Wednesday, December 22, 2010

good things

Thank you all for your brilliant suggestions on the HCG. Tragically, I left my cell phone at home today, so I will be calling pharmacies tomorrow to see who will send me my drugs, needles and all. I'm actually now toying with the idea of waiting a cycle before starting the HCG shots - among other reasons, it would mean I get to find out whether the mystery cyst is an endometrioma before going forward. know how people (you know what kind of people I mean) have little pools on their blogs for people to guess or bet on the baby's due date? I could have one of those with all the known types of cysts...

That's not what this post is about. This post is about good things - for real good things. Not small things for which I endeavor to be grateful as an exercise in good behavior, nor large things for which I ought to be grateful but simply cannot feel that way. I mean actual good things. At least, in my view (the only one that me).

My marriage has had ups and downs like any marriage. Obviously some of those downs have been a little more of the accidentally-dragged-behind-a-moving-vehicle type than the typical downs, because I, like you people, am infertile. Not good. And there's the fact that my own family is crazy - one divorce, going on two; mom in a convalescent home because she is schizophrenic (or something) and cannot function on her own; various feuds within my nuclear family; father and (soon-to-be-former) stepmother ruining their young kids' lives. General unpleasantness.

And of course, we can't forget the fact that my husband and I, each in our own special way, have a lot of emotional and psychological baggage that we brought into the marriage. Heavy baggage. Some of which we have worked through together. Some of which has just stuck around, un-improved. Some of which has probably been accruing interest all this time.

I think it would probably be fair to say that my beloved husband is depressed. Or manic depressive? Or something. And he has plenty of good reason to be. I am probably not the best person to be married to, if you struggle with that sort of thing. And I know that, what with all of my issues, I have very little resilience to offer in the more difficult phases. I love him, and I want to help, but I really can't deal.

This doesn't sound like a post about good things, does it?

On Friday night, we had a big blow-up. People have those...but there is a difference between the fights that we have that are like the fights that normal people have, and the fights that I know only unhealthy people have. This was one of the latter. As I lay in bed, I thought about how at times like that (and they are not that rare), I know I need help. And I feel desperate - I am lost, there is an actual disaster, maybe it will pass, but I don't really know; and I need someone to talk to who can give me a frame of reference, and I need to talk to that person now. At...10PM on a Friday evening. Not feasible. And I know that I feel that way every now and again, and I think, "I need to find someone who can help me," but then we patch things back up, and life seems OK again, and I am so busy, and I don't seek help. And then it happens again, and there is no one to talk to right now, and I am lost again.

I did two things. I emailed my spiritual director (as calmly as possible) and asked him for a recommendation for a therapist. I told him that I knew I needed help dealing with the infertility, but I also knew I needed help coping with my husband. I don't know how, and I am making things worse. I had begged and pleaded with my DH to seek help, but he refused; but how could I expect him to do so if I would not? Father passed along the name of another priest closer to me, whom I have yet to call. I will call today.

I also started a novena. I realized that it was eight days till Christmas exactly - I had two hours to start a novena that would end on Christmas day. Because the Infant of Prague has been stalking me lately, and it will be His birthday, I knew that was the one to choose. Google "Infant of Prague novena" - click on the top result. I prayed for something very simple: healing for my husband and for me.

There is so much that we need, but it all falls under that heading. Strengthening in faith. Graces for our marriage. Healing for our hearts. My body is falling apart, too. I have had that last in mind throughout the novena, but I don't intend to hold God to it - that's not the most important thing. I have an idea it's not something He wants for me anyway. Much of the other healing is necessitated in order to deal with the fact that He took that away, but it's a fair request - if I can't have a healthy body and a life-giving love, I need the things required to deal with that. But I always feel at greater peace if I ask for something, not merely objectively good, but that I know God must want for me. He wants us to address the things in our lives that drive us away from Him, and each other. He wants our faith to be stronger. He should answer this prayer.

True to form for a fight rooted in real underlying problems, this one hung on, or recurred, throughout the weekend. Even now we're at a fragile peace, and I feel like a basket-case. On Sunday, when he agreed to speak to me, my DH said something astonishing. He had promised, a week previously, to think about trying therapy - even though he was opposed. I figured when he got angry with me he would decide not to consider it after all. He told me that he had looked up the symptoms of long-term untreated PTSD, and he has all of them. He also looked for doctors in the area. He found an older Jewish woman who looked formidable and took his insurance. (This sounds like exactly the sort of person he would want to work with, honestly.)

Then Monday he sent her an email. She called him right away. She asked him to give her a run-down of the things he was dealing with, and he did. She gave him an appointment for today. (He says he is convinced that she accepted him as a patient because he's so fascinatingly screwy, and he is hoping he can get a syndrome named after him.) Before I get home from work today he will have done his first hour.

I haven't entirely absorbed this information yet. There is no question in my mind that supernatural grace was required to change his heart. Obviously it ain't over yet. Maybe professional help will do nothing to help (though I believe it must be some help). But experience has taught me not to become emotionally attached to the best possible outcome of a promising situation. I am absolutely floored by the turn of events so far. In themselves they could only be good. And perhaps the day will dawn when they mean every good thing I could imagine now.

On Friday and Saturday when I was thinking, I came to some conclusions. I still have faint vestiges of the effervescent joy that causes the very young to run barefoot through rain puddles. In my mind, when I was married, I could see the impulse to do such lovely things, but that it was tempered by the plodding reasonableness of adulthood. And then I could picture that sharing life with someone you love would return that childlike lightness - skipping in the rain, making snow angels, walking through Christmas lights, driving in the fall leaves, looking at every restaurant menu on the street before choosing the perfect one, enjoying sappy movies, singing Christmas carols, eating cookie dough out of the bowl, looking at houses that might be our home; all those would seem perfectly natural to spend impractical hours doing with the one you love.

It has not turned out that way. The things that seem magical enough for me to make the effort to plan them often fall through; he doesn't see the same magic, or they happen to fall on a day when he just isn't putting a good face on life, or my sky-high expectations just don't pan out. It's not that every day is awful; it's just that a lot of things in life are difficult, and the little joys seem to help one manage, and I don't manage to have a lot of those.

And I realized that because of how I imagine this should work in my head, I pin most of my joy on my husband. He has to be on board when I think we should be experiencing something magical. If he doesn't love it too, I can't enjoy it. If, heaven forbid, he refuses to participate, I am plunged into sadness. That's a totally normal reaction the very first time it happens. If it happens repeatedly, continuing to hope that all will go beautifully is just asking for problems. I need to recognize that, even if my DH is having too difficult a time to be joyful (or at least, to be reliably joyful), I should be able to find joy in life; otherwise, no joy. Bad for both of us.

And, there are so many things in life that I want to do that I have postponed (indefinitely, I guess), at first because I was broke; and then because we were going to have kids and that would be our life; and then because I needed to save up vacation for maternity leave; and then just because I was busy, and life was difficult, and that could always happen later. You know what? Later is now.

My brother lives in Vienna, Austria, right now, and my sister in Warsaw, Poland. She has the least spare cash (since she's a student), but the brother and I haven't seen Warsaw; the sister and I have spent time in Vienna. The brother refused to come home for Christmas. I didn't know why. He will literally spend Christmas by himself - and then fly home, to spend time with some friends. No family. I didn't think he was angry with me, so I am confused, and it makes me very sad. I miss hanging out with the two of them. For how much of our lives will the three of us all be adults, free to travel, financially independent, and with an easy opportunity to hang out in Europe? Right.

So I emailed them and said that I had a long weekend for President's Day in February - who wants to crash Warsaw? I expected him to demur enigmatically, as he did with Christmas. Nope. Immediate email back: "We need to make this happen." My sister sent a list of places to see in Warsaw and said she had room for both of us. I bought a plane ticket yesterday (under $500 - not bad, right?). My brother bought his today. We have a conference call (yes, really) scheduled for the morning of the 24th to discuss our itinerary. My misanthropic baby brother says he is "very excited." My dear sweet husband, who despite being (some days) crazier than I am, is infinitely more generous than I am, is excited for me. (Even though I didn't invite him to come.)

I have decided that in every month of 2011, I am going to do something I should have done five years ago. Some things could be small. But I have really close friends from college I rarely see. And good friends I have not seen since graduation - more than seven years. Some of them live a few hours from here. I am going to get back in touch.

And I have said for years that I will take dancing lessons. Why don't I actually do it? And that I will volunteer with the underprivileged in the city. I've done a little bit toward that in 2010, but I need to get myself a regular commitment. And I say I'll learn another language or two. Would it kill me to do something about that? I mean, I might not have time to get very far, but I won't know until I start. And I have canvases and paint I bought after we returned from our trip in May...unopened. 2011 is going to be my year of eradicating items from my list of regrets, rather than adding.

Other good things - there are more! (You can stop reading eight or ten paragraphs ago - this is interminable, and interesting only to me.) I have been thinking a lot about TCIE and her prayer post. According to what (to me) was the most striking of her comments, prayer changes our minds - not God's. So that novena gave me an opportunity to be grateful and hopeful for the possibility of healing for myself and my husband, a grace God already had in store for me? That doesn't sound too crazy.

Looking back, I realize I've gotten just a wee little bit better about prayer in the last month or so. Made some progress on the awesome St. Therese book a friend lent me. Read some Scripture as well. Have had no trouble keeping up with my novena - in fact, the idea of having to remember for nine consecutive days seems almost easy, where usually, it's a proposition fraught with peril. Periodically at work I remember to pray the Angelus (OK, never actually at noon), which seems particularly special in Advent. I'm trying. Not succeeding, but - baby steps.

I started taking that Adren-All supplement TCIE's awesome doctor recommended in the fantastically detailed letter she posted. (What, it was prescribed to someone else? They sell it on Amazon. That means it's for me!) I figured that although the natural thyroid has cut my overall exhaustion, I am still basically nocturnal and need a crowbar to pry me out of bed in the morning. That seems like enough for an amateur diagnosis of adrenal problems. I was hoping I would be more energetic and lose five pounds, or something. That has not happened. However, I have had an interesting attitude change. My scary list of chores and errands is no longer scary; for whatever reason, I now view it as a challenge - and I will conquer. I now get home far more motivated to clean something and conquer the housework demons than to feed my brain to the internet. I did not know this came in pill form. Strange.

Houses - I've been quiet about houses, right? I'm taking it strangely easy, for me. There are two houses of interest. One is a few miles from me and centrally located among our friends. Good price (for the location), but a real fixer and we wouldn't have a ton of extra funds to sink in at that price. Almost no yard. Busy street. Hmm. Second house is further out (in the area where I more generally am looking). Further from the friends, but an easier commute to my job. Nice yard, awesome neighborhood, rock-solid structurally, though kitchen and bath remodels will be needed ultimately. Priced $175k-200k above market (per comps, assessments, and estimates). If we could get it for market, we could certainly afford it, and whatever remodeling it needed. And I really like it. The seller can't afford to drop his price because of all his refis, so I want to write him a nice letter, with lots of supporting documents, and suggest he try to short. He may not listen; and if he did we might not get it. But, we can give it a reasonable, grown-up sort of a try. And my DH is on board for this. Who knows...maybe the interest rates would drop again by the time it went through...? We shall see. Maybe my comparative peace of mind with this is itself a good thing.

And I'm looking forward to Christmas and New Year's. I would love to have a huge group to feed, but that won't happen; but I am willing to look forward to it in a later year. My sister is coming in tonight (!!) - for some reason this whole time I thought it was tomorrow. (Actually, I think that's what she told me.) I get to visit with two lovely ladies tomorrow amid my cleaning. Friday I can do the bulk of the baking, and cook Christmas Eve dinner. Midnight Mass in Polish. American Christmas dinner Saturday. Helping to host an awesome New Year's Eve party, and I think I will fit into a really pretty dress I got at a thrift store and have not yet worn. (Might have to buy myself some appropriate corsetry.) Delightful friend coming down for that party. And I could not possibly be pregnant at Christmas - I'll be mid-cycle.

Good things.


  1. A plethora of good things!!!

    Can't wait for your trip in Feb! Yay!!!

  2. First of all, yeah for amazing travels. Second of all, always glad to read when someone else's family is as crazy as mine. Sorry, but as you know, misery loves company and I don't like to be the only one. Thirdly, this is so freaking huge about your dh and therapy and I will def pray about this. my dad is bipolar and has ptsd, but the right therapy and meds and he is the least nutty in the bunch now. Seriously. 180 turnaround. My parents' marriage is so much better. Praying for good things there!

  3. I love the sibling group trip and how you put the wheels in motion with a quick email. That is going to be so fun!

    That's great about DH seeing the therapist. I hope it works out well. Very promising, indeed.

    Lots of good things (and good goals) you've listed. (I tried the dance lesson thing one year and never got very far.) I'm excited for you.

  4. That is so cool about your sib trip! I love doing sib things :) I am glad about all the good things going on- you certainly deserve a break from the bad!

  5. Lots of great things! The trip sounds amazing. I've written this here before, but marriage is hard and I love your honesty in this post. I hope that his first session went well.

  6. There was so much of this post that I found myself nodding along to. It's so unusual (and refreshing!) to find someone else willing to be honest about marriage: it's NOT all sunshine and roses, and both parties are usually somewhat at fault. Mo and I don't fight fair (though we ARE trying to learn how) and there are lots of things about our relationship that are unhealthy. However, I also see that in many, many other marriages -- though they claim otherwise. At the very least, I am glad that I can SEE the things that need fixing...for if I can't, how can I ever fix them?!?

    I can also identify with not finding joy unless the hubby does too -- it's part of those codependent tendencies that I am trying to shed. It's hard -- it takes constant effort -- but, I, too, would like to continue to find joy in the things that matter to me -- no matter if anyone else ever does.

    I'm glad that your DH is giving therapy a try -- and that he was motivated enough to seek it on his own. I hope that it helps.

    As for you, I am so inspired by your "let's DO IT already! attitude that I may likely adopt it myself! For so many years I have put off doing what I want to do for a myriad of reasons (most of which you listed above). Now, while we're not seeking treatments nor encumbered with children, why not tackle that "I've always wanted to...." list? Like I said, you're inspirational.

  7. wow! I found myself nodding through most of this post.

    Yes to travel! Double yes with siblings!
    Yes to doing things that you wanted to do 5 years ago (specially dancing!!)!
    Yes to seeing friends! ETC!!!

    You have inspired me. =)

  8. I was reading absolutely absorbed all the way - there's a new energy that pulses through this post :) I am so happy to hear of all the good happening and I will keep you and your dh in my prayers - I'm so glad that things seem to be opening up along the therapy front. And the trip with your sibs sounds amazing! Wouldn't it be great if 2011 brought you a new house, along with another language, dance lessons, and art!!

    I know that there are always rough patches but it helps to be moving along a path you feel good about. Advice I need to take to heart myself :)

    Sending you hugs, and wishes for a joyful Christmas and a great 2011.

  9. IMHO, you have a gift for writing too. At least what you say resonates because, after 40 yrs of marriage, I know that its not always the glowing relationships which are often portrayed online...although I can understand why people don't want to put their intimate lives out there! Just to say, thank you for sharing. All we have to do is crack the door open to the Infant of Prague (or Mary or Therese or whoever) & they can take the ball down the court from there. Merry Christmas!

  10. I definitely have a hard time having fun if my husband isn't. I can be in the best mood ever, and he'll wake up grumpy and instantly I'm a grump as well. I've been trying to work on being able to be happy regardless of the mood/feelings of those around me, but I'm just very sensitive to my environment I guess and I have a hard time with that.
    Anyway, I'm glad to hear your husband is going to see a therapist. Sounds like a step in the right direction for both of you.
    AWESOME about the trip to Warsaw!! So glad your sibs were up for it - that is gonna be a blast.

  11. Sorry this is so horribly late - I've been strictly working or sleeping recently. It's Christmas and our tree is still on the balcony - but I just wanted to say how thrilled I am for what truly seem like good things. Warsaw - amazing! (Where on earth did you get those tickets - my parents are paying $700! right around the same time to Frankfurt). I will keep praying that all of these good starts build into bigger good things.

  12. lurker here... just want to say what am awesome post this was! (and in my own way, can so relate to pinning joy on my man or wanting to capture that childlike joy and being disappointed so easily). :)) I feel inspired to take some action steps for 2011 too, and how awesome you get to go to Warsaw - a dream of mine. Hmmm... :).

  13. Really excited for your trip to Europe! How fun to spend time with your siblings abroad - very jealous of that one. My brother is generally strapped for cash, but I adore the idea of a trip to Europe with him someday. Probably won't happen since he has two kids, a job, a wife and the whole responsibility thing going on that we infertiles don't, but I still dream of it anyway.

    I'm also glad that your husband has made an effort to seek out professional help. Sometimes life is just too big to handle on our own.

  14. My husband and I went through a terrible time two years ago. He was deeply depressed, and his depressed expresses itself as intense, life-quenching anxiety (he feels sure he has cancer, for example). He got medication after a particularly insane incident, where he disappeared for several hours, had to get a tranquilizer shot to come back down, that kind of thing. It was incredibly hard to deal with, and I was myself barely making it (this was the ectopic hades I had to walk through). The meds worked like a charm. He's had moments here and there since, but he knows the beast now and can wrestle it much better.

    So my heart goes out to you, and feels for you. I know those hopes and plans, and how much it hurts when they fall flat.

    I love your plans to travel to Warsaw. And to learn to dance. And to help people in need. All that is truly an answer to your prayers, all that is calling you closer to the divine. I'm so happy to read this. I keep you in my prayers, if you'll keep me in yours. :)

  15. still reading. i don't always know what to say but i wanted you to know that i'm still here and i'm rooting for you.