July 2009


I realized a long time ago that I was a sharp tongued shrewish type.

I don’t particularly care for most people and I don’t have a lot of patience.

Despite this, I have made a few close friends in my life.  Poppabear, Dawn, the kids…

As you’ve heard things have been tough, not terrible but tough in the last year or so.  And I had thought Poppabear and I had been doing fairly well at holding on to each other.  But I realized occassionally, I was not keeping up my end of the relationship, that I had withdrawn a bit, the stress of everything wore me down as much as it would wear on anyone.

So today I decided to do a few things, I bought Poppa bear a just because gift, and myself something to help me with another problem I’ve had.

I texted the man about an event today that I thought he should take the baby bear to.  Nothing in return.  Realized later that a friend of his has a birthday today.  Called his cell to inform him, no answer…called the house phone, thinking he’d left his phone turned off, a very common thing for him.  He called be back on his cell while that phone was in mid-ring and demaneded, in the tone of you’ve woken me up from a nap ”What do you want” I didn’t mention the text message, just about the friends birthday and suggested he go grab a gift, the friends house is on the way home from work for me so we could drop off said gift.

He gave me the ‘fine alright whatever’ brush off and as he proceeded to hang up I heard his angry plaintive whining “Fuck just leave me alone!”

I realized this has been happening, almost constantly over the last few months.  He resents any of my suggestions about what to do during the day to keep active, to keep his spirits up,…Because I did spend 6 years at home,…but that was by CHOICE.  His at home time didn’t begin as a choice.  Unfortunately, the Poppa bear has become discouraged I think, dispirited, whether he wants to admit it or not.  He’s getting comfortable being relatively lazy, though if I said that he’d fly off into a rage about me being so cruel.  I admit to being a perfectionist.  With he and I both working, we had a menu planned for the week, and chores divided…And we kept things together.  When I stayed home full time, Poppa bears jobs usually involved lugging heavy things, and taking out the trash or helping me reach those things I couldn’t.

With him home full time, I truly thinks he means to do things…and some days he does.  Dinner for instance is certainly one consistency of his.  But slowly our house descends, time and time again into relative trashiness.  I took pride in having a neatened up house when he got home, because he worked so hard for us…I wasn’t perfect, by no means.  But the pride he shows is only sporadic and I don’t think it’s because I don’t compliment him.

He and the baby bear both, have gotten so lazy and complacent this summer…its heartbreaking to see my dear poppa bear act like it doesn’t matter if he gets a job or not he’ll just ‘wait till something comes along’ I agreed to this originally because of the kiddo being out of school for the summer and now I think it was a drastic mistake on my part, that I didn’t push and support him enough.

All I know is that over the last several months I’ve found myself ANGRY with him,  and trying to quiet that anger, that some of it’s irrational irritation, not real anger.  But his repeated temper tantrums, the sullen attitude, the daily schedule that reminds me more of a 15 year old left to his own devices during the summer…the more I wonder where the strong man I married went to and how he let other people tear him down to the point that he lost faith in himself.

I’m angry and hurt and I don’t know how to help.

I don’t want the perfect life, that would be boring.

But I do wonder what karmic god or entity I’ve gone and pissed off so I can send a fruit bouquet in apology, and a pretty little card telling them where to stick it.

Poppabear and I bought a house 2 years ago, it wasn’t the best house, we knew that.

Within the first 6 months, we found the roof leaked, several windows leaked, the basement leaked….

We fixed the roof, finally, even with Poppa still looking for work, replaced a few of the windows, and are still fighting with the basement.  Recently it began raining from the pipes, not just seeping from the walls, so we had my brother redo our entire indoor plumbing, which sounds expensive but it’s the labor that’s expensive and when it’s your out of work little brother, you can get the labour pretty cheap, the parts ran up about $200.

It’s still raining.

So we had to pay a ‘real’ plumber, because my brother just doesn’t have access to some of the fancier tools, to come out and snake the main drain, which appears to be clogged with roots.  The plumber was nice enough to charge us a nominal fee, and suggested a chemical method of fixing this, that I would never have attempted with the old plumbing, that we hope will fix the problem without us having to dig up most of our front yard and finding out where the pesky roots are and having to replace the entire pipe.

That’s all bad enough but it just keeps rolling in.

(I think this clog in the drain is some kind of cosmic comics metaphor for my life)

Dad’s been laid off as well, his son the plumber has been laid off, now unemployment is denied to dad because of a Vacation check he earned through his union that’s paid 2 times a year… so obviously this means he doesn’t need any way to support himself.

His union won’t let him have his benefits, insurance and the like, because dad only has the hospitals birth certificate not the ‘official one’….

Which takes 14 weeks to get from the state dad was born in.

Dad’s getting kicked out of his house, because the person he rents from has found a buyer, which wouldn’t be such a big deal except he’s painfully broke.

My brother in prison has no more phone minutes, or money in his account for items from the commisserary…and none of us can send him any.

My job is in jeopardy, not because of anything I’ve done but just because the market is what it is.  I don’t know what will happen then but if I do end up losing this job we’ll probably have to consider Poppa bear taking on 2 minimum wage jobs in order to make ends meet, because he’ll earn better wages at those jobs than I would and I’m better situated to manage the house and keep things together for him while he works than if I were to be the one doing it.  It’s just how we are.

I know out there there are people with lives much worse than mine, people who’ve already lost their homes, jobs, loved ones…So I’m not mired in self pity…Just dipping my big toe into the pity pool.

 

Anyone got a floatie and a margarita?

I will never claim to be a good person, a nice person…but I do try to be an honest person.

 Some years ago I made a friend, Dawn.  And quickly, in that way that sometimes happens, our friendship became not just aquaintances, infrequent get to-gethers, random phonecalls, but a strong welcome bond that came from being mothers, of being people with conservative hearts and optimistic ideals that would seem to be at odds with each other and yet weren’t.

She was a ‘good girl’.  She’d grown up in a whole home, in a sheltered but loving environment.  Bad things had sadly happened to her, changed certain things about her but through that she had overall overcome them and become a strong viable adult.  She married her highschool sweetheart, her only sweetheart, and embarked upon the life of an adult.

When I met her, she was a relatively happy person, granted at the time their finances were in shambles but they were working to fix that - a common downfall of many of our generation and certainly nothing to be ashamed of-, they had three kids, and a fairly good life. 

And during the infancy of our relationship, I learned that her husband, while an exemplary provider…had taken a rather distant view of family life as a whole.  He was a sporty type guy, a real ‘man’s man’ and his boys were…a bit bookish, quieter,…different.  And his wife, while still very attractive and who took care of herself, was wrapped up in the day to day duties of taking care of the house and kids and those challenges that came with it.  He’s not a bad sort, they just fell into a pattern, he managed the money in his own fashion, went to work…and took care of most anything that involved ‘outside of the house’ contact.  Not because he sought to isolate her, I don’t think that in any way.  Dawn was dealing with unique challenges, one of her sons showed signs of Autism early on and with two other very young children, she was understandably consumed by these things.

 Unfortunately, it appears that these two grew apart without even realizing it.  The sacrifices they made were not only necessary but sometimes were made because they were easier than the work it takes to maintain a relationship to a certain standard when so many outward forces get in the way.  This trend has continued.  At one point several years ago, a few before we met, she sought assistance for her depression and rather than counseling, the MD gave her medications, which she later went off of due to the muffled dead feeling it laid upon her emotions.

When Dawn and I began our friendship, it easily morphed into a very constant companionship, we lived very close to one another and at the time were both stay-at-home moms.  When I went back into the work-force it changed, but only slightly, we could always make time daily to get together, for a quick cup of coffe, or even just a smoke break.  I began to get to know her eldest son, he was roughly 10 at the time…and I was frusterated, appalled, at the disregard he showed his mom, how he’d argue with her…and the tired beaten look on her face each time, she felt powerless and tired to really push the issue.  Generally this was because this is how she felt in dealing with her husband as well because she didn’t approach things as they were happening, she bottled it in (I’ve learned this is her usual coping method) rather than confront it openly and with suggestions on solutions, until she exploded, and then the confrontation would become more about her approach than the problem itself.

So, as a die-hard proponent of treating your parents with respect, and doing what you’re told, I would often step in, joking or even sharply and remind him that he was the kid, she was the parent and he should get to it.  This made him despise me initially, but at least it quelched the problem at least in front of me.  When he struck up a friendship with Poppabear, this change in attitude began to bleed into the normal day to day interactions…sometimes…at least, remember he’s now a teenage boy and still has the dismissive example of his dad.  Since then we’ve become friends and he is often a guest in our home and our outings.

I had hoped, vainly, as if I were important, that my advice on maintaining control over her kids, my examples…would help her take control in a situation that had so obviously overwhelmed her and compounded the clinical depression bouts that randomly desceneded on her.  Unfortunately, over the years, and as much as we enjoyed it, my time with her I think began to take the place of the companionship that she desperately needed from her husband.

I know I fell in love with her, and while she claimed the same sort of love for me, it was more the interest I showed in her, the time I spent with her that she loved, not me in a romantic sense.

Dawn had the unexpected surprise of a 4th child, and at first she avoided telling me, because she knew Mommabear was doomed to not have any more cubs.  We got past that I thought (though months later she admitted to completely hiding her baby-shower from me, thinking I would embarrass her in front of her ‘other friends’ or that my own jealousy would infect the festivities.  We discussed that and moved on, I was hurt but could see her point.)  During the pregnancy were the usual if higher spiking than normal hormonal rages and crying fits, the tiredness and so forth.  After there was the letdowns of postpartum depression that never really seemed to go away.

In the year leading up to the pregnancy, and during it, and afterwards, the signs were there…I missed them, her husband missed them, and she missed them.  She was slipping deeper into a heavy depression but felt powerless to do anything about it.  After the baby was born and life began a semblence of routine…it didn’t get better and the routine went awry…She was still a dillegent mother, making lunches, washing clothes, keeping house…but she felt hemmed in, boxed in.  Again I always tried to inject something ‘new’ a movie, tv show,.. recipe,…thinking I was doing the right thing.  And I was except I was the only outlet she’d found, and I didn’t do the right thing and encourage her to find others.  I was selfish with her attentions and enjoyments, I enjoyed showing them to her, spending time with her.

2 years ago there was a change in residences, common during the last of the house market boom.  If the evidence wasn’t there before, it very soon became glaring.  The frequent ‘naps’ that you didn’t begrudge her…she was after all running a very full house, became hours long dead spaces on the couch.  The baby, now quickly becoming a toddler, has the run of the house, of her own schedule, and most of all, what she will and won’t eat and when.  She badgers her mother, tantrums, screaming, …and simply being told no gains an angry response from the child.  Dawn simply moves forward and gives in, because it’s easier.

About a year ago, Dawn began to spiral, her moods were almost always black, depressed, angry, jittery, …unahppy.  And finally, finally, she made a scene that caught her husbands attention.  He navigated the insurance company and found a psychologist nearby and she began seeing this woman.  Dawn chose to go only once a month, and almost immediently also chose and accepted the referral to a psychiatrist to gain medication to help her get started on the path of recovery, to gain a modicum of calm inside herself as she sought to work forward with this.

Unfortunately, initially the medications were almost worse, she became manic, high frantic ups followed by sluggish heavy downs…and meds were adjusted, added, changed….

And this is where I would like to say that she began the slow, painful but rewarding and freeing path of recovery.  I can’t lie thoug.

 

Dawn hasn’t gotten better, I think she needs to make an effort to see her counselor at least every other week, because she bottles so much up in between sessions that she’s exploding the topical stuff each time but not really examining the roots…maybe she doesn’t want to.  I think at least the current medications are not the right ones for her.  I have watched her life, her family, and how they all act…She has no authority in her home, in her life, over her children…Her husband isn’t a bad sort but they’ve made it easy on each other for this to become the norm.  He loves her, but since she does everything he wants, bows to his likes/dislikes, and is always there to watch the kids, he can pretty much do what he pleases, he is the breadwinner after all.  And she keeps going, slowly letting her attention to the house and her children erode to the point of merely getting through the day…each day is a bad day, a blah day, nothing is worth looking forward to…

 She’s not a bad person, and I don’t think badly of her.

I finally told her today that I couldn’t help her anymore, that I was her friend, that I am here for her, but that the time we spend together needs to be pushed back, limited because I feel frusterated, that she wants help, wants opinions, wants advice, but never follows through, I related a direct situation this weekend, where I had attempted to instill a boundary with her youngest, who had been told she couldn’t have a treat and proceeded to throw a tantrum about it.  Dawn sat back and let me…and then 10 minutes later refuted it by giving the child precisely the treat SHE had denied in the beginning.   I told her how I felt like I was a band-aid for the time she needed to spend, and the things she needed to do with her husband.  That I was a panacea and an escape from the things in her home and life that she didn’t want to put the effort forth to fix.

I also told her to find a support group, talk to her counselor more, listen to those people who were trained to help her, trained and knowledgable and with the resources to really help her….but that it all wasn’t worth shit if she wouldn’t follow through with it and do it herself.

Dawn, should you ever read this missive,…I love you and I want you happy, wherever I figure into that, but right now I am not part of this equation.