People who equate truth with fact are missing the point.

The Lead In My Bones

I am tired.


I feel like my bones are filled with lead.

Do you remember when you were in college and the end of the semester was a wild rush and you studied worked wrote studied more took exams and then, after the last class, you went home and collapsed for a month? All that pressure kept your running running running and then all in a moment, it was gone, like air out of a balloon and you landed, deflated.

Carter has been on a steady upward trajectory for a couple of months, but just in the past two weeks, I’ve begun to settle into it a little bit. I’ve realized that we really are in a new place, have found stability that could last awhile.

(Should the universe see fit to allow that and for which we will be endlessly and enormously grateful please don’t smite I am not testing I do not expect this I know I am not powerful I will be happy to beg if necessary thank you for your kind consideration of my plea for continued quiet for my little boy.)

There is some part of me that is almost frantic to get as much normal living in as I can while I have the chance, to catch up and rebuild and recover what we can of the last twenty months. I want to renew my marriage, clean the house, spend time with Jacob and Abbie, deal with the horrendous yards (Oh, my God, the weeds are taking over the world!), finish my book proposal, get some more exercise, shrink my to-be-read stack of books……

While I’m at it, I’ll probably fly to the moon under my own power. Because that’s about as reasonable as the rest of the list.

In some ways, crises are easier than ordinary life. When there is an emergency in front of me, I don’t stand around trying to decide what to do; I deal with the emergency. Ordinary life, though, requires me to do more than manage the most pressing thing. I have to decide.

People? There is a great deal to be done. We’ve neglected so much while Carter has been acutely ill, I don’t know where to begin.

Sigh. And I’ll be honest (but I don’t wanna!); having a kid with a disability that makes our lives utterly chaotic has some benefits. Those benefits are excuses and I’m almost unbearably ashamed to admit that I’ve come to rely on them. Sometimes I can’t cook dinner; sometimes we can’t make it to church; sometimes maintaining house and yard is more than we can manage.

But also? I hate to cook. I love our church, but I want to sleep in on Sunday mornings (Plus, when you get out of the habit of doing something like that? It’s really hard to get back to it.). And house and yard work? Bleh.

What IF:* I lived my life and gave myself permission to take time to heal? What if I took all the pressure off and just……rested? What if I stopped listening to all the shoulds that are banging so noisily in my head? What if I gave myself a break?

What if I had a little faith in myself?

*Thanks, Mara!

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27 comments to The Lead In My Bones

  • It sounds like a break might be a VERY good idea right now! I have been overwhelmed by the reality that I CANNOT do everything (much of your list resounded with me though our circumstances differ) and learning that it is okay to admit that! It’s okay to take the nap that will make me a nicer person when the dishes and laundry are piled up. It’s okay to leave the dishes til tomorrow and watch a movie with my family. It’s okay if the grass grows long and the carpets need vacuumed. Some days we need a break more than we need a spotless home!

  • Go with your instinct of the moment, Adrienne. With my illness, my energy levels are unpredictable. Most days it is very very low, which means I have to choose carefully. If I’m having a really good day, I try to fit as much in as possible in a frenzy, which I pay for in the following days. It’s like over-exercising. At first I tried to prioritize. I looked at needs (spending time with my daughter), shoulds (cleaning house), and wants (book time) and thought this was the correct order. The problem was I never got around to wants. Now, the method I use is asking myself this question: “What’s the best thing for me to do right now?” If I can’t answer, I ask my husband for advice, which is surprisingly effective. He knows me well. Neglecting the hazard zone that is my house for The Hunger Games might seem selfish, but I’ve learned that if I don’t give myself this self time, the days I have energy are fewer.

    • I like that, because I prioritize the same way, and I find myself left out of the equation all too often. Then? I feel so robbed and terrible that I can’t do anything – not productive things OR the things that I enjoy, so I end up paralyzed in front of the TV. What a mess!

      And of course, there are family dynamics and history that complicate everything. Trying to manage and decide based strictly on the people who live in this house – not easy!

  • um. i ignore all the same things and I don’t have a crisis to blame it on. at least not anymore. we went to church once this summer–because we had nursery duty–so we weren’t even really in church. after dealing with something so huge, it is hard to transition back to “normal”. I totally get that. Shoot, I have that every June when I go from frantic school mode to looking around in summer mode. I think…and this is just little me here…but I think you deserve a break. Tell yourself you are going to give yourself X amount of time. If Carter is still good at that point? You tackle whatever is highest on your “normal” life list.

    And the lawn? pfft. winter is coming. oh wait…you probably don’t get that break from the lawn where you are. Do you?

    • Oh, no, we definitely have real winter here. It’s mild, but plenty cold enough that the trees are bare and the lawns all die.

      Yeah, I really want to trust myself – to believe that I will naturally gravitate toward a reasonable level of doing things. It’s not really my nature, though. The trusting. A time limit might be a good idea. I might have better luck with letting go if I know there’s a time limit on it.


  • EXACTLY. What if?? It’s amazing all of the things and ideas and excitement (or worry) that can arise. But really, you’ve just got to dig deep and do it. Give yourself a break!! You so deserve it. xoxo.

    • Dig deep and do it. You’re awfully wise, you know that? I know I need this, and these words of encouragement are helping me know it in my guts, instead of just in my head.

      Thank you.

  • maybaby

    Yes. Please do heal and rest.

    I teach, and this summer was the first one in three years in which both my teens were stable and thriving, my daughter even tapered off her meds.

    I did NOTHING this summer. I just…existed. I made meals and did some laundry every day and puttered a little bit. I mostly read, though. And hugged my kids.

    We are all the better going into this school year, rested and much happier. Please give yourselves time to relax a little.

  • NTE

    I really like your “What if…” I think you should take yourself up on it. Breathe and go from there. Best wishes!

  • I’m with you there in all of this. I am just waiting now for Jacob’s month of no-school-no-camp-no-schedule-all-mom-all-the-time to be over so I can pick up my life again. Until September 13th, I’m just treading water. Wanna have a cup of coffee “together” in September?

  • kae

    before you said any of those what if?
    i was thinking go get a pedicure
    live your life not like it is “normal”
    but like you are on an extravagant vacation

    just in case you have to go back to the crisis
    you should know you really did have some
    adrienne time
    if things remain the way they are going and i so pray and bless and bargain that they do?
    you will actually have more time for all that anyway.
    it isn’t selfish
    it is self love
    and mama?
    you need that
    for a good 2 weeks
    til you can’t stand it ANYMORE!

    • Sigh. Thank you! Yes, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Rest and rest until I’m feeling like, what the hell am I doing? I have to get up and go before I die of boredom?

      Then, I’ll know it’s time to get up and get busy.

      Love you.

  • It’s so hard to turn off the endless thought cycles. They tend to paralyze. One tip I learned from SARK: if you’re feeling like this, move your body. Get out of the house for a walk or go for a drive or whatever, but move. Once you start moving, the thoughts can untangle and move out of their circle as well. Then it will be easy to decide what to do and what to let go of.

    And? Just because it’s peaceful now, doesn’t mean you instantly have to fill the time (as I keep telling myself, when Amber is having an easy day!). You’re not being lazy, you’re getting some well-needed rest!

  • you need to take the time to heal. I rushed from one emergency to another for years, then when things finally settled down I was like you, didn’t know how to act, behave or what to do. My list was a mile long, I didn’t take a break. I jumped right in and I regret it. I wasn’t able to do my best at anything because I wasn’t ready. I gave everything my all, it just wasn’t good enough. Now I have a different kind of burnout. So take it a day at a time and do what is right, not what you expect of yourself.

    • Yes, that’s my concern, really. That we’ll be back into the next emergency before I have a chance to recover. Much as the freezer needs to be defrosted, I need to heal more!

  • this IS such a struggle. we tend to juggle so much and then on top of it wrestle with guilt over priorities, expectations, Etc.
    I truly hope you have some time to yourself, without all the voices pulling you each and every way… so that you are able to gain some clarity and focus!

  • You officially have my permission to take a break. (I know the opinion of this random stranger is important to you. 🙂

    Really, though, do take care of yourself.

    • Sometimes, the permission of a near-stranger is more meaningful than from someone who knows me.

      Thank you! I’m starting to feel much, much better. Less guilty and, paradoxically, more willing to get up and do some of this stuff. Weird how that works!

  • […] month ago, I wrote about Carter’s new stability and how much trouble I was having. I couldn’t decide how to […]

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