I wonder just how much I’ve changed, fundamentally. I feel like it’s still too early to really gauge; like I’m still so early in the recovery process that I can’t even judge how far into the recovery process I am. Fifty percent? Seventy-five? Twenty? It’s overwhelming, because I can’t see the end yet. I can’t get a handle on how far I’ve come or how much farther I have to go.
So I wait. I get through a day at a time, and I acknowledge new changes and scars as they appear. The latest is a fear of being home alone, but also a fear of leaving the house… when I’m home alone, I’m rarely truly alone; it’s with at least Isaac, if not all three kids, and I’m terrified of having some sort of memory slip that results in damage. Every summer, there’s at least one horrible news story about a baby being left in a hot car because the parent just forgot the kid was there, and that’s parents without known memory problems post-coma. I forgot how old I was the other day, and then I had a hard time doing the mental arithmetic to figure it out. I’m reasonably confident that as long as I remain anxious about my ability to keep track of everything that needs keeping track of, I’ll be fine; it’s when you get complacent and trust the routine that slips happen. I have to believe that, because I’m home alone with the baby now, and in a month Willem will be returning to work full-time. My time of focusing solely on my recovery, and only secondarily on anything outside of my own body, is rapidly coming to a close.
OK, then, I’m scared to be the only adult at home but I’m learning to handle it. Fabulous. And as soon as I start to feel OK about that, I face the flip side of that particular coin: if it’s scary for me to be in the house, it’s outright terrifying for me to be out. I got so, so sick in March, all because of a simple little germ. Somebody, sometime, had strep throat; most likely, Emily brought it home from school, since she’s the only other member of the house that tested positive for the strain that landed me on life support. Just strep throat, such a simple – and terrifyingly common – little thing. I’ve lost all faith in my body’s ability to respond appropriately to illness and threats, and while I haven’t developed agoraphobia, I’ve started to understand how it is that people can spend years never leaving the confines of their own home. Life is unpredictable enough within these walls, and is completely out of control outside them.
Sigh. Do you see? This isn’t me. This isn’t the person I wanted to become. Just read back six months ago, you’ll hear the voice of a confident, competent woman. I might have been unemployed and physically challenged, but I felt like I had a handle on it all. I sound happy. I felt happy.
Now I’m sad every day, but not sure whether I’ve made it to “depressed” yet. Some days, certainly, but then other days I rally and step away from that dark edge. And I’m not sure why. I’m not sure what makes the difference, why some days I can get up and act like I know what I’m doing, and other days I hide in my bed because I don’t want the kids to see me so broken and scared.
Looking at my kids, I have to convince myself that I have no regrets, because if I change any one thing in my past it might lead to not having the same three people in my life, and I love them all beyond expression. I have such a strong bond with Willem; I knew we had a good marriage and a solid connection, but over the past several months I’ve proven that I can trust him, literally, with my life. I don’t want to change any of that. But if someone had told me at 22 just how hard it was going to be in just 10 years, I’m not certain I would have had the strength to make the same decisions. It’s all just so much harder than I thought it was going to be, you know?