Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Counsel This!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Counsel This!

I haven't had much to write lately. Actually, that's not entirely true.

Not much has transpired, but, as most of you know, I could easily write volumes about my adventures clipping my toenails or sitting on my porch doing nothing at all. There are always voices in my head I could write about. In the last week a friend of mine, who happens to be a travel agent, invited me to fly up to Anchorage, Alaska with her in a couple of weeks and take a week-long cruise. As much as I want to do this, I just don't have the time right now with work. I wish I could. Instead, I look forward to our annual girls' camping trip in the next couple of months.

I'm in the midst of another severe emotional slump. I believe that once again I am soaking in a pool of female hormones wreaking havoc on my brain. I feel a heavy, dark cloud looming over me and can't shake it off. It will recede in the coming week, but I must live in its shadow for the time being. I did a 45-minute exercise video today and am fighting off the sick, pounding headache that plagues me these days every time I exert myself. It hardly seems worth it, but I really needed the endorphins today. I turned on the television this morning to watch the Today Show and watched part of a special on infertility and women my age before my heart shattered. I had to turn it off. I went on to do some laundry and clean the kitchen. As I mindlessly stripped the sheets off Erik's bed this morning and tossed the colorful ball of fabric into the laundry basket, I paused long enough to look out the window. It suddenly came to me how incredibly amazing or unbelievably stupid it is that we have gone this long without any sort of counseling about what has happened in the last year. I definitely feel like the bulk of my grieving is over but that I am holding small scraps of it in my hands I don't know what to do with. I just stuff them in my pockets like old tissues so they are out of sight and go about my day. Am I really better? Or have I successfully anesthetized myself emotionally? There is a numbness in me that wasn't there before. My personal relationships are suffering because of it. I am so very numb.

There are people who have gone through much less who have required some sort of therapy. People who have lost pets. People who saw some sort of tragedy unfold on the nightly news. People who have anxiety attacks choosing a fabric softener.

My child is mentally retarded, and I just go about my business whistling as if I'm Mary Freaking Poppins. At this rate, a blood vessel will eventually give in my head and fell me like a giant, lipstick-wearing sequoia. Brian will come home and find me in a pile in front of the washing machine.

I can just see it now (cue harp music).


Nancy, Reclusive Blogger and Mother of Dark Humor, Dead at 36

Nancy, best known for her brutally honest, rambling weblog, died suddenly Wednesday. She was 36 years of age.

Born in 1970, Nancy, the once gregarious and flamboyant 1990 world record holder and three-time world champion upside-down margarita drinker, was seldom seen outside her ranch house on the outskirts of town, although she was sometimes spotted at special ed parent group quietly clutching a cup of black coffee. Once dubbed "America's Favorite Party Girl," in her later years she adopted a strict lifestyle as an eccentric recluse, turning down invitations to social functions and instead shutting herself in her home and ordering numerous pizzas. She enjoyed working crossword puzzles, writing angry letters, and cursing using filthy French words. Those closest to her reported they often found her in front of the television watching Dawson's Creek and drinking cheap red wine, even though she admitted having seen every episode at least four times, with Gracie, the feral cat she kept as a pet, curled in her lap and growling at unwelcome visitors. Her home was in its usual immaculate condition when she died except for a handful of dryer sheets strewn around her body after a major blood vessel, weakened by decades of constant low-grade irritation, ruptured in her brain, killing her instantly. Brian, her devoted husband of 6 years, told the press Thursday that she appeared uncharacteristically peaceful and wore a half-smile on her face when he discovered her Wednesday in their laundry room with her beloved basket of various cleaning products by her side.

(harp music fades)

The last time we tried counseling was when Erik was small and our world was filled with sleep deprivation, hopelessness, and worry. And that was BEFORE the diagnosis. We knew there was something wrong with life in general, but we didn't know what. As you can imagine, that was not fun. The sessions were not a positive experience, and I came out looking like a complete horse's ass, as the therapist seemed to enjoy attacking me like a soft-spoken pit bull. However, I have some pretty serious issues about children, childbearing, motherhood, and just being a woman rapidly approaching 40. Aging has never bothered me until the concept of childbearing was introduced. I'm angry because the joy has been stripped from a lot of being a woman in general. I'm angry because I will never again tell someone who is expecting a child that things will turn out just fine. Why would I? They sure as hell didn't turn out fine for us. As hard as I try, I still feel like I have failed. I don't want to try again. I don't want more kids. And it kills me because I WAS BANKING ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THINGS WOULD TURN OUT FINE. Now what? I'm not sure.

All grieving aside, I just want to find PEACE.

I am haunted by many what ifs these days. What if I had stayed pregnant years ago? What happened to those little souls? I don't really mourn them anymore, but I just wonder how they would have turned out. What was wrong with them? Were they deformed? It doesn't matter. You see, I was enthusiastically advised to try again, as things would turn out just fine. After all, everybody and their dog has miscarriages! I was worrying about nothing! I put my heart and soul into trying again, trusting in the words I heard from them all.

Things didn't turn out fine.

Not at all.

Color me a little pissed off.

I'm afraid of going to my grave with regrets. Do any of us make it without them? I never thought about it until now, and I'm scared. I want to get old gracefully and with the least regrets possible. I have discovered that this whole process entails a lot of side effects and byproducts that must be either ignored or dealt with. I like to deal with things.

On top of everything, I feel myself in this endless cycle of therapy, work, and sleep. I know that things will change in the fall when Erik goes to preschool. I just want something different. I want progress. I want peace with my life.

* UPDATE: I now have the name of a counselor who specializes in grief and will give her a call.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nancy, my name is Katie im from Australia and i have been following your blog for a little while now.
You are a very insightful women and as you already know, you have an amazing talent with a pen ( or keyboard). I beg you, Please write a book . Title it "tales of the recluse blogging housewife" or similar - i reckon within a year you will be rich and on Oprah and Dr Phil and i know i sure as hell will buy a copy! Never stop writing. I admire your strength. You have a beautiful family.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Lisa R said...

I think that regret is a state of mind. Life never turnes out how you want it to, not just for us but for most people...We are the lucky ones...atleast we have not shaved our heads yet...

I know as well as you that life is not perfect and so not how we planned but we are dealing...You do not have to be happy everyday and we can be emotional as much as we want, but regret....I have a feeling you won't leave this place with that. You have way to much self respect and respect for your loved ones... I look up to you with admiration and respect and that is something I'll never regret... so sorry babble babble if this makes no sense don't post it :)

Love you a lot

7:03 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Katie! Big hugs to you and thanks for saying hello. I truly appreciate your kind words of encouragement. Please feel free to continue stopping are always welcome.

Lisa -- Thanks for your insight. You always find a way to make me feel better. It's nice knowing I can rant discover you remain confident I won't go out and shave my head or acquire new body art at the drop of a hat because I'm stressed! Ha!

7:33 PM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

You’re pissed off, and if you need to tell the whole world about it do it! Then take the next step. The next step may include removing those small scraps, feeling again so that you’re relationships don’t suffer, and trading in the anger for acceptance and peace.

Counselors are good. They help us connect the dots to otherwise random experiences and emotions. Putting labels, as you know, can sometimes be helpful. Be open in your session and don’t forget to bring this particular post in for her review and perhaps a hard reference as to your present state of mind/emotions.

Being content in all things is a beautiful thing, but let’s face it anything good doesn’t come easy!

We’re here for you! Personally, the obituary was a bit unsettling, but perhaps it’s your cry for help in black and white and not a voice in your head.

I pray that the storm is ending and a rainbow colored tomorrow is on the horizon!

8:54 PM  
Blogger Lisa R said...

That is a great name for a book Nance....hmmmmmmmm

4:47 AM  
Blogger Every minute counts.... said...

I just want to come see you and let you know that I am here if you need an ear, or a shoulder,or just someone to sit in silence and not say a word.
I hope that you will find your the mean time...don't stop writing..I think it is very much like therapy itself. It helps to get it all out of your head and let someone else hear it!

On the greif note lately I have seen a coupe of my friends got to the extremes...three different kinds of mood meds, body art has come into play for one,marriages failing apart because of greif,I have even watched one friend take her kids with her and they are depressed.
You are a strong woman and you can figure this out.You have so much insight into what all of us have thought at some point in time.You will overcome and get to the other side. Erik needs you and so does Brian! Not to mention...we need you to so keep searching for your peace and if we can help by listening...let us have it!


6:04 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Rosemarie -- Counselors CAN be good. The last time I went was definitely NOT good. And I tried this lady twice. College counselors were also disappointing. Maybe I'll try shock therapy next (kidding). I am willing to give someone else another shot. For some reason, I laughed when I read you found my obit unsettling. This is what I mean when I say people don't get me. I'm not suicidal or crying for help...just being me and writing what comes out. Just looking at my life and asking some big questions about how to approach the next decades in a tongue-in-cheek, morbid sort of way.

Noel -- Thanks, friend! Writing is VERY therapeutic! So are you!

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Aspen said...

We have discussed this issue many times before. More babies, or no more babies? I know deep down in my heart that I will eventually be ready to take a stab at this "mommy-hood" thing again. However, I think this is what you are struggling with the most. Nancy, to have another baby is YOUR choice. Our boys will always be a handful and lots to take on. As a matter of fact, it scares me to death to think about the obstacles we have yet to overcome. Listen to your heart, just stop and listen. It will tell you the direction your life should take.

Therapy? It is definitely an option. I tried it for about 8 to 9 months and it seemed to fit me nicely. Depression meds? Perhaps. I tried that as well for a bit. It too seemed to take the edge off. Nobody here has the answers for you. We can only provide an ear and comfort in a non-invasive, touchy feely, cyber kind of way.

I love you dearly. If you were just down the road, I would run to you and give you a hug full of tears and love. However, since you are down a LONG road, I will give take a rain check on that hug. But mark my words, you will get a hug from me that will be tight and full of tears very soon!

Now just stop and listen to your heart! MUAH!

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Aspen said...

Oh and...I could watch Dawson's Creek EVERYDAY for the rest of my life. Logan rags on me all the time about it, but I just have the biggest infatuation with that show. LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Not to mention my MAJOR crush on Pacey!

1:16 PM  
Blogger kathi said...

I tried to comment so many times yesterday. The problem wasn't with blogger, but with me. I kept erasing everything I'd write. I'd just sound so contrite, and this probably will too.
I just admire you so much. I can't begine to imagine your struggles and my heart aches for you. Yet, everytime I come here I smile and I laugh and I connect.

Your obit was one of the funniest things I've ever read, it was you, and I could so relate.

I just want you to know that even at your weakest, your stronger than most people I've ever met. I think the reason many of those people you talked about going into therapy over much less than what your going through is because they DIDN'T have your humor and your prospective.

I pray for you and your family every day, and I can't help but smile while I do. That's simply the kind of effect you have on people. On me.

Love you much.

6:22 PM  
Blogger THE PASLAY'S OF IDAHO said...





7:02 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

I, like Kathi, couldn't quite put down the words. I loved your obit - good practice for us all to write our own, I believe. I think it was an assignment in school one time.

It goes without saying that if you ever need a shoulder to cry on, an arm to lean on I am always here. We always have this cyber space blanket for each other.. and you know how much I care for you in a totally non-stalker type of way. But you truly are one of my teen idols - you are honest and strong and caring.

Regrets... I've had a few; but then again, too few to mention. I think you would take all parts of your life as a learning experience, without "regretting" anything. You are a smart woman, so any choices you make are the choices you should make- you can't in hindsight say you "regret" whatever it is because your reasons were for a purpose in the first place.

I'm glad you got a phone number for a counselor. If she/he makes you feel like the first one did, get up and leave and find another. I think you need that outlet. Just because they have the word "Counselor" next to their name doesn't mean they are ALWAYS all knowing.

I feel like I am jumping all around here, but it is hard to have a conversation with a blog... wish you lived down the street (a more populated street than the one you have now so Lisa, Aspen and others could join us!).

I love you! Kerry

8:22 PM  
Blogger Lizard Eater said...

Nancy --

I get you. :)

And my obit is very similar, substituting "Gilmore Girls" and "horrifically messy house."


9:07 AM  

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