What is it that stops you in your tracks? For the past several weeks – several weeks – I have tried to think of how to describe what I have experienced since I brought my dad back to Florida. It’s not so much frustration as it is pressure, but not the kind of pressure that breeds anxiety.
I’m not anxious.
I know what needs to be done to move ahead, but that’s just the problem. I know. I know, because I’ve done it before, and I know not one part of what I have to do is going to be easy or appreciated. It’s that knowledge that has my stymied.
If you can, imagine yourself inside a ball that’s filled with that gooey stuff inside a stress ball. I feel as though I’m inside that ball. I’m a lump that gets manipulated by a huge hand. Each finger is a different stressor, and I’m desperately trying to press myself back into the relative shelter of the palm.
It’s just not working. The fingers are rolling me into contortions all over the inside of that ball.
Every breath I take, from the moment I wake until the moment my head hits the pillow (notice I don’t say “sleep”), I feel the atmosphere compressing that ball. Think about it: the force of everything compressing equally over that ball. I’m in the middle, and I can’t move. I can’t breathe. I have to heave a sigh just to take in air, otherwise, my breathing is so shallow, I have to think myself into taking a breath.
My mind feels suspended. There really isn’t another word for it. Blank doesn’t quite describe it, neither does empty. I feel too much inside my head, see too much. The sense of overwhelm is like a too-thick layer of skin and it paralyzes me.
Don’t get me wrong, to look at me, you wouldn’t know anything was going on with me. I may strike you as too quiet, aloof even. All business with a pleasant face. My humor, as always, would be dark, biting, even self-deprecating. I’d make you laugh, but only so I can get you to go on your way.
I’m the queen of placation.
The problem is that it takes every ounce of energy for me to emit that façade of interaction. I would receive no energy from you. I would only be throwing my energy at you to get you away from me so I could force myself back to the dad-tasks to get them done as quickly as possible so I can accomplish at least one thing for myself.
It doesn’t always happen, the doing something for myself part. That’s why I need my notebook. Not my smart-phone, not my laptop, but my plain paper notebook. Jotting is quicker than booting up and typing. Flipping is faster than searching. I need my notebook to quickly show myself what I’ve done as much as to remind me what I need to do.
And that’s just it: I now have too much to do. Dad is a 24-7-365 job. Even though he’s in his own apartment – he’s living on the other side of my woods – Dad calls every couple of hours to ask me if it’s raining where I am. (He’s about 300 yards away). He and the dogs will pop over at various times throughout the day to visit. Unannounced. Dad just wants to tell me about his day and show me an ungodly number of pictures he’s taken of virtually nothing, and I can’t stand it. I don’t care that he’s seen the same ducks he’s seen for the past month. I don’t care that his neighbor has moved in or out. I don’t care.
I do care that he’s safe and well and that he has enough to eat and that he will always have a place to call his own. Every day. I just want that to be enough, but I know it’s not. I have to dig deeper inside myself, drill out my marrow if I have to, in order to find that last speck of whatever it is – life, I guess – to make me get up tomorrow so I can lead him through another good day in a place that makes him feel secure.