Overwhelmed is how I feel. And it isn't even really because of Caroline, who is doing great. It is everything: from the state of my house, to the loneliness I feel and the dysfunctional relationships with some of my closest friends, to our tight finances, to being bored with this stage of my life, to the struggle I have constantly with feeling like a failure as a mom and a wife. I am probably a better mom than a lot of moms in the world, but it is very hard dealing with the repercussions of having a bipolar sibling played out in the personalities and behaviors of my other three non-bipolar children, which is sadly no small effect.
And there is the deleterious effect that raising a bipolar child has had on me. I am positive that I have PTSD from all of the years living in fear over what Caroline would do next, the school dismissals, the hospitalizations, especially the really bad ones, the feeling that I have so little control over my life in general as a result of being the mother of a special needs child. God didn't promise us a life where we would be able to have everything go according to our plans, but I do wish that I had some measure of control over the day to day stuff. I am interrupted constantly in my quest for organization and routine by the myriad of doctor appointments, psychology appointments, specialist appointments, dentist appointments, orthodontist appointments, pediatric appointments, taxi service for ballet, basketball, lacrosse, social events, as well as making time for people who want to get together with me, homeschooling and trying to do a decent job at that, crises that seem to pop up regularly with Caroline, and the list goes on.
I am weary, very weary right now of the craziness of my life. I feel like I barely have time to breathe. I think if I went out and got a full-time job and didn't get home until 5:00 each day I would escape so much of the household drudgery that I hate, but who would drive the kids to all of their practices and appointments? Who would be home during the summer when teens can get into a boat-load of trouble left to their own devices? Who would be home after school, during those prime hours when kids get into the most trouble without supervision? My kids would suffer. It is just a fantasy. If I could just get away for a me-time vacation, I would love that. I need that.
I think I am burned out. I am struggling a lot with feeling like I don't have the kind of authoritative role I need to have with my kids. I feel numb often enough that I frequently zone out when a child is misbehaving instead of dealing immediately with the situation. I don't resent Caroline for sucking us dry, it is not her fault. But I do wonder what God was thinking when he allowed her illness to present itself in such an unmerciful way that it has scarred my other kids and me and my husband as well. I have such awful memories of events I won't be able to forget.
I believe God is good, and that all things work together for the good of those who love him, but I don't always agree with his plans in the present. Not because I think He is wrong, but rather because I wanted a different life from the one He has given me, like the lives of my friends who have just two kids, no mental illnesses, no problems with paying for private schools, privileged to take family vacations several times a year, not worrying about how well one kid is going to do while traveling, whether you will have to cancel your plans because they are unbalanced.
I am not liking my life right now. But I don't want to play the victim card either. I have been thinking of the saying that if you don't like your life, then change it. I want to change it, but I feel somewhat paralyzed by the circumstances we are in. I want to say no a whole lot more often. I burn myself out fast when I volunteer for this and that or say yes to please someone else when I should say no. I am a people pleaser by nature, and that translates into resentment when my life feels like it is controlled by others, or my need to please them, or make sure they are "happy" and have what they think they need to be "happy." I don't deal well when I feel people are displease with me, or disappointed. I feed into other's addictions to their idols, when that is the last thing I really want to do.
I guess because I am 42 and life is looking much shorter than it used to, I am realizing that if I want my life to be satisfying, full of the things that really matter, both to me, and to God, then I must shake free of my prison of "shoulds" and decide to take steps towards my own healing and recovery. I made an appointment to day with a psychologist, one that my kids do not see, or that we have family therapy with. I felt I needed someone just for me, to talk about my struggles, the emptiness I feel so often, the disappointments of our lives, and the desire I have to make positive changes. I have several books I have started to write and never finished. I want to finish one of those books. I will be sad forever if I leave them undone, because writing is my gift, it is where I can unload and feel peace in the midst of the storm.
God is my peace in the midst of the storm and He alone holds me together when I am falling apart.