Saturday, March 29, 2008

'The Man' Tales - Life's Struggles

And here we go again. If I look like I am struggling – I am. I have come to recognize these signs so clearly and I am sure everyone who has been reading along can as well. However, I’ll try to struggle through the fog as best I can.

To be honest, my memories of the next year are a bit blurry. Some events stand out more than others, and the memory of my reactions to them stand out even more. D was a long time recuperating from Mono. He slept – a lot. I am the first to admit that I treated him poorly. And why? I honestly don’t know. The times we had previously shared together were so full of love and the desire to always be together. Yet when I came home from work I railed at him over every single detail. I got to the point where I never thought about his being sick - I only thought about myself. And I am so ashamed. Given the chance now I would take it all back. I would shower him with love and patience. I would have nursed him through the months it took for him to feel ‘normal’ again. Instead I screamed that my supper wasn’t ready! I screamed that the house wasn’t spotless! I screamed that I was working my ass off and then coming home to what!

And still he stayed.

And he endured that abuse that I heaped on his head with a front-end loader. And he refused to fight with me when I attacked. And that only made me angrier. I wanted to shout and stomp about and hurl sharp barbed words that would cut and wound. And I wanted to win! But he never said a word. He would close his mouth and look at me with eyes that betrayed an inner sorrow. And it was that inner sorrow that I wanted to flay to pieces so I could claim myself the conqueror.

And still he stayed.

At work my mother mocked my relationship with a ‘kid’ and berated me for having turned down Cid. The constant belittling only stopped when computer work needed to be done and D was called in to solve the problems. Then he was great. D on the other hand, always treated her with respect and kindness and patiently taught her how to use the new point of sale system. I listened as he gently laughed at her comments about being ‘too old to learn to use a computer’ and got her to admit that she was indeed smart enough to learn. In time his student proved him right.

I was still working 12-hour days for my mother’s business on a salary that didn’t increase even though I consistently put in those kinds of hours. I was now supporting three people in a huge house that I was renovating. Fortunately my nephew was out of school and working and I didn’t have to buy his clothes anymore. But I still fed him and D who was unable to work. I felt like I was living in a pressure cooker and the release valve was beginning to jiggle.

I kept in touch with my friend who had lost her daughter. Conversations with her over the phone never failed to leave me in tears and I was shocked when she came to visit me at work. She had lost an incredible amount of weight and her face was ravaged with her grief. Yet her attitude had me puzzled. She giggled like a little girl when she told me she spent every day at her daughter’s grave and that she took fresh rose petals daily to spread over the spot where her daughter rested. One day she drew me aside as if she was afraid someone else might hear – and told me she snuck into the cemetery every night before they locked the gates. She then spread her sleeping bag over the snow-covered grave and slept there. Her words shocked me, yet I held her tight and sobbed along with her, my worry giving way to our shared grief.

Her grief weighed on my mind and I found myself crying many times for her terrible loss. Anyone walking through the mall could often find us clinging to each other as we cried and cried each time she visited. Eventually the extent of her grief made me call her husband and ask him if he was aware of what was going on. I had not wanted to do this as I felt guilty about betraying her trust, and I knew his own grief was overwhelming. But my friend’s mental health was now becoming an issue. It wasn’t long before D and I were visiting her on the psyche ward at the hospital. And even though she stayed less than a week – at least she was now under someone’s care. However, her grief and mental anguish clung to my shoulders like a shroud and I couldn’t shake it.


Living the Dream said...

How very, very hard to come to terms with the loss of a child. Thank God I have never had that experience, I just can't imagine. Your friend must be so pleased to have a friend like yourself.
I have no idea what is going to happen next with D or Cyd, lots of ideas but please hurry so we all know.

Mima said...

Ok, I have now caught up with the fact that this is your past rather than present, which was something that I missed last visit, so sorry if I sounded out of kilter!

Your friend must be very grateful to have someone who has been there for her through some very difficult times, and of course you did the right thing. Sometimes we have to make some very tough decisions, but I bet that she is thankful now that you were there and that you got her the help that she needed - she may just have been afraid to ask for help, or may just not have known that she needed it. We all need friends that are there for us in such powerful ways, and that we can turn to in bad times to help us find the way forward.

You write so beautifully, and as soon as I saw in my feed that you had updated I was over here like a flash to find out what was next, and I can't wait for the next instalement.

softinthehead said...

"I felt like I was living in a pressure cooker and the release valve was beginning to jiggle." Ioved this metaphor. Another great chapter, very honest, not sure where it is going though!?

dawn said...

Things can pile up until it feels we can take no more, just like you said, a pressure cooker. Sounds like a rough time.

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Poor you Aims, it still keeps coming, and you're still holding on somehow. So am I! M xx

lisa marie said...

wow, I can't imagine the grief she felt. I hope she is doing well now.

CrazyCath said...

That must have been so difficult to write. Hats off to you. I'm speechless. (Almost).

Don't you think that overwork, the pain and grief made you "put things in perspective" (even if that perspective was skewed) and consider "illness" as small potatoes compared with exhaustion and grief and mental anguish?

I hope D knows you would change it too if you could. But you can't. Don't regret - you did the best you could with the tools you had at the time.

Again, hats off to you. Well written. (You got me crying...) (but a smile here :0) )

Sweet Irene said...

Well, this is taking a downward turn isn't it? We are not going to live happily ever after yet. But then again, we only do for short periods of time anyway, don't we?

There is so much sadness in this post and the grief of your friend is very immense and painful to read about. I feel for her very much. I feel for you and D also and wonder where this is going to take the two of you.

It's a catharsis to come clean, isn't it? We've all failed miserably somewhere in our lives and hide our faces in shame. Facing up to that is quite heroic.

I Beatrice said...

It's very hard to know what to say at this stage - since anything one says now might bounce back at one very awkwardly later!

If you were really being as awful as you claim (which I doubt), then the only wonder is that he stayed at all..

That being said though, I reserve further comment for the moment.

Your friend's plight was harrowing however! And you were absolutely right to tell her husband about it. I can't help wondering though, why he hadn't noticed her absences at night...? But that's a minor detail in the wider, sadder picture - and I can only hope she has managed to come through it all by now, and pick up the threads of normal life again.

I can think of nothing more terrible in life than to lose a child. Especially when, as in the case of Madeleine McCann and others like her, the circumstances surrounding it are brutal. Grief of that kind is something which I can't even begin to try to understand!

I Beatrice said...
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Lane said...

It's difficult to know what to say.
The image of your friend sleeping on the grave is almost too potent to bear.

Now you and D? It sounds like you're heading for a meltdown under all that pressure but I'm not going to speculate this time .... just wait:-)

John-Michael said...

You have very effectively stilled and quieted me. I now ... wait!

Anonymous said...
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Daryl E said...

You were and are a good friend.

Breezy said...

Aims it's hardly surprising you needed to dominate someone after all you had been through and even then you were still there for your friend

Maggie May said...

To lose a child is the most tragic of tragic events & would send most people over the edge.
You write in the most beautiful & descriptive way.

aims said...

Hazel - My goodness but your whip is long...

Mima - Some friends are indeed extra special..

SITH - All will be revealed - I promise!

Dawn - It was a very rough time..

Margot - Trying to hold on at least..

Lisa Marie - She is much better - still sad - but better.

Crazycath - I am often crying when I am writing these...Most of my posts are quite cathartic for me.

Irene - See above.. :0)

Dearest B - I will comment more on her in the next post...and I for one don't want you to have to go out and buy new shoes and a hat...

Lane - I was absolutely shocked when she told me that..

JM - Wow! Quieted you?! :0)

Daryl e - I have tried to be one anyway.

Breezy - I understand what you are saying - but I didn't have to do it in such an awful manner...

Maggie May - I have never had children so I can't exactly put myself in that thought space - but I could certainly empathize with my friend.

travelling, but not in love said...

Hi Aims dear, Well it seems like it is all heading cyd-wards to me...but I'm not going to speculate (and be proven wrong in the end...).

I have sunburn today - in case you;re interested. Possibly the only person who got burnt by the sun in europe yesterday. typical.

aims said...

TBNIL - Oh dear! I'm sorry - but I laughed...

sexy said...