Tag Archives: Adoption and Depression

Emotional Confessions

Author’s Note:

I wrote this post at the start of the week after an emotionally taxing weekend. I wasn’t showing myself much grace; I wasn’t giving myself space to just breathe.

I’m on the upswing now with a lot of support and love from my village.

I sat on this post, changing the post schedule repeatedly. It was too raw; it was just too much.  I felt ashamed about my meltdown. I felt embarrassed about whining about how hard this journey is…a journey I chose. As I begin to feel better, I realized that I needed to just go ahead and put it out there, hoping that giving it air and light would validate the raw feelings of other folks who are struggling.

So…here it is. I hope my transparency makes someone who also feels these feelings know they aren’t alone.


As a parent, I would like to think that my good characteristics outweigh the bad. I hope so. I hope that one day, when I’m really and truly called to account for my many, many flaws, that the good stuff will get me through the pearly gates.

I have a terrible temper, seriously it’s awful. It makes me shake it’s so awful. I sometimes have a hard time controlling it. My preferred weapon is words. I will grind you right down; my anger makes me want to make you small with words.

I have the capacity to be really, really mean. I know this; I’m not proud of it, but I know this.

I’m passive aggressive, though through the years I’m managed to abandon a lot of those behaviors, but please know that they are still there.

I’m selfish, incredibly selfish. I like what I like and I don’t want to compromise or give it up or whatever. I often think about what I had to give up to be a parent, and I feel some kind of way about all of it.

My natural state is to be super blunt without care for feelings. I am a good Southern woman, though, appropriately brought up to mind my tongue most of the time. I try to mind my manners and demonstrate tactfulness, so the bluntness often appears dulled.

I am very comfortable with conflict. I don’t necessarily like it, but I am very comfortable with it and sometimes will trigger it just so I can use my word weapons and “win.” Why? Because winning makes me feel better about myself and sometimes I really just want to feel better about myself and sadly, winning a conflict, no matter how ridiculous, is the quickest way to achieve that.

At 44 as much as I try to continue to evolve, especially as I parent, I know that my personality is locked in. I am who I am. My dissertation was all about resistance to change; yeah, I am. I’m totally resistant to change. I hate change. I hate thinking about it. I hate the need to be flexible even though I promote it and have to practice it for everyone’s well-being. I don’t want to.

I liked the old me and I’m not so sure that I like the parenting me. Actually, I’m sure I don’t, which just makes me feel awful. I love my daughter, but I’m not a huge fan of this parenting thing.

As I think about these flaws, I wonder what the hell made me want to be a parent. Seriously, talk about the most-long term triggering activity one could sign up for. I mean…seriously, parenting…while it brings out the best in me; it also brings out the absolute worst in me. I spend countless hours biting my cheeks trying to hold my own dragons in check.

Hope knows that biting my cheek is my anger/anxiety tell. She learned that early on. She also knows I have a wicked temper. She’s been subjected to the brunt of it a couple of times. She knows that I have the capacity to destroy her. It’s the truth, and it’s a truth that shames me. emotionally.

Our mutual knowledge of this fact terrifies me. I try so hard to build her up knowing that a horrible bout of anger and frustration could bring it all crumbling down. Knowing that kills me; the guilt…is…crushing.

Daily, especially bad days like one I had recently, I wonder if I was the best home for Hope. I think she could have done better. I wonder was this route right for me? Could I have led a child-free, but happy and fulfilled life? There are days when I wonder if I’m just making things worse for her, in spite of the permanence she desperately needed—is this really what was best for her?. I wonder a lot of things.

It’s taken me years and a lot of therapy to face my own deep seated flaws and I had a “conventional, normal” upbringing. Will the glare of adoption ever dull and allow me to just be a regular old parent? My flaws, while still bad, don’t seem so drastically horrid, under the softer lighting of parenting with no adjectives.

I’m struggling with my own identity as me and not ABM or Hope’s mom. I’ve been so consumed with trying desperately for Hope to be successful that my own personal goals and successes have fallen by the wayside. I’ve had two major work publications come out in the last two months. I barely acknowledged them even though they are the culmination of years of work. I have withdrawn from friends because I’m “busy” making sure geometry homework is done, chemistry quizzes are taken and A Brave New World gets read. I spend an absurd amount of time monitoring the general comings and goings of online behavior because…distractions are bad and ADHD teen life is stupid.

I’m going through the motions just trying to keep my own dragons at bay while I tend to Hope’s dragons.

I’m tired, so very tired, and I suspect falling back into my old chilly friend, depression. I’m sure that my self-care game is weak right now, which allows the time and space for my flaws to step to the forefront.

Hope and I remain hopeful, but right now it doesn’t feel like hope bears out. She insists that the world is against her and finds the tiniest evidence that fits her world view and magnifies it into a universal conspiracy against her. I keep hoping that overnight her limitations will disappear leaving me with expectations that are routinely unmet making me frustrated, angry and disappointed in me, her and the world in general.

We are doing everything we are supposed to be doing. I am marshaling every external resource I can. On the outside, we are doing it, but behind these doors, we struggle. We struggle day in and day out. We struggle with our individual flaws, our individual limitations, our shared problems, and ranges of emotions that are just…overwhelming and exhausting. Some days, we struggle just to stay alive. And it’s rarely seen under the carefully worded and curated social media posts. It’s rarely shared because the glare of judgment is likely to just sear a hole through me.

And I’m afraid. As much as my own self-criticism and loathing bring me down and the fear of external judgment paralyzes me; I’m most afraid of Hope’s view of me. I am terrified of what she must think of me. I know she loves me, and I’m sure there’s a healthy amount of “I hate you!” because she’s a teen girl, but critically, I fear her perception of me as her adoptive mother.

I’m afraid as I listen to adoptees talk about what works and what doesn’t that Hope will one day tell the world about all of my shortcomings as her mother. Will Hope be hypercritical of me? Will she spend these latter years of adolescence thinking that I was a failure as her mother? Will she be on social media talking about me badly? Will she write lists enumerating all the things I should’ve, would’ve, could’ve done despite what feels like the sacrifice of the very core of my being and the need and desire to suppress everything I ever thought or thought I knew about parenting to parent her the best I could?

I’m mindful of the pain I caused my own mother as I often wrote about her in the beginning of this journey and my disappointment and anger towards her for how she “treated me” in the early months of my journey with Hope. It wasn’t pretty, and it should’ve been private, but it wasn’t.  Will Hope look back on these years with righteous anger about all I did wrong when I was trying desperately to hold on and do right by her? How will she see me? How will she see us? I already know that I live in the shadows and shoes of those who came before me and that there are romantic notions that I will never be who they were or could have been. I acknowledge that but I do wonder, five, ten years from now, will Hope know how hard I tried to give her the love and life that she deserved?

Parenting is so very hard and it magnifies all of your flaws. Parenting a kid from a hard place with a ton of her own baggage…it’s another level of crazy.

Ultimately, my confession is that I have no idea what the hell I’m doing and I’m desperate not to screw up. I feel like every personal flaw is on front street and out of control right now. I feel like I can’t get anything right and that I can’t motivate, coax, drag, pull, prod, cheer, nudge or pray Hope into the success she deserves. I’m back to wanting more for her than she wants for herself, and worse, I love her so much that I now own that failure, and I know somewhere, somehow that she and others probably think I own that self-hate too.

It’s just too much.


Failure and Forgiveness

Recently I was coaching another new parent through a rough moment with her new kiddo. I told her it was normal to feel some resentment about how much her life has changed and how hard her new life was trying to parent a kid with a traumatic history. It’s normal to reminisce about how good and easy life was before, and to feel angry and guilty for going down this raggedy path. It’s normal. Other parents told me, and I know it to be true.

She asked me if I had forgiven myself for doing this to myself, for making my life hard and sometimes miserable.

Sigh. Well…

I told her that I had come to realize that forgiveness isn’t an event; it’s a process. I told this new parent that I have to work hard to forgive myself every single day, and even sometimes a few times a day. I found myself sharing that concept with my fellow blogger, MyPerfectBreakdown, less than 24 hours later.

Sometimes I also have to work hard to forgive Hope for just being Hope.

And some days I fail at forgiving either of us at all.

I failed this week.

For the last few months I’ve been planning to slip back into my pre-Hope life by planning a vacation for us on Martha’s Vineyard. I splurged on a rental for a week. I smiled when I thought about how much I loved the quaint little shops, how I would fix myself a fun cocktail and sun myself on the porch or at the beach or at a pier. I was so excited.

And. Then. We. Got. Here.

And. It. Has. Been. Miserable.

It’s an old house, with lots of character and full of history. It’s been in the same African American family for close to a hundred years.

But none of that matters because Hope only sees an old house that has creaks and crevices with bugs. She has complained nonstop. She has dragged her feet and did nothing yesterday that would advance her movement with any swiftness. It actually took her 7 hours to get ready to go anywhere yesterday…I mean I know we are on vacation but her shoes weren’t even tied when she *finally* emerged. I had had 7 hours on a slow boil. And there’s the bug thing. I know she can’t help being afraid of bugs. I know. But dammit if the fallout post bug sighting doesn’t piss me off. I mean, it’s really dramatic and while I know there is a genuine physiological component, I think she amplifies things for even more attention. It is really, really extra.

And day one of my fantasy vacation ended with me flinging myself across my bed and sobbing loudly for 20 minutes, all the while wishing I had left her with somebody…anybody back home.

Yesterday I didn’t forgive myself for this life change. It’s hard and I’m struggling with her. I love Hope maddeningly but I don’t like this life very much right now.

The truth is that I’ve been kinda miserable for months; there have been punctuations of happy in there, but really, life sucks more than it doesn’t.

And Hope knows it. That makes me sad that she knows how miserable I feel. She often will comment that she messes everything up when I get upset. She doesn’t, but she seems *so* unaware and/or incapable of doing anything different so we always end up back to the same struggle.

I’m so tired. I’ve spent a fortune for this week and on top of everything else I feel fat. I just want to relax and enjoy some quality time without the drama.

But I bought the drama with me, and I kinda regret it.

So tomorrow, I will try again, to forgive myself for making my life so hard, for still having expectations that can’t or won’t be met, for being angry with Hope for all sorts of things that she can and can’t control, for not fixing myself that much needed rum and coke today, and for the guilt that I pile on top of all the other tough emotions that I feel thanks to this adoption journey.

I’ll try again today and tomorrow, and the day after that because I know that I have to chase forgiveness down and essentially make it my beeotch, every day.

I hope today is better.


Fighting Depression

I’ve really struggled the last few months. It’s easy to look for external triggers for the struggle.

Spring blossomed and things that fly…well they started flying again, triggering Hope’s bug phobia. The schedule was crazy. We initiated a medication change for her that we were getting used to. Her anxiety was running high because of a general fear about high school. We’ve been dealing with a lengthy resolution to a criminal case in which Hope was a victim. Work has been insane, and I’m being heavily pursued for a new gig in another state. Yappy had puppy school every week at 8pm.

All the external stuff was really, really extra, and I spent a lot of time focused on it all because it all demanded my attention.

Oh and then I was just generally upset by the constant issues and images of Black folk trying to live and being impeded from doing so.

On a Monday a few weeks ago, I found myself crying and I couldn’t stop. I mean I just could not stop crying.

I was sad.

I was in a state of despair.

I wanted to just lay in the bed; getting up felt like it took all of the energy I had.

I found joy in nothing.

I was always irritable and snappy, and Hope was increasingly reacting to my bad moods which just made our relationship that much more strained.

I felt like a dark cloud was just hanging over me.

I finally made an appointment with my internist, who sat back in his chair and let me cry and sob for 15 minutes. Then, he handed me his handkerchief and started talking about the need for medication to help me get myself together.

I was anxious and depressed—not just sad, but clinically sad. Somewhere along the way I fell off a cliff and was just free falling, and I didn’t realize it.

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Depression is an effed up thing. I have struggled with it off and on for years. Usually I can see it coming, this time I didn’t. It makes me sad because it’s another sign that I haven’t done my best at self-care, but more concerning is that my depression had a chilling effect on Hope. I regret that. Not in a way that I’m beating myself up over, but I still regret it because it’s another little thing I need to bounce back from.

Resiliency is still an issue for me.

Parenting is a tough business. Parenting a child who has experienced trauma is…especially tough. Sometimes it feels like you’re just looking for puzzle pieces in the dark. You need the pieces to help put the kid back together, but you’re looking for them with no flashlight.

It’s kind of easy for the dark to consume you when you don’t even have a flashlight.

Beating back the darkness is actually the most important thing right now; actually it is more important than getting the parenting thing just right. Fighting the darkness is essential to both my and Hope’s survival.

It’s been a few weeks since I hit that low spot. I’m feeling much better now. I’m on the mend, on the upswing, if you will. Pharmaceutical help is a beautiful thing. It’s unfortunate that dealing with mental and emotional issues is a taboo thing in communities of color. If you need help, get it. I could sit around and do that “strong Black woman” thing, but Hope and I would both continue to suffer. I think getting help is a better demonstration of strength.

So that’s what’s up. I tripped and fell into a bit of a hole. I am fighting depression. But I’m climbing out and stepping back into the sunlight. And it feels good.


The First Year

The last month or so has been really challenging for me. Certainly I was struggling with self-care, but it’s more than that. I realized over the last month that Hope and I were entering a new phase, and I am having trouble adjusting to our realities.

I remember reading, what seems like an eternity ago, how you go through the honeymoon phase, the rough phase, a smoothing out phase and then, potentially rougher phases.

I think we’ve hit a rougher phase. And I think we’re both just roughing it.

I am realizing that so much of Hope’s challenges are largely invisible. Sure, she has some physical scars, but the emotional, psycho-socio scars…they are so hard to tease out sometimes. It’s easy to forget they are there sometimes until denying their existence is simply impossible.

Nearly 18 months of love, therapy, medical help, stability, routine, hard fighting, and it’s finally safe enough for Hope’s deeper issues to show themselves.

That’s a huge win to celebrate on the anniversary of our finalization, even if it doesn’t feel celebration worthy.

It’s kind of like opening the closet and finding one of the lighter Stephen King stories.

And interestingly, I feel more alone than ever in my on ground life, save for my most amazing couple of lifelines. You see a year after finalization and nearly 18 months after placement we couldn’t possibly have problems, right? Nope, no problems here.

I just lie and say we’re doing great, perpetuating the myth that post-adoptive families don’t struggle.

I was doing some reading this week about parental expectations, ahead of the recent episode of Add Water and Stir; the articles I covered explored adoptive parents’ emotional health. General findings were that APs with misaligned parenting expectations were at greater risk for depression, lower resilience, more challenges in bonding, and an extensive list of other depressing ailments, which all in turn trigger more challenging behaviors from adoptees. And the cycle continues.

Just awesome.

Oh and did I mention that most of these studies were done two years post placement and/or finalization? Hope and I are only 1 year out and these last two months have me feeling like I’m clawing my way through life.

Sigh.

Now I know those studies don’t *have* to apply to me and Hope, but I am increasingly aware that my expectations of parenting and of Hope are just…just off.

I thought they’d be more realistic after our first year together.

They are better than they were, but I’m thinking they aren’t as low as they should be.

Yesterday was my and Hope’s “gotcha” anniversary. It’s beautiful, but it’s also bittersweet. We kept things fairly low key with manis, pedis and brow taming, dinner and dessert on Friday and dress shopping today for the 8th grade dance yesterday.

Shopping for the dress was such a nightmare that she asked to stop shopping, and I silently cried on the way home. Oh and we left the mall with no dress and Hope debating whether she should even go to the dance because she is ugly with no friends and no style and it will probably be awful anyway. No one wins.

Lately I’m crying almost as much as I was right after the initial placement. I’m feeling not very attached. I’m not even wanting to hang with her as much. I’m just having trouble dealing to our normal right now.

Yeah, this is our normal, and it kinda sucks. My kid doesn’t have many friends; she runs them away. She doesn’t get invited to anything; she differentiates the group she hangs with from school as just being that rather than true friends. But the kids at the new church? One couple hour block of hang time, and they are friends. I hope they become friends, but it concerns me that she thinks they are already friends.

I had and have so many hopes and dreams for us, together and separately, but I think they may just be too much. I’m trying to let go some of those hopes and dreams because I am not sure Hope will course correct, whether I can get her there (wherever there actually is), that I can be emotionally ok with not meeting milestones when they are supposed to be met, that I’m terrified about what the future holds.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been so pessimistic about the future, even if I do believe we will make progress. It all makes me so very sad. Really it’s grief.

I’m disappointed that commemorating our first finalization anniversary turned into something that brought in the gray clouds. I’m hopeful that the coming weeks will bring more sunshine. I’m hopeful that the coming year brings more progress.


Weekend of Respite

As planned I booked the sitter and a hotel room less than 5 miles from the house and fled for some much needed respite this weekend. In fact by 8:30pm each night, I was sitting in my jammies, swigging wine from a bottle in my room, contemplating my bedtime.

I slept about 10 hours the first night. I walked 3 miles the next morning while shopping. I slept 3 hours this afternoon—like back in the bed, under the covers, knocked out napping. I hit the elliptical for 45 minutes that evening. I ate carry out from Whole Paycheck [Foods], and, yes, drank wine straight from the bottle.

Gosh I needed that. I called Grammy the first evening and when she heard I napped she exclaimed, “That’s not even in your nature? You don’t nap.”

Yeah, I know. I’m exhausted.

I’ve noticed a few things while on this mini getaway.

I eat horribly when I’m stressed and exhausted. No wonder I’m at my highest weight ever. Ugh! I actually listened to my twisted mind tell myself I deserved a bunch of fatty foods (tasted good though). Today I started the Couch to 5K program. Let’s go.

My carpal tunnel has progressed to the point where I need to seriously consider surgery. How did I ignore the weakening of my hand? I mean, it’s really, really bad! Calling my doc this week.

I am really tired, like really tired. Must go to bed earlier.

The moment I get away from Hope, I actually miss her. Not enough to run home, mind you, but I do miss her, and I miss Yappy too.

I miss her but I know she was fine. I know because she texted me like 18 times and called me once. She was irritated because I could not resolve her minor problem, and she sat in silence on the phone furious when she realized that I was not going to hurry home to find the key for the bike lock. Nope, Hope, not gonna do it.

I was proud of myself that I did not buy her anything while out shopping. Admittedly, I saw a bunch of stuff I wanted to scoop up for her. I mean, the 8th grade prom is coming up! But nope didn’t buy her one thing.

I took care of me this weekend. I need to do this more often. I really do.

I see how parents get so run down; parenting, working, and running a household is exhausting. I like to think I keep up with a lot of stuff, but I forget all kinds of things—like Hope’s sports physical this past week. It didn’t make the master calendar and thus in my mind did not exist.

Cooking, cleaning, running errands, paying bills, packing lunches, emailing teachers, figuring out birth family stuff, figuring out adoption stuff, therapy appointments, medication management appointments, puppy school, band concerts, and oh yeah, my job!

I swear I don’t know how it all gets done because this isn’t even close to being an exhaustive (ironic) list. I often think it probably isn’t that much easier with a partner, but it seems like it certainly would help.

It’s hard to believe I did a better job of having respite last year than I have done this year. I can only say it’s the curse of being post-finalization and having some belief that things are “fine” now.

They aren’t.

Weekly, when I’m mindful, I see the evidence of Hope’s challenges, and although we have come a long way; there is so much further we must go.

I’m going to have to take a better care of myself if I’m going to help her face her challenges.

Two broken wheels on a bike never makes sense.

So, I’m hoping to really care for myself this summer. I’m going to try.


Recognizing Progress

So, this past weekend I hit the wall. Hard. A dirty food container sent me careening off the cliff of parental crazy.

Totally lost my ish. Parenting swagger went right out the window. It was terrible. And I kinda felt bad about it; note that I only said “kinda.” I did not totally feel bad about it.

I have been incredibly patient with a bunch of crazy ish that Hope and I have endured lately. I kinda knew there was risk of me totally going off. It was epic, kinda like the New Year’s meltdown during which I damaged my vocal cords so badly I could hardly talk for a week.

At one point Hope threw her reliable taunt, her trump card: “I wish I never moved here,” Girl, whatever. I replied “I love you but some days I wish that too.” #boom #didIsaythatoutloud #notmyinsidevoice

Credit: giphy.com

Credit: giphy.com

Yeah, that’s how we got down on Saturday. Ugh. I did yell this time, not as much though. #improvement And I took 2 hours to cool off before going to talk to her calmly about the issues. Then I left the house for another two hours to go do some shopping and run errands.

This was not how I planned to spend my weekend. I’m pretty sure it is not how Hope intended to spend her weekend either. I prepped dinner and well, what’s the rule? Don’t go to bed angry? #thatscute

Yeah, eff that. Saturday I realized I gave all I had to give; there was nothing left in the tank but reptilian brain functionality. In other words I was only capable of being pissed. Instead of yelling I just went into Elsa mode.

Um, yeah, she had to be

Um, yeah, she had to be “color corrected.”
Credit is embedded.

Minimal speaking and the provision of basic necessities. I signed progress reports, prepared meals, visited a new church (including acting like Hope actually belonged to me, which was a serious effort in grace and charity, since I *literally* wanted to drop her off at the local Goodwill).

Sunday was still frigid.

Monday, I was still frosty, and Hope was running so late that she didn’t have time for breakfast so she picked up the lunch I prepped for her and we said nothing more than good bye, have a good day. I cooked burgers for dinner and hid my nose in the latest US Weekly while poor Hope tried several times to initiate conversation.

“Would you like to see my new band T-shirt?” Nope. “Sure.” Looks at shirt, nods.

“Ms. D says I’m distracted in math because I and sitting next to [her crush du jour].” “So change seats if you know this is a problem.”

“(Very dramatically) I’m sooooooo tired. I mean, I’m exhausted. I think my head feels hot.” “You should go to bed early; SOL testing starts tomorrow.”

And she did. In bed at 8pm. Not sure if she cried, but I know she was sad and the slightly recovering parts of my scattered mind thought to console her and warm my heart. But my reptilian brain convinced me I was fine and she was fine. I made sure her alarm was set, and I fetched myself a glass of pinot and the remote to watch Love and Hip Hop: ATL.

I ain’t checking for Hope.

And as other brain functions return, I know I should feel some kind of way about that, but don’t bother guilting me about icing my daughter out. As I sit here 4 days later, I still am having a difficult time turning on the functional systems necessary to be warmer. I simply do not have the capacity for more than minimal interaction or base level care-taking.

I am empty.

I remind myself a lot of Hope when she first moved in and was so overwhelmed. I simply cannot tolerate more. The thought of attempting a meaningful conversation has me reaching for the Ativan to stave off a panic attack.

I begged the sitter service for a sitter for this weekend. They found me one. So I’m booking me a hotel, and I’m flying the coop for two nights. I did not even invite Elihu because I don’t want to consider another human being’s needs for these two nights.

So, while I’m down for the count, I get a call from a new parent with my agency. She’s a little more than 3 weeks in. She’s still at the stage where you’re counting the days, minutes, seconds. She’s still at the stage (for us singles at least) where you take your calls in the furthest bathroom in the house, in the shower, kind of whispering because you are convinced that your new child has super power hearing and the punishment of finding out that you are talking about her is too great to even consider.

She’s sleep deprived, teary and just deep, deep in the throes of a new child figuring out how to function in her new surroundings with the rudimentary skills she has.

We talked for an hour, about all kinds of stuff. I pulled out my best parenting swagger guidance. I pep rallied. I encouraged her to adopt my devious/creative parenting philosophies. #getgullywithit

I admitted that nearly 18 months after placement I wasn’t white knuckling it this week. I had actually dropped off the face of the cliff.

Admitting it was liberating for me, even if it is an uneasy admission that all’s not well in the kingdom. Time heals; it really does. But this ish is really hard. Teen issues are hard. Adoption issues are hard. These jokers together, overlapped and conflating is sheer madness.

But, I’m not hiding in my shower anymore. #PraisetheHolyHomeboy #wonthedoit And I know that there is life over the edge. I’ll be ok. Hope will be ok. We’ve actually survived way worse. Hell, we’ve survived nearly 18 months. Sometimes the Holy Homeboy sends you someone who mirrors your previous struggle just to remind you of how far you’ve progressed in that struggle.

This hiccup will pass. Of course it will pass with me in a hotel with luxurious bedding and room service while binge watching Vikings this weekend. I love Hope but I still need to get away from her for a few days. I think I’ll also treat myself to some new jammies, luxe of course!


The House of Melancholy

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There is a sadness over Casa d’ABM this weekend. The Furry One is essentially near the end of life. His recent decline has been rapid and heartbreaking. I have had my beloved fur ball since he was 8 weeks old. He’s been my constant companion and unconditional love for a very long time. It is one of life’s tragedies that our animals do not share our lifespans. These are The Furry One’s last days, and I am a mess. Hope has been incredibly kind to me; I’ve wept many times the last few days.

The impending loss of our four-legged family member has brought about a sad shadow of past losses over this home. Hope has withdrawn into herself. When she engages, she does so with heaviness. After some prodding last night, she openly mourned how much she’s lost in the last few years: Her puppy, her dad, things from her old home with her dad, things from previous foster families. She didn’t cry, but she’s just so sad. She even confided that she asked that her room be painted pink in order to give me the impression that she was a girlie girl; she really wished she had been honest and asked for the room to be painted blue or purple. She’s not really a girlie girl at all.

I think I’ll see about having her room painted by year’s end. I won’t cater to every one of Hope’s whims, but there’s no sense in keeping a room that Hope’s pre-adoptive representative-self asked for when the real her is here now.

I feel like I’ve made a number of parenting mistakes in the midst of my grief this week. I do apologize to Hope when I can’t seem to get myself together. She worked very hard on her chores yesterday, even going for the bonus sweeping/vacuuming/mopping chore of the common areas in the house yesterday (It’s worth an extra $5). She did it on her own, and all I could do was snap about why she didn’t vacuum before she mopped. She was so sad; I didn’t praise her first. As a kid, I remembered being asked why I didn’t dust before vacuuming; I remember that I just didn’t know. It didn’t occur to me that I should do it in a particular order. It didn’t occur to Hope either. And like my mom years ago, I found myself trying to calmly explain the rationale about the order and praising her on her initiative and how great the mopped floor looked.

I wish I could do some lessons learned this week, but I really can’t see past the sadness. This will be our first major loss together. It hurts.

Today we will go have Sunday dinner with some friends; we will enjoy the sunlight and we will love one another and cuddle The Furry One.


The Other Side of Happy

So, yes, I’m happy. I am. I’m screaming happiness. Just screaming it! So happy. So stinking happy.

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And I plaster that poop-eating, heel-clicking grin on anytime someone asks, because really, let’s not kid ourselves, no one really wants to hear about the other side of happy when so many great things are happening in your life.  #tripsondenialriverforeveryone

So, I’m so overwhelmed that there’s a part of me that is just miserable and empty in spite of all of the happy, and I really am happy.  I wasn’t lying about that.

I marvel at how all these feelings can just coexist.  The duality of emotions on this journey will forever stun me.  #getsmeeverytime

So much has happened in my life in the last four years, the last two years, the last 18 months, the last 4 months, the last month. In fact the last month represents the time when so many things have come to fruition. So many hopes and dreams and things I’ve worked hard for and prayed over have  come to pass. And it doesn’t stop there.

Next week, I’ll finalize Hope’s adoption.  Yep, we have a court date.

When I got the date from my attorney by email yesterday I actually started sobbing.

OMG, this is happening.

woohoo-smiley-emoticon

I was happy but I was also scared schnittless. If I hadn’t been illegally reading my email while sitting at a traffic light, I probably would’ve passed out. Instead I cried. But in the moment, they weren’t tears of joy. They were tears of fear, of the smack of reality, of wondering what was next, of hope that things will get easier, of wondering will I ever feel confident enough, of wondering if and when all of my own supposed support systems will ever feel stable, supportive and safe enough.  Will I fail her?  Am I really, really that selfless?

I am exhausted and despite my happiness, I am back to a week of not being able to stop crying. Maybe I need a med adjustment, because this is just ridiculous.

A few weeks or months ago I wrote about feeling down and some folks pointed out that I was possibly suffering from Post Adoption Depression. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I just knew I couldn’t stop crying, and I was driving a broke-down fire truck from one fire to the next and then role playing ALL of the firefighter jobs that must exist with a small water gun. I barely felt like I was functional.

About two weeks ago, I just started sinking again. The crying and crankiness returned. I just wanted to sleep or at least pull the covers over my head and be left undisturbed. I just mourn the ability to come home to peace and quiet and snuggle with The Furry One and decide, because I could, to just have a martini and cheese toast for dinner. I mourned the days when I didn’t need a sitter. I mourned the ability to pick up and go to the Caribbean for a long weekend if I found a good deal. I mourned the days when I didn’t have to do teacher conferences about questionable grades and behavior or anticipating the mayhem of being a chaperone at the upcoming band trip. I missed the days of less village drama. Life literally changed overnight, and I haven’t adjusted.

And yet, I can’t imagine life without Hope, and Hope comes with all of that and then some.  She’s a game changer.

Then, last evening I got a response email from a colleague who finished her PhD about six months before me. I’d shared in an earlier email that I was feeling like I should be doing “something” (school related) and was feeling guilty about not doing whatever it was I was supposed to be doing. Heck, one time I wrote a final class paper from a hospital—sure I’m supposed to be doing something? Surely I can’t be experiencing some post-EdD completion let down.

Uh, yeah, she wrote back—that post-doctoral listlessness is normal. Yeah, there’s a let-down period with a risk of depression after the euphoria of being done passes.

eyeroll

Really, now this is a thing too? GTFOH!!!

Awesome, my doc and shrink are going to love this. Could be worse, I could be a new Dr looking for a job. So there’s that.

A lot has happened, and a lot is happening. All happy things, but things that require or recently required huge amounts of cognitive and emotional energy over sustained periods of time.  And my brain is just tired. I’m emotionally tired.  And the number of folks with whom I can share this, completely unedited, unfiltered, uncensored at all, is a pretty small number. I’m grateful for them, I am <thank you if you’re reading, you know who you are and each of you are godsends>. But I find myself mourning about the censoring I am doing; the censoring I’m required to do in some core areas of my life.  It’s really just like folding into yourself over and over again, like a bad piece of origami and you’re just waiting for the someone to toss you because the folds didn’t come out right.

Never in a million years would I think that when my dreams come true, mostly in the span of a few weeks, that I would not be wholly ecstatic and bouncing like Tigger.

Happiness isn’t without a price, and it can exist with sadness.

Here’s hoping I can swing back and stay on the topside of happiness and soon.

For now, I’ve got a Gotcha Day party to go plan.


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