Over the years, I have watched people come and go in my life. Some, I have helped to close the doors on slowly as my life changed and /or their lives’ changed, silently wishing them well in the process. Others, I ran away from, slamming the doors and then barring that shit closed to make sure that those doors never open again.
But there are some, I have tried so desperately to hold on to, but the doors closed despite all my best efforts. I know people come and go from our lives. It is just how it is. But sometimes it just plain SUCKS.
As I get older, I look back at my friendships. I reflect on what I did or did not do or say within the friendships. I realize that I often must come across as a “horrible” friend. There is a list of things that I wish I could them.
No Girls Night Out Or Fun Get Aways
I dream of going away for a week to lay on a sandy beach, basking in the sun and listening to the waves crash all around me, or sitting by a pool and talking about life and future plans. I would love to get away and stay at a Bed and Breakfast somewhere in a quaint little town and go to all the local shops and sight see. But my reality is that between my hubby working 2 jobs and having a special needs child, chances of me going out even for a day are pretty slim while going on mini vacation is even slimmer. I am my children’s primary caregiver. Not many people can successfully navigate into my Mermaid’s world comfortably for several days. Even coffee with me can be more than you were expecting. There is rarely just “me” anymore without a mini circus that seems impossible to tame. Many people can easily become embarrassed by the behavior of my Mermaid out in public. I know I have wished for a cloak of invisibility more than once, as well as, a time machine so that I could go back and rethink the whole situation. In the beginning, I was naive in the reasonings behind my child’s behavior. I know it was almost impossible to have any kind of a meaningful talk with constant texts and phone calls asking me when I was coming home because no one could handle my Mermaid except for me. I saw the eye rolls, the slight head shaking of disapproval, and the look on your face that said, “Are you freaking kidding me?”
The truth is, I could barely handle the constant up and downs of her world at the time. So to save you the embarrassment and frustrations of it all (or maybe it was more for my own ego and pride) I began to decline the invites and the requests to hang out. It hurt my soul to decline the offers. A chance to escape my stay at home world for just a couple of hours to recharge and feel like a person again. But, I did what I thought was best for everyone else, but me. To some, my reasonings for not going out with them or to impromptu outings, seem like excuses. But they were not excuses, I promise you. I always felt pitted between my family and attempting to have a social life.
It is funny, I have been a mom for a long time. At the time my mermaid was born, I had just shy of a decade of knowledge and wisdom, trial and errors under my belt. I was so naive to what the Universe had in store for me. There was no real prepping me for the journey my Mermaid would take me on. No one understood or had any idea of what those first couple of years were like with her. The lack of sleep alone was enough to make me question my sanity. I can remember sitting there with tears streaming down my face begging this sweet little baby to please close her eyes for just an hour. I went sometimes 48 hours with NO. SLEEP. AT. ALL. If I was lucky, I would sometimes get a 3-hour nap as we were going on 78 hours. This went on for several years. I was constantly exhausted and completely drained. You would think that all your advice was falling on deaf ears or that I was just being a bitch and ignoring you.
I know you had to think that all your “sound” advice was falling on deaf ears. What I could not find the words to tell you was that your advice, was not safe for my child. I know, because I had already tried some version of it more than once. The results were disastrous.
I never told you that what I really needed from you was to tell me that I was a DAMN. GOOD. MOTHER. and that my incredible child was not the brat that I thought everyone thought she was. I needed reassurance that I was on the right path with trying to have her tested for autism.
I had to watch every movement she made, try to understand and get through the million epic meltdowns she had per day, and do everything I could think of to try and prep myself for the next day while still trying to accomplish everything else that was expected of me.
I wanted to beg you to help me because I was drowning in this unfamiliar world I had been suddenly thrown into. But how do you begin to beg someone to help you with the mound of unwashed laundry in your basement, the floors that need to be vacuumed and scrubbed, the bathrooms that are close to being condemned because they hadn’t seen a cleaner or mop in who even freaking knew how long. But I was too embarrassed to ask for your help, let alone beg you for it.
A diagnosis and countless hours of researching later I can honestly say that autism is not a journey for the weak. I know that my journey with it is far from being over. I am still constantly thinking outside the box with my Mermaid. At the end of every day, I thank the Universe for her and all the craziness autism often brings to our lives.
Almost Dying and PTSD
As you know, my Mermaid’s pregnancy and birth were not without a lot of complications for both her and myself. I know that you thought that I felt like “I was better than you”, or turned into “a royal bitch”, had that I had to be in the middle of a breakdown. Or that I was so ungrateful for everything you had done with/for me (especially while I was pregnant). What we did not tell you was that we were told to not allow anyone in our home that was not in the delivery room with us for the first 4 months of my Mermaid’s life. What you may not also know is that we both were fighting for our lives for that almost 4 months.
The first 4 months of my Mermaid’s life consisted of daily weigh-ins with the doctors and specialists. We were trying to figure out why my Mermaid was continuing to lose weight despite being breastfed all the time. There was no acid reflux, loose bowel movements, or vomiting. I was even made to supplement her with formula and breastmilk trying to help maintain the weight she was at. As her body began to grow weaker, we were told that a cold or virus would kill her. No reason could be given for it. I was watching her die in front of me with no idea what the hell to do about it or how to stop it. I wanted to ask you to hold on a little bit longer and to pray to whomever you worship for strength for us. What I did in reality, was shut everyone out. There was too much happening at once and I was trying to hold it together. I was afraid that if you realized how fragile I was feeling, that I would break and fall to pieces. That was not an option for me at that time. I felt like I was completely alone.
While we were trying to understand what was happening to our Mermaid, I was experiencing what I would later learn were panic attacks and high anxiety. At the time, I thought I was freaking losing it. I seriously was afraid I was going to be committed to a psychiatric hospital. My hubby almost did commit me. We later learned that I had thrown thousands of clots in each of my lungs. After I had to have a second major surgery in less than 4 months, I was left with new restrictions I had never had before in my life. I had a newborn and 2 other children that also had medical issues we were dealing with on top of my own healing. I dismissed the daily pain, discomfort, anxiety, and complete terror I was feeling until I could not anymore. All of this needed my undivided attention and I was in the beginning stages of what would later be diagnosed as PTSD. I was facing it alone. I was struggling with inner demons that I had never known could exist. I was isolated from everyone in my life per my specialists’ orders. I wanted to beg you to come and stay with me, to move in and help me. Or at least to tell me that I was not going insane and that I was not alone no matter how alone I felt. But you had a life of your own and responsibilities that needed you more. I was once again to proud to ask you for help. So, I never asked you for help or your understanding. I shut you and the world out instead.
For 3 and 1/2 years, I hid my PTSD from everyone. I attempted to maneuver through my daily life with a child that was “unruly and a brat”, sleep deprived, and hanging on by a thread. You noticed the changes in me but never asked me what was going on. I never came to you with my problems because I was too afraid of what you would think of me.
I raised myself with the belief that I am strong enough to handle anything. My life taught me that I have to be my own hero, savior, White Knight, whatever you want to call it because waiting for others to rescue me was not always an option. Asking for help is something I never do by the way. I tried to swallow my pride and I ask for help in my own way during this time in my life. I also tried to ask for patience. But by that point, the rift was already there and widening daily.
After I finally broke my silence and was officially diagnosed with PTSD, I decided to become vocal about how my PTSD left me shattered, broken down, and beaten up. It has not been an easy road for me. PTSD was a huge weakness for me and telling people my weaknesses is uh…not exactly my thing. But I felt I needed to open and share my story with others. There is just too much stigma associated with PTSD and mental illness. I was trying to figure out how to deal with the PTSD, both new and old triggers, and then depression slid in and took me on a long journey. Between the PTSD and the depression, I struggled to get up and face the world every day. I tried to cocoon myself in my family in order to heal. But I also wanted to be there for you. I know I was anything but there for you. When we tried to talk on the phone or text, I could not follow what was happening in your life. I am not even sure I was truly “present” for you the way you needed me to be. I was not “present” in my own life. I know that most of our conversations were one-sided with me complaining to you about how miserable my life was. I know you tried your best to hang in there and give me pep talks and advice that no doubt fell on my deaf ears. What I wanted to tell you was how much I appreciated you listening to me talk about nothing of importance to you. I wanted to thank you for not making me feel less than for not asking you about your life and your needs I was stuck in a victim mentality. I was drowning in self-loathing and self-hatred. I wanted to tell you how much I love you being there for me when I know you truly wanted to shake me and tell me to snap out of it. I wanted to thank you for not walking away from me. But I said nothing instead because I literally could not find that words I so desperately wanted you to hear from deep within my soul. I still can not find the words. I want to know that I will never stop trying to find them.
Food Allergies and Intolerances.
Just when my life could not get any crazier, my health took another setback. So, I researched and researched and researched some more looking for ways to improve it. I got “smart” about the food we eat / the world we live in and how it affects us, I did something about it. When I changed how my family ate, you thought I was extreme. When I removed most of the chemicals in our home and in our immediate environment, I know you thought I was borderline certifiable. Even though you could see the visible results of everything I had put into motion, I know you still considered me to be extreme. I did what most people do when they became passionate about what they were learning. I shared it with everyone. Maybe I was too passionate. Maybe I still am.
When I developed food allergies, let me tell you, it all came to a crashing halt. There were no more invites to parties or gatherings. It just all stopped. Literally. It stung. I understood it. You thought it was just too unfair to ask me to bring my own food or drink to your event. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the magic words “I wanted to invite you…but you know the food. Sorry.”, I would be rich. It was not just you, it was everyone I knew. The hardest part was seeing the pics on social media or hearing about everything I had missed in conversations. It crushed me.
Why I rarely call you or will answer your phone calls.
When I pick up the phone to call you, it is at the most random times and often is not for long. Most of the time, I will call you when I am alone in my truck running errands for about 10-15 minutes here and there. If it is during a weekday, I will not call you because I know you are at work. If it during the evening or the weekend, I am worried that I am interrupting whatever you have planned.
My two youngest kids know that the simple word “Hello” is the best time to do things that they know I would normally not allow because by saying that one simple word, it means that I am distracted and not all my “Super Bad Ass Mom” skills are being focused towards them. With my Mermaid, that phone call can mean her eloping, getting a sharp knife to cut her own fruit or cheese instead of asking me to do it or to watch her do it while I am talking.
This is why most of the times our calls will either be cut super short or your calls go straight to my to voice mail. Texting is how I can respond to you when I get a chance and not have to worry about my Mermaid’s safety. It allows me to connect to you when I am able to. However, I know it is also very impersonal and often looses everything our voice is meant to carry. I know that you are not a huge fan of it.
What I would love to tell you is that I often feel like my world is boring and uneventful in so many ways. I am a SAHM, with a special needs child, and we homeschool. I feel like I really have nothing exciting to talk to you about. You go out with your other friends to restaurants or work out with them in the gym, see a movie, go shopping, take mini trips here and there. I am so happy for you and jealous all at once. I am often left out of all of your adventures and outings because I can not go with you even you ask me to. It is not my world right now and it can not be my world yet. It will be one day, but not right now. My world revolves around my kids, my PTSD, moving into Post Traumatic Growth, nutrition, and learning to find happiness in every breath I take. I want to ask you to not give up on me or think that I do not want anything to do with you. I want to hear about it all. Every now and then, though, it stings and makes me wish that my life was different sometimes or that I wish the wedge that seems to be growing between us, wasn’t there anymore. What I should have said to you is that “I love to hear your voice!” I want to hear how you are doing and what is happening in your life. I am “present” now in my life and want to be in yours too. Try and forgive me when I get jealous of how carefree you are able to live your life or how fun and relaxing your amazing girls weekend that I was not able to join you on was.
I Am Boring As Hell.
In 2016, I decided I would do my best to stop complaining about anything in my life to others. But I did not tell you I was doing this. Instead, when you asked me what was new or what was going on, my response was always the same, “Nothing new is happening.” When you asked me how I was doing, me response was always the same. “I am doing good.” Even if I was having a horrible day or in the middle of a panic attack, I still responded the same way. I think I came across as not wanting to talk or text you anymore. I should have told you that I was trying to find a silver lining in my everyday battles. I was not giving them the space they needed to control my life anymore. I was trying to find a way to rise above the PTSD and depression. That by telling you how truly awful my day was, seemed to only add fuel to it and brought it more to life. So, I stopped giving it life. It seriously has made me happier, but also I think I am even more boring! I did not know that that was possible. I rarely eat out. Many people tell me that I do not eat any processed foods. I do not drink or take drugs. I do not gossip. I rarely take any kind of vacations. I go to the grocery store (sometimes many grocery stores) and we are slowly adventuring out into the world. But it is baby steps.
I hope that you know that I will do my best to move Heaven and Hell and rearrange as many schedules as I can so that we can hang out and have a cup of coffee or a great steak dinner and some much needed reconnecting whenever I can. If you live in another state, I will still move Heaven and Hell to reconnect with you in any way I can. Even Skype or Facetime while having a cup of coffee with you or a steak dinner. You just have to be patient and gentle with me. I hope you know how much your friendship means to me and how much I love you. Even when I do not show it as often as I should or in the ways you need me to.
2 Replies to “What I Wish I Could Tell My Friends”
So much of this resounds with me! I promise that I “get it”, and also that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There is a whole contingent of us, mothers, fathers, caretakers who have acquired “letters” (PTSD, HFA, etc), given up our social selves, and are hanging on by various threads while caring for our littles- and being judged by the people who are closest to us. I only know 2 of them, and we careen crazily past each other to get maybe 3-5 sentences across to each other on the twice-during-the-summer one hour of chasing our littles around the park, and not knowing what to say, because…what can you say? Much as I hate FB, and despise all the changes they keep making to it that invades our personal lives a little more each time it is my MAJOR lifleline. Some days I don’t even get 3-5 sentences with my husband. I appreciate you, thank you. I love you, too!
even though I have been an outsider most of my life, I just don’t fit and I got used to that (I do not miss eating out or party life) BUT what you are experiencing sounds like a living hell. You got 50 people’s problems all in one and I so admire you for tackling it every day! I wish you find more understanding people around you and some willing to just fill in and do what you need done…… in a perfect world….. Bless you! You are a rock, even if the waters cover you up at times! Thank you for sharing!