Settling into Uncertainty

7/24/19 Wednesday

Walking through the front door is a new beginning, time to start over again. Sara kept all the furniture along with the family home, so now it’s shopping, building furniture, buying stuff, filling up an empty space. Much of the time it seems like I’m outside of myself standing back as the other me arranges this new place to live. Some things I make myself, some comes from the thrift store, some I paid too much for by buying local, some came from Walmart. I learn how the sun hits different parts of rooms throughout the day, I begin to notice the schedules of the neighbors – when they leave, when they come back. It’s beautiful outside. When I’m working from home at the computer I get distracted by looking out the windows, so many flowers are blooming, clouds passing by. As the hours and days go by and I get a taste of peace. It’s more quiet now, less tension. I take coffee breaks and sit out on the either the large front porch or the tiny back deck, wherever I can find the sun.

after-the-rain.org / Porch window

I think of this new rental house as more of an apartment. It’s small but there’s plenty of space for me and Day and what we have left. It’s part of a community of eight small houses, each one slightly different, all cleverly designed by the same local architect. Most of the neighbors are older women, fussy about their gardens and set in their ways. I like talking with them, they are gracious and welcoming, and never forget to tell me when my hydrangeas need watering. Not sure if I’m subconsciously looking at them as mother figures, but I sense they keep an eye out for me. I like to help them out when I can, adjusting their garden rocks, bringing stuff in from their cars, taking stuff to the dump. They’re thankful for the smallest gestures.

after-the-rain.org / Concrete steps with tile

I built a large project table / desk / bookshelf and I’m really proud of it. It fits beautifully in the living room, centered by an over-sized window that looks out over the gardens. Last week I sat at my computer working while Day sat next to me busy with an art project – another gem moment. I picked up a chair at the local thrift store. I noticed it several times before buying it. It’s not so comfortable and half broken, but there’s something about it I really like – someone with a lot of skill made that chair. To me it’s simply beautiful and I love it, I must fix it and put it back into use, to honor the artist and craftsman that built it. In the meantime I sit on my Orca cooler with a cushion and that works for me. The thrift store lady told me the chair was 6 bucks. Thinking I was shrewd I offered 5 and she quickly accepted. Only when I brought it home did I see the small price sticker – $4.50. I leave the sticker on there and smile when I see it.

after-the-rain,org / Boy swinging on rope ladder

Truth, goodness, beauty. To me they are a fallback, building blocks of self. When everything you know is torn away, you must have core values to turn to. You must still be able to stand for something that can’t be taken away. Truth – I love life, I love me. Goodness – Do the right thing. Beauty – Don’t just appreciate it, live it. Feel the beauty of a piece of freshly sanded wood. Smell the beauty of rain in the desert. Learn to see beauty where others see ugly. Being single again is starting to open my eyes to something forgotten, almost lost but still there – me. I turn the work computer off for the day, crack a cold beer and flop down on the couch. I’m tired and feeling lazy. Even though I bought salmon and rice for dinner, instead I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and search for a movie to watch on Netflix. I choose a movie with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. It’s stupid and funny and I love movies like this. For a moment I zone out and notice a feeling I haven’t had for a long time. Right here right now it would be nice to have someone with me to watch this together, just to laugh and talk about nothing, eating peanut butter and passing time. Suddenly I realize what I probably need more than anything right now is a date. My divorce will be final at the end of summer, and I wonder what life will be like for me after that.

after-the-rain.org / Glass heart

2/17 – I talk with Sara by phone, she’s crying. “All the nurses are going through my phone, facebook and instagram accounts to find out all they can about me.” “Will this be the last time I talk to you?” The delusions continue as I try to get information from the nurses and doctors, random staff, anyone. What happened to my wife? What’s wrong with her? When will she get better? A second mental evaluation is done and there is a new word added to the previous diagnosis – psychosis. It’s not just anxiety and depression anymore. It’s determined by the doctors that she be transferred to a different facility, a mental health hospital. The official term is Committed which sounds as frightening as it really is. The control over her life is being taken away from her and from me. Others are deciding where she will go, when, and for how long. Another floor drops out of my stomach because I don’t know what’s going to happen anymore. As time goes on I will learn that she will be held in lockdown under suicide watch, with no access to visitors for 4 days. She looks at me like a scared wild cat and asks me if it will be hot there.

I’m not allowed to ride with her in the ambulance to the new “behavioral health” hospital and for now it’s goodbye. I go back home in shock, and do my best take care of Day. Later that night we speak by phone, she sounds surprised and confused, “I don’t understand what I’m doing here. I thought they were going to take me out when I got here, which is what I want.” I can’t talk for long because I need to carry on. I cook spaghetti and Day and I eat together while we watch cartoons on tv. They’re outrageous and fast-paced, the characters constantly running around smashing each other. The word that comes to mind is “crazy”. I’ll never use that word lightly again. Something’s wrong with Sara’s brain but she is not crazy. It’s hard to eat, to sleep, to concentrate on anything. I worry about my wife.

Author: Rainey

after-the-rain.org What started out as chicken scratch notes on the back pages of my boat’s logbook has now grown into a blog. These words and images help me cope with a loved one struggling with mental illness, and they help guide me through divorce, and the process of moving on. Thanks for reading along as I learn about life the hard way, do the best I can for my son in my new role as a single dad, and find weird similarities between restoring an old blue water sailboat and putting the pieces of my own life back together. Come check out my story and say hi.

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