Thursday, March 31, 2011

September 1998

*Written in 2005 with the help of Reese and Stephanie, this is an account of the the events that led to The Crew being seen and recognized. Diagnosis wouldn't be official for several months.*

"bitch."

There is is again. Every time I walk past a mirror, the words fly out of my mouth. I can't seem to stop it. I've learned to avert my eyes in the living room and to concentrate my focus so I do not have to glance at my reflection in the mirrored wall behind the tv. It's easier now there's an entertainment center there. Most of the wall is covered and I don't have to deal with the jolt of seeing my own face each time I pass through the room.

I dropped the three girls at school and came back home less than an hour ago. It's a quiet fall morning and the sun is streaming through the living room skylight. Daniel is happily watching Blue's Clues and playing with his Hot Wheels. John is napping in his crib. Laundry is done. The house is tidy and all is quiet until two pm when we leave to pick up the girls from school.

I pick up a book but cannot concentrate. There are four or five crochet projects in various stages of completion but I can't be bothered. There are no pressing chores, no large jobs I can bury myself in and fear crawls up my back to whisper what ifs in my ear. I have to drown out the noise.

I've taken to calling Pat every day. We talk about when we both lived in Virginia and about her son. It's amazing that he was a student at the school when I volunteered there but we never met until we both lived in South Carolina.

We talk about how things have gone downhill since John had Pertussis as a newborn. We talk about my history and the years in and out of hospitals... and we talk about my growing desperation. We don't talk about the fact I am coming to rely on hearing her voice on the other end of the phone. I don't tell her that as long as we talk, I can ignore the sense I'm being swallowed in darkness again. I don't tell her I am collecting razor blades for the first time in nine years. I don't tell her about any of this but she can hear it anyway. Maybe not the specifics but she knows I'm sinking fast and reaching out. She's encouraging counseling or medication again and I fight her. I've been down that road and crashed too many times. Please, Pat, just let's talk.

I don't call today. Daniel wants me to play cars with him. I sit on the floor in the kitchen and try but it's as if my imagination has died. I cannot grasp his simple game nor even participate in the lively discussion his car wants to carry on with mine. From nowhere, helpless rage floods me and I begin to shake with the effort not to yell at my son. All he wants is time with Mommy and I can't give it to him. He doesn't deserve this.

The tears are there behind my eyes but they haven't fallen in more than a year. Sitting on the floor with my little boy, I'm lost and the darkness rolls in again.

At two o'clock I sit up as if an alarm has gone off. I've been sprawled on my bed for I don't know how long. It's time to get the girls. The house is quiet save the sound of the television. Is John awake? Has he been in his crib this whole time? Did they get lunch? I don't even know how long I've been in here. I start singing before I go into the bathroom to brush my hair. Maybe it will stop the condemning words from escaping my lips as I stand in front of the mirror.

John comes toddling into the room dragging his security blanket behind him and I realize I must have taken him from his crib at some point. His diaper is clean but I don't remember changing it. I'd like to believe that I've done more than tend to their basic physical needs but know once again, they've been left to entertain themselves while Mommy spent the day in a daze.

As I'm getting the boys settled in their car seats, I promise myself I'll stay out of the bedroom and with the kids this afternoon. All three girls will have homework and they'll need supervision. I can't just disappear until dinner and expect them to fend for themselves... but even as I think it I know, it won't be long before the normal sounds of home... the sounds that usually are like music to me will overwhelm me and I'll spend what's left of the day hiding in my room.

I don't know how much longer this can continue.