Now, before you think I’m being dramatic, you should know that this post has played out in my head so many times, based on many interactions I’ve had over the last 17 months of the nightmare I’ve been living. I’ve wanted to rant, to share info that I’ve learned over the last FOUR years, from licensed and experienced therapists specializing in the things I’ve been dealing with, countless books, and a year-long intensive betrayal recovery program (that has been around for a long time and is based on extensive research). People do not understand what I’ve been going through, and I do feel called to share, but every time I’ve tried to share a little bit, it seems I get ridiculed, falsely accused, or shut out of people’s lives. I just know that it’s finally time for me to begin sharing. And some of it isn’t my story to tell, so although I’m an open book, there will be some missing pieces, and I’ve learned that I don’t owe people an explanation for everything (or anything, really).
This is the face of a mom who just got her toddler to sleep at 11:30pm after trying for almost 4 hours. Nursing. Snuggles. Books. iPad. Even a midnight drive. Water. Music. Noise machine. Star projector on the ceiling. Favorite blankie. Rocking. You name it, I’ve tried it.
He was actually a good sleeper, sleeping 7-9 hours at night by 4 months old, without any sleep training. But the day after he turned 5 months old, my life turned upside down, and I was suddenly a single mom. Since that night, he’s had major sleep difficulties. He regressed instantly to sleeping only 1-3 hours at a time, and that went on for over a year. He finally started sleeping 5-6 hours at night a few months ago, and recently started sleeping about 8 hours some nights. He even started going to sleep without an ipad or being nursed to sleep, in his own room a few weeks ago. Then upheaval came yet again to his poor life, and he started sobbing at bedtime again. Plus crying in his sleep multiple times a night. =( Parenting a traumatized kid is SO painful. As much pain as I’ve felt for me, there is NOTHING like watching your child suffer, especially when they’re too young for you to explain things to, to try and reason with and comfort them. It’s soul-crushing.
I’ve been trying to survive on 2-3 hours of sleep a night for almost a year and a half. I finally started getting 4 or so hours. And yes, you can say that I need sleep. And I need rest. And all of this stuff. But the reality is that my kiddo is so high maintenance, that it’s RARE for me to get anything done during the day…it’s a battle to even get food on the table and him fed without a major disaster lol. So my work kind of begins when he finally goes to sleep at night. And believe me, I’ve cut back to the bare necessities. Which has meant not blogging (much less anything else). But I feel it’s time to bring it back, which is why I’m taking the extra few minutes to write this up. There won’t be any editing, so I know it’s rough, and probably has typos, but it’s time to just START. I’m trusting that God does a miracle and turns things around so that I can have time to do more than just survive. But in the mean time, I’m just taking a step out in faith.
I’ve recently learned that I am now 24/7, 100% responsible for my son. So yes, I’m WIPED out. Though I received little help before, it’s now all on my shoulders. Due to a very long and complicated set of circumstances, I’m also left to try and sort through and declutter a garage packed full of stuff, not to mention my house being full of more of it. I have to get this in order before I move, because I need to downsize.
Oh, and did I mention I have to schedule more doctor’s appointments and surgery for cancer? I know 2020 has sucked for a lot of people, but my personal hell began in July of 2019, and has just continued to get worse.
One thing God’s been challenging me on is to just take a step forward in faith, and trust that he will work it out. I don’t even know what that looks like when you can barely survive, but I’ve been trying to also work on things like asking for help. Heck, just accepting help that is straight up offered is hard for me LOL.
Now, what are some things I wish I could tell people?
- Praying that “it’s not cancer when they take it out” doesn’t help anything, literally. I still need surgery, and my health is utter crap, cancer or not. I can barely function because my body is shutting down, so even if it somehow turns out to be benign, it doesn’t fix things for me, it just makes you feel better.
- Telling me stories of people you know of who survived thyroid cancer doesn’t help. Most people catch it early, but mine has been around for a long time, it’s been affecting my breathing significantly, and we don’t know how far it’s spread or if it’s metastasized, and even if it’s “mild” and contained, it doesn’t change the fact that it or the lack of treating it has destroyed my health to where I’m barely surviving day to day.
- Please, stop telling me to take care of myself. I KNOW this is important. If someone has the resources and energy to practice self-care, but just needs a reminder, that’s one thing. Even then, you should probably ask if you can help them do something for themselves. But for someone like me (and there are many others in similar situations), it’s literally IMPOSSIBLE to practice self care. Due to finances, time, energy, circumstances… What you should be asking is at least “are you able to practice self care?” And if not, “how can I help you get some self-care in?” You can offer to bring (or send via delivery service) a meal, watch their kid(s), do some dishes or fold some laundry. Maybe pick up groceries. Take things to a donation center to help them declutter. Bring wine and chocolate and sit and listen to someone’s pain. These are all just examples of some practical ways to actually be there for someone who is in survival mode. And if you think you know what survival mode is like, but you didn’t already know exactly what I just wrote in this paragraph, I promise, you’ve never been in survival mode.
- Along the same lines, when someone is breaking down crying over the stress of not being able to stand up long enough to cook meals or do the laundry, or clean the toilet, please, please stop telling them to “just let it go!” Yes, there are some people who are anal retentive, neat freaks who need to control their surroundings. Even if that’s them, they likely need that organization level to feel calm and be able to function. But there are some of us who HAVE let it go, to the point where no one even wants to come over and see it or help, because it’s SUCH a disaster. To where we are walking around naked in the morning trying to hurry a load of laundry because there’s nothing clean to wear. To where you’re worried about ants because the kitchen needs cleaned. To where there are no clean dishes. There are only so many things you can let go, for so long. At some point, these things need DONE. Instead of telling people to “let it go,” offer to come help. Offer to bring paper plates and plastic ware and sit and fold laundry while watching a movie together or something. Offer to come clean toilets while they nap (another thing I hear frequently is how I need to prioritize sleep, but factoring in stress and the amount of responsibilities resting on my shoulders alone, it’s not possible to “just prioritize sleep,” it’s not that simple).
There are more things I could say, but I do actually need sleep, and I need to get a bit of work done before I sleep. 🥴
Our society has lost the ability to meet people in their needs, to listen to HARD and awkward situations without trying to minimize or reason them away, and to sit with people in their pain. To practically help. To witness people in their messiest, crappiest, realest nitty-gritty circumstances, and jump in with real love.
This is my plea to you: Consider the people in your life. Are you actually sacrificially loving them? Are you helping them in practical ways? It’s worth re-evaluating as we enter the new year.
And to those of you who have loved me in real and practical ways, and done the messy, not fun, thankless things that have blessed and helped me survive, THANK YOU. I’ll never be able to repay you, but I do hope one day to be in a position that I can pay it forward. ❤️