Archive for March, 2009

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tender-hearted

March 30, 2009

I don’t think I’m depressed. I’ve been depressed plenty of times in my life and while the initial slide in is often enticing, I do recognize where I am pretty quickly. I’ve also got plenty of good friends to do outside spotting for me. So I don’t think I’m depressed, but I’ve had some crying to do lately.

Some of it was emotional exhaustion. Some of it was feeling like I’d been telling Lee the same thing over and over again and it wasn’t getting through (though I get bonus points for not crying when I told her yet again and she acted as if it was the most obvious thing she’d ever heard and didn’t know how anyone could disagree) and the added pressure of not wanting to cry in front of her because it unnerves her. Most of it was grief over pushing too hard for Ezra when it was clear it wasn’t right for us now, over wanting so badly to do something I couldn’t, over having to deal with two big Catholic families’ big Catholic funerals for my grandfathers, over just carrying too much and doing it alone.

I think those are all decent reasons to cry, and after a few other things fell into place the crying left me feeling better. I managed to make it to the cheapie outlet store and get us bags of clothes that will last us the rest of the year at least. I did read a little bit, though I didn’t really get much writing done. I spent time being sad and I think I actually got through it and am not sad anymore, which is sort of a strange though good feeling.

Today, actually, I’m in a great mood even though I’m back at work after a week off. But I’m still trying to put some systems in place that will keep me from getting so draggy and lonely again. I’m going to keep going to my knit group weekly. I’m still going to host our group’s subgroup book club once every six weeks or so. But starting tomorrow I’ll be back to taking bellydance classes after a year’s absence, and I know my back will thank me. I’m thinking I can do dance three weeks a month and then on the first Tuesday go to my local library’s book group.

I’m just really desperate for a chance to keep my mind nimble, talk to people about things that really matter. I need to be getting my body under control, although buying bigger clothes was a good idea, but the part that wears me out is having insufficient mental stimulation. Maybe I should do more crossword puzzles; maybe I should work more on my Spanish (hint, hint!); maybe I should be taking night or weekend classes at Lee’s school. I just know I need something.

And I need to be writing. Sometimes the blog is enough, and I love this place! But the more comfortable I get with words, the more I miss the ways I used to use them. I’m only active on one messageboard (totally not adoption-related) and it’s going through a huge shakeup now that might leave me with no real “home” there for a while. Obviously I haven’t been writing here daily when I don’t have daily things to say, but I do have something to say to someone or to myself, and I need to figure out how to do that.

Last night I read a book of essays by women about their relationships with money (and money’s impact on their relationships), The Secret Currency of Love. Since these were all women who’d ended up writing (or editing or something similar) and making money that way, I ended up thinking about that. My involvement with Lee’s students last week left everyone asking why I wasn’t a professor. I don’t know; I’d planned to be, but my advanced-degree-free job now pays better and I’ve told myself for so long that I’d have to be over my self-sabotage and stage fright and all that fun stuff before I’d even consider grad school. Or there’s my all-my-life dream of being a writer, which isn’t over now that I’m doing other things but is also not really where I see my life heading either, especially since I’m so obviously and deeply in love with parentheticals and digressions like this one.

So maybe I’m sad because I’m losing dreams, the dream of Ezra, the dream of me as a mother, the dream of me as a certified smart person, whatever it is. I’m not depressed, but I need to get back to thinking, writing, working on myself. I’ll see where I go from there.

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it probably goes without saying, but…

March 29, 2009

I also feel so incredibly fortunate that Lee and I both have stable, decent jobs and that we’re able to do affordably decadent things like have a weekend away. I’ve worked hard to get rid of all debt but my student loans, which won’t take much longer, and it’s been really exciting to see our bank balances getting bigger. So we’ve got money set aside for potential-child funds and also to get a new roof in the next few weeks and perhaps a shower for our bathroom this summer…. And we’re able to do things like have a little trip together, which is nice since all of our recent joint travel has involved dead or dying relatives of mine.

I do realize, though, that we’re awfully privileged to have these kinds of opportunities, and I don’t take them for granted. I’ve been upping my charitable contributions to try to make up for people who can’t, and I’ve been upping my savings just because it’s a wise thing to do, but when I talk about being lucky I’m very, very cognizant that one of the ways in which I’m luckiest is that for now at least I’m financially in a good place. I wish there were more people nowadays who could say the same.

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vacated

March 29, 2009

I’m actually glad I didn’t write a post earlier in the week. I was going to be all cranky about how I ended up working with Lee’s students or at her school for several hours on four of the first days I was off work, and how that was not exactly jibing with my plans to take long baths and read books. So we had one of those arguments where we’re both right, with her saying I need to prioritize my own needs (but also thanking me for helping out her students, whose presentation was much better thanks to my input and support because I’m just that awesome) and me saying that I’ve had a lot on my mind and I really needed a break and that I wasn’t getting it. Deciding not to move forward with Ezra was brutal for me and I needed time to grieve and I didn’t feel I was getting that, though I was simultaneously aware that you can’t just pencil in grieving time and have it work itself out that way. And I sure was ready to complain to my blog about how too many of my needs go unmet and I give and I give and I give and never get what I what in return. Except of course she’s also right that I make my decisions about what I do and it’s a balancing act on my part, with me often choosing to devalue what I want. I’m working on that, and I’ve also made the first step toward getting back into counseling with my old counselor, Keisha.

And then this was the weekend for our Sweet Sixteen college basketball trip. I took the animals over to a kennel we’d never used before but that seemed very good (and now that they’re happily home and napping, I can confirm that we were comfortable with the care they got, especially at the price) and then waited for her to get home from school. We threw our bags in the car, got out of town, and watched two fantastic games. I’m really not a sports fan, but it was great to get to feel the energy in the stadium, be excited that people weren’t allowed to drink there especially given how belligerent the one drunk guy in our section was, and then get the result I wanted in the very exciting and close game.

The plan was for us to go home the next day after I’d spent my regular hour and a half with Cyrus, but when I went back to pick Lee up she asked if I’d mind if she looked into what a hotel room would cost for another night there. So we ended up having what she considers the story of her life, getting a room in our lovely historic hotel that was both significantly cheaper and significantly better than the one we’d had the night before. And so we even went out dancing at a gay club, which we’ve never done before when it was just the two of us. The dancing itself only lasted maybe five minutes, but it was fun! And then we went back to the hotel and slept and slept and didn’t have any noisy cats waking us at feeding time in the morning! We spent a ton of quality time together and it was fantastic.

Lee paid for pretty much everything on the trip, which is unusual for us. But she was very much aware that this was a trip she’d wanted and that she wanted to do something special for me. While I’d have been happy to pay and did end up paying for the pets’ boarding fees and a few meals, I realized that she was doing exactly what I’d hoped, that she’d apologized for being somewhat insensitive to my mood and preferences and she was now also making an effort to show me her commitment to change. And it worked! I’m not sure if this is what respite is like, but it was absolutely what we needed to do to get out of our regular routine and do something special focused on making ourselves and each other happy.

We have another trip planned for next month, too. I really, really wanted to go to the American Adoption Congress meeting in Cleveland, but it was going to be a big expense and I wasn’t sure what Lee would get out of it. Instead, though, when our social worker Elizabeth sent us a list of trainings we could go to there was one scheduled for that same weekend. I have to register us tomorrow, but I think what we’ll be doing is spending a weekend at a retreat for nurturing and prioritizing our relationship through the adoption and adoption-prep process, at no cost to us beyond travel and pet care. It will let us meet other couples from other parts of the state going through what we’re going through, and after how difficult it was to deal with Ezra’s file and reconciling what we want, I think there’s no way we can pass up an opportunity to get strength and support from experts.

If I’d written this post earlier in the week, I’d have been pretty annoyed at Lee, and I’m willing to admit that. We had some silly, petty disagreements that I think were partly about working out all the annoyance and pain we have about the last almost two months dealing with Ezra’s file. It was so difficult for me to be in a position where I didn’t feel I could talk to her, and I think to a large extent that was the hardest part of the process. Lee doesn’t totally understand what I mean by this, but we were finally able to talk about what was difficult for both of us and how we can help each other better next time we go through this.

And I know I’m not the one in the relationship who looks for signs, but several expert foster/adoptive parents have written on their blogs in the last week about how they’d recommend first-time parents look at boys in their mid-teens. I think if I were any younger I’d just say there was no way, but at 29 I’m old enough I can sort of imagine doing it and imagining is getting easier by the day. So maybe we’re headed in a new direction, and it’s something we’ll talk about with Elizabeth when she comes over again in a few weeks. I feel so lucky to have so many options. I feel so lucky to have Lee here beside me, with us back in step and stronger than ever. We’ve needed this break from our normal life, and it’s done us a ton of good. I guess that’s why respite is so important, right?

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what the world needs now is love

March 20, 2009

Lee and I had a great conversation at a little local burger joint. I think not having to look into my eyes helps her. You’d think I’d have picked that up from years living with someone autistic, but it was a good thing to try. We got a lot of closure and talked about where we are and what went wrong in discussing Ezra, because most of the problem was that each of us could tell the other was hurting throughout these six-eight weeks and couldn’t get through.

One of the great things expert #4, whom I’m going to call Ian because we’re going to his birthday party tomorrow and he’s going to be part of any future discussion and plus I love him and he deserves a pseudonym, told us was that the reason expert #2 didn’t have good advice for us was that modern clinical practice has moved from looking at patients’ deficits to their assets.

I realized that Lee only looks at the deficits, in part because no file is going to say “Monday through Thursday he was well-behaved” or anything like that. Whereas I was looking at Ezra (and I swear I’m not still hung up on him in terms of thinking he’ll end up with us; I think it’s possible but not likely at this point) I was thinking, “Awesome, he wasn’t sexually abused! He’s making good progress in this home. He’s able to make attachments, which is fantastic!” But that’s not her culture or her perspective, and we both need to be aware of that.

I think we know ourselves and our perspectives better now. Lee has always been proud of being a glass-half-full person, but she’s been awfully negative lately (and it turns out we both suspect this is related to (peri?)menopause) and she wasn’t open to any positive readings of Ezra’s condition. She can’t take input for me because she can’t trust my objectivity, but she’s also so paralyzed by her fear that she’s not going to seek out people who can give her a more objective perspective. Now we know we can trust Ian, and we’re going to also rely on her coworker expert #1 (a married woman in an interracial straight relationship with two and soon to be three kids adopted from foster care) and next time also the experienced foster/adoptive mom who was the co-leader of our training class.

Right now obviously I’m writing here and Lee is grading tests and talking to me about it, watching basketball. Life is sort of back to normal. She regrets how emotional she was today, but I’m glad she took time to grieve and be emotional. We talked about the second boy and how scary he was for her, how maybe if she’d been scared like that initially she might have been more receptive to Ezra or at least where he is on the spectrum of behaviors. She’s still wondering whether there will ever be a child with behaviors mild enough to fit into our home. I wonder that too, of course, but we agreed that probably the best next step is to get some more education together and work from there. I’m just glad we’re a united force.

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aftermath

March 19, 2009

We just got home, and I’m hoping to hear soon whether my car has been fixed. Lee is in a horrible mood, which means she’s holing up in the bedroom and doesn’t want to talk at all. Even telling me that her soup was chicken-and-rice not chicken noodle was apparently a stretch for her, so I don’t think well be having many discussions tonight. This isn’t a bad thing; I know how she reacts to stress and emotions and I know how to keep things going on my end.

She wrote to Elizabeth and said that Ezra’s needs exceed what we can handle. I was a little annoyed with all the “we” statements since Elizabeth already knew we were at different places of readiness, but the truth is that even if there are things I could handle they aren’t things that we could, so I can’t complain about that. I’d asked her to also tell Elizabeth exactly what she didn’t think she could handle about Ezra so that Elizabeth could help us find a better match, but that was totally absent. Probably she forgot I’d asked this. I don’t suppose she’s emotionally ready to talk about it anyway.

And I’m not sure there is an answer about what scared her in Ezra’s story. She says “his behaviors just throw out a lot of red flags” but when pressed (last night and consistently throughout the process) could only name bed-wetting, which everyone involved attributes to the effects of a medicine he takes since he stopped wetting the bed for two years before picking it up again as soon as he was on this drug. Personally, I wanted to know whether he does display RAD behaviors beyond a little post-honeymoon meltdown in his current placement and whether he’s truly safe and appropriate with the pets in his current foster home, so I consider both of those red flags and maybe she’s just not mentioning them because she knew I’d brought them up with Elizabeth.

Anyway, without talking to me or anything she emailed the state head of placement to ask about a little boy whose photo she has always liked (I think he’s got some possible Fetal Alcohol features, but I’m always looking for those) and it’s probably a good thing she didn’t ask me since I’d have advised against it. We know our homestudy isn’t allowed to be out on two children at once, and so I’d want to just be prudent and make sure we’re disassociated from Ezra before we try to get our file sent to the workers for anyone else. Also sending our homestudy on a child is the kind of decision I wouldn’t want either of us making unilaterally, but I understand that she’s very hurt by how things went with Ezra and probably needed to feel like she was making a decision proactively that was her own. She always felt kind of left out because I could talk to the social workers about Ezra’s issues and diagnoses and I know the lingo and am comfortable talking about drugs and behavior modification and whatnot. So I recognize that what she was trying to do was make something about this process hers so she could feel better about what’s going on.

The state worker sent information to Elizabeth, who forwarded the non-private information about this kid to Lee. Lee wouldn’t even talk about this and just now let me read her email to see what was said. We’re now in the territory of the horror stories others had to tell me about the first kids they asked about. Well, not quite as bad, but pretty much all the major scary diagnoses are present plus violence and sexually inappropriate behavior plus considerably more placements than he is years old including many in psych units, etc. And this is all the information without details attached!

So apparently now we get to join the ranks of people who’ve been fooled by photolisting information! Apparently “bright” means “borderline mental retardation” and “charming” and “lovable” mean “extremely severe Reactive Attachment Disorder,” although I suppose “charming” could cover “manipulative” in there…. I’m not too surprised by this. I’ve been watching our state’s information long enough that I’ve seen how little the listings change over time (and that they’re still not being spell-checked) even while it’s safe to assume the kids are changing drastically. I read between the lines on all of it anyway, trying to parse what’s really going on. I mean, does he like to play with trucks because he’s developmentally delayed or because he’s been free for adoption since he was six and nobody’s bothered to take that out of his information? That kind of thing is totally normal, and I understand why it happens when the department is so deeply understaffed and overwhelmed.

But Lee is wiped out now emotionally. I think she thought she could get some happy resolution, some hope of a happy ending after our sadness over Ezra. And instead she’s getting, well, what I sort of expected for a large number of older kids waiting for homes, a child who’s been hurt and moved so many times that he’s really, really (and understandably!) broken and damaged. That’s a terribly sad thing, and it’s extra sad on top of the weepiness we’re both still having over saying no to Ezra. But I think Lee is really hurt by this, and unfortunately I know there’s nothing I can do for her right now except what I have done, remind her that I love her and support her and am proud of her and of our relationship.

I know last night when I was so upset I said I didn’t think we’d end up parenting. That’s one side of the futures I can easily imagine. Another, though, is that after looking around we’ll come back to Ezra, once Lee has seen that his issues — while on the outer edge of “normal”– aren’t so scary when compared to some alternatives.
I’m sure second chances aren’t usually allowed, but I can tell Elizabeth is being very understanding and trying to help us find our way. I wouldn’t be surprised if this were an option down the line. Or there are older teens, which I did mention to her in an email today. But those are the directions I see us going, though there could be a billion other options and I wouldn’t be surprised to turn out wrong.

I still feel very fortunate we’re working with such great and supportive workers. But I’m sad on my own because I’m sad, and also because the woman I love is really deeply hurt by this. I guess some of the hurt is necessary to get through this all.

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realities

March 19, 2009

There was a whole lot of crying last night, after which we both eventually got to sleep. Lee says this was the hardest decision of her life, and I believe it. She says she loves Ezra and just can’t see herself meeting his emotional needs. But this was really, really difficult for her and she’s suffering now. We both are.

Yondalla is suggesting we look at teens rather than younger kids (and in our state now, “younger” wouldn’t mean Ezra’s age but more 9-13 or so) and we may well do that. I honestly have no idea what our next steps are going to be.

The best I’d hoped for last night, though, was for Lee to say, “You know, Thorn is prepared to deal with these issues but I don’t feel prepared. What can I be doing to get myself ready?” And instead once again she basically said, “You know, Thorn is prepared to deal with these issues but I don’t feel prepared. And that seems really unfair! I don’t think I can handle this and I’d rather trust my gut than over-intellectualize like she does.” I’m being sort of unfair in saying that, but that was really how it came across to expert #4 as well. And if that’s where it stands, that’s where it stands. I was wanting too much and I’m often guilty of that.

I don’t really feel like I am being a great partner. I mean, I was hardly going to say, “Look, sweetie, you’ll parent a child you’re not ready for and you’ll LIKE it.” I love Lee and I want to be sensitive to her. I’m sorry all of this is causing her so much pain. She really wants to be a mother and really wants to do it this way, but the reality of doing it this way is also very painful for her. I don’t know a way around it. She knows I’m frustrated too. Right now we’re just stuck in the muddle, but I think talking to Elizabeth will help and that time will help. It actually feels fairly optimistic to say that. I can manage that much now.

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No on Ezra, probably

March 19, 2009

We talked to Expert #4 just now, my friend who was as charming and insightful as ever. He had fantastic input that we’re both going to take to heart.

Going in, Lee had said that she would take his advice and make her decision that way. I’m very proud of her that she didn’t. (Well, she saw his advice as negative. He sees Ezra as a six on a scale of 1=angel and 10=horrifically damaged and unparentable, but says that most kids in care are going to be an 8 or 9, having more issues than Ezra does. He thinks Ezra could do well, but that it would take a lot of work from us. He’s absolutely prepared to support us in whatever we do and had a great child psychiatrist recommendation.

But Lee was honest with him and told us what we could both tell, that her gut is telling her she’s not ready for Ezra. I think what we’ll do is let this rest a while, either talk tomorrow during the day or tomorrow evening.

I told her I want her to be the one to talk to Elizabeth since I’ve been the point person in all our other communications. That’s important since it shows I’m involved and aware even though I’d be a non-legal parent. But if Lee has issues, she needs to make it clear to Elizabeth just what it was about Ezra’s emotional needs that she didn’t feel prepared to parent and what to look for in another child.

Am I heartbroken? Yes, for Ezra and my dreams of him, sure. But it’s much better to go through this than to end up damaging him more by bringing him into a situation where we weren’t prepared to help him. But I’m also glad that we can get some closure on this (I guess, and I do still feel a certain amount of ambivalence) and move on to the next stage of whatever.

Honestly at this point I think she’s not ready to parent and we’re not going to be parents. I don’t know if that’s my sad gut talking or me again being disappointed that she’s underprepared, but I don’t know where she expects to find a kid with a decent IQ and no sexual abuse history who’s safe around animals and doesn’t have rages and has only minor attachment problems (and here I’m not listing Ezra’s issues; he actually falls into several of those categories) and I don’t even know what else. She’s not being reasonable and she’s not willing to learn what reasonable is. To me, that’s a big red flag that we need to stop and reevaluate. I wonder if part of this has to do with her own abandonment (she’s very hung up on the idea that it would be wrong and destructive to move Ezra from the foster home where he’s been for these last 3 years even though she also realizes the move is necessary and inevitable) and whatever issues she has about her own adoption, but I also know she’s not likely to address them any time soon.

I’m hoping Elizabeth can get us into the classes that would certify us to be a higher needs household. Lee was engaged and working hard on herself when we were taking the basic classes. I think it would help her to have more advanced ones. But I don’t know if saying no to Ezra for now means saying no to him forever. I hope he finds a good home. In my heart I do believe it could have been with us. He deserves better than what life has given him, but I guess that’s going to be true of every kid who crosses our path. I just wish it didn’t have to suck so much.

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travel & plans

March 18, 2009

Lee’s always dreamed of being a world traveler. We got to go overseas this summer to a European country with a phenomenal gay pride celebration that just happened to be going in the week we were there. We’re still in touch with our friends from the English immersion program we worked on. It was a wonderful experience.

Most of our travels since then, though, have been to our friend’s farm/winery about an hour from where Ezra lives and 2 hours from us or to visit my relatives, since we got to see each grandfather before he died and then there were funeral trips too. Oh, and we had an overnight in romantic Columbus, Ohio that had to be cut even shorter when my brother who was pet-sitting let our cat escape. None of this is exactly Club Med.

So before we end up parenting (and, uh, I’m just sticking in here that the Ezra decision will probably be made in the next 24 hours and that we talk with expert #4, whom we both love and trust, tonight) we decided we should do a little indulging since we’ve both taken care of our bills and debts to a point where we’re now finally comfortable.

To that end, we have tickets to watch a NCAA men’s basketball March Madness game. Lee loves basketball so much, and was a fantastic player herself in high school and college. As a result, March Madness is kind of a religious festival in our house, and I’ve even warmed to it over the time we’ve been together. I still don’t particularly care about basketball, but if I’m going to be sitting and knitting or reading I may as well have a game on too. It’s just good to see her so happy. So now I’m going to get to see her happy courtside and she’s really excited. It will give me a chance to make my every-two-months-or-so trip to see Cyrus, and I’ll get to see Lee having fun in the same weekend.

But since March Madness doesn’t do much for me, I’ve been pushing for a trip to The American Adoption Congress conference next month. It’s pricey, but I think I’d get so much out of it. Plus I’d get to meet some of my bloggy heroes, and probably other people who should be my bloggy heroes but aren’t yet. So we’re going to be running some numbers and thinking about whether we can make it work. And none of those decisions will get made until after I find out tomorrow whether my car won’t start because there’s something minor wrong with it or something major wrong with it. Sigh. It’s always something, isn’t it?

The other good news is that I’m taking next week as a vacation from work. We get a lot of vacation days because our parent company isn’t American, and I want to make the most of it. Especially if I end up having parental leave, I’ll have a hard time fitting in all my time off! So I’ll have time to decompress and take care of myself, but also I hope to get some spring cleaning done. And, um, maybe turn the spare room into a kid bedroom. I guess we’ll see!

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what’s up with Lee

March 16, 2009

I’m afraid in the last post I made it sound like Lee’s bitchy and unsupportive, which really isn’t the case. I know what she’s able to offer me and what she’s not, and sometimes what I want goes beyond what she can offer. (I think this has to do a bit with her attachment issues from neglect in infancy, but that’s just me. Basically what matters is understanding where she is and where she can improve, not knowing why she is the way she is. And I’ve done plenty of work on my own self too!) I don’t doubt that she loves me as well as she can, and she’s made huge strides in the past year-plus at being understanding, open, and supportive. Right now, even after a grumpy weekend for both of us, our relationship is the best it’s ever been.

But now she’s starting menopause. Cindy has been writing about how menopause causes an anti-nesting instinct in women, a need to take care of themselves rather than others. Lee was never much of a caretaker to begin with, but I can see a bit of that happening with her. Luckily she’s very self-aware and can tell me that it feels like she’s having really bad PMS. Generally I know how to deal with that to stay out of her way and get done what I need to get done and give her the space she needs while still making sure she feels loved.

Sometimes, though, I’m too worn out to hold up my part of the system. And, like this weekend, I end up needing to be comforted exactly when she’s needing to have time alone. There’s no good way around that, but at least my instinct isn’t to martyr myself and assume her needs are greater than mine. Instead, I’ve been going to her and saying, “Look, I’m feeling bad because of x and I’m going to need you to do y within the next few hours” and that gives her the flexibility to get herself mentally ready to do what I need without making it seem like I’m inconveniencing her. And if I could just get her to kiss and cuddle me when I’m in a mopey mood as much as she does the dog (or if I could get her to stop coddling the dog so much, which would truly be ideal) we’d be fine!

But basically I just wanted to say that she’s not being jerky or inattentive, but she’s got stuff going on in her own life that keeps her from noticing or helping as much as I prefer. When she understands what’s going on, she’s glad to help. When she’s got a job to do, she gets it done (which is why I’m not worried about her ability to parent). But her discernment just isn’t there when her hormones are in full bloom. We’ve got enough systems in place to catch and deal with this, but it is something we do have to deal with. And she’s certainly been informed that my participation now means she’s going to have to stick around to help me through my own transition in however many years it’ll be!

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grief etc.

March 15, 2009

I sort of ended up melting down last night, lying in bed quietly but being unable to stop crying. What I didn’t think of then is how good it feels that I don’t cry myself to sleep every night, which was my standard for years. Instead I had to sort of explain myself to a very sleepy Lee, who held me until I calmed down, and then I read for a bit until I was quieted enough to get to sleep.

I am very self-critical about even saying this, but I am stressed out right now. I’ve been trying to give myself lots of time to be lazy and indulge myself (long baths, sometimes even naps) because I need to grieve for my grandfathers, and I’ve been doing that. While it’s probably pretty obvious to everyone reading although it wasn’t explicitly clear to me until last night, I also need to grieve because this adoption isn’t going according to the little plans I had in my head. It was easy to understand I needed to give up control of how things should move, but I guess I’m not quite there yet emotionally.

So yesterday I had a sinus headache and ended up missing a trip to the art museum with friends so I could lie in bed and feel miserable and congested. Then Lee watched basketball all day while I did a little bit of cleaning but mostly not much of anything. She’s been in a bad mood all weekend and it finally came out when she was ready for bed, so I set down my knitting to go up and change the sheets to clean ones so the bed would be nice for her as something special to do because I knew she was feeling grouchy. She assumed I was going to bed myself and leaving my blanket out in the living room and my yarn spread around my chair, so she said some snippy things about how all she needs is ONE ROOM that’s tidy according to her specifications.

That’s not even why I melted down, but I just felt so overwhelmed, that no matter how much I do I’m not able to catch up to where I want to be. I weigh a lot, at least by my standards, and I haven’t been making the effort to eat good foods that will get me away from a 25 BMI and closer to the 20 I was at before the last year or so. And my back has been hurting and the season change triggers migraines as well as sinus problems, plus the time change has done a number on me. I know I get frustrated when my body feels unreliable. I hate wanting more from it than it can give, which is why I’m sitting on the couch now writing this with an incredibly sore lower back because I didn’t stop putting strain on it immediately when I should have this morning.

Basically I’m worn out. When Lee and I were interviewed about our adoption for the research study we’re in, both of us said that I do about 80% of the chores and she does 20%. Partly this is by design, because she makes more money than I do and can contribute more that way. Also, when we each chose the chore we hated most and wanted to give up upon moving in together, she ended up with vacuuming — which gets done increasingly rarely — and I have dishes, which means it’s pretty obvious if I’m not keeping up. We’ve talked about changing things, but I’m not going to hound her about doing chores in her own house. She, apparently, is still going to go after me if I don’t meet her tidiness specifications (which I think are incredibly extreme, but obviously it’s something that matters a lot to her) although she was sort of passive-aggressive about how she can’t tell me anything if it’s just going to make me cry, since she hates my crying. In general, it’s good that I’m clean (as in, I dust and make sure the surfaces all get wiped down) and she’s tidy (because piles of books really don’t bother me at all, even if their spines ARE facing opposite directions, so that’s not a task I’m going to gravitate to) because we balance each other. But when other balances are off, like they are in my life right now, it doesn’t help.

My job isn’t all that busy right now, but it’s steady. I probably should have taken a whole week off instead of just Friday. I might, actually, next week, though I’ll have to run it by my boss and there may already be too many people on vacation.

We’re not making any progress on talking about Ezra in a practical sense, though we’ve had some good conversations about more general adoption things. Lee has not, to my knowledge, read any more of her book since last weekend. She told me it was ridiculous for me to be grieving about the adoption not going as I’d hoped, but I don’t agree and she knows I’m going to feel the way I feel. Maybe I just can’t talk to her because she feels I’m being judgmental. I don’t know. I know she’s come a long way and that she’s being more realistic, but I also know that it’ll take a lot of work and finesse to get her to open up and talk about it, so I’ve been avoiding that since everything feels like work.

I just know that so far today I did 20 minutes on the Wii Fit this morning but then have still eaten pita chips with hummus instead of just plain fruit or veggies for a snack. I finished up the laundry. Lee decided to take down the ceiling fan in the living room without even asking me, even though it’s clearly a two-person job, and I ended up taking that over so it could get done right. I cleaned dog poop out of the back yard, which is when it was clear my back couldn’t handle any more. I’ve been working on a new book, since it was pretty clear I wouldn’t be able to manage a nap. I delegated dinner to Lee, though I’ll chop the vegetables for our veggie kabobs.

I’m doing things right, mostly, but I’m feeling exhausted and sad and overwhelmed. Maybe this is grieving; maybe this is normal. It doesn’t feel yet like depression, since I do know what to look for there. But it feels like exhaustion, like I’m overburdened. The answer might be to go back to the counselor I haven’t seen in months. Or maybe if I wait and rest it will become more clear.

I also trust Lee will be more helpful. This is something we go through often, where she can’t handle my emotions at the moment they’re strongest but then she’ll go out of her way in following days to try to cheer me up. I was proud of her for listening to me last night and for holding me when I was crying rather than trying to get away from me. I just wish I knew how to fix myself or what to change so that it doesn’t feel like everything’s on me.

And of course the subtext here and everywhere is that if I can’t handle this on my own, how on earth am I supposed to be a decent parent? I don’t know. Parents deal with sadness, loss, exhaustion, and they push on and keep going. I could probably do better then; I’ve always done best under pressure. But I’m not doing great right now and I hate that. I hate that there’s so much sadness in me now. I’m just trying to look at this as a chance to practice being kind to myself and figuring out what I need and how to get it. I don’t see what else there is to do.

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