Wondering

Warning: rambling posts to follow. Blog posts this week may not be coherent.

It’ll be one week on Friday since Mike died. And it’s more emotional than I thought it would be.

We were separated, but we were still friends (when he was sober).

We were divorcing, but he was still the person I called when something good – or bad – happened to me.

We weren’t living together, but he was still involved in making decisions for the kids (when he was sober).

Some days it seems surreal, like this is a dream. That he’s not really gone. Sometimes I wonder if his death was somehow faked, an elaborate hoax. That he’ll some day reappear, sober and with the personality of the “old” Mikey.

I often think about the long-term effects his death will have on the kids.

I wonder if I’ll find love, companionship, friendship, passion again.

I wonder how we will get through this week… How Ethan will manage… If Lauren will even realize… If I will get the motivation to actually DO anything this week…

Follow up: teacher meeting – OMG

I wasn’t sure why Ethan’s teacher wanted to talk to me, but I suspected it wasn’t to tell me that my son was student of the month.

Ethan and I walked into her classroom after school. She immediately sent Ethan to the office to wait for us.

Two more teachers (the reading teacher and the music teacher) came in.

She told me a story about Ethan telling a kid that his artwork was bad. It was apparently five minutes of Ethan shouting at the kid that his shark picture sucked. He later told the teacher that he thought the kid was showing off. The teacher told Ethan he was jealous. She said that he threatened to rip the picture up in art class.

(OK, that’s rude and this was the first I heard of it. There’s no reason to do that to a kid – and this particular boy is a REALLY good artist. This will be addressed with Ethan. But, I wondered, was that enough to call me in and have two other teachers in the room?)

“And I’ve been really disturbed by something you mentioned last week. I’ve been thinking a lot about it, actually,” E’s teacher began as the other teachers pulled up tiny chairs to sit on either side of me. I felt trapped and ganged up on. I didn’t realize this was a three-on-one situation. I wasn’t comfortable with this at all.

“You said he wasn’t in counseling. He needs it,” she said.

(Fucking brilliant, that woman.)

The other two women nodded their heads, staring at me.

“As I mentioned, Ethan’s former counselor wasn’t used to kids as young as he is, nor was he versed in child grief,” I said calmly. “I think I found a good counselor who works with young children. We’re meeting on Tuesday. She and I. So I can vet her a final time before introducing her to Ethan.”

“How soon will Ethan start with her?” the teacher asked. “He needs to talk to someone at least weekly effective immediately. I reviewed his records from his previous school and he had issues there, too. I’m not sure this is grief, since it started before his father died. You need to be open to the possibility that it’s more.”

That’s when I lost it. And unfortunately, when I lose it, my eyes leak. It’s not tears. It’s more like a flood of pissed offishness.

“Are you remotely aware of how a child grieves? When you’re sad or full of emotion, what do you do? Take a walk? Surf the Internet? Call or email a friend? A kid doesn’t have those resources. If Ethan gets emotional – and I’m not even sure he has the maturity to know what his emotions are on this issue – he’s still expected to sit quietly, face forward, pay attention, do his work, keep quiet. He doesn’t have an outlet!” my voice quivered.

“He can always tell me if he wants to go to the office to calm down,” the teacher said. “And this started well before you moved here and his dad died,” she continued.

“You don’t have a baseline for his behavior! He lost his grandfather before he started kindergarten! He had that loss. He saw the troubles in my marriage at the same time. Then I moved him here. Then Mike died. That’s a lot of stuff to happen to a kid in a couple of years. He’s only seven years old!”

“Still, the behavior was going on before Mike died.”

“HE HAS NEVER BEEN IN SCHOOL WITHOUT HAVING GONE THROUGH A LOSS! THE KID IS GRIEVING AND I CANNOT HAVE OTHER ISSUES ADDRESSED UNTIL HE CAN DEAL WITH THE MAJOR LOSSES HE’S SUFFERED!” My voice was louder now (and my eyes continued to leak, soaking every inch of the tissue I was holding).

The teachers went on about how Ethan has outbursts in class. Surprisingly, this time they’re saying that the wiggliness and getting up isn’t an issue and they really don’t mind it (that’s news to me, as his “motion” is usually the subject of these meetings).

I’m not opposed to having Ethan diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, but I also know from extensive research and conversations with experts (and other parents) that kid grief can “look like” other behavior issues, especially at school.

We left the conversation with me telling his teacher that she needs to communicate with me better (like letting me know there’s a problem, not waiting days/weeks to address it.

Damn, I can’t wait until he’s done with this teacher.

Right now, I just need a drink.

Depression and hairy legs

I was having such a good morning on Friday that I forgot why I was there.

It wasn’t until the nurse asked if I could be pregnant, that I suddenly remembered. My eyes started watering. “No,” I said. “I’ve been widowed for 10 months. Pregnancy would be… well, it’s not even remotely possible.”

I scheduled a physical with a new doc a few weeks ago. I’m training for the mini (which is going SLOWLY, much like my running time…) and it’s been a few years since I’ve been to a doc for anything beside than needing meds for strep throat or vertigo. Best to establish a relationship with a doctor now, before I NEED one.

When the nurse asked about pregnancy, I suddenly remembered that I wanted to talk to the doctor about depression. Then I started crying.

For months now, I’ve been crying – a lot. I’m fine when I need to be “on” like while I’m teaching or meeting with students, but otherwise I’m crying for no reason. Sitting in my office. Tears. Driving to work. Tears. Going through the Starbucks drive thru. Tears. Reading FB updates from friends. Tears.

I hold my shit together really well when I’m in public (usually) and for the most part, people probably don’t know that I’ve been depressed. I’m a ray of fucking sunshine when people are around (unless they bring up the subjects of my kids, Mike’s death, my dad’s death, blah blah blah – then… TEARS).

(I write a lot about my grief and some sad/negative things on this blog, but that’s so I can be completely functional IRL. This blog is my therapy, my relief, my outlet for the stuff I need “to get out.” In real life, I think I portray an illusion of being pretty positive, pretty happy. I get stuff out here, then I try to move on.)

These tears remind me of when Ethan was born. About four months after E was born, I was crying all the time. For no reason. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, and I was prescribed a medication, which I took for about a year. It was just enough to get me over the hump. Then I felt fine and was weaned off.

I’m feeling the same way as I did seven years ago. Same tears. Same feelings. Deja vu.

The nurse finished my health history then I waited for the doc.  After going through the normal stuff (health issues my mom and dad face/faced), I brought up the subject of depression.

“Are you seeing anyone about that?” the new doc asked.

“Like a therapist? No.”

“Why?”

“Because I’ve been focused on the well-being of my kids, especially my son,” I responded, eyes tearing. “That’s my priority. I have outlets – I blog, I visit an online widow forum/website-y thing, I participate in a parent grief group. But I think I need… something more.”

The doc stared at me for an uncomfortable amount of time. Then she took some notes in her computer and explained where the opening in the hospital gown should go (in the back). It wasn’t until I was stripping down that I realized I asked for a well-woman exam during this appointment.

“Shit,” I thought. “Totally forgot to shave.”

Who the hell forgets to shave her legs before a pap? That would be me. It’s not like anyone is seeing (or feeling) my legs, so I’ve been a little lax in the personal hygiene department. Damn.

I decided to play it off like there was nothing weird about quarter-inch dark stubble from my ankles to mid-thigh. I’ve found that (usually) if you act like there’s nothing going on, nothing weird, most people won’t notice what you’re trying to hide. That’s how I was going to play this off.

The exam was going fine, until the doc couldn’t find my cervix  (so “hi” to my friends who are now totally uncomfortable thinking about my inner girlie parts. Yeah… cervix. I have one, and apparently it’s shy and can hide. Who knew?) The nurse started to rub my calf to calm me down. Up, down, half way up, sudden stop…. HELLO, STUBBLE!!! A few seconds later, she quickly removed her hand from my leg. (She was probably thinking, “WHO DOESN’T SHAVE?!?!?!” Hi, that would be me…)

Cervix was finally found. Pap was finished and the overall exam was complete. The doc wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant – the same one I took when I had postpartum. I need to go back to see her in a month so she can evaluate how I’m doing.

Knowing I was going to my alma mater this weekend for a quick alumni board meeting – and with Mike’s birthday this weekend (and, thus, a few drinks for me) – I’ve put off starting the new meds until Sunday night – I don’t want to mix an antidepressant with alcohol.

Here’s hoping the meds work and I can stop buying tissues (and makeup) by the truckload.

EDITED TO ADD: While I think it’s funny that I forgot to shave, my mom was HORRIFIED when I told her the story. She’s the kind of person who dresses up to go to the doctor (think church clothes, the “good” coat, dress shoes), so forgetting to shave is close to sinning in her mind. Her reaction: “You need to go upstairs and shave RIGHT NOW. What if you get in an accident? Do you want ANOTHER doctor to see your legs?” (My reaction: hysterical laughter to her comments…)