Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Topsy Turvy

Topsy Turvy
Originally uploaded by
Rusty Productions

1. With the top downward and the bottom up; upside-down.
2. In or into a state of utter disorder or confusion.

Sometimes we wish for the life we once had.

Sometimes we wish for the life we never had.

Sometimes we long for something different.

Sometimes we long to be someone different.

What do you do when your reality is so complicated?

What do you do when this is the reality you chose?

These past 24 hours have become so much more complicated than I expected. My youngest son is experiencing a significant manic state, that is extremely challenging. He's fine and calm one minute, then raging with anger the next, then oddly silly, then crying. I am well aware that most people who know my family are thinking, poor Dan, Remy got suspended again. Dan is having to miss work, and sit with Remy while he does his school work at home. I know that the school is thinking, we know that Dan will make sure Remy gets all of his work done. When he returns to school on Friday Remy will have had the loss of privileges, been given many a talk to, and Dan will be available to discuss a new plan of action in the classroom. I will go back to work, and my peers will joke with me about yet another obstacle the kids have put in my way, and how do I even manage.

Well, the reality is nobody really knows what goes on here but myself, and my kids. And just like my grief, many will say they understand, and will sympathize, but they only know what they think they know. Does that make sense? I have no idea how anybody else does it. How do they get up for work each day and face the fact that their husband or wife is there to nudge them out of bed? How do they manage to get through the morning with their kids who are not each on an individual medication regimen? How do they then cope with not getting calls in the middle of their work day because their kids are not suffering from the effects of, or their own, mental illness or substance abuse problems? You know, I truly am a compassionate man, and I really feel for them.

I wonder how many of the people I know are at home right now having their needs met as I write this. I wonder how many are screaming out in sexual ecstasy right this minute as I scoop up another handful of M & M's and take a big gulp from my glass of water. When they are done they will be wiping the sweat from their brow, fall asleep while feeling the warmth of the body next to them. I look across the room and see a single tea light gently warming the urn that holds my dead husband's ashes. How romantic. I suppose I could get myself off, then cuddle with Michael's favorite heating pad. Okay, I have already done just that on many occasions.

Tonight my daughter came in from spending the afternoon and evening with some friends, and going to her own therapy. She was talking with me about having very similar feelings today. She was really thrown off by her little brother's extreme behavior, and worried that as a family we would be going down the same path we did for many years with her other brother. She then shared her full range of emotions about the news we were given last night. Our family therapist, who has worked with her, and us as a family, for several years, is leaving the agency, and we will only have two more sessions with him. My daughter was saying, but of course this would happen to us. Why not? Everything that can possibly go wrong, or make our life just a little more painful or difficult has happened. She likened the situation to watching a heavy drama about a tormented and suffering family, where you sit and say "Oh my god, what a horrible life they have? Only, that is our family.

I could go into all the realities that make up my children's biological family history, but people would think I am making it up. I could bring up the surreal experience of watching their family history being broadcasted on national television, but nobody would believe that either. Yet, it did happen.

And never did I imagine that it would be my 16 year old bipolar son who would be the one who is completely stable and commenting on how difficult it is for me to parent kids with such significant issues. Never did I imagine that he would be connecting the dots as to what might be the reason for his little brother's destabilization.

It all makes me wonder, what the hell keeps me going? What the hell did I do wrong to be served this beautiful life? Why is it that my kids have to suffer the weight of such a horrible family history? How will they manage to feel happy, and successful in life, on an individual basis, while also being there for each other?

This is all getting fucking ridiculous. A couple of weeks ago I (and most other City workers) was served with a layoff notice. Everyone at work is feeling scared as hell. The plan is supposed to be that the City lays us off as full time employees, then rehires most of us back at 37 hours a week. All in an attempt to make up for the City's big deficit. To most of my peers this is the most unsettling thing they have had to deal with in a very long time. When they turn to me to get my reaction I just shrug. What do I care? Let them lay me off. Everyone else at work is coupled up, two incomes, and maybe one to three kids, or a pet here or there. What the hell will they do? I am the widowed single father of three children, suddenly relying on a single income, devastated by the loss of my husband, dealing with therapists, grief groups, prescriptions, bills, three income tax returns, a dog and a cat.

My 18 year old daughter looked at me tonight and asked, "Daddy" (yes, she still calls me daddy) "How do you do it?"

Can I tell you how many times a day, yes, a day, that I am asked just that?

I am no wise man. Nor am I any type of James Bond. I have no special tricks up my sleeve.

You just do it. Plain and simple. If life is shit, life is shit. Deal with it.

If life feels good, enjoy it.

This is what I've got. This is all I have. I can't waste time wishing I had some other life. I don't have the time to waste. And yet, sometimes I don't even care about what the next problem du jour will be.

I say, bring it on. Why not?

To answer my daughter's question: Why us? I say, why not us. We have no right to happiness. Nobody owes us security. Somebody has to be that person. Somebody has to be that family. Somebody has to lose their biological parents. Somebody has to lose their husband or step father. Somebody has to lose their job. Somebody has to lose their sanity.

Somebody has to play the martyr. Okay, I am laughing at my own comment.

When life becomes this absurd, you have to laugh until you cry. And when you are done crying, you need to get up off your ass and do something.

As for me, I'm going to do something right now.

I'm going to turn off this computer and go to bed.


  1. i am so terribly sorry you are going through all this on top of your sorrow. so many ask "why me" and none of us come close to understanding a comparison of how good we really have it until we hear or see others' stories.

    no words of empathy or compassion can touch, sometimes, on someone's feelings of despair. possibly the knowledge that someone else is now fully aware you are hurting will make you feel less alone. maybe not. maybe being told you are in someone's prayers will feel like a cool cloth on the forehead. i can only hope. it's all i have to give.

    we all say it, but do we do it, keep someone in our thoughts and prayers? i do. and you are.


  2. Amen. Nothing to do but witness it.

  3. I a going through some similar emotions. Hasn't my family already endured enough? When will the agony end? Why has our suffering been more than what others seem to have faced?

    In all this time I don't think I have any clear cut answers or received any advice that has really helped. I suppose my blogging was a way to try and obtain a clue to all of this. But six years down the road and I'm still searching.

    All I really know for sure though, is that when it is all said and done, we have to hold on to love and we need to hang in there for our kids because we are all they have. You and your children are in my heart and I am embracing you along with my own with all the love, peace and hope I can muster up right now.

  4. Sending you hugs, prayers and positive karma that things start to turn around for your family. I wish I had answers, for all of us. Why do unhealthy, miserable people still exist on this planet while our loving, wonderful husbands had to die? Why are you having to deal with so much shit? Ok, I'm yelling now and pissed off for you. Thinking of you and your family,

  5. It all makes me wonder, what the hell keeps me going?

    I wonder that for all of us. How are we to keep going? I can't add anything to what everyone has already written, but I can say that situations do change - unfortunately, not quite fast enough when we're feeling very beaten down. Perhaps there is hope in seeing that your 16 year old son seems to be managing the best right now -- perhaps he is the type of person who can really get his act together when things are spinning out of control (I have a friend who is very like that). Maybe he will be able to help the others in pulling together. Sometimes these hard times are a prelude to a time of easier sailing.