Sunday, October 22, 2006

And the walls come tumbling down

And when they tumble, they tumble hard.

I never, when I started up with Blogger a year and a half ago....which seems like an entire lifetime ago..... intended it to be a real-live blog. I never wanted to be all emo and sad and sorry on this. It was something I could write goofy observations on, and maybe share what Kate once called my "windbreaker" stories in one place without having to tell the stories orally.

But I feel that it had to take a serious detour less than 14 months ago. It served a purpose: a place to put down all of the bad thoughts and memories in order to get them out. A therapist's couch, if you will. A place where, if people didn't want to hear about it, they could just close, instead of feigning uncomfortable interest in what I had to say.

I finally catalogued all of the horror plus the small triumphs. It's all here; from the fear of facing death in the eyes to the reopening of my father's business in May, I've chronicled it.

And now, I don't know what to do. I suppose I need to keep it open. Because no one wants to hear what I have to say. It's too uncomfortable. I have a new gift in life: bringing people down.

At one point in my life, I'd venture to say that I was a fun person to be with. I am not that any more. And on the occasions when I try to talk about it, no one wants to hear it. Or they cut in with their own miseries. Or they get uncomfortable and change the subject. So I have shut down. They don't want to hear it, so I don't say it. Not even my family wants it any more. My mother loses patience and snaps at me, my father comes up with all of his trials and tribulations of the day, my husband is at a loss for what to say or do and goes to his computer while i sit and cry, and my of the last things I heard him say, just before he tried to slam my fingers in his car door and Mark tried to throw him from his car was, "I will not set foot in this house until they are out of it."

The amount of loss experienced in the last 14 months in this area is astounding. People try to say we're moving on, that things are improving, that things are looking up, that we'll all be okay once we settle down. And I just want to scream.

I face a new antsy these days. Antsy for me before was waiting in line to see a concert, hoping to see a test grade, wondering what my Christmas presents will be, hoping to get a job I applied for. But now antsy is different. I feel antsy at night. Like I have to do something, but am unable to. Like I want to run a million miles without stopping or looking back. I can't sit still, but it's all I want.

I may have developed reflux in the past year. If I am hungry, I get heartburn. I find that I must eat something every 4-5 hours. If I eat, I get heartburn. Fried, spicy, bland, raw, homecooked, makes no difference. But if I don't eat, things are worse. And so I carry Pepcid AC at all times and eat and eat and eat, and I have added more than 30 pounds in all of this time. I don't know what I'll wear this winter. My pants do not fit. I bought one pair of jeans and one pair of pants. The rest do not even button. I saw a picture of myself taken about 3 weeks ago. I didn't realize it was me. My face is so round, and my body is distorted. I dont' know who I am any more. My shirts are tight, my underweart is uncomfortable, and I can't button my pants. Shopping makes me sad.

A friend said to me the other day that "We'll all do better once things settle down for us." For us. Us? I know not of whom she speaks. Yes, she has some very serious money issues going on. But she has all of her stuff and a place of her own. I have things I dont' recognize and am still living with my parents.

I go to bridal showers and feel angry and sad. I leave in tears. Sometimes, it's because it's a relative of Mark's, who was untouched and lost three, maybe four days of work after the storm. Nothing else. And I see things given to them that were given to us 4 years ago. And I ache, because I do not have them any more. I didn't even have to like the item. But I see it, and I ache. Sometimes, it's just because here is someone living out life, batting a single eye at the storm, if that, getting all of these items, dreaming, hoping, anticipating. And I realize that here are people who, four years after receiving this items, will still have these items. And if not, then it will have been a matter of choice, not a matter of necessity, to throw it to the curb. These people will not have to carry out every item they ever owned and throw it for the neighborhood and the tourists to see.

And what hurts even more is that when we were first married, we had nothing. We were dumb kids fresh out of college playing grown-up. People helped us. We had showers and a wedding. We were given almost everything and started our married life with a fully-stocked kitchen. Bedroom. Office. Bathroom. My God...people gave us everything from Tums to sheets, from Mr. Clean to sofas. And who will do this this time? This time, when we're starting out with even less than we had before? It's not a greed issue. It's an "Oh my God how will we survive without so much as a whisk?" issue.

Logistically, how will we? We got a whopping $9,000+ for more than $56,000 worth of belongings. It is nto possible to replace it.

People say, "Well, you ought to have a good bit stocked up, what with not having to pay rent and all." Easier said than done. Where has my year's salary gone? Breakfast and lunch items. Clothing and shoes and underwear and socks and pajamas and pantyhose and toiletries and everythign else you use in your daily life but take for granted. Do you know what it is like to stand there, owning a trunk full of photo albums and four days worth of clothes and your two cats? No, you don't. You go to shower, and you have nothing to put on. You have nothing to get clean with. You have to replace it all. More money went into my classroom. It went straight from school back into school. It went to four doctor's visits and tons of medicine each time. It went to gasoline, especially now that I have such a long commute to and from work. It went to having something to do.

My parents, I love. I can never repay them for these past almost 13 months that I have been here. And like 11 that Mark has been here. But we are not at home here. It may sound silly, but it's true. We have nowhere to go. We cannot do anything without being in the way. If we want to watch TV, we have to do it in the den, as we don't have a big enough stand for the tiny TV in our room. There's nowhere to sit and comfortably watch it. My father, who owns the house and the TV in the den, does and should take control of it. But even if we don't want to watch TV, we can't go in there and talk, because he is watching something. We can't sit at the kitchen table, because it connects to the den, and we also hear, "I don't know where you think we're going to eat dinner." My old room is an office, and has nowhere to sit. I wouldn't dream of going in their room. The dining room is full of things from my now-deceased grandmother's place, while the living room is full of the junk we've somehow accumulated this year. There is nowhere to go but this tiny, cramped, progressively dirty room that was my brother's. And the only places to sit are this hard chair at the computer and the bed. Neither is conducive to long-term sitting. But if we want anything to do, this is where we must be.

Go for a walk or do something physical, you say? No. I've tried. I want nothing more than to lose this horrible weight, but there is no way to do it. I leave home at 7 a.m. and get home about 11 hours later. And work doesn't end when I leave. I have things to prepare, things to grade, things to think about. A teacher's work is never done until summer vacation. And even then, it's not done. I spent my summer thinking about school-related things. I am physically tired when I get home. And then I am mentally tired, as I have to be on my feet (figuratively as well as literally) all day. And then I am emotionally drained, as I drive through Mid-City, City Park, and Lakeview, as I drive past FEMA trailers, as I drive home to this sorry little existence we've had to take up. Physical activity, of ALL types, is not an option for me.

As it is, I do not even socialize with people who A. dont live with me and B. don't work with me any more. We have nowhere to bring people. What do you want? " Sorry, mom and dad, but you can't be in your own home tonight. We're having friends over. Hope you can find something to do, especially after a long, hard day at work." We've lost touch with so many people.

Our other friends only ever hang out at "The Cabin" anyway. And they all seem happy and well-adjusted. Even the ones whose parents lost everything. Maybe they just conceal better than I do. I don't know. But it's like life never changed for them. And I am tired of both that and of the "same-old, same-old." As it is, that's my brother's house. I cannot go over there any more. I went when my cousin Kate was in town last weekend, but it was very hard for me. But since it's my brother's house, and that's where all of our friends hang out, I have essentially lost them as well.

All of this has left me feeling so very alone.

And so we go out to eat on weekends, we go to the mall on weekends, we go to Target and Best Buy and Wal-Mart and Halloween stores and the French Quarter, and all it leads us to is nothing. False happiness.

Some people will ask what's wrong, and I can't even verbalize it. Because I get told to cheer up. To just try harder. To wait it out, and it'll all settle. That I'm not the only one who lost something. That everyone has lost something. That things will be better. That things are looking up. That things will get back to normal. But it won't. As I think I wrote before, every time we try to get ahead, something happens to throw us backwards. One of us is laid off. A grandparent gets sick. A killer hurricane comes up and body slams the city, leaving us homeless and with nothing but, literally, the clothes on our backs.

I just finished the 13th and finally installment of Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events." And this passage struck me deeply:

"There is a kind of crying I hope you have not experienced, and it is not just crying about something terrible that has happened, but a crying for all of the terrible things that have happened, not just to you but to everyone you know and to everyone you don't know and even the people that you don't want to know, a crying that cannot be diluted by a brave deed or a kind word, but only by someone holding you as your shoulders shake and your tears run down your face."

There were actually a great many passages in these books which made me upset. Mostly, they involved the Baudelaires missing some part of their lives from before the Series began, and generally they involved Klaus looking at destroyed books. But usually, they were about extreme sadness.

But sometimes, not even someone holding you is enough.

I cry still. I cry often. I usually cry in the safety and solitude of the shower. Sometimes it spills into less solitary and safe places.

I still do not sleep well. I stay up later than I should because of this. But why not be productive in these hours instead of lying awake, staring at the ceiling?

I have no drive. I bought jewelry-making things, with the intent of making Christmas gifts for people. I am not interested. Mark offers to play chess or checkers, and I am not interested. I made a students give me homework, because I can feel myself losing my desire to read one again. I have nowhere to go. And I feel the urge to run, but cannot. I want to go out with friends but cannot. I want to do something spontaneous and fun, but don't want the effort. I feel urges to eat, and I do that. I want to sleep for a minimum of 8 solid hours, but do not. Six interrupted is the most I can hope for. Even this is a struggle. But if I dont' put this down here, I will not get it out.

Now for one metaphor-less translation of the heading of this post: A while back, I said that I hoped that our house would be torn down. I would not be able to handle seeing another family move in and have fun, because my closure was false and forced. People reacted strangely to hearing this, but if we can't have it, then no one can.

About three weeks ago, the day after we applied for a home loan, I drove home on my normal route, and there was a huge pile of rubble where our house was. The cranes were still there, but the men had gone home. I circled around, tears burning the backs of my eyes, my breath somewhere other than inside me, and drove up to the wreckage. I had my moment. I cried. I had my camera and took pictrues of it. I stopped my tears, turned off the car, and grabbed a brick. A souvenier of what was.

Today, it is a vacant lot filled with mud. And I am okay with that. No one else will have our house. No one else will throw a party and wonder A. where the guests will park or B. how to fit the guests inside once they have found parking spaces. No one else will haul laundry to the carport and have to balance the heavy basket while trying to unlock the laundry room door. No one else will sit in lawn chairs out front, dirty and sweaty from working in the yard, sipping on snowballs from Fireman Phil's. We were the last to do those things. No one can move into our place.

And I can almost pass without looking now. But I have to pass that way. If I don't, I panic. But at least I don't have to look at it.

We haven't heard back on that loan yet. I don't think we'll get it. SOMEONE has very low credit, and I think that will hurt us in the long run. I will let you know, though.

I need to be held, so that I can cry. But I can't do it without an audience.

I want my life back. I want my body back. I want myself back.


emi said...

please, please, I am begging you, talk to a professional. I feel helpless and sad for you.

shelly said...

It's sounding like you're seriously depressed. I also think you ought to seek professional help. *nods*


misti said...

I agree with both posters. You are very seriously depressed. I know we are mere internet "friends" but honestly I want you to get better, I want you to feel yourself and I want you do want to do all of those things that you want to do and not feel regret, sadness, guilt or displeasure from not doing or trying to do them. PLEASE talk to someone.

Continue writing here as your outlet. There's no reason to bottle these things up inside to make it worse. Yes, easier said than done.

We're here for you!!! *hugs* from miles away.

Professor McGonagall said...

Your thoughts remind me of my own when I went through my first miscarriage at five months. I felt trapped and there was no where that I could run. Now, two years later, the pain is less pronounced but it is still there, as I am sure it will always be. I wouldn't say there is less pain, just that you learn to ignore it for a while.

I agree with the others that have posted, you need help. Maybe professional, or maybe just someone who is willing to understand you fully and let you get all your feelings out in the open. Don't bottle up your emotions...

sea said...

Mae, I agree with the others. It's good that you're still writing here. Keep writing if it helps you. Seek help from a counselor or someone else so you can get through this. Counseling isn't bad; the counselor I went to last year was of tremendous help. Find someone you can speak to freely, and who can understand.

There's no doubt you've been through a lot over the past 14 months, and there's no reason you should have to go through it alone.

*big hugs* You're in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

talk to me, aimée. I'm listening, and of all the friends I left back there, I think I miss you the most.

I hope to hear from you.


old man neill said...

there is nothing i can say without being cheesy. all i can say is that i read through your post, and i can only hope that you find joy in your life once more.