In the Bad Bad Dark Dark Winter of Sickness and Depression, which is my name for December 2001 - March 2002, my toddler got kicked out of the daycare at the gym for hitting. It was my only respite from mothering a difficult toddler and a perpetually sick infant (he had ear issues) and I thought I might die. We went to a child psychiatrist. He watched us interact. I did a lot of crying. One outburst I particularly remember bawling out was, "I can't even read a book for half an hour!" I was 27. Having a hard time accepting that my life was sort of not mine anymore.
After a few sessions he told me he thought my toddler was basically normal (HA! Shows what he knew) and that I was depressed (well, he got that right; I think it was SAD because March rolled around and I suddenly, magically felt better). Then he said something to me that I've never forgotten:
"Does anyone at your church know you're in this kind of pain?"
The answer was, of course, no. For church we put on our perfect clothes and our perfect hair and makeup and our perfect smiles. When we have problems, and we all do, we do not tell. This is the code.
I still do not take all my issues to church. For one thing, I am more aware than ever before that everybody has their own issues. Many people have a lot more than I do to deal with. I am not really well equipped to offer a lot to others right now, and I am not expecting a lot of help. After all, everything I've got, I signed up for. Literally. That's something fun only adoptive parents can say.
But I do not pretend to be perfect anymore.
I have a special needs kid whose issues are almost invisible and really, really hard to define and treat. I am doing everything I feel like I can do to help, and it's never enough. It's never going to be fixed. It affects everything. Absolutely everything. I feel the loss of the normal family life I looked forward to in my younger years. I mourn for that a lot. I struggle with the fact, and it is a fact, that if I had been able to gestate and give birth to this child, the issues would probably not be there. Or maybe his issues would just be different. They would almost certainly be less. I try really hard to accept it, and some days I do all right. Other days I am frustrated and embarrassed and angry and I feel like giving up. Some days I think if I could exchange this child I might do it. It is hard, really hard. I am hurting from it today.
And today I am telling. At least this one little thing. So if someone wants to know what kind of pain I am in, they can know. It's a rough one, today.