Boiling Point

The Change

I saw this quote on another widow’s blog that I follow.  She is on another continent but I share a very unfortunate connection with her.  This quote resonated with me and I had to borrow it. I’ve been trying to find the BEFORE Kristen for the last 18 months.

I can’t remember the last time I felt this much rage. I hit my boiling point last night and it was so apparent that the cashier at Safeway advised me to go home and have a glass of wine. I fake laughed a little because otherwise I would have started throwing groceries at him.

I had a fantastic weekend. On Saturday I did a charity run. Not only did I get to catch up with an old friend, but I made new friends as well. To top it all off–it ended at a brewery! Running for charity and beer with old and new friends? What could be better?

On Sunday, my kids had friends over. Seven kiddos running around my house at one time. I didn’t even need a drink! It actually wasn’t terrible. I went to bed feeling really good!

I start almost every day off with an early morning workout. It is vitally important for my mental health. Yesterday, the nanny texted that she couldn’t come that morning. Believe this or not–a missed workout can make all the difference.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but what is wrong with “kids” these days? These 20-somethings that are lazy, entitled, and have no work ethic! I don’t even know where to start! All I know is that I am paying someone good money and rather than reducing my stress, she makes it worse. The most frustrating part about it–is that I am desperate. At this point in time, I have no other options. I refuse to take a leave of absence at work. My boss has been too wonderful to me and I have made a commitment to the families I work with. I will not disappoint any of them as long as I can help it. In my BEFORE, Jake and I would always figure out a way to work it all out. Now it’s just me. I hate being in this position.

I realize as I read back, that it sounds like I am so pissed at the nanny because she called in sick for a shift. That is definitely not the case. I could tell you 117 stories that would make you go “WHAT?!?! WHY HAVEN’T YOU FIRED HER YET?”. Well, it’s because I have no other option right now. It fucking sucks! So, I hit my boiling point last night. I know a part of it is the frustration-and the fatigue-and the feeling of being overwhelmed-because I am the only parent and it ultimately all ends up on my shoulders.

Promises. So many promises were made to the kids and I after Jake died. I will share this. There were very few promises kept. The people who have been there for me, have been there all along. They know it. They know how much I appreciate them and love them–I wouldn’t have made it this far without them. The people who didn’t keep their promises, especially to my kids..I’m done with them. I’ve learned a lot through this horrible grief journey. I can offer this piece of advice–don’t say it if you don’t mean it. If you do think you mean it at the time–make sure and follow through.

I know there are a lot of people out there who expect that I should be “over it” by now. I should “move past this” and make a “fresh start”. “Think positive”. These all are so well-intentioned. But grief doesn’t work that way. It feels like I am in survival mode most days. If anything happens–just ONE MORE THING–I can’t handle it. Not one more thing. Even if it’s something simple like there is no more milk left or my son’s shoes fell apart.

One of my “best running friends” pointed this out to me years ago on my favorite trail. It’s the “heart rock”. I never noticed it before she pointed it out and now I never miss it. Today I stopped at the heart rock and for that moment in time, I felt peaceful and calm. My anger wasn’t boiling over like it has been since yesterday.

heart rock

I have an urge to pack up my kids and get out.  Maybe it’s the dreary weather.  Maybe it’s the stupid babysitter.  Maybe I’m still trying to escape real life.  But I know no matter how far I run or where I go, Jake will still be gone.  I’ll still be the only parent.  Nothing will change except for the scenery.  I know people may read this and think “what a bitch” or “poor Kristen”.  I don’t care if you think I’m a bitch and I’m not looking for pity.  I’m just trying to tell my story of how I “navigate the world without Jake”.  I’m just saying-sometimes I’m angry and sometimes I’m calm and sometimes I’m happy or even excited.  No different from anybody else, I guess.

My son will be going away to 5th grade camp this year.  I am trying to fill out the paperwork and I need to list emergency contacts-people they can call to pick him up at camp if they can’t reach me.  I was only able to fill in one emergency contact.  I sit here, quietly crying, because I don’t want my kids to hear me.  I don’t have more than one emergency contact.  I have asked several people, but they have not returned my request.  I know someone will say “Yes-of course!” It’s just sad to me that I have to think so hard to list more than one emergency contact–and his paperwork will not be submitted on time.

I started writing this post earlier in the week.  I have since hit my breaking point with the nanny and fired her.  Now I’m stuck.  But as stressful as it is–I feel so relieved.  This has prompted me to start “cleaning house”.  I need to let go of all the “questionables” in my life and hold on to the ones who matter the most.  A very hard step.  As a dear friend told me–I am dying to be comfortable.  I am searching for every possible way to feel comfortable, and that includes maintaining relationships with the questionables.  She is so wise–she told me I am like a moth to a flame.  I’m going to quote her.  “Hello flame.  Pretty, pretty flame. I love you, flame. Ouch flame!” I love her.  Her words keep me going when I feel I’m at my lowest.  She helps me make sense of the choices I’ve made in the AFTER.  “Dying to be comfortable”–she is so right.

I think there is a saying that goes something like-“Nothing good ever comes from staying in your comfort zone”.  I have different feelings about this.  I desperately want to return to my life in the BEFORE.  It wasn’t perfect–not even close–but I want that comfort back.  But now, I need to stop moving towards the flames.  Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That mantra goes through my mind when I run, work out, and try something new.  I need to apply it to my life in general.  I’ve been avoiding and trying to escape my “real life” now for the past 18 months. I stick with “work Kristen” and “party girl Kristen” because those personas were there before I ever met Jake.  The parenting, grown up, and mature Kristen–I’m having a really hard time with her.  But I am really working on it.

For 18 months now, I’ve been very unfocused, inattentive, and forgetful.  I asked my doctor if it is possible to develop ADD as an adult, because I don’t know what’s happened to me.  She explained it away with PTSD.  I was at some classes this week for work.  Something the instructor said hit home so hard.  He explained that anxiety and emotional distress mess up the central executive system’s (of the brain) ability to do its job.  Apparently, when we are anxious or distressed (hello my new life) the body releases cortisol which actually eats away at the hippocampus in the brain! Therefore, anxiety impacts cognition by way of working memory.  Bingo.  I’m guessing my hippocampus is pretty much gone by now.  I probably pee cortisol.  But at least it makes sense.  I’m sure the doctor was right about the PTSD–but an explanation of what is actually happening in my brain was very helpful.  The presenter was referring to our inability to be in an optimal learning state when we are anxious and distressed.  His solution?  Make your student feel as relaxed as possible.  Help him/her feel comfortable.  Comfortable….I am dying to be comfortable….and ultimately I’m stuck in this loop.  I need to break this cycle.

So long, questionables.  Welcome…..discomfort?

charlie brown and snoopy