Friday, February 19, 2010

Two Feelings

On the one hand, joy is one of my favorite words, but on the other, I think relief might be my true favorite feeling.

That says something about a person, I think.

What does it say about me? Maybe I lack endurance. Maybe I have a low pain threshold. Probably I'm just too uptight.

I'm thinking a lot tonight about relief, and how significant it is to me right now. I am honoring relief, and acknowledging how much I value it.

I worked all through college on the campus newspaper. Having imagined for my whole life that I would become a journalist, getting paid to work with my friends in a kind of apprenticeship felt natural and wonderful, but also stressful and draining. My work wasn't just for joy, it was how I paid for books and gas. I didn't volunteer, I held paid staff positions, among many talented people who, unlike me, went on to impressive careers in the field. Being a morning person, I always took 8 a.m. classes, and being a newspaper editor, I tended to work until about 9 p.m. When the paper went to press, I never knew where to put my pent up stress, my leftover adrenaline, and I tended to fret and sweat every last headline and piece of punctuation even when they could no longer be changed. I struggled to figure out how to downshift after work so that I could face the series of long and stressful, though exciting and rewarding, days and weeks of each semester, and still embrace the good times of being a college kid. The sensation that gave me a small measure of relief came when, around 9 or 10, we shut off the office's computers; the room, already quieting by degrees, stopped humming as the last Mac finally let out its sigh, and we each headed off on our separate ways. Whenever someone describes the sound of silence, I think of the news office, and the relief of turning everything off.

I don't get migraines, though since my mother and husband both have, I can appreciate how severe they can get, and that they are in a class by themselves -- they are not your standard issue headache. One time though I did have a vicious headache, brutal in its intensity, severe enough to send me to the emergency room, where doctors and nurses finally medicated me to knock me out and silence my excruciating complaining! It wasn't the most agony I ever felt, because after all I've given birth twice!, but it hurt like hell, and unlike labor it never relented for a single moment before the drugs kicked in a few hours into the abyss. When I woke up, I felt better. Not ready to tackle the world -- I actually still felt bad enough that on a regular day it would have warranted several Advil and probably a trip to the school nurse. But by comparison? I felt such relief, waking up without the agony flattening me, that the relief itself felt precious and worth celebrating. With each passing hour, as I came back to one hundred percent, I acknowledged the growing relief to anyone who would listen. Those who had to put up with my bitter proclamations of my pain then had to tolerate my detailed analysis of my recovery, my comparisons to my college newspaper office, but surely that also, in turn, gave them less of a headache than my moaning and groaning.

As I am sure anyone who knows me would agree, I am one who grieves deeply and keenly when I grieve, and I grieve long and slowly. It is relief from grief that emerges most incrementally, that almost requires time lapse video to trace. The grief is like being swarmed by six million killer bees, and after you kill one at a time, day after day, slowly the buzzing ebbs and the dark swarm shrinks.

Relief... a marked decline in pain... a reduction in tension... a subsiding of stress... edges out joy by a nose for my Olympic gold in the emotions field, even though that makes me much less vibrant and fearless than I'd like to be.

I have been blogging for two years now. My blog began with a quest, many questions, terrible fear, and much grief, as my husband and I began the journey to get our son diagnosed and, more importantly, get the Rooster healthier and happier. My blog began as my grandmother's decline became steadily more insurmountable. My blog began in a place that felt, to me, at the time, bereft of relief.

It has been two long and slow yet fast and furious years. You can look at photos of me then and now and see a map develop of the rough terrain I've traversed. So many lines on my face! The days? How long they have been. The weeks? Full of limping, limping to Friday finishes. The months? Seemed to change in a blur before I got used to writing their number in my checkbook. We have filled two years with passages, with treks, with expeditions. We have worked. Our. Asses. Off. In two years, I cannot imagine how many doctors we have had, let alone estimate the number of visits. The dollar amount would surely draw a gasp. The miles we've logged would choke an environmentalist, but at least we finally bought a hybrid. (Stupid Toyotas, though; don't get me started.) In two years of adjusting to autism in our lives, I have written more first person than I, with my journalism background, ever dreamed I'd write in a lifetime. In two years, I have blogged enough to fill two paperback books of more than 300 pages each.

I wish I could tell you I filled these two years with joy. I did aim to. I believe my children have known their fair share of moments of exquisite joy in this time, and that their childhoods are not lacking it. For me, though, these two revolutions of the earth about the sun have been tinted, I must admit, though with some shame, by my grieving process. I have been slow to let go of the pain it cost me to say goodbye to my grandmother, I have been slow to process what it means to have a child with diagnoses: hypotonia, torticollis, asthma, autism, ADHD, food allergies, strabismus, and the latest, Irlen Syndrome. I have been slow to learn and accept and heal and regroup. I have been quick to cry and moan, to research and read, to learn and try and brainstorm and invent, to wallow, to weep, wonder, to worry.

This is my anniversary post, celebrating if you will two years of Rooster Calls. I've been conquering one killer bee at a time, and I'm ready to celebrate the relief of that today. Before I shut down this humming laptop, I raise my glass to you, my readers, and to this, my blog, and say, "To relief... which I feel emerging, tiny bit by tiny bit. And to joy, which I hope waits in even larger measure for our whole Rooster clan as the sun rises on our new journeys. Thank you for helping us get there, and may you and yours have healthy measures of relief and joy coming your way, too."

1 comment:

redheadmomma said...

....and I am so glad you decided to start blogging, friend. I love you. XO