John Doe

11/15/19 Friday

Yesterday was was one of the toughest days yet. It started off well, I had my boy with me overnight which is one of the GAL’s new recommendations. It’s been great having him over, we get to read at night before bed, and I can wake him up in the morning, fix breakfast, make his lunch, his snack, fill up his water bottle, and drive him to school 5 minutes away. I walk him into class and say hi to the teacher and the other kids, it’s one of my favorite things to do. Walking out of school I ran into Sara who was coming in to volunteer in Day’s class. It was an awkward surprise and she looked a bit pissed and said something about she didn’t have enough jeans for him that fit even though I bought him 3 pairs of jeans at the beginning of the school year.

Little things like this set me off and when I got back home it was difficult to concentrate on work. The emails, instant messages , texts, and phone calls were flying and it was tough to keep up. My heart was beating fast and I took a break to lie down on the floor and try to calm down. It didn’t help as then all I could think about was that this weekend was going to be lonely as hell without Day, and I found myself hitting bottom fast. From my place on the floor I could see more and more emails coming in. I pictured the look on Sara’s face when we spoke at his school. I had to get back up and put all this behind me, but getting back up was harder than I thought – my chest hurt and it was hard to breathe. I got up and the pain got worse. It felt like my heart and lungs were about to burst. An hour later I was on my way to the doctor, and an hour after that I was on my way to the ER.

After 4 EKGs, a chest x-ray and blood draw, they found my heart and lungs were fine, I just had a “chest wall inflamation” which can be super painful but not harmful. The paperwork the doctor provided said the most common cause is emotional stress – go figure. After a steroid and some ibuprofin I was feeling better and ready to go. I drove by the old house to drop off Day’s toys, and he wanted me to stay to watch a show with him, one of his Bey Blade Burst Turbo episodes that we always have fun watching together. I let the family cat shred my hand as I tickled his tummy. I was feeling better, and all was good in the world except Sara kept asking me why there was an ad popping up for cough syrup on Day’s ipad. I was in no mood for that crap and now it was soon time to go.

One minute my doctor says the first EKG looks abnormal and sends me to the ER, the next minute I’m told I’m fine, the next I get to see my son, the next my ex wife is accusing me of something based off who knows what. Then I’m driving home, back to where the day all started. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m going to survive this, actually physically make it. But at least I made it through yesterday. If nothing else, it was a wake up call. Any day could be my last, it’s time for me to get my shit together and figure out where to go from here. I have an opportunity to start a new life, like a new man without a name.

This morning I felt even better, and as I sipped on a hot cup of coffee I sat and watched this little girl out the window, tip-toeing around munching on everyone’s plants. One day at a time – truth, goodness, beauty.

after-the-rain.org / Deer at the cottage

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.