Originally uploaded by School Rocks 101
My brain is totally fried today. It has been an exhaustive week, as my son's moods continue to rapidly cycle. His doctor increased his dosage of medication, but it will take some days to take effect. Yet, in spite of all his inner chaos, he has accomplished quite a bit of school work. Of course there are always casualties in a week such as this, and that casualty would be me.
I'm sitting here thinking of the choice of words I just wrote to describe what my son is experiencing, "inner chaos." It is the ultimate challenge to be the caretaker of someone who is experiencing mental health problems. You never quite know where the line is drawn between the person's choice of behavior, versus their lack of control. Which ever way you lean in your observation, it doesn't really take away from the frustrations of trying to cope with the gamut of extremes. His inner chaos is my Achilles heel.
The challenges of parenthood are immense. The challenges of living through grief is immense. There is nothing like a double dose of reality to really set you up for a downfall.
Most of the time I would see myself as quite capable in these types of stressful situations. After all, I have had many years of dealing with the significant emotional concerns of my children. Yet with time I find that I begin to feel my inner strength give way, and I find that I am on the verge of snapping. This is when the calm and understanding dad becomes the screaming tyrant.
There were many times during these past couple of years as a caretaker to everyone in the household, that I found myself not only snapping, but breaking. I often wondered how others did it. I also wondered how many others had to do it. I don't like when my emotions get the best of me, but then I have to be realistic with myself, and recognize that I am carrying an enormous amount of weight.
It is times like this that I must remind myself that just because I can do it, doesn't mean that I have to do it, or that I can always do it well. If I try to do too much, whether I have a choice or not, I do run the risk of breaking. When you already feel like a broken man, you start to wonder where next breaking point is going to lead you.
I've watched my son's behavior all week, and have thought to myself, why can't I have a break down? Why do I have to work so hard to keep it together during all of this? It reminds me of something a grief counselor said to me one day at a support group I attended early on after Michael's death. I was talking about how difficult it was to meet the needs of my children during those awful early days after Michael's death. When someone asked how I was able to do it, I said that I had no other choice. That's when the counselor said to me, "Dan, you always have a choice. You could let everything fall apart. Others have." She said it was a testament to my inner strength. She was right. I wasn't going to allow myself to completely fall apart. I wasn't going to allow myself to neglect my children's needs. Yet, maybe I needed to give myself a break.
This is my Achilles heel. My own strength can be my own demise. If I don't find a way to give myself a break, then I will be broken. While I often say I feel like a broken man, I know that I am not. I am hurt. I am disillusioned to a point. But I am not broken. My heart is broken, but it will heal. I am sure of that.