Today was a massive waste of time. It’s so odd how things can go from totally perfect to totally fucked up in the space of 10 hours.
Yesterday, The Husband and I took two of our granddaughters to Erie (henceforth known as The Big City for purposes of telling the story). They’re at critical ages right now: Cam is 13 and a newly-hatched teenager (though she has almost always been older than she seems, which is both a blessing and a curse and a kind of prerequisite for a child who grows up with a parent in the military) and Abygail is nearly 11. They are genuinely good girls and not just because this Nana says so; the best thing about being a grandparent is that you have the unique ability and opportunity to see your spawns’ spawns objectively, and yet you can leave all manner of the consequences of disobedience mostly to their parents, who have the final say in that sort of thing. Those jokes about “What happens at Grandma’s stays at Grandma’s” and “If Mommy says no and Daddy says no, ask Grandma” might be true in other families, but in ours, we really do attempt to stay out of the decisions about the rearing of the grandkids. Oh, we will offer up advice if asked, but just as I made a promise to my kids that I would never be That Kind of Mother-in-Law to their spouses, I have tried to be the kind of grandparent who isn’t meddlesome. I trust them to raise their children and I think it shows in our relationship.
So, we took the girls to The Big City because things have been very busy for their mom and dad; there are two little brothers, one with some ongoing medical issues that cause a lot of stress and worry, and the other begins kindergarten this Fall. Mom is also just entering her second trimester of pregnancy (grandchild #13, y’all) and Dad is the newly-minted General Manager at our medical cannabis dispensary, a field that is ever-changing, evolving, and definitely growing. Life has been hectic for them and finding the time and the energy to shuttle two girls to try on school clothes was going to be hard for them. The Husband suggested, a couple of weeks ago, that our girls were so good and so deserving of a splurge that we should offer to take on that task for their parents.
Now, do not get me started on the emotional churn that suggestion put me into; The Husband is not their biological grandfather, but nothing about that matters even the slightest. He has been in my life for 20 years and we’ll be marking 15 years of marriage on Wednesday, so he has been essentially it for as long as all the grands have been alive. Someday, I will tell the tale of the first marriage that gave me the gift of my five, fabulous children. Trust me for now in my assurance to you that they were the only good thing that came of that union. Anyway, that The Husband came up with this idea before I had even a thought about it is important stuff. He has never tried to insinuate himself into my kids’ lives or be The Father, choosing instead to be a source of solid, unwavering, unquestionable reliability. Whereas the biological person is/was a never-ending source of disappointment and complete unreliability (as well as unlimited embarassment and quite possibly the sickest, evilest person I know) and who demanded a price for every, single thing he ever did for his children, The Husband only asks for respect, and never audibly. His actions deserve it, and while they may have been the typical teenagers who took some things for granted at times, as adults, they are grateful and mature enough to maintain that respect. Along with that respect has come love and trust. It is the one thing I always wanted for my children: that they know that unwavering, steadfast devotion from not just one, but two parents. And the grands? They deserve to just bask in our love for them.
We had a blast in The Big City; contrary to popular belief, school clothes shopping does not need to incite the desire to slit one’s throat. As we stood in line at the checkout of one store, an exasperated father took three small children in hand and uttered a terse, “We’ll be in the car” to his wife and stomped past us, exclaiming “Whoever came up with the idea of school clothes shopping should be shot.” I raised my eyebrows at The Husband and wondered just what had been so terrible for this guy that he wished death upon the first parent who had ever decided that their kid needed a whole, new wardrobe for the school year. I mean, is there an alternative? Kids grow, and fast. Buying clothes kind of comes with the territory. The buying of the clothes never drove me insane; the budgeting did. And he didn’t stick around for the grand total, which might have driven him over the edge. No, sitting in a hot car with whining kids was preferable to that. Whatever, dude. You know, having kids is not a requirement in this life, but you chose the path; now you get to stand in long lines in stores to buy their school clothes and must-have gifts for birthdays and Christmas. I have to wonder if he had been buying stuff for himself if he would have been so impatient.
After the stores had been combed and money spent, two exhausted girls did not want to roam the entire Mall in search of whatever it is girls like to look for; they wanted to veg in the car and see Lake Erie. They were entranced by some of the huge, mansion-like homes and buildings in the city, so we took them to some lake shore neighborhoods so they could exclaim, “People really live like this?!?” Yeah, girls, they do, and if Nana and Grandpa ever win the lottery, so will we. Then, we dipped our toes into the lake.
As I stood, looking out at the horizon, I thought that this day could not have turned out more perfect. This was truly the stuff; the memory-making stuff. I was happy, they were happy, and the man I married had been spontaneously enveloped in hugs in the middle of a store from two granddaughters who were ecstatic that he had come up with this little adventure just for them. It was glue, that display of affection; up until then, I know they were still in the process of really knowing him. Most of their lives had been lived apart from us, on military bases. I am just naturally more hands-on, though when they were babies and home for visits, he diapered, rocked, and held them, too. I didn’t need this for me; I needed it for them and for him. And it was a watershed moment. If I could have made tears, they would have leaked all over my face and then I’d have had some ‘splaining to do.
Tears, though. The lack thereof contributed to the tone of this overall waste of a day. It also refocused me on my inability to be who I wish I could be; a contributing member of society. I have not worked for 15 months now, because of these eyes. That there is no diagnosis except dry eye syndrome is frustrating. No, it’s not terminal. It sounds silly, doesn’t it, that dry eyes could limit a person the way it has me. It has, though, in a dozen little ways that, if taken as a whole, is pretty debilitating.
My eyes are cloudy first thing in the morning and I have to put warm compresses on them in order to be able to see.
They ache in that tired, I’ve been up for 18 hours way, all the time.
There are whole days when they feel like they have sand in them. Those are the bad days, because those are the days when I invariably succumb and rub them, scratching my corneas.
I need to re-wet them with drops an average of four times an hour, every hour, which makes me a slave to a little, white bottle. How I hate that bottle.
I am light-sensitive and sensitive to moving air. I wear sunglasses that cover my glasses even inside when it’s bad. I keep the house dim for that reason.
My depth-perception has gone the way of my tears: it’s just not there anymore.
It is impossible for an optometrist to write me an RX for glasses. They get as close as they can, but not exact.
The fact that I must add drops to my eyes every fifteen minutes or so makes finding any sort of employment difficult. Is there a job where an employer is going to put up with me sticking my fingers into my eyes? Most people shudder and say, “Eewww.”
These pissholes in the snow make me wonder why I even exist. My neck? The pain of degenerative disc disease and that bullshit has been a part of my life for 52 years. I grew up living with it. Give me that pain any day of the week over these bullshit fucking eyes. Depression? I attempt to kick its ass every day. I mostly succeed, but then things like these eyes, a broken cell phone, a little argument with The Husband over what I should do about these eyes, and the pressing issues of home ownership of a never-ending suckhole of money that a 160 year-old house is gives Depression a sliver of light through an unlocked door and then I am thinking, “What purpose do I serve except to be a drain on everyone?” And then the thoughts come in through the door and I don’t want them, but I do take comfort in them because I know them and their objective: to make it all stop. There would be no more eye bullshit. No more anger and worry over a broken cell phone. No more trying to figure out how to afford home repairs on one income because of the eye bullshit. No more guilt because we’re a one income house and I am not contributing and that makes me feel like a piece of garbage after almost 40 years of busting my ass in one job or another so that I could always contribute. No more wishing I had a condition that would be covered by disability even though the very idea of that rises the bile in my throat in this, the country where people who don’t pull their own weight are reviled.
Just like that, Depression gets through the door and begins trying to convince me that the pain of life is curable. It brings up every mistake, every hurt, every critical error I have ever commited that resulted in pain for someone else and I try to cover my ears but it all comes from within. And it hurts. And I sit, in my solitude, and make mental lists over and over to persuade myself that this too, shall pass. It’s hard, though, when you’re alone. It’s hard when the last thing you ever want to do is hurt anyone but that’s all you seem to do, just by existing. I mean, aren’t we all really expendable? It’s just a matter of time before we have to leave this world. Life is a terminal disease.
So I am asking myself tonight, how did a perfect day with three people I adore so much fold itself over and then open up to this day where I am reminded, once again, that I’m growing tired of Depression and the fight? My dark passenger, to borrow from Dexter Morgan, exhausts me. The debris that is thrown into my path slows down my escape from Depression’s grip.
I need to find a way to be worthy of escape from Depression’s clutches. I’m open to suggestions. I’m hoping to wake up in the morning and smell kitty breath and taste coffee and to think, ” Oh, thankfully that’s past.” I know, in my heart, that I am blessed. I know, in my heart, that I have people who love me. I know, in my heart, that couples have stupid arguments and cell phones break and houses need new roofs and I know, in my heart, that I don’t want to feel like a useless drain on everyone else.
My head, though. My fucking head. I don’t want or need pity. I don’t want or need anyone to say they are there for me. What I want and need is to get out of my own head. I’ve written this to illustrate to myself that even when the darkness overtakes me, I can send up flares for me to see. This is Depression. This is the ugliness that is me in the throes of It.
Maybe tomorrow, it will seem extreme. Tonight, nothing really matters.