Well, Robby made the switch to 3rd. He goes in for his first shift in just a few hours. Other than being tired from staying up all night Friday in order to switch his sleep schedule and being nervous for his first 3rd shift, he seems to be doing really well, which is great.

I, on the other hand, am very anxious.

I actually have been since Friday night when I went to bed by myself. I was lying there, trying to be calm while telling myself that I didn’t need Robby to sleep, and that I could take care of myself, when it hit me: The last time I told myself those things while trying to sleep alone was when I had left.

I know that this isn’t then. We aren’t sleeping apart because we are broken. We are sleeping apart because our schedules require it.

But it’s still hard.

It’s only been a few days and we are still adjusting, but it is hard. I know our relationship is in a good place. I know that I’m not running from him because the PTSD is twisting my reality. But when I was filling the bed with stuffed animals, trying to forget that he should be lying next to me, some of the old wires started to cross and I started to feel alone. I have never felt more alone than those 3 days in that hotel.

And I never want to feel that way again.

I want our relationship to stay good. I don’t want us to become roommates who never see each other. I know we are going to have to work harder than we have the last few months, but I also know that we have been through much harder things.

But I’m still scared. I know how easy it is to still into bad patterns. I know how easy it is to drift apart. To become lonely. But I have to keep telling myself that we are prepared for this. We know what to watch out for and we know how to invest in and build up our relationship. We just have to do those things, and I have to have faith that we can do this. And as long as we both stay alert and proactive, I know we can.

But maybe that’s the other thing that worries me. Robby has a very hard time with follow through. He’s much better about follow through when it comes to our relationship than when it comes to taking care of himself, but it’s still something he struggles with. So I guess that I worry that we will say that we will be diligent, but when things start to strain, his struggles with follow through will make things harder. So I guess that’s where we start. Talking about my worries.

A Blessing For Us, A Trial For Her

Recently, I wrote how I was facing the possibility that I would have to say goodbye to the kids at my job because it was only temporary. Then a few days later, my boss approached me about staying on “as long as I want to stay”. What a blessing!

But then I found out why.

The woman I am filling in for, April, has been on medical leave recovering from a surgery. It turns out the surgery was a double mastectomy. Thankfully, the breast cancer was contained. However, when the doctors were running labs on the tissue they found a second type of cancer that is very aggressive. And it has already spread. So she is going to be starting two types of chemo simultaneously in an effort to fight both cancers.

So she’s probably not going to be back for a long time. And if we are completely honest, she might never be back.

And I don’t know how to process that.

I am grateful beyond belief to have a job that I love and (I hope) I am good at, but it breaks my heart that it comes at such a cost to her.

I have been through awful things in my life, I know awful things happen. I am just so used to them happening to my family, that I guess I never thought about others going through horrible things. And I would never wish this on her, but I am still benefiting from her pain, and that breaks my heart. I know logically that when I quit my bookstore job due to the PTSD getting too severe (not sure if I’ve written about that yet, if not, I will eventually) that someone benefited by getting my job, but I’ve never been in the positive position in this kind of situation. We’ve always been the ones struggling.

I guess the key is to remember that even though we are in a time of blessings, there are still people going through trials. We can’t say ‘oh, it’s their time’ or even ‘it’s not my problem’ because life happens to all of us and we only get through those times with the support of others. So I will try not to feel guilty, but instead grateful for the blessings we have, and try and pour those blessings into others.

I actually love my job

I never expected that.

Now I’m starting to wonder about my future. Do I want to stay on at T*** after the summer program ends? Can I stay on after the summer program ends? If I can’t, then what?

I’ve finally found something that I enjoy doing and I would be happy doing long-term. The thing is, I don’t know if I will be able to.  And that kind of scares me. I don’t know what I will do when I don’t have T*** in my life. I don’t want to go back to having nothing to fill my days. Having no purpose. I love getting to be a part of those children’s lives and I don’t want to give that up.

But if they can’t hire me me for the school year, I will have to. And I will just have to face that when the time comes. I don’t know how I will, but I will.

Blake and Tessa

I started working at a childcare facility, and there is a little girl there named Tessa. The other kids have told me that Tessa has Autism, but to me she presents more like someone with severe Down’s Syndrome. She is not very aware of what is going on around her. She is maybe 9 years old, but has the mental faculties of (what I would estimate to be) a 3 year old. Tessa is a very sweet little girl, but she isn’t truly aware of what is going on in the world around her.

The other day at lunch, Tessa was sitting next to a little boy and he started shaking her by the shoulders. He had wrapped his arms around her, and was just shaking her. He was smiling, maybe even laughing, and Tessa didn’t seem too upset, but I made him stop anyways. When I tried to get him to explain why he was shaking her and apologize, he avoided my eyes and acted as though he didn’t hear me. He stopped shaking her, but he never acknowledged that he had done something wrong.

Once the kids finish lunch, they sit against the wall. When I looked over, the same little boy was sitting next to Tessa and laughing. I couldn’t tell what was going on, but I didn’t trust that boy, so I kept watching. Tessa kept leaning over to him, blocking my view of them, and I wasn’t sure if it was her not understanding personal space (which happens with Tessa) or if (I think I went cold at this thought) she was kissing him. Then Tessa leaned back and the boy laughed and pointed to another girl sitting next to Tessa, and Tessa kissed her on the cheek. I hoped that was a one time occurrence, that he wasn’t telling Tessa to kiss the girl because he’s just gotten Tessa to kiss him. But then he laughed again and tapped his cheek, at the same time gesturing toward Tessa in a ‘come here’ manner. And she kissed him on the cheek.

And he laughed.

Part of me was livid, and part of me was in complete control and knew I was going to protect that girl. I got the attention of another teacher and explained that the boy was getting Tessa to kiss him and then he was laughing about it, and she sighed (almost as if it was just another annoying thing) and went over to them. She actually told Tessa to stop. That ‘we don’t do that at school, sit over there’. To the boy, who I found out was named Blake, she said ‘if she tries to do that again, tell her no’. As if Tessa was to blame.

I told the Director not long after, and she spoke to Blake, but the situation has bothered me since it happened. At first, I thought it was simply because a boy was taking advantage of a vulnerable little girl, and it hit too close to home. After all, I was taken advantage of. Thankfully, I think we stopped everything before it escalated, but that is still not something I want to be around.

Then, I realized it was also because Tessa reminds me of my little sister Emma. Emma has some developmental brain disorders and will never be an ‘average’ adult. Right now, my parents are working with the doctors to see what mental age she will be able to reach. Right now, she is physically 6 1/2 but mentally 4 years old, and she has already started to plateau. It’s possible she will always mentally be a four year old. What if someone did that to Emma? She loves giving hugs. She loves people. To her, everyone is just a friend she hasn’t met yet. But what if someone hurt her? What if someone took advantage of her? I don’t think I ever realized before how vulnerable she is, how much protection she needs. Rob and I have said that if/when my parents pass away, we will be Emma’s advocates to make sure she gets the care she needs, and it had never felt hard before. I want to be there for Emma. We will be there for Emma, but I never truly realized how vulnerable she will always be. She won’t be able to protect herself from the evil in the world, she won’t be able to know what people should or shouldn’t be allowed to do to her. I just don’t ever want her to get hurt.

And now, and I write this, it dawned on me that the other teacher’s reaction bothers me, too. She scolded Tessa. That’s like scolding an abuse victim. It’s unfair. Tessa was being manipulated, and she got the blame. It’s way too similar to the kids blaming me when I tried to get help. I hope the teacher didn’t mean to take the side of the ‘bully’ or ‘abuser’, but that’s how it came off. It makes me very wary of that teacher.

This was one of those hard things to face, and I’m still figuring out how I feel about my third realization. It was a really hard thing to face on my second day, but I think (hope) I did the right thing. I’m still going to keep an eye on Blake, and I’m definitely going to look out for Tessa. The other teacher I will hold my judgement on until I get to know her more.

Like I said, it was a really hard thing to face.

Facing the Fears

I need to stop avoiding. I’ve been super busy lately, and I think I’ve been using it as an excuse to avoid facing my feelings. I know facing them makes life so much better (not always easier, but better), but it is just so hard.

Sometimes I am afraid of what I will see. What I will learn about myself. Because what I learn could completely throw me. To be honest, there are still some questions I have written down that I’m  not ready to ask myself, because I’m just not ready for what I might see in the answer.

But I can’t avoid everything I’m feeling. I know that not every answer is going to be so hard to face. I know that some answers will bring relief. But I have seen so many things on my journey that have torn at my soul and ripped at my heart, that it is so hard to face the questions, even if they might be easy.

But I know that if I ignore the questions and the feelings and just let them fester that they will become a void that threatens to swallow my life. And I don’t want to go through that again.

I don’t want that.

It’s strange to realize (and I didn’t realize until right now) that I am more scared of having my life taken over by the PTSD than I am of fighting it. Of facing those fears.

And for some reason that makes me feel strong.

I’ve been fighting tears all day, but now I don’t feel weak letting them fall. Because now it’s not the PTSD scaring me into crying. It’s me choosing to stand and  face the feelings that I’m afraid of instead of the PTSD chasing me down and making me Its victim.

It’s me calling the shots. It’s me taking the control.

Yes, it’s going to be hard to face these emotions, but I’m not letting them make me a victim.