Thursday, September 6, 2012

China Plates

"Getting over it so soon?  But the words are ambiguous.  To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he's had his leg off it is quite another.  After that operation  either the wounded stump heals or the man dies.  If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop.  Presently he'll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg.  He has 'got over it.'  But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man.  There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it."
- C. S. Lewis
A Grief Observed

Trigger.  That's a word I haven't used in a long time.  I haven't really had to, but suddenly it seems to have made a reappearance in my life.   Starting about three weeks ago, it seems like I can barely get through a day without something triggering me and reminding me of Kelsey and what we lost.  The worst of it is that it is not always bad things, although sometimes that is the case.  Sometimes it is a situation that reminds me of the bad old days when I was struggling to make ends meet despite bringing in four times the median income.  (More on that in a later post, because dealing with the long-term impact on families that treating the disease creates deserves it's own post.)  Sometimes it is seeing someone in a crowd who is clearly sick with ED.  But, sometimes it is something that should be a happy moment.  A contact from an old friend who has been out of touch since before Kelsey died.  A speech by Michelle Obama, who styled herself Mom-in-Chief.  Those are happy things that nonetheless leave me drained because they cause the tape to rewind back to a different lifetime, a different me.  Or, seeing friends of Kelsey's become moms.  That's a tough one.  Beautiful and wonderful on the one hand.  Achingly painful on another.

To illustrate with just one example:  I watched a documentary about the Obama administration on MSNBC before the keynote speeches on Tuesday and they naturally showed snippets from the inauguration.  I was still working at my old position when that took place - it was a few weeks before I would be laid off - so I brought my portable television in and let the staff of my little department watch it.  History in the making; they deserved to be able to pause and be a part of it.  My oldest daughter was alive then.  She got to see the first African American take office.  She put a cartoon of Martin Luther King's imagined reaction on our refrigerator around then that stayed there until I began packing.  My mother, of course, was alive to see it too, although by then she was in the nursing home, and I was doing that delicate dance to make sure I kept the channels away from news because her reaction was very different than Kelsey's - I watched a lot of NCIS that year.  Now neither of them will be around to see if he can win a second term.  Can it really only have been four years ago?  Less than four years ago actually.  And, of course, I watch the Obamas interact with their two beautiful, beautiful daughters who look so happy and whole and think, "Wow, they are the most powerful and busy people in the free world and they still manage to be good parents.  If they can do it, then I must truly have sucked."  Self-pity?  Sure.  But, it's hard not to go down that road.

What you realize is that you're a lot like a plate who is broken straight down the middle.  You can be glued back together and be functional, but you have to know that you're never quite the same.  There will be that fault line always that is a little weaker than before and, when overloaded, is subject to cracking again.  And once the fissure begins to give way, it's hard to stop it from snapping all the way. Things that individually applied a month or so ago would catch my notice, but not send me into a tailspin, now threaten to undo me.  Take the not one, but two clearly anorexic girls at the Steelers 5K on Sunday.  Both Marissa and I noticed them.  I had seen a woman in similar condition in my own neighborhood power walking when Cheyenne and I were out less-than-power-walking.  Her legs were thin, but muscle bound.  Her arms were the tell.  They were like twigs, no muscle, no fat, skin stretched tautly over bone.  Three such disturbing appearances inside of a week would always rattle me a little I think, but I was already on shaky ground, so those women seemed to be spectres sent to haunt me and I was highly agitated by them.  Things just keep piling onto the plate.

You know it's going to happen, the dips on the scale, the rolls down the mountain, whatever cheesy metaphor you want to employ.  Of course, knowing you'll have bad days and then actually having them are different.  But, when faced with them, then you're faced with them and have to deal with them.  That's what I'm dealing with currently.  The question therefore is what to do about it?  I've been thinking about that actually.  I've got some theories that I'll test over the weekend.  Stay tuned for the results.

"don't it feel like sunshine afterall
the world we love forever, gone
we're only just as happy
as everyone else seems to think we are"
- Jimmy Eat World
The World You Love

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