Monthly Archives: February 2015

Bouncing Back

My friend Jana once gave a lesson at church about resilience. What is it, we discussed, that makes some people able to overcome really difficult, even deeply traumatic challenges?

I thought of that discussion today as I mulled the past six weeks of our lives when everything spun out. And kept spinning.

Things are markedly calmer now, but are not yet where I would like them to be. Though Jack is more stable than he was, I now seem to be the one vacillating between relief, laughter, eye rolling, frustration, and major anxiety about what may yet come.

We have made it through this awful winter (mostly), and now that Jack is doing better on his new med regimen with some hopeful new behavior plan changes, I need to pull myself out of the muddy ditch around which I am still awkwardly sliding.

It’s time to revisit not just the survival strategies, but the self-care concepts that will leave me some measure of sanity.

I hate the term “self-care,” honestly. It sounds geriatric and possibly related to basic hygiene, which isn’t at all what I mean.

I’m trying to drive off the wolf lurking at the edge of the woods, and I need more tricks up my sleeve to scare him soundly away.

Here is what I plan to do in the name of my own mental health:

1. Buy more books (duh).

2. Go swimming, alone. It’s not therapeutic if people are hanging on you and splashing water in your face. And I miss being in water. And being alone.

3. Drop a van load of stuff at DI to donate. Feel weightless for awhile.

4. Take more walks.

5. That’s all I’ve got, so far.

This list is not definitive. Chocolate isn’t going anywhere, nor Coca-Cola. Date night remains a sanity staple. Ditto with scriptures and praying.

I feel like my recent prayers go a lot like this:

Me: “Heavenly Father, I feel so angry.”

Him: “No kidding.”

Or this:

Me: “Heavenly Father, help me make it through today.”

Him: *text/letter/email/package arrives with kind words from a friend.*

Or this:

Me: “Heavenly Father, help me know how to help Jack.”

Him: “Okay.”

Resilience in the thick of it seems elusive.

I suppose when you realize you’re still here, still trying, and still basically lucid, you figure out that resilience looks mostly like laughing, eye rolling, weeping, and breathing.

Resilience is the cold spring bubbling from the rocks. I want to drink it.


Art heals

“We have art in order not to die from the truth.”

Nietzsche said this.

I concur, and would add “We also have a hidden stash of dark chocolate in order not to die from the truth.”

Jack and I spent the weekend at home together, while the rest of the guys were traipsing oot and aboot. Usually, Jack loves it when people leave and he has the house mostly to himself. Not this weekend. It was a weekend for shoveling chocolate in one’s face, he in his and me in mine.

Jack is stuck on “shred” cycle. It’s actually more like “eat while shredding” cycle. It’s eating and shredding, while pacing. It’s Jack on crack.

He shredded the fast-offering check and tithing slip I set on the hall table. He ate ten peanut butter cups in thirty minutes and shredded their wrappers on the stairs.

He ripped up some old photographs of us ten years ago in Yellowstone. I was pale and pudgy in a postpartum way and wore an even pudgier Jack in the Baby Bjorn. I was smiling in the pics, but I was sleep deprived then, too. That’s all I could think of when I saw those shredded pictures—I was really tired. I remember.

Jack knocked down a shelf in the garage, stuffed four half-eaten muffins in the couch cushions, tossed his blankets out his bedroom window onto the deck, and attacked me when I asked him to not throw a recycling bag of aluminum cans over the fence into the neighbor’s yard.

He has figured out how to grab my hair like a vice.

He smashed a glass jar on the driveway. He tried to suck up hard candies in the upright vacuum. He took the vacuum outside and dropped it from the deck into the nearby mulch pile. He replenished the lake of urine on his bedroom floor, multiple times.

I mopped, feeling rather like the woman in The Yellow Wallpaper. Creeping. Repetitive. Mentally precarious.

I took Jack on a long drive. I gave him like 17 baths. I ate chocolate.

We watched the Super Bowl, which neither of us cared about, but it was on and it was a spectacle. Jack sat on my lap during some of it, all 106 pounds of him.

When he went to sleep, I dove into Downton and then a book, and then writing, because Nietzsche.

Truth may be beauty sometimes, but more often it’s just difficult.

But art, and the gift of being creative, have borne me up on days like today, and carried me forward with the energy and power of a wave rushing the shore.

Art is the essence of life, stripped of it’s glaring harshness, thoughtfully reworked into something palatable.

That’s beauty.