I’ll put on my silver

There are a lot of things that make me happy, but I don’t necessarily write about them. I’m kind of paranoid about admitting that I’m happy–especially in certain areas of my life–because doing so makes me feel too vulnerable. I also tend to have a low-level sense of impending doom, so why bother saying something makes me happy when whatever is making me happy will go away?

Obviously, I know this makes no sense, and it’s not healthy.  I’ve made progress, though.  I have no drive to hide the joy that my daughter brings me, and I’ve found myself saying “it made me so happy” often over the last few years (it’s usually about small things, like the sunshine, but it’s a start).

This started as a bunch of notes for a post celebrating my imperfect Mother’s Day, which made me very happy. I’ve figured out that the things that are making me happy and keeping me afloat right now are upsides to situations that range from still-terrible to merely not perfect…and that seems like a way to explore being less pessimistic from my comfort zone.

Let’s start with the biggest one:

My niece has had life-threatening health problems from long before she was born, but things seem worse in the last six months or so.  There isn’t one “disease” or “syndrome” (that we know of ) that covers her symptoms; more and more, it seems like her doctors are grasping at straws.  Get her into the hospital, handle a complication that arises from being in the hospital (staph infection or sepsis, usually). Handle the complications that result from treating that problem (c. diff), stabilize her, send her home. She went into the hospital last week, and the doctors came up with new leads to follow: check out her liver, and investigate her apparent bone marrow failure.  She was supposed to have a bone marrow biopsy and brain MRI done Monday; she had to have general anesthesia (maybe because that uses a breathing tube?), but they ended up postponing it because she wasn’t stable enough. As it was, they expected her to go back into the PICU during the recovery.

All of her doctors conferenced today with the preliminary results: her bone marrow failure is not due to leukemia! It’ll take a week or two to get full results, and there are plenty of other possibilities that are scary, but…this is still the worst-case scenario being ruled out, and there is the promise of actually getting some answers.

Found out a couple hours later that they couldn’t rule out myelodysplastic syndromes, which is basically cancer, but there’s also a possibility that what’s really got her right now is that she never really got rid of c. diff, and there’s a newish treatment that they haven’t done yet.

I’ve been kind of coming out of my body over the last week. I made an uncharacteristic impulse ticket purchase last week to give myself something to focus on (and it worked–I’m glad I did it). I was in a little bubble with M Friday and Saturday, and then I spent Mother’s day feeling uncharacteristically grateful for spending my special day with a puking kid. The anxiety didn’t become physically uncomfortable until Monday, when I found out that they had to postpone the procedure. It got worse and worse throughout the week–I don’t feel like I was there at all–but when I got the “not the worse” news today, I could actually feel the anxiety draining out of me.

Mother’s day.  This was my first not being invited to my in-law’s, but I’m getting used to it, and I wouldn’t dare be unhappy about mother’s day because I have a healthy child. I have a healthy mom, too.  I’m not about to cry because no one brought me breakfast in bed–no one was stopping me from bringing the box of Captain Crunch upstairs with me.

My holiday started at 2:00 am, with my daughter puking.  She did it again in the morning.

I talk a lot about my phobia.  It doesn’t magically go away with her, but I’ve found a way to deal with it that is manageable.  God bless this child that was made just for me: she doesn’t retch. Sound is the worst part of it, and she doesn’t sound like she’s puking. She just coughs, and then maybe the last cough sounds kind of gross. I can’t really watch people vomit, so I sit behind her and rub her back or hold her hair, but look away. Clean up isn’t a problem for me–it’s the act itself that makes me panic.

She’s not cranky when she’s sick, and I was tired, so we just had a quiet day at home.  I didn’t have to drag myself out to find something to do to entertain her, but she was in good spirits and not nearly as sick as she was the last time she had a stomach virus. I just had a relaxing, low-key day with her. No hour wait for brunch, but also not a severely ill child. It was kind of perfect.

All of these events–birthdays, holidays–are all just excuses to spoil ourselves or others.  I spoiled myself Friday night in a way that most normal adults with disposable income do, but it’s exciting because it’s new to me.

I wasn’t remotely interested in sports until this fall.  M likes all of them, so I gave baseball a try, and then hockey.  It turns out that I really enjoy hockey. I still don’t absorb much in terms of good versus bad playing, but I’ve connected in a way that is VERY me: pick a team (Islanders), find a couple players to focus on for either some stupid reason, like his name (Clutterbuck!!!), or something that I find compelling about him personally (Hamonic and his work with children who have lost a parent), and then start to pick up things about their actual performance that has something to do with their hockey playing.

I’m starting to expand and look at other players–I find the job of goalie to look particularly impossible, so I was kind of in awe of Greiss…until I saw a couple games against Ben Bishop, holy shit. But I can’t take my eyes off of Clutterbuck when he’s on the ice.  He skates with shorter stride, and he’s way less agile and graceful than other players, but he is absolutely fearless.  It seems that he’s on the ice often, but for very short periods of time, but that just means that (live, anyway) I get to see him go tearing his way into a collision more often.

There’s a comparison between his approach and my life, but I can’t quite articulate.  His approach to hockey is pretty much the inverse of how I approach life, and I admire it. I’m so often afraid to do things, say things, to the point at which it’s effortless to not think to do or say, and I want very much to identify the ways in which I’m keeping myself in an anxious bubble so I step out of it.

So, I went to the game with M. I “performed” horribly as a fan and date–stayed frozen and quiet, like I am at the movies.  I felt very self-conscious about it, but I’ve realized what’s been going on: I’m inhibited about him because he’s a ball-buster, and I’m afraid I’ll be embarrassed or discouraged from a potential new interest if he makes a joke about something I do at a game. I’m very aware that I’m a total “newb,” and it’s normal for people who have been fans for years to express contempt for the people who jumped on the bandwagon during playoffs.

Also, this is new for me, and most sports fans became fans when they were younger and more accepting of rituals and “hokey” things that go on at a game*. I take in the sights, sounds, and routines of a live game, which are kind of alien to me, but I don’t actually participate in the experience–yet.

*This is part of the reason I like it…I like seeing people dropping their coolness, getting invested, and losing their shit over things that aren’t directly connected to them.  I find it a completely refreshing escape from my life, and I think it’s brilliant to pick something that isn’t inherently meaningful and decide to be personally invested in it because it can make you happy–even ecstatic at times–along with other humans. I feel like an alien so much of the time, but, once I am confident enough that I have a clue what’s going on, I can blend right in at a game.

Not for nothing, but it’s actually kind of brave for me to just buy two tickets to a game without knowing who was going with me. A backup fell into my lap at work when I told a coworker wearing and Islanders shirt that I was going to the game that night. If M couldn’t go, I would have been too afraid of rejection to try to find someone else to go with me; I was just going to hand the second ticket to someone hoping to buy a ticket outside the place.

The Islanders lost.

But I loooooooved seeing it live.  I’m still glad I went, because it was fascinating.

What else?

I haven’t been to the gym in a week. I could have gone Tuesday, but I was so tired and stressed. I was working from 7:30 am -10 pm last night, so I wasn’t able to take advantage of a night with my daughter at her dad’s house. I’ll go back Saturday, though.  I do think I’ll stick with it.

Obviously I saw M, but now he’s angry with me, and he’s not really speaking to me. I don’t even know if he’s just cooling off, or that’s him breaking things off.

I reached around in the dark and found something good: I’ve been listening to a good album (Sea Change) that I neglect for months or years at a time and then rediscover.

A big…project?…is done at work, and I’m so exhausted, but it’s over.  I could have done so much better, but it turned out well, and there’s another round next year. The most important thing is that my kids are happy with their performances, and sometimes the best thing you can hope for when working with this age is to provide them with experiences that don’t frighten them away from making art. I was actually told by a parent of a student in a different district that I “saved” her kid’s night, and her experience with this project. I know that’s completely silly, because what I did was NOTHING, but do you know what? I’m going to enjoy it anyway.

My niece may be able to get healthier than she’s been in months. I’m sitting in between my kitty and my sleeping girl. It’s almost summer. I’m making baby steps toward living the way I want to live.

I’m going to pat myself on the back and have a drink, because I think I just took the tiniest chunk out of the wall of fear, self-consciousness, and pessimism that I’ve spent my adult life building.

You get a beautiful song:


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