Days Like Today

“I’m tired.”

I think that’s the standard response for any spouse going through a deployment with children when someone asks how you’re doing. There’s just no time to yourself. You sleep when they sleep (once you wrestle them to sleep), you work when they’re awake, and then when you get home, you get to be the sole adult. It’s hard, and it wears you out.

Today was a good example of that. Last night I was invited to something on behalf of the Regiment. I had a great time, and I was home by 8:30pm. I came home to my son still awake, lunches needing packed, dishes to do, and it was garbage night. Grunt didn’t fall asleep until after 10:30pm. And then I discovered my car had punctured a tire. Something had to give.

As you can see from the photo above, it was the tire. I pumped and drove on it to work, and then re-pumped it to drive home because I had to. I found a place close by that would fix it, left work early to drop the car, walked home from the shop to pick up MiniSir’s car, and then drove to get Grunt from daycare.

Things you don’t even think about when you’re the sole adult: no one will be able to come get you from the garage where you drop off your car. Tomorrow, I will have to walk back and pick it up. Sure, walking is good for me. But the entire operation required planning akin to a military move, and, already tired, the ol’ synapses felt a little sluggish while I tried to sort all this out in my head. I got there eventually; thank god we have an extra vehicle.

This week, we accepted a third conditional offer on the house. And I’ll let you in on a secret: they want the house in 4 weeks, and I haven’t even put an offer in on another place yet. Why? Because I’ve been here already, and I’m not devoting that time and energy until I know that it will be time and energy well spent. Sure, it’ll be harried if it all comes together, but life is sometimes. And yes, I’ll be even more tired afterward, but that’s life too.

Just know that, if you’re looking for a meaningful gift for a friend going through a deployment with children, coffee is always appreciated, and tiny baby tranquilizers may or may not also be accepted.


2016 & 2017: The Hard Years

Last year was hard. No sense putting a made-up pretty face on it, or calling a spade a diamond: physically, emotionally, and situationally, 2016 was a hard year.
I gained some of the weight I lost in 2015 back – not eating properly, not being motivated, and seeking emotional solace in food all played their own roles. I spent 6 solid months separated from my husband, which meant 6 months being a single mother. I shared a bedroom with a non-sleeping toddler for nearly 5 cumulative months of the year. I made the difficult decision to go back to work after 5 long years of recovery. I took on new volunteer positions without shedding the old ones. I began a part-time direct sales business. And honestly, travelling over the Christmas season is no way to finish an already trying year.
And this year has started in the same way. MiniSir will be deployed this year – yet another long separation for us. I have secured a job and day care for Grunt, and now we are just waiting on my official start date. We bought a new car, anticipating a future that the Army has now changed on us (again). And all those volunteer positions? I can’t seem to shake them.
So while I prepare to be a newly working single mum, dealing with what little spare time I have being eaten up by committees, I have to wonder some days if strength comes from simply doing.
I walk now because I refused to believe I couldn’t walk then. I bore a child because I refused to believe I was infertile. I have been alone, alone and pregnant, alone with a child, and I have been strong enough to do all this because I refused to give up on what needed to be done. So.
This year I will be employed, and Mummy, and alone. And I will be strong. I will do what needs to be done. And I will be here for others in the same place when they think they can’t.
Some days I will need reminded of my own strength, and some days others will be the ones needing reminded. On days when I can give of myself, I will. On days when I need you to give me a little of the strength back, I hope you will.

Darkness? It’s Me, Krista

I don’t like where my mind goes at night. Those deep, dark hours after midnight when I’m still lying in bed, exhausted but unable to drift off. That’s the time when it always strikes me: the irrational thoughts and anxious fear.

I fight them off, one at a time. Usually it is a terrible fate befalling someone I love – more often than not involving my dear Grunt. Opening my eyes, taking in my surroundings, consciously breathing through it, repeating “Not real, not real” aloud, only really alleviates the current thought spiral. As soon as I close my eyes it’s back down another rabbit hole filled with great and awful things, grabbing at me with their tentacles of persuasion.

The only thing that stops them is getting up, getting out of bed and forcing myself to move and think in the now. My first stop is always Grunt’s room, to place a hand on his back and feel him breathe. He is safe again – he always is. Next I head downstairs to boil the kettle and find some sleepy time tea. It doesn’t really help, but it’s warm and the act of drinking it is calming, so I steep it twice. Wrapping myself in my warmest couch blanket, I hop onto my computer for at least a two-hour Pinterest session. I have to keep my mind of off anything remotely important, and Pinterest certainly has a way of sucking you into a world of DIY you love but will never do, and adorable fan art drawings of your favourite Disney characters. Add some of whatever snack food is in my pantry and there’s my remedy for insomnia.

I can usually get to sleep after this, snuggling in against MiniSir to warm up after being out of bed. But when he’s not home, it’s harder to get past that sleep threshold. Bunnydict Carrotpatch doesn’t talk much, and though his ears are velvety soft, stroking them still doesn’t soothe me the way a shifting-in-his-sleep-to-hold-you husband would.

I remember nearly flipping my sleep schedule when MiniSir was deployed to the Alberta floods a few years ago – up all night, sleeping only when daylight peeked into the bedroom so I could see that there were no fears hiding in the shadows. Now I’m a mummy, and I don’t have that luxury any more; there is a tiny person that needs my help growing into the best big person he can be. So the scant few hours of sleep I manage have to do, at least until nap time when we can both lie down again. For the same reason, I hesitate to take that extra dose of medication my psychiatrist said I could safely take, as it makes me very dopey and thus it is harder to wake up with the baby in the mornings. Alcohol and the pills make it even worse – even with one beer at dinner, I find I have difficulty hearing the baby at all, which isn’t good for me, or for Grunt, who still wakes at least once or twice a night.

And so I drink tea. And eat Jammy Dodgers. And “pin” journal ideas and knitting patterns and artistic inspiration for things I’ll never draw because I don’t think I’m good enough to even try them. And then maybe, just maybe, I may have quieted the demons enough to get some sleep.

I Am A Terrible Blogger

Really. Just awful.

I originally started this blog as a method of therapy, a way to express myself in a safe environment where I could work out my thoughts and feelings while trying to navigate through life an anxious, post-traumatic stress-ridden woman in a new city. And so far, I’ve posted intermittently and never on a schedule.

I should have known that schedules were never going to work. However, I should also have known that writing would make me feel better.

The past few months I’ve been struggling with a relapse of depression and anxiety. It all started when I began taking a drug to help me with a completely unrelated physical issue and ended up quite depressed as a side effect. My doctor put a “cease and desist” on the drugs immediately upon seeing me again, and now I am waiting to see a specialist next month for some more testing and alternate options. However, since coming off the drug, I’ve still been struggling to get back to myself, the self I was before I started them – the balanced, “totally got this and don’t need more meds” me.

It isn’t working.

I bawled after getting out of the shower today because I was thinking about something that may (but 99.9% won’t) happen. And if that isn’t a classic symptom of anxiety’s cold fingers prying in my brain again, I don’t know what else would be. My sleep is beginning to be effected; I’m having more difficulty falling asleep and more difficulty waking up. I don’t want to do anything. Even MiniSir says I seem listless.

Yes, hello depression. Glad to see you could join us.

I have yet to relapse to anything PTSD related yet – thankfully – because if I do that, I will have a really hard time driving myself anywhere. And winter is nearly upon us, which means winter drivers and driving conditions and there’s a whole new heap of things to be anxious about.

So I am seeking help now. I have a call in to my psychiatrist, and if I can’t get in to see him soon I will talk to my doctor immediately.

In the mean time, if you see me and I look like I could use a hug, I could use a hug. Hug me. I am a good hugger. I like hugs.

(I would also like someone to buy my house. But that’s another blog post for another time.)

It’s Times Like These

It’s at times like this one – holding my screaming son while he wails like a banshee because of some unknown cause – that even a hoodie doesn’t help. That moment when you’ve just stepped in the shower and went “ahhhh” underneath the hot spray, and the baby monitor goes insane. It doesn’t help them either. 

It doesn’t help when you’re up to your ears in work for a position you volunteered for, and the work you’ve delegated somehow manages to become yours again. Or the passive aggressive daily emails from people all implying you don’t do anything, even though you run yourself ragged at the edges whenever the baby is sleeping and sometimes even when he’s not. 

It doesn’t help with any of that. 

What it does do is remind me that he’ll be home soon. That this is all impermanent, and soon he’ll be able to give me the hug I desperately need. That he can hold my hand when I need it, or give me a shoulder to lean on if I need one of those too. That he’s been away overseas, but it wasn’t anywhere dangerous, that the biggest concern he has is how much room he has in his suitcase to bring stuff home, and that it wasn’t for long. 

Chronologically, that is. Relatively, it feels like it’s been a year. 

Our son has cut his first two teeth, had his first bout of stomach flu, and had his immunizations while MiniSir’s been gone. I admittedly have pushed myself too hard, staying up until midnight most nights to get things done. I just want to crawl in his hoodie and be left alone for a while so I can sleep for three days. 

But it can’t help me with that either. 

(Are you reading this and wondering, what’s up with this hoodie thing? Check out my past post on MiniSir’s Magic hoodie.)

Dear Baby

Dear Baby,

I wish I could explain to you that you’re experiencing nighttime separation anxiety, and though I’m not right there with you, I’m no farther than the next room away. Because they tell me that’s what this is, and I’m inclined to believe it.

It’s no one’s fault that this month has been full of changes for you. It was your first big separation from Daddy, your first real goodbye from Goma, and your first time with a caregiver that’s not family. It’s not your fault that they happened all while you were sick for the first time. And it’s not your fault that I indulged you a little while it’s just been the two of us.

I wish I could let you know that Daddy will be home soon, that you’ll see Goma again, and that Mummy will always come back for you no matter where you are. I wish I could explain that we both need sleep, and it’s okay for us to sleep apart because I’ll be there in the morning when you wake up. If I could let you know that your room is safe and your bed is just as good as mine, I would.

But, Dear Baby, no matter what I try, you don’t sleep there and so neither do I. And no matter how good my intentions are, you end up curled against me in my bed, your fingers wrapped around one of mine so you know I’m right there with you, and my heart gets all melty and my brain says “okay, one more night”.

I don’t know how to break it to you that in a couple days when Daddy gets home there won’t be enough room for you to sprawl out beside me, still holding my hand. Or that as much as Daddy loves you, he will want to sleep next to me too.

My pyjama shirt in your bed does nothing to comfort you, and I am out of ideas. So, Dear Baby, I need you to sleep for me. In your own bed. For longer than 15 minutes. Please try.

You know I’m gonna cave around midnight anyway.

I’m Wearing His Hoodie

Here’s the thing about a hoodie. If it’s special like mine, you can pretty much conquer the world in it. You refuse to see the stains on it and it doesn’t matter how big it is on you. It keeps you safe like armour and acts like a security blanket with a convenient pocket in the front. No matter how many years go by, no matter how worn it gets, your special hoodie will never let you down. Mine certainly hasn’t.

Not 4 years ago, when it still smelled enough of MiniSir that I stuffed a pillow into it and hugged it through the night, wishing I were in Medicine Hat with him, rather than Kingston without him.

Not 3 years ago, when I would get up and put it on every morning (or sometimes early afternoon) while every broken part of me screamed in protest at the action. Still not then, when chilled to the bone in the night, even on warm nights, I would put the sweater on over my pjs and crawl under the sheets, pain killers and anti-psychotics pumping through my veins so I could sleep.

Not 2 years ago, when, after we moved and married in one whirlwind summer, I saw my husband for 7 days in a two month period and came to the realization that him being an officer back at the regiment meant something completely different than being an officer posted into a staff position.

Not a year ago when I waited and waited for him to finally be done in the field while puking my guts out and watching cartoons to cope with being pregnant on my own. Plus it was downright necessary the week when everything in my closet stopped fitting at once and I dragged the sweater on over my too-tight shirt to finally go shopping for maternity clothes.

Or earlier this year when I was so tired from being a new mother that it was the only thing that held me up some days.

And it hasn’t let me down this week either, when events have left the military community shocked and saddened, and everyone feeling just a little vulnerable. I wore it to a fellow military spouse’s house on Thursday and she asked if I had put it on because I just needed a little extra comforting. I hadn’t even realized it, but I had. I had needed that extra layer that it gave me, that armour with a hug inside it. I knew my husband was safe at work, and in my hoodie, I was safe too.

That’s the thing about a great sweater. When he asks me how my day is going and I say, “I’m wearing your hoodie”, he knows he’ll need to give me some extra hugs, for one reason or another. And it won’t matter to him because he knows he can’t ever be replaced by a piece of clothing.

Because even though being in his hoodie is great, being in his arms is better.