I am waiting for Julia at the clinic and since she is not downstairs right now, I think I may be an hour early. So, time for this. There is a People magazine with Demi Moore on the cover. “Life in Danger” it reads with “The real story” underneath, and as one of the bullet points right below that “tortured by insecurities”. Well, I guess if Demi can feel insecure, maybe I shouldn’t feel badly that I’ve been feeling it all day.
To explain: I called my County Case Worker today to catch up -- he hasn’t called in months --, to ask him about transitioning -- Julia’s state intensive autism fund ends this spring --, and to ask him if he wanted to come to a team meeting at the clinic. I caught him up on Julia’s progress and present challenges. He knew nothing about the skin challenge! And he asked me if I had returned to work yet. There was no disapproving tone, no tone at all, it was just a question, probably a friendly question. But immediately I did some heavy internalizing. On the spot, and for hours afterwards. Ugh!
Shouldn’t I be working by this time? Should I be working? Is what I am doing important enough not to work? Does everyone expect me to get a job? What aren’t I just getting a job? What should I do? What should I get a job in? Should I renew my attorney’s license? Should I hang out a shingle and defend someone? Why am I not doing that? And what must everyone think of me for not working? Not even wanting to work? Especially at law.
I’m not going to read why Demi is insecure but she went into treatment. I haven’t gone into treatment. Ok, I got some drugs. Rationally, I believe that what I am doing is important and worth while, but man, that rational mind is on shaky ground.
My mind wanders to what I would be doing if I did not have Julia because one of my big and easy justifications for not working is that I have Julia to take care of. No, that is not the reason for taking this year of fallow, but when I think about the time I put into Julia’s care, including just being home so that she can receive therapy, there is no way I could work full time and meet those demands. No way that I could work at a legal job with the expectation that I could work any hour of the day and night and keep up with Julia.
If I go beyond Julia and think of what I am doing/ have done in the past 6 months -- the renovation, the packing and then putting the house together again, the sorting and cleaning of all our stuff, the writing, the working out, the meditating and the venturing out just beyond myself -- I know that if I was working, all of it would be put aside, on some back burner while I rushed from work to caring for Julia with time for little else. Believing that my complete sanity is worth this time, without being sure of some measurable result, is the leap into empty space that is most perilous. Most fraught with second quessings.
The work goes slowly -- the sorting that I’ve begun again. I am getting rid of the boxes of sheet music to a friend of Mary. I have greeting cards from the 1940’s that the art teacher will take off my hands. I will get all of David’s books in one place and start mailing some out to those who want it. The dining room is filled with piles and files. The look is early chaos and the basement doesn’t look that empty, but I am in the midst of the process. I feel burdened now with the amount of time the process is taking and the amount of stuff I have to sort through, but it is no where near the burden I’d feel if it was all just sitting there. I have to remember that I’ve gone through many, many boxes. Those boxes would be still sitting there. Yes, there is burden now, but no where near what it would have been.
And what would I be doing if I did not have Julia? I ponder this because so much of what I am doing and what I think about doing is intwined with her and her challenges. First, I’d have to go back 6 years and undo my passionate desire for a second child. Then, would I still be in Chicago? I was not working very well there. I don’t know how long I would have lasted if I had not been distracted by Julia’s needs and our impending move to Madison and left of my own accord. But thinking of David’s death as the unchangeable event, I wonder if I would have stayed in Madison? In Chicago? Would I have sold the house immediately? Would I be traveling now and living off a much reduced income? Would I be living with Lisa and Nick? Would I have returned to NYC? Or would I be working double hard trying to make sense of the rest of my life? What would have happened to our stuff if I sold the house? Would it be in some storage unit? Where?
No answers. Just musings. And impossible to even make guesses that we too many variables over too long a time. And how could I live with Julia in my life?
Am I a cliche? Am I asking the expected questions? Is this merely the 12 step program of mourning?
I lost my temper with Julia this morning. She can be exasperating. I am no saint. Getting her to get dressed in the morning on any sort of schedule, before her meds take effect is more than a challenge. As she is able to take back more of the process because her skin needs less of my attention, I struggle to reestablish the queues and support that can get her operating independently. Every piece is a struggle and some mornings I am just not up for the challenge. Today, I was angry.
I spent time on the phone the morning investigating options for next year’s therapy. If I can put Julia on my insurance, the family plan will more than double the current rate that I pay, she can get another year of intensive autism therapy. We all agree with this would be ideal. Now to find the money to make it happen. But now that I think about it, another year of intensive means another year of getting therapy right after school and on weekends and makes full time paid work elusive. Not that I know what I would even look for to do, but unless it could be contained in the school day, it would be impossible. The worry that this causes is not productive in the least. I need to put energy into doing not worrying.
Tomorrow is Valentines Day and I am no one’s valentine. I couldn’t even write that one last year. I have had the thought that I have only myself to please and it makes me think about the daily round that I have. How much do I like a clean kitchen? How much do I value a bed that is made? How much do I want a variety of food to eat? Do I like to wear nice jeans? Is it important to change the ugly living room light? Of course, some of my questions impact Julia and I do try to please her, but so much is what I want. Me. Just me. No parents or partner. Not sad, just curious right now. I almost don’t understand what this means. I know that when I talk about my insecurities, about my reaction to having someone ask me if I have a job, the obviously I am not completely comfortable with pleasing myself. If I was, the question would not stir the caldron of feelings. So I ponder and I wonder.
What in all the world should I be doing living for myself?