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Thursday, October 11, 2012

"What wound did ever heal but by degrees?" ~William Shakespeare

In August, when Tabitha went to the managed care facility where she now resides, I told people I would need a couple of months to regroup and recuperate. I told those to whom I owed some responsibility that I'd be feeling better toward the end of October. They acted if they believed I was exaggerating my need, but said they'd check back with me then. They are going to be disappointed. I'm going to need more time.

I understand their skepticism. Most people have only heard of the difficulties I've been experiencing for about four or five months. They have no idea that the stress began about two years ago, and that for those two years my life has been one day of uncertainty and/or trauma after another. They don't understand living with the knowledge that at any moment there can be an eruption. In it's own way, the situation I've been dealing with is very much like that of a person who lives with an abuser and I've had no idea how to deal with it. The resources we turned to were lamentably unhelpful. We simply did not have what we needed to remedy the situation.

Some people have said they would not have allowed the situation to escalate as I did. I wish I could believe that their ideas about managing teenagers would have worked in our case. But I don't. I believe those techniques would simply have caused the situation to worsen more quickly, and I'm not certain, had I employed punishment and grounding and other restrictions which had nothing to do with Tabitha's behavior, that she would be alive today. I believe her self-esteem would have diminished, and depression increased to the point where her attempts to take her live would have become more extreme and more frequent until she finally succeeded.

Of course, we'll never know. I did the best I could as a parent and I'm willing to be judged by those who have never experienced similar situations for the simple reason that they do not know what they're talking about. All problems are solved quickly by dispassionate observers.

I had hoped that I would bounce back, that having a break from the constant daily stress would help me become myself again. I'm finding that the stress simply morphs into something else. Please don't misunderstand, there is definite relief in knowing Tabitha is safe and receiving the treatment she needs. But I miss her; and not a day goes by when I don't wonder what I could have done more--or differently--for my daughter.

And now that I'm focusing on the practical parts of our former hell, the financial stress seems too daunting to deal with. I'm faced with testing to qualify with the IRS to continue to prepare taxes and I don't even know, if I pass the tests, if I'll be eligible to prepare because I used the funds saved last year to pay our taxes, to pay hospital and doctor and therapist bills. The IRS lady was very sweet when I called to explain the situation (probably because it's difficult to be mean to a sobbing mother who explains that her daughter has become suicidal and all the money has gone to care for her needs), and gave me an extension until next month, at which point, if the bill is not paid, she will put us on a payment plan. However, in order to be cleared to register as a tax preparer, I'm not supposed to be in arrears on my own taxes.

This is just one example of the problems I'm currently wading through. I'm ignoring the other ones. My day consists of me looking at each item and then deciding if I can deal with it or not. If I can, I do. If I can't, it goes back on the pile to earn more interest or cause angry phone calls or just collect dust. I have never, at any time in my life, been in this situation, nor have I felt less capable.

For most of my life, I have lived a collection of wonderful days filled with minor ups and downs, interspersed with an occasional very difficult day. Now I have day after day of very difficult, interspersed with an occasional day of happy. On those happy days, I'm filled with energy, I get a great deal done, and I feel hope. But there are not enough of those days.

I read things about how one's outlook on life is simply a matter of changing one's attitude, or being grateful, or serving makes me feel sufficiently guilty that I wonder why I'm still trying. Except, sometimes when the world stops spinning so fast, I do feel happy and certain that somehow I'll figure out the impossible difficulties I"m now faced with. I'm not sure that I have a bad attitude and I know I'm grateful--the blessings in my life every day are genuinely beautiful. And I try to serve others. I try to help when friends are feeling sad. I do volunteer work a few times a week. I do things for my family and serve in my church.

I think everything is just going to take more time.

And in the meantime, I cry. A lot. I cry because I'm frustrated and stressed, and because I miss my daughter and this is not how I thought our life together would be. Sometimes I cry because I want desperately for someone to call or chat or just hug me, but then, moments later I don't want to talk to anyone and I feel there is no one I can trust and I'm pretty certain that loving me is impossible. And most of the time I cry because I'm just not managing PTSD symptoms well at all which leaves me confused and anxious.

I wish there was help for me, but I don't even know what that help would look like, nor would I dare ask for it because I'm pretty certain the burden of sharing my life right now is more than anyone should shoulder.

This is not a very fun post. But the good news is that I'm due for one of those rare good days and when it happens I'll talk about it here. Good things are meant to be shared.


  1. It frustrates me that people aren't trying harder to be understanding. Even if all they know about is the last four months, that is so, so much to deal with. I think you are handling it admirably. I'm glad that Tabitha is getting help. I hope you are able to work out the job with the IRS. I wish there were something I could do to help. If you think of anything, please let me know. Hugs.

  2. Thanks, Brozy. I'll figure it out. I always do. But it's an incredibly nice feeling to know you're on my side. :)