Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More than Melancholy

Years and years ago, when I lived in Israel, my next door neighbors struggled with infertility. They had done several rounds of IVF with ICSI, and they had nothing to show for it. When I first met Anat, the wife, she was unhappy about not having a child, but she managed to contain it.

Over the next few months, she deteriorated.

We lived on the third and top floor of our building. From our kitchens, we could see into the yards of the first-floor people below us and the first-floor people in the building behind us. I became friendly with an American woman in the building behind us -- she and her husband had an adorable 8-month-old.

One day, Anat told my friend, "You know, your daughter doesn't even look like you and your husband. She looks a lot more like me and my husband, don't you think?"

My friend started keeping her daughter inside, with the blinds shut.

Anat told me one day that the meds she was on made her crazy. She thought the woman in the picture on her wall had escaped the frame and was after her. She would lean out her kitchen window and scream at people hanging their laundry, walking their dogs, breathing in the air.

I started a novel based on this woman, about a woman who is so desperate to have a child that she kidnaps her sister's baby. I remember thinking that I was watching Anat's mind disintegrate before my eyes. I was watching her descent into madness.

Lately, I feel that I am watching my own descent into madness. I start off each day okay. I work out, get the endorphins flowing, take a shower. I think, "I can do this. I can be happy." And then sometime around midmorning or lunchtime or when I drive to pick up Baby J., I start to think about D. and what I want for him and where we are and I start to cry.

Recently, I started covering my hair. I started, as I always maintained I would, purely for vanity: I went for a haircut and got butchered. I literally left the salon, went to the 99-cent-store, and got a hat to hide the destruction. When I got home, Mr. WG said, "What did you do to yourself?" For the first few weeks, I couldn't stand to see my naked head. I tied on a bandanna before I got out of bed, and I only took it off after I was back in bed at night.

The haircut was in June. By September or so, my hair had started to grow back a little, and I could manage without a hat inside my house. But I still grabbed one whenever I left the house, and people in my community assumed I had joined the ranks of those women who cover their hair for religious reasons.

You know how, if you're feeling down, you're supposed to smile? They say that the physical act of smiling will start to spark the chemical reaction of happiness in the brain, and you'll start to feel happy. For me, I keep hoping that the physical act of covering my hair will spark the spiritual reaction of feeling and being more aware of God's presence in my life. As much as I try to believe that God didn't screw with my kid just to punish me for something, that's the answer I keep coming back to.

I try and I try, every day, to get to a good place. I try and I try, every day, to come to some sort of acceptance. And I just don't get there. I ask Mr. WG all the time, "Doesn't it ever make you sad?" and he looks at me like I'm nuts. He really has no idea why I show up on the sofa at 10 p.m. after sobbing in bed for 20 minutes.

Sara wrote something brilliant and beautiful recently:

How I spend my days, how the D man is, is exactly the way G-d wants it to be. I can not, and will not ever claim to have any understanding whatsoever why G-d found it necessary to give Dovi FD. Frankly, I think it 100% totally sucks. I cannot in any way, shape, or form, no matter how much I wrack my brain, come up with one redeeming factor of the FD for Dovi. I got to make lots of friends I would never have met, etc etc etc. But that's for me. For Dovi? Not so much. Frankly, there is no good, in my humble opinion, in, for example, waking up every. morning. of. your. life. retching. As in he'd be puking if he didn't have a fundoplication. It's not enjoyable.

So instead of killing myself trying to understand, I have to say that obviously it has to be that G-d has a plan for Dovi, for me and Benjie, for my family, for the world at large, greater than me, or Dovi. If I spent time dwelling on that, I would literally be living in the loony bin. I would not be able to carry on. So, I know, I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that for whatever reason, my life is exactly how it should be. It's nothing like I planned. As you read, NOTHING like I planned. Seriously-who's life is this? Certainly not what I mapped out. But it's how it's supposed to be.

I am jealous of Sara. I am jealous of my husband. I am jealous of people who believe with perfect faith. My faith is so tenuous, my relationship with God is so strained, that I don't know how to fix it. I have no idea how to ask for help.


DESJ and Company said...

Sweetie, Dovi is 11. D is 5.
I am 6 years ahead of you here.

I was in therapy for a long 2 years.
And on meds for 3 years.

It's OK to feel like you're losing it. That's normal. Expected. This is not the ride you got onto.

Trust me I often feel like I am living someone else's life.

You need to analyze what it is that is making you so down-is it his unhappiness or is it the death (for lack of a different word) of your dreams for him?

Because is he happy? Then it's all good. Dovi is not the 11 year old b'chor that I or my hubby expected. My 11 year old nephew is learning g'mara. Dovi can't read Hebrew. It hurts, let me tell you.

But you need to look at the good, not the bad. So he can't read Hebrew. But he's HAPPY.

That's all I want for Dovi-health and happiness.

Find the happiness, even the teeny tiny sliver of it that's hiding behind the crap. It's there.

And talk to someone. Who's smarter than me.

ella said...

I have nothing to offer but love and very best wishes to you and your family - for strength and faith, for a glimpse of the plan if it's possible, for everything to unfold as it should.

Dramalish said...

Is it completely awfull to say that I don't buy the "God has a plan" business?
I don't.
Don't get me wrong- I have faith. I'm even religious (pretty devote, acutally). I just don't believe that there are always reasons for the trials we reason. I believe that good can come of them... and I believe that our suffering can be for an important reason... SOMETIMES.
I truly believe that sometimes bad stuff just happens. It just IS. And there is no reason. Trying to assign meaning will make you lose your mind, and really- as you write- will you ever be able to do that?
There are many questions I want to ask of God when I get my chance. But I suspect the answer to many of them may be, "because that's what happened."

I'm not even sure I should post this, because it's not coming off as comforting as I was hoping. Still, I want you to know that I don't think you're being punished or that D was "screwed with" purposely.
I'm thinking of you, and wishing happiness your way. You, D, and your entire family deserve it, and I know God wants to give it to you.

Lisa b said...

I am trying to content myself with 'the universe is a bitch'. that is all i've got for now.
I need you to pull yourself together for me because seriously I am shitting myself that this is never going to get any better.
um and it has to right? *notes DESJs two years of therapy and three years of meds*