Monday, June 22, 2015

The Storm and the Aftermath

It's been a crappy few months.  So many weird/dumb things have happened to me and my family that I've been thrown off my routine of blogging or doing anything else creative.  The highlights include The Mister getting in a car accident with a city bus, Boo's school principal calling me to say he had a severe bloody nose and an ambulance was on its way, me locking myself and Punky out of the house in our rush to meet said ambulance and having to call a cab to drive us to the school, looking for a new house, thinking we had found the right house, not getting the house, giving up the house hunt (for now), and, just when we thought we couldn't take anymore bad luck, our beautiful Siamese cat, my baby, got sick and died.  Now sprinkle in some bad news from the kids' dentist, a pile-up of medical bills, me having some recurring GI issues, our wi-fi repeatedly going down, my laptop crashing on a daily basis, and an accidental tossing-out of a bag of important papers.  

None of those things would have been catastrophic on their own, but coming at us at a fast pace like they did, made me nearly lose it.  I didn't know how I could be a functional wife and parent when I felt like I couldn't keep it together myself.  I could picture the figurative black cloud over my head, following me everywhere I went.  But like all storms, this eventually passed. I don't know how my family got through it, but I do know I cried in front of a lot of people and I didn't even care.  I let people know I needed support.  I tried to model for the kids some constructive ways to grieve our pet and let them know we can talk openly about death and feelings even though I'm not sure I always have the right answer.   I was humbled, and that was an interesting, uncomfortable, frustrating experience.

In the midst of things, I clung to anything that made me feel better.  I watched every episode of Parks and Rec and then moved on to The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt because I needed something to laugh at. I celebrated with my kids every time a teacher said something good about either one of them, which happened a lot.  I picked up some good books to read, and purged a lot of books from my shelf that I realized I was never going to read.  I even started a new job, something that felt risky in a time of emotional crisis, but it turned out to be the exact thing I needed because it's both challenging and rewarding.
  
I also got a huge reality check when someone who lives near me told me about a woman, an immigrant and mother of several children, she frequently sees going through the neighborhood trash cans for food.  I mean, this is South Minneapolis, where people drink craft beer and grow heirloom tomatoes and give money to public radio and run marathons, and we still have neighbors, hiding in the shadows, who are happy to get their hands on some past-expiration lettuce that was touching other garbage.  I haven't come across this woman myself, and I don't know her story, but knowing she's out there makes me appreciate how fortunate I am.  A lot of bad stuff can (and did) happen to my family but at least we always have shelter, food, and a support network.

There's a well-known quote by Regina Brett: "If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back."  It's true.  Losing a pet we had loved as part of our family was devastating, but I'm sure it's nothing like having no food on the dinner table day after day.  And even at some point during our string of bad luck, when I was moaning, "when is this all going to end?" the possibility was always out there, somewhere on the horizon, that it would end and things would go back to normal, though minus one Siamese.

I guess this kind of stuff happens to people regularly.  It's part of being an adult, and those who don't have to deal with periods of loss and frustration once in a while are just darn lucky.  Some people have much worse to contend with.  And others choose not to deal with it at all and find ways to temporarily escape the responsibilities life throws at them.  I feel a little bruised, but I toughed it out and I'm ready to move on.  Whew.

Anyway, I hope this wasn't too ramble-y.  I've had time to think about what kinds of things I want to write about in the near future, and I think I'd like to put more focus on self-care and coping skills during times of stress.  I'm excited to put a little more time into researching this topic and sharing what I find out.  So please stay tuned, and I promise I'll try not to step away for too long this time.