Posted by: Kate | March 10, 2009


The not-getting-hired, on top of a string of not-getting-hireds after a nasty and painful layoff… the back pain… the choice to abruptly discontinue opiates for headaches because they were suddenly making me throw up every time, which means now I don’t throw up but I also don’t have medication that works for the pain… the infertility… the normal worries about kids and husband and family…

It all builds up, and I’m doing my level best just to keep my head above water. Most days, I think I at least break even. Yesterday, before getting the soulless form letter rejecting me from the job I wanted, I had a great time with the kids. Jacob and I shoveled the driveway, normally not my favorite chore, but he really helped; not just a toddler standing around, getting in the way, but really shoveling and brushing off the car and helping. Then after Emily got home, the three of us – yes, all three – painted our toenails and watched an old “Extreme Makeover: Ridiculous Home Edition” show while they dried. Simple, silly stuff, but it felt good. I was doing reasonably well, until I got that letter – and of course I had to rip into it while still standing next to the mailbox, even though I knew that a thin envelope is never a good thing.

I haven’t cried yet.

Last night had the potential to be a minefield for me, after the kids were in bed. I don’t respond the way I’m supposed to, when it comes to physical comfort; I’ll be relatively steady until Willem gives me a hug, and suddenly will be right on the edge of losing it. I know that’s because I trust and love him, but still, the numbness feels a little more controlled than the hurting. I’m also susceptible to odd things, on TV and online; things that have nothing whatsoever to do with my current life will trigger the waterworks, and things that do have some relevance – like a thread about new babies on my message board – hurt more than I can repeatedly subject myself to.

But instead, the night was fun and light, because Gretchen came over with knitting and Willem came home with three quarts of Cold Stone Creamery ice cream. We watched Dancing with the Stars and snarked over things like scantily clad women and robotic men and the fact that Samantha Harris’ shoulders looked like two bald men trying to eat her breasts (Willem’s contribution; the man just sees the world differently than I do). It was easy, and simple, and right.

We both mentioned, as she was leaving, that we were planning to go grocery-shopping this morning, and ended up making a date of it. It wasn’t all that different from a normal grocery-shopping expedition, except I had enforced sociability and the joy of watching Jacob race up and down the aisles and just adore Gretchen. Tomorrow, she’s planning to come over in the evening – after a long and arduous day of wedding-dress shopping – to watch the outcome of the DWTS show for the week.

It’s all small stuff, but it makes such a difference. It forces me to get up and get dressed, to shower and think about my clothes instead of grabbing for the nearest sweats. It forces me to engage and interact during the show, even if it’s just to mock and criticize, because you can’t mock and criticize without paying attention, and long chunks of time alone just disappear into this haze of inattention and numbness.

Her company is undemanding but sharp; she can tolerate long periods of silence, but she can also come out with wicked observations and funny one-liners. She’s just a sweetheart, and she has made such a difference.

I’ve said, several times, that it’s my friends and family that are keeping me sane right now; at least, some vague semblance of sane. I think I would be in serious danger if I was alone with this steaming pile of nonsense piled up around my life. It doesn’t take much – the phone calls and emails help more than they probably should – but it’s enough.

So, thank you. Really. All of you – but especially Gretchen.

A reminder, tomorrow’s carnival topic is “Generational Hand-me-downs.” Please join in…



  1. Kate, honey, I hope you know just how much you and yours mean to Dan and I. If I could give you half of what you guys have given us…

  2. I’m glad you have a friend like Gretchen. We all need them.

  3. Can I use the comments section to thank Gretchen? Because I heart her for being there for you.

    Hugs to both of ya!

  4. I’m so glad you have her. Everyone needs a Gretchen. Maybe even more than one!

    I’m all set for tomorrow. Link away. 🙂

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