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Sunday, July 24, 2011

In The Middle

Sometimes I think I would've been better suited for a middle child instead of an only child.  I say that because I kind of always feel like I'm in the middle.  Whatever group I happen to find myself in, I'm usually not at the top or the bottom, just somewhere in the middle.  I'm a pretty good peacemaker.  And I'm a terrible people-pleaser.  I say that because, while I want everyone to be happy with me all the time, I'm not always good at making that happen.  I try to juggle too many balls and invariably end up dropping some, if not all, of them.  (Yes, I do know you can't please everybody all of the time but that bit of wisdom doesn't stop me from trying and then feeling like a failure.  I don't know why.  I'm just mental that way.)  Sometimes I think I'm getting better about with this particular character flaw, and then it sucks me back in.  I feel pulled in too many directions, like a Stretch Armstrong doll about to snap.  It's like the very people that I want to make the happiest are the ones I let down the most.  The weird part is, I don't even think they feel as disappointed with me as much as I do with myself.  There are too many conflicts and I can't do this without letting one person down but if I go ahead and do it, I've let someone else down.  And I feel hugely responsible for other people, even though I maybe shouldn't.  I don't know how far personal responsibility goes; when I'm helping and when I'm making things worse.

Like my mom for example.  I love my mom.  We've always been close.  But sometimes you wouldn't know which one of us is the parent and which one of us in the child.  She's naive in many ways; childlike.  Sometimes I find it amusing and sometimes I find it annoying.  She's not extremely independent and I really wasn't raised to be either, although I think I have enough spunk in me to work around a lot of that.  My parents were extremely protective of me growing up.  I mean to the EXTREME!!!  People asked me what I had done to make my parents not trust me, and I would laugh and say nothing.  It was true.  They mostly trusted me, I think it was the rest of the world they were worried about.  And they had good reason to trust me.  I was sort of always a mini-adult.  I'm one of those people who follows the rules.  I return shopping carts to the designated place, I have a healthy respect for authority, and I don't even tear the tags off of pillows.  I wasn't allowed to make a lot of decisions for myself growing up, and I think I'm sort of making up for that now.  (They are just lucky I didn't go the other way and that's all I'm going to say about that.)

But it's weird now because I'm not even 30 yet, and I feel like I'm the one taking care of my mom.  I know that isn't necessarily true, she does a lot for me and my family.  But ever since my dad died I feel like I have to be strong for her.  That if I don't hold it together, everything will fall apart.  In a lot of ways, I feel like people viewed it as my mom losing her husband but not me losing my dad.  Again, this is only my perception of things, and I am smart enough to know that just because I perceive something a certain way doesn't make it reality.  I'm used to being an anxious sort of person, but when my dad died I had a two week old infant and an autistic three year old at home.  It was like I had so much to worry about that I couldn't possibly cover all of it, so my mind just sort of shut down.  All I could focus on was getting through whatever needed to be done and keep on moving.  My dad was like that, and I don't think he would've wanted me to just wallow in my grief.  And even if I had wanted to, I just don't see how that would've been possible.  But just because I was able to keep moving, do whatever I needed to do to get through the day, and do all of that for the most part without having a breakdown didn't mean I wasn't grieving.  The very implication of that made me mad.  The anxiety I was used to, the anger not so much.  The odd part is, it's not directed at anybody.  I'm not mad at my dad for dying, I'm not angry at God, I'm not mad at any of my family.  I just have this low level of irritability simmering below the surface that I never noticed so much before.  Brad (Mr. Mental Health) reminded me that anger is in fact one of the stages of grief.  He's right--I paid attention in those social work classes too.  I just didn't picture myself being the one getting stuck in that particular stage.  Maybe this is what I get for skipping right over the denial stage.  Who knows?  It just doesn't jive with my personality, and I'd be thankful to work through it and move on.

I feel like I've lost a lot more family that many people my age.  Not sure what the "average" is, but any kind of loss hurts.  All four of my grandparents are gone, and now my dad.  And my dad was a good bit older than my mom, and we had already lost all of daddy's siblings before him.  I have a couple of cousins left on my dad's side of the family, but I never see them.  Honestly, some of my distant relatives on his side of the family, I wouldn't recognize if I passed them on the street.  Nor would they me.  And that makes me sad.  My mom has an awesome family, very loving and supportive, but sometimes I feel like she gets upset if I try to spend too much time with them.  Like they are hers and not mine.  Which I definitely could be wrong, I have been known to read a little bit too much into situations.  But I have this horror of having no people left.  I worry about Brad.  I worry about my kids.  I don't want to be as overprotective of my kids as my parents were of me, but I still worry obsessively.  I want my kids to be able to learn and make mistakes and DO things without the constant fear of "what if?"  But my situation is different than my parents'.  I have a child who may or may not be able to make decisions for himself, may or may not be able to live independently when he is grown.  Of course, we pray and hope for the best but there's still that part of me that has to have a contingency plan.  What terrifies me the most is, you just get one chance.  How would you feel if you knew there was a very slim chance your child would actually listen to you?  If your child got away from you in public and was running towards a busy street and you were screaming bloody murder, would your child stop?  Mine wouldn't.  Therefore I hold on him so hard it probably hurts sometimes.  But that's better than the alternative.  The thing that takes my breath away is the worry that I'll miss something.  That one of them will be sick and I won't know it.  That I will be distracted for just a minute in a public place and Korban wanders into the path of a vehicle, or wanders off and gets lost, or gets taken.  I know I shouldn't obsess about it, but I don't know how to stop.  How would you feel if your child couldn't effectively communicate, couldn't ask for help in a crowd, couldn't stop when his mother told him too?  I know many kids are impulsive, I'm not saying it's just us.

Last night I dreamed that we were walking across a high bridge above some water.  One of my teenage cousins was carrying Selah and walking across the bridge ahead of us.  I was behind holding Korban's hand and walking across.  All of a sudden, my cousin just sat Selah on the bridge and walked away.  There were guard rails on the side, but she's so tiny I knew she could slip through them and into the water below.  I was screaming for her to come back and get Selah and frantically trying to decide whether to leave Korban and run to Selah or not.  I woke up after that.  Pulled in too many directions.  So afraid I'm going to let somebody down.  That I will neglect one child while caring for the other.  Of not having anybody left...

We are okay though.  I'm just stressing tonight, and thought it would be better to vent some of this rather than leaving it in.  So don't worry about us, but do pray!

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