The hubby is out of town again. Patrick and I are here at home, keeping busy with crafting and taking walks and annoying the dog…
And I’m OK.
Anyone who has been following me for more than about 20 minutes knows that when Dan leaves town, he usually takes my sanity with him. I spend the entire time he’s gone negotiating panic attacks, afraid to be at home and afraid to not be at home. Lying awake at night listening to every tiny sound (and I live in the city–lots of tiny sounds to listen to), convinced that every creak, groan, slam of a car door and dog barking holds the possibility of terror just around the corner.
Not this time.
In the words of an old friend…it’s good. It’s all good.
I’ve spent the last several days (even before Dan left) wondering why I wasn’t panicking. Usually the days leading up to his departure are torture for both of us, and at some point I usually end up in tears, begging him not to go. This time? I didn’t really give it a whole lot of thought, other than to make sure his laundry was done so that he wasn’t going on a business trip with only ratty t-shirts and holy jeans to wear. I didn’t lose sleep (OK, not any more than usual–sleep and I are not good friends) and there were no tears. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, because I still don’t really LIKE it when he’s gone. It’s just that I was…OK. And I have finally figured it out.
I’m not scared.
I’m. Not. Scared.
The house that we lived in for the first 10 years that we were here was not secure. We were robbed in 2007, and I never again felt safe. Not a single day. We would leave the house for whatever reason, and I would spend the entire time worrying about who was in my house. Coming home, as we came around the corner, my heart would start to pound. We had dogs. We had dogs when we got robbed–it was not a deterrent. We had chains and locks. Bolt cutters and five minutes would have you inside the house. Every Sunday for 7 years, I spent my time in church praying that no one got into our house. I’m sure God was thrilled that we were having that conversation again.
When Dan would leave, and I was there alone, responsible for my children and feeling like I was completely out of control, it was nothing short of abject terror. Panic would wash over me in waves, sometimes to the point that I couldn’t breathe. It was worse when my big kids were still home, because then it was coupled with the guilt over not being able to reassure them that Mom was in charge and things would be OK. Because I didn’t know if they would. I would lie awake at night, convinced that if I went to sleep even for an instant, all hell would break loose. I was working full time, which helped only because it forced me to get up and get the kids to school and interact, even on a limited basis. Fortunately the girls that I worked with in the library knew what was happening and would turn themselves inside out to make sure I was “OK” while he was gone. Unfortunately it also placed a burden on my big kids that I wish I could take back–they felt the need to “protect” me, when I should have been protecting them. Children should not have to parent their parents.
There is nothing quite as terrifying as not being OK in your own home. The guys who broke in took two laptop computers, my wedding ring…and any sense of security I might have had.
In August of 2014, we moved out of that house and into an apartment. A safe, secure apartment. And everything changed. We are in a new place now, and it is safe. It’s secure. We have a guard. We live on a street where a lot of diplomatic and embassy people live, so there are guards everywhere.
I am not afraid.
As I have pondered this these past few days, I have come to some realizations.
It wasn’t Dan’s fault. He was not deliberately scheduling trips just to get away from me. Which, when you think about it, is sort of a miracle, considering that I wanted nothing more than to get away from me. He was doing his job, and I was making it about 1000x harder with my insane tears and panicking. A couple of times, he actually considered canceling his trip (he was already wherever he was going) and coming home, because I scared him so badly. When I think about the mental anguish that I caused him, I want to cry.
We should have moved. I don’t know why we didn’t, except that we thought we had a “deal”. Our rent was very low, our house was large enough for a family of six, we were three blocks from the school…and all of that was not worth the insecurity. Our children would have been much happier in an apartment where their mother felt safe and secure and their dad could do his job. So why did we stay there? I don’t know. But I do know that we shouldn’t have. When we were robbed, we should have packed up and gotten out of there, into someplace where peace of mind was included in the lease.
It wasn’t the thought of losing things that frightened me, lest you all think I am a materialistic dingbat who is overly concerned about her stuff. It was the knowledge that if I wasn’t safe in my house, and able to protect my children, then I wasn’t safe anywhere, and neither were they. Living overseas, in a world that only makes sense about 10% of the time, I need security wherever I can get it. When I was working I walked to school every day. I knew who I “should” see along my route. My mind got to where it registered anyone different. Not necessarily in a panicky way, just a sort of “Oh. Haven’t seen him before” way, and I would be a little more alert after that.
The stress that I placed on my body and my mind has probably damaged both of them irreparably, at least to some degree. The Fibro that I live with is probably a direct result of stress. My anxiety level usually hovers somewhere between mildly alarmed and Defcon 5, and I can snap in an instant. My anxiety medication keeps me on a relatively even keel most of the time, but I still have moments.
I can’t change the past. I can’t take back the years that we spent in the house. I wish I could. I wish I had insisted that we move. I wish I had been able to pull it together for my children. I wish my husband had not had the extra stress of dealing with me when he was trying to do his job well. The fact that he did do it well, in spite of me, is a miracle on par with walking on water, I do believe.
It feels good to be OK here. Yesterday Patrick and I walked to Subway, got a sandwich and walked home. We didn’t hurry. I wasn’t panicking about what we would find when we got home. We just…went. And came home. It was good. Dan is on his trip, and although I miss him, for the first time in…ever…when he comes home I won’t have to say the words “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
That feels pretty good.