The first day of the month, I wanted to start it off on the right foot, so I went to the pool Monday night and swam 75 laps, which felt great.
Otherwise, it was our regular crazy schedule of running between school/work and dance and home and errands, trying to fit everything in and get everything done and not sleeping enough. Every time we left for the day, we put Thorin in the kennel, and every night came home to messes.
On Wed, I saw the girls out the door to the bus and got ready for my women’s Bible study. Thorin followed, staying right at my heels wherever I went. Laina had walked him before going to the bus, and I left a few minutes after her; therefore, I put him in the kennel and grabbed my keys.
I stopped and walked back to the kennel. Thorin stood inside, tilted head gazing directly at me. A large wet spot stained the carpet, and I couldn’t believe it. There’s no way he had to go already. He just didn’t want me to leave him in there. I wiped it up and left him, feelings of guilt, defeat, and exhaustion weighing me down.
I kept my appointment at the Fix for my muscle therapy, my twenty-minutes of taking time for myself and learning how to relax. That and some deep breaths helped me shake off some of the negative feelings so I could enjoy the meeting with the other women and appreciate the lessons from it. For instance, in the last chapter of the book, the author shares a friend’s thoughts:
For me it was a confirmation that part of my calling as a follower of Christ is to love my family well in this season. I am so focused on raising my (about to be) two young kids that I find myself feeling guilty that I am not as available to other people as I was before children, but I feel like God has shown me that I am doing the work of building the wall in my own home when I strive to train my children in the way they should go, when I feed them and nurture them and even discipline them in love. This is good work, and it will only last for a season. That doesn’t mean that I close my eyes to the rest of the world; it just means that I need to take this work of raising a family as a serious calling and be faithful in that.
Yes! Yes! Yes! I can relate to living in this season, and I can relate to the guilt that comes with it; however, it is true that I am “building the wall” right now with my teenage daughters, and that is a precious and time-consuming calling. And very serious. While I know I will make mistakes, I want to do the best that I can.
And I hate that the best I can do right now is alone, as a single parent, because that’s not how it’s supposed to be and not what’s best for them and because it is exhausting.
After our meeting, I went out to lunch with one of the women, and it was so nice. To sit over spring rolls and have a conversation… something so simple yet so fueling.
I don’t know how to write about the next part. I am a single mother with several part-time jobs and no family in the area. I’ve worked an overload for over a year now to make ends meet, but it is still not enough for the lifestyle I want to give my kids. It is definitely not enough for health insurance. I make just a little too much for assistance yet not enough for “extras” like health insurance. Three years ago, my ex quit his job, canceled our health insurance, and opened his own law practice. Since then, I have not been to a doctor.
This summer, some issues crept up, and, scared, I walked into an urgent care walk-in clinic in July. When I explained that I didn’t have insurance and was a single mom, the doctor came out and sat with me in the waiting room. We talked for close to an hour as I described my symptoms and concerns, and he said he would work with me to help me in the least expensive way possible. He wrote down blood work that he wanted me to have run at a local lab and told me to come back and see him at a cheaper walk-in clinic with the results. The concerns were possible low thyroid or diabetes, but both of those came back in the normal range. Just a couple of items had high levels, but my blood pressure was okay.
I check my blood pressure when I go into Publix for groceries, and most of the time it starts high but is normal a few minutes later when I take a deep breath and relax for a few minutes. So, most of the time, it is too high from the emotional stress of doing it all alone, too high from the frantic rush from this to that, too high from the worry of making ends meet.
I called the doctor and told him my results, and we agreed that I should wait a few weeks and then retake the blood work to double check the high levels. He said not to worry in the meantime. So I tried not to, and I got busy with saying goodbye to Astrid, buying school supplies, getting ready for the start of fall semester, and finally dealing with the dogs. All stressful. Plus, frankly I did not have the extra money for more lab work since I’d lost one of my classes.
Last Friday when I went to Squid Lips for the writer’s meeting, I was close to the walk-in clinic and decided to drop off my results. This Wednesday during lunch, the doctor called and advised me to run just the Profile one for $12, so I stopped to do so on the way home.
When I returned home, Thorin had left a mess in the kennel again. That was it. I was done! No more! For too many years I have allowed others to “crap” all over me metaphorically, and I have been working on moving away from that. Now, I have a pet literally crapping all over my things. It’s disgusting, and I am not allowing that in my life anymore—metaphorically or literally.
I took him out for his walk but had to leave to take Lexi to work and then go teach my night class, so I called Laina with explicit instructions for how to clean up the mess and take the kennel outside to air out. On my break, I texted and asked, and she confirmed that it was done. Today, I opened the shutters to find poop still all over the kennel tray on the patio. Another frantic morning trying to get the kennel cleaned, lunches made, breakfast eaten, Thorin walked, and everyone ready and out the door on time.
Today, I tried not to worry about the lab results, but I’ve known that something is going on. Extra weight on top of too much stress for too many years…not a good combination. After work, I stopped for my results. When I saw them, my heart fell. Only one thing is high again this time, but it means that something is going on with my heart.
I expressed distress to the lab technician and mentioned the level of stress I’m under, and she counseled me to take four deep breaths every hour and to realize that I am “only one person” and can’t do it all alone. She suggested I make lists: have to, want to, would like to. Prioritize. De-stress my life, de-stress my body. She said, “I’m worried that you are going to stress yourself into a heart attack.” I am also worried.
I am scared. I still want to cry.