paperwork. I lose time. For example, last week I had a form to fill out to send away to the car insurance company. It was a very straightforward form but I would have to access other forms in my file folder to access my policy numbers and other information. I sat down to do this with the file folder beside me – everything I do has to be organized and focused. I got up to get a pen and ended up in a different room of the house doing something entirely different with no idea how I got sidetracked. I didn’t even realize until I walked past the table with the file folder on it.
I was immediately angry at this lost time.
I sat down again to complete the task. A while later my heart rate was up, my right leg was bouncing, I was becoming frantic because I just couldn’t understand it. I had rifled through my file folder countless times to find my policy number, which I knew was on many of the pages. Yet I couldn’t find it. I couldn’t remember how many times I’d looked through it. Did I look through it? I think I did. Try again.
My phone beeped to let me know I had to pick up my daughter from school in an hour.
What? I’d lost 2.5 hours! The pressure was too much. A huge breath exploded from inside me. I pushed up from the kitchen table knocking over my chair. I was furious! My head was pounding. I felt a stabbing pain at the base of my as my back spasmed and my hands were tingly.
The black doom was closing in upon me.
I ran to the bathroom, ran the cold water over my inner wrists, breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth, crying silent dry heaving sobs.
Then I was numb.
Breathing normally, I washed my splotchy red face and reapplied my makeup. I went to the kitchen for some Extra Strength Tylenol. It does almost nothing but I don’t take the anti-spasmodic medication for my back because it makes me a zombie. I tried to relax in my numbness and lost time until the alarm rang telling me I had 15 minutes to pick up my daughter.
I had 15 minutes until I had to be Mom, the mom I want to be – the smiling, patient mom. Not the numb, auto-pilot mom. So I put on the happy mask and prepared to give my daughters the memories they deserve, knowing that God provides me the strength. Until I can truly experience it, I will mimic it for them.
Just typing this makes me uneasy; it’s the tip of the iceberg for me. I don’t want to address the iceberg.
I implement controls for my daily activities, remaining hopeful that one day the PTSD will give up this lock on me.
We met when we were twelve. My wife Kimmy was always healthy. She never smoked, only occasionally drank, she exercised and ate all the right foods. She hadn’t seen a doctor in six years, always joking, “I’m waiting for the big one!”
She went in for gall bladder surgery on 10/19/10. I assured her she’d be fine. My wife passed away fifty-five blurry days later on 12/13/2010.
When I realized how sick Kimmy really was, I told her, “Dammit Kimmy, why couldn’t you be a mean, bitchy woman? Then I could be rejoicing right now!” But she couldn’t be mean or bitchy. Not her nature. She was so sweet, so positive, right up until she died in my arms.
I miss her so much. I was a train wreck that she’d lovingly pulled out of the gutter, cleaned up, and helped exercise my demons. She made me what I am today.
And now, in my new, traumatic, bizarro world, I can no longer keep track of time or what day it is. I walk around feeling stoned. I question; I second guess myself. Did I kill Kimmy? I go back and forth, replaying this in my head.
St. Patrick’s Day last year, we lost our ten-year old Lab/Aussie pup, Zona. That dog was part of the family. Our kids adored her as much as she loved them. That dog allowed them to ride her, use her as a pillow; anything the kids wanted. We took her to the vet. She had to be put down. My children were inconsolable. Kim and I looked at each other and she said, “you go, you held Cajun while she passed on. I’ll stay with Zona.” An autopsy revealed wide-spread cancer. My stoic Zona never let on.
Now, looking back I wonder, did Zona’s cancer (in some crazy way) pass to Kimmy? What if I had stayed in that room?
I regret that I was so uptight about money and our financial situation. Kimmy would say, “I’d love to go to the beach.” I’d show her our bills, explaining that, “It’s not a good time.” Kimmy wanted a beach cruiser, and I’d nod, knowing we didn’t have the money. Kimmy wanted to replace the broken stereo in her car, and I explained that we could not afford that either.
Not right now.
When she died, the community helped with bills and groceries and medical expenses. Now we can go to the beach, only Kimmy’s not here to go with us. Dammit, I feel responsible for being so focused on money problems. I should have just taken her to the beach.
While Kimmy was so sick, I did everything I could to help: showers, dressing her, feeding her, doing the cleaning, even giving her a Lovenox injection twice a day; to combat the blood clotting issues caused by the demon cancer. She called me her knight in shining armor. She told me that I was saving her. But I wasn’t, I couldn’t; I wanted to believe I could.
I wonder, did the Lovenox help? Or was I making it worse?
I don’t know.
I do know that Kimmy was an incredible wife, mother and friend; the type of person you wanted to be around. Positive, upbeat, energetic. She was an excellent cook, such a nurturing mother – and I can’t help but think of how sad, how tragic this is for them. Cody 13, Autumn 10 and Antonio, especially Antonio, 7; all motherless.
What the hell happened?
Now, our family is closer than ever, although it’s out of necessity. Our glue, our mentor, the love of my life, the mother of my children, our motivator is gone – ripped from our lives so quickly – but we try to remember her positivity. We comfort each other because we know she believed she was going to Heaven. I tell the kids, “we need to smile and remember the wonderful times.” These little ones have responded so beautifully and remarkably, standing up for each other, and for me. They try to keep our morale up and her memory alive.
In the dark of night when I cannot sleep, I replay the whole nightmare, over and over:
What could I have done differently? I should have seen that she was sick. I should have. I could have…why didn’t I?
And, I cannot shake this feeling. I was not Kimmy’s knight…I did not ride off into the sunset. I did not save the girl.
On January 4th of 2020, I picked up my One Year Chip. How awesome that was. And in a stretch of ego, how proud I was of myself. Yes, I know I didn’t do it alone, but I was still proud of myself for not giving into the craving, especially early on.
So, I picked up my chip and all was so good in my world. February came and I was still on that pink cloud, vowing to never step off of it – hell, my sponsor said I never had to if I didn’t want to, so why would I?
Then came March, and we all know what March brought. For me, it brought a little more unknown than I was ready for. But I have a program and a higher power, and I was going to be okay. My meetings shut down, but we all found Zoom and again I knew it would be okay.
April got a little harder. I was diagnosed with Covid on April 9th. I was lucky and able to manage my symptoms at home. One thing that was becoming more and more evident, though, was that I was starting to miss my fellowship – the Zoom meetings weren’t quite filling the void anymore. Plus, I had been laid off on March 16th, so I was living in an isolation I knew would be NO good for me. But I was still okay. I leaned on my higher power hard, but He’s got broad shoulders. Then came May.
May was gonna be good. We got back to work on the 13th and although it wasn’t as busy as it needed to be, it would pick up. I just knew it would. And although Covid was ripping through the world, I could stay busy with work and feel some normalcy.
Side Note: I live in South Carolina and masks weren’t much of a thing here until quite recently. So we eventually became a “hot spot”, made the national news – the works. And as Bill would say when sharing his story… “And then it got worse.”
My mom had always lived independently. At 77 she was the neighbor who took all her neighbors to doctor appointments, the pharmacy, grocery store; whatever they needed. On May 20th mom was doing what she does – taking a neighbor to a doctor appointment. Except that after dropping off her friend, she disappeared. Just like that. We searched and searched, checked parking lots of nearby doctor offices, hospital parking lots, made all the phone calls, and yielded nothing. We checked her apartment for clues, and that’s where we found that her wallet with all her money, credit cards, and license were still there. As was her cell phone. Mom disappeared and had no money or ID or way to call or be called. That’s when I started to feel a serious WTF feeling.
In the meantime, I had filed a missing person report here with the police department. Besides walking in the rooms of A.A., that was the smartest thing I’ve done. All told my mom was missing a total of 26 hours. She was found at about 1:30 on the 21st, in Virginia. I may have forgotten to mention my mom lives here in SC too. She was pulled over by a police officer for driving with her hazards on. The officer here in SC who filed the missing persons immediately put mom on the NCIC, so her license plate dinged as soon as the officer in Virginia ran it. Maybe that’s procedure, I don’t know, but I’m grateful he did that. Beyond grateful.
**At this point I’d like to point out again that mom had no ID or money. I have no idea where she spent that 26 hours because the trip to Virginia from here is 4, maybe 5 hours. This troubled me for weeks, but she doesn’t remember any of it, so that right there is some Grace of God stuff, and I chose to let that go**
Mom had no idea where she was, how she’d gotten there, or why she’d gone there. She was belligerent with the officer and he brought her to the hospital for evaluation. That hospital was less than helpful. As a matter of fact, for a minute I thought about legal charges against them, but knew I could not afford to pursue litigation against them. So, I let it go. Mom wasn’t hurt by them; she just wasn’t helped.
That Thursday we were ready to head back to South Carolina, but it was too much to drive so we decided to get a room. I had to stay up all night long at that hotel because mom kept trying to leave the room… that was a long night. We came back home the next morning and I will spare too much of that story; let’s just say that immediately upon returning home I brought mom to the hospital here, where she was admitted and stayed for what ended up being a week. There I found out mom had developed a bad UTI which brought on an early onset of dementia. That explained her previously inexplicable trip to Virginia and her subsequent behaviors.
About the 4th day in the hospital, it became obvious that once the UTI had cleared up mom wasn’t much better. That dementia wasn’t just going to go away. What was worse though was because she wasn’t “medically” in need any longer, the hospital wanted her gone. Every day they would tell me she needed to be released. I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to do with her! She certainly couldn’t live alone anymore and if she stayed with me, I’d have to quit my job and probably never sleep again for fear she’d sneak out of my house. None of those were viable option, I was so lost. Suddenly I’m the caregiver with absolutely no clue what my next steps were. Medicare, Medicaid – I knew nothing, but I was about to get a crash course.
Again, I’ll spare you all the details, but I found a place for mom to be transferred to while I tried to figure the Medicaid/Medicare piece out. It’s a lovely assisted living that is costing me $2000 a month. I cannot sustain that for much longer before I bankrupt myself. To make matters worse, this assisted living facility (I have very recently learned) doesn’t accept Medicaid payments. As a matter of fact, there’s one place that covers most of the eastern seaboard of South Carolina for Medicaid assisted living residents. It’s an hour away and NO ONE is taking what they refer to as “community transfers” due to Covid. So, for now, mom has to stay there while I try to figure out how old is too old to become a prostitute…
Kidding, of course.
So, for now, mom is where she is and she’s safe. She’s as mean as a rattlesnake every time I see her, she even told me she wished she had killed me when she had the chance. Yes, I know she has a disease and doesn’t always know what she saying, but I can promise you that doesn’t make it hurt any less. But I’m all she’s got and I don’t get another mom, so it is what it is.
My sobriety has taken quite a hit, but it’s still intact. Year 2 of sobriety has thrown a shit ton of curve balls at me and I’m trying to learn when to swing and when to let em go by. I’m getting better at it. I got to go to an in-person meeting last night – first one since early March. It was glorious. I have been missing my “people” so much. Way more than I realized.
I’m sure there’s a lot I left out, maybe forgot, but I’m finally beginning to realize what some of our slogans mean. Living Life on Life’s Terms isn’t for pansies. One Day at A Time is something I’m having trouble with these days, but my people smack me in the back of the head with it when I need it. Also when I need it, they’re here for me. You’re here for me. That’s amazing and I hope to never take that for granted.
Please share this around – we are none of us alone; we are all connected. You never know who’s lives you’ll change with your words.
It’s 3AM right now.
Of course I can’t sleep, which isn’t really new for me, but it seems new right now. Now, the things that keep me up all night are the unknown, the terrifying, and the huge.
These are the scattered thoughts, flitting around my brain – I’ve got to get them out of I’ll explode. Well, maybe I won’t, but I know I need to talk with someone other than my wife. She’s so patient and loves me so much but she needs a break.
Maybe we all need a break, but here goes what I’m thinking about.
There are so many things.
Just. So. Much. Pandemic.
I have friends that I love dearly. DEARLY. They are in Manhattan right now (currently a hotbed for CoVID-19) & I’m so scared that I might lose them.
I have family that are immunocompromised and/or are in a higher risk age bracket. I’m terrified that I’ll lose them too.
I, myself, am immune compromised! OMG! CRAP!
People are talking about comparable periods in recent history so we have some sort of frame of reference for how to act. Some are talking about 9/11, others are talking about the Great Depression (which my parent’s lived through), but it’s really not like that. I briefly considered the Cuban Missile Crisis based on the major fear we’re all trying to live through.
But it dawns on me: the early 80’s and HIV/AIDS crisis – originally called GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) – we’ve been through this – the fear, the isolation of sick people in hospitals, not understanding what was going on, what to expect, who would be sick, and how they would become ill. The lack of available medical treatments. And the fear; all the fucking fear.
Maybe one way to get through all this is ask one of your gays who lived through this what it was like back then: we’ll tell you to stay fabulous, keep on loving, and protect you and your loved ones at all costs.
My son’s school wants us to do internet learning with him. Are they stinking crazy? I’m not going to do that with him! He’s scared too – if I’m up at 3AM with all these thoughts, I cannot imagine trying to teach my kid but I will help him to do is best and help him if he needs it. I cannot imagine doing any of this homeschooling stuff people are doing – my son’s got enough on his little plate. He’s 13 – I can’t even IMAGINE being his age and going through this. If you think for even one minute that these kids think this is some type of extended vacation, you’re wrong: these kids are as scared as we are.
Every night now, around 7PM, people around the world are going outside, clapping and shouting and making noise for all these healthcare – and other essential – workers right now. These brave people put each other in actual danger every single day that they go to work. They’re exhausted. They’re overworked. They don’t even have the proper equipment to do their jobs safely. I mean, people around the world are SEWING masks for them.
This is insane. Absolutely insane.
We don’t have enough toilet paper and we can’t find any. All of the stores are out they don’t know when they are getting more. I guess we are going to have to start sewing toilet paper too.
What are people without homes going to do?
How do they stay safe?
What about people in prisons?
\How do we keep them safe?
This is the most bizarre experience of my life. I alternate between denial and absolute terror 23 times a day.
I went grocery shopping earlier today & it’s clear that people are on their last nerve.
It took all of my mental energy to get through that.
I wore a mask and gloves when I went out, and as a woman passed me and saw my mask she said me, “You know, if you’re healthy, those masks aren’t going to do anything for you anyway.” I acted like I didn’t hear her. Maybe the mask isn’t going to help. But it isn’t hurting her.
People are scared. Let it go. Have some compassion for each other.
That’s what I say to her in my head.
Then, I realized she is under unimaginable stress too. I gave her compassion and I changed my mental response to her – I reminded myself that she’s scared too.
There’s world-wide uncertainty right now & we’re all grasping for a feeling of control. She is too; she’s scared like the rest of us.
Maybe the way she is navigating her fear is wanting to know more than other people; she needs that right now. And so I mentally forgave her because I totally understand where she is coming from.
There is a beautiful sense of solidarity happening too. I think that it’s appropriate for me to be positive and hopeful here now. People all over are jumping in and helping. Delivering food and meds to people who can’t get out. Delivering food to hospital workers who are not able to get breaks to go out and get food for themselves. People are giving out free lunches for families who depend on the schools for those meals.
It’s quite beautiful.
I am so fortunate too.
I have a roof over my head, and no threat of losing that (at least right now). I have an amazing wife that is on this journey with me, and who is solid when I need her to be.
I get to be solid when she needs me to be, and that helps me just as much. I have an amazing son who is challenging and fun and healthy. I have food in my belly and no threat of losing that.
I’m fortunate. I’m privileged. I am also grateful. I don’t take this for granted.
I do have hope. And I do believe that everyone around the world is doing their very best to take care of each other.
Please share this around – we are none of us alone; we are all connected. You never know who’s lives you’ll change with your words.
Last week (or was it 2 weeks ago – I’m not being coy – I honestly don’t remember) my dad called me, which is about as rare as me saying “I heart mayo” because I loathe mayo with the energy of a thousand suns. It’s not that we’re “not okay” or something, we just don’t have much to say to each other – he’s in California, I’m not. But, being alive in the Great Pandemic means you’re generally reaching out to people who you don’t normally talk to.
I’d expected him to say that either he or my mom had gotten The ‘VID because they’re old and they have multiple comorbidities.
I didn’t expect the words that spilled out of his mouth next: “we think Ben either has The Flu or CoVID-19.” I got the details, sparse as they were from them and tried, again, to reach my kid, but because he is a teenager, his phone is often off, which actually makes zero sense now that I’m typing it out, but that’s just the way it is.
That made his phone being off all the more concerning. But, I’m a good (wo)man in a storm and I’m all about fact-gathering rather than fear mongering or falling prostrate at someone’s… feet? Prostate? I’m not sure where I was going with that.
He’s in the same state, but not the same county, so I called that county’s health department and after I got through about 46 minute message telling me all the shit I already knew about The ‘VID (and pathogens in general), I was asked to leave a message. My guess is that that recorded seminar makes most people hang up, but I was in the car and had literally nothing else whatsoever to do.
I left my message and expected a return call about… let’s say NEVER? I figured they’d be hammered by everyone in the county to dispel some of the more outlandish things that Trump has said, so imagine my surprise when I got a callback.
Without having spoken with The Kid, I couldn’t really speak to what the symptoms he was facing were. His fever. His cough. But I did explain that he was safe and self-quarantined, and being a hermit and a teenager, had no thermometer OR desire to leave his hidey-hole. She sounded relieved.
When she was asked when he should get tested (this was when we all believed that we’d be able to get tested), she informed me – not unkindly – that “they’re not doing tests for “normal” people.”
Which is, I guess how another – WAY WAY WAY QUEEN OF BLOGS – blogger got herself tested twice (because two is better than one!!) and every asymptomatic celebrity who wants one can be tested in multiples. Me? I’m an OG blogger who’s been radio silent for years now – and my spawn aren’t special enough for a test.
But whatever. Only mildly bitter.
The other nurse confirmed what I’d thought: stay in quarantine for 3 days after the fever broke (he doesn’t have a thermometer, I was thinking, but okay). Don’t go out until the cough is gone. All the other infection control protocols were in place, so yay. Oh, and the county hadn’t had a SINGLE confirmed case yet.
I wanted to yell “BECAUSE THERE ARE NO CELEBS AROUND THERE, ASSHOLE,” but it’s not her fault so I kept my grousing to myself. And, I guess, now to you.
Because I was unable to access The Kid for a couple of more days, my dad and I spoke daily – The Kid was on an upswing, then downswing, then up, then down. Finally, The Kid, Himself, called me. I told him what I’d learned from the health department (nothing I didn’t know EXCEPT that you have to have a platinum vagina to get tested). He said he’d called the hospital at one point a couple of days before, because he was coughing so hard he’d pass out.
The gist of it was “suck it up buttercup, you can’t come to the hospital with a cough,” which threw me through a loop.
I’ve been texting with The Kid and he’s still got the cough and is doing a sleep-eat-play (video games before he passes out again) – cycle, which I’d been doing the week before. Whelp, without the video games.
He has his piano keyboard so he’s keeping busy, but he’s now, like the rest of us, falling pretty depressed. Like him (and I’d be guessing a good number of you as well), I’ve been struggling to even get off the couch. Today marks my first day back on the computer doing something other than watching the dwindling amount of traffic on the road and all of the incantations of My 90 Day Fiance – FOR THE SECOND TIME – which is just absurd enough to keep me from becoming a total slug.
My kid sounds like he had CoVID-19 but was to normal, per the health department (who also stated that there were no confirmed cases in that county) he was too normal to be tested.
The hospital told him that if he had a cough – one of the dangerous-this-may-kill-you hallmarks of CoVID-19 – he couldn’t come into the hospital.
So my kid likely had CoVID-19, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever know,
He’s depressed now, I’m depressed, hell, everyone I know is depressed.
But, I dragged my ass to the computer to give you a taste of what it’s like in my world.
Now we need to hear yours: we are none of us alone; we are all connected.